And yet the machinery tasked with producing all these shows is slow, wasteful, and wildly outdated. On the network side, the initial contracts are too prohibitive and too long — thus limiting the talent pool. (Actors like McConaughey and Woody Harrelson aren’t going to sign away seven years of their life. But a couple months? Sure!) I’ve written at length about how ridiculous the entire pilot-season charade is, in which millions of dollars are spent and hundreds of perfectly good ideas wasted, all in the service of a handful of shows unlikely to see a second season. And on cable, the rising ratings of shows like The Walking Dead haven’t lifted all boats — they’ve threatened to swamp them. Channels hoping to compete are now forced to shell out more money on increasingly outrageous concepts solely to justify the future cost of production. Even on the more artistically inclined networks, a show about people isn’t nearly as likely to be green-lit as a show about the things attempting to eat said people. Limited series change all that. They allow the television business to become as nimble and responsive as the television audience. Without the fear and expenditure of long-term commitment, networks can be free to take bold chances and experiment with style and genre
This is why I don’t get discouraged when people think the stuff I make is too weird to fit in the normal TV landscape. There IS no more normal TV landscape.