Wednesday, April 28, 2010

American Idol: Can't anyone here produce a TV show?

Okay, this is just getting stupid now. After everyone got so angry last week about "American Idol" running five minutes long (despite only having seven performances to stretch out over an hour) and cutting off people's DVR recordings of "Glee" (and after people were torqued that the "Idol" Gives Back results show ran 17 hours long and prevented part of America from enjoying Tim Urban's elimination), the show somehow ran long again last night. It was only by a minute or two, but once again people watching "Glee" on a DVR delay lost part of the final musical number.

After the jump, I look at who's potentially to blame, and what can be done to fix things...

Okay, so our candidates for blame, in no particular order:

Bruce Gowers: He's the director of the show (Emmy-winning director, no less, even though they can't bring it in on time and the cameras are never where they should be), so on one level the buck stops with him. By now, he should have realized they're having trouble with time and ordered some things cut, whether it's judge talk, or Ryan Seacrest chatting up Shania Twain to fill time that ultimately didn't need to be filled, or what have you. Keep the show lean and mean for the first 2/3rds, and if it looks like there will be time, you can do a little padding around the last few performances. In a live telecast, the director is calling the shots, and Gower has failed miserably in this area.

Ryan Seacrest: Keeping the trains running on time has always been one of Seacrest's specialties, but he's been flaky in a lot of ways this season, including this one. If Gowers isn't telling him to cut the judges off when they start to bicker, or to go straight to the phone numbers once Simon's done talking, then Seacrest needs to take that initiative on his own and get things moving. Again, save the contestant-judge dialogue for late in the show if it's abundantly clear you have time to spare.

Four judges: It still boggles my mind that it occurred to no one on the show last year that bringing in a fourth judge would consume air time, and that something else would have to give. What's given, for the most part, is the number of songs - we're only going to get 5 next week, when in the pre-Kara days, we would have gotten 10 (two from each contestant) - even though that's the whole point of the show. But even when stretching 12 songs over 2 hours, or 6 songs over 1, the judges still consume way too much air and airtime. And it isn't just that there's an extra judge, but that Kara and Ellen are both chattier than Paula was (Paula, for all her insanity, seemed aware that she should stop talking after a while). So by the time we get to Simon (the other major reason for watching), the other three have gone on so much that the show is running long, and Simon gets cut off abruptly more often than not. They all need to be given earpieces so that Gowers (or, hopefully, someone more competent) can tell them to wrap it up and hand things off to the next judge. That, or they need to be given shock collars that go off if they run over their allotted time.

The producers: Again, four judges is too many. They either needed to not replace Paula when she left (and I was saying that even before Ellen turned out to be a complete waste of time), or they needed to be willing to sacrifice some other part of the show. I don't care if that's the mentor clips, or the Seacresterviews (which, admittedly, Coke sponsors), the introduction, or what have you, but something had to give, and nothing has. And as the bosses of the judges, Seacrest and Gowers, they should have authority to speed things up. But they don't seem to care.

Fox: The sense I get from talking to people at Fox is that they're as annoyed by this as the rest of us - several "Fringe" episodes got messed up this way last spring, and now it's happening to "Glee," a much more important piece of the network's future - but they have no control over the "Idol" producers. When a show is as big a hit as "Idol" is - single-handedly carrying Fox to a first-place Nielsen finish season after season - the producers realize that the network needs them more than they need the network, and they can do what they want with impunity. What's Fox going to do? Cancel "Idol"? Cut off the telecasts at 9 no matter what? (That would anger even more people than are being irked about the "Glee" thing.)

Basically, until Ken Warwick and company decide they care about ending on time, we're stuck with this mess. So if you watch "Idol" and/or "Glee," make sure your recordings are padded by a minimum of five minutes every week. And even that wouldn't have helped you with last week's results show. Sigh...

43 comments:

NeilAllen said...

I may need to get another DVR just for this nonsense. Once it hits 10 on a Tuesday the DVR stays on Lost/V and switches over to "The Good Wife". Tuesday's a tough night where I can't really spare the extra 5 minutes after 10 for Glee.

Allie said...

This is JUST what I was annoyed about - two weeks in a row now. Tuesday night is packed with things I record and again. the end of "Glee" is painfully screwed up because Idol wastes time with the yap hogs. Seems like Cowell pouted for attention and then added nothing and probably wasted a minute. That's just a start.

Unless they keep repeating "Glee" this is terrible. And it's still annoying as all hell.

Matt said...

I have declared American Idol part of the "Axis of Evil"

Karen said...

They need a countdown clock. Each judge gets a ticking reminder of how long he or she gets to talk.

It's really an outrage. I think the FOX affiliates should just cut off the overage and go to their next show (but then I do watch Glee and I don't watch AI, so I'm prejudiced).

Chris said...

I mean, yeah, it's annoying, but really how hard is it to go to the Fox site and watch the last couple of minutes of Glee? It's not like you're truly missing out on a live TV event or something.

Anonymous said...

Why are we so sure that this isn't what Fox wants? The constant, unpredictable overruns encourage the audience to watch live rather than DVR.

dez said...

That, or they need to be given shock collars that go off if they run over their allotted time.

I vote for this. I would even set aside my hatred of AI to watch if they instituted this as a method of controlling the judgespeak.

Like others above, my Tuesdays are packed with DVR bizness, and GLEE going over a few minutes just blows everything to heck. Damn you, AI! Damn you to hell!

Josh said...

It seems to me that Fox wouldn't complain too much (unless there are some issue the networks have with affiliates), if only because the Idol ratings will overlap into Glee if it goes over.

That doesn't explain away why Idol can't do six songs in an hour, but if Fox is all about the ratings, I can't see them being too sad/angry about this combo, even if it goes a bit long.

Ally said...

After missing the end of two Fringe episodes last year, I got wise and started setting the DVR for 5 minutes over when AI was the lead in. But it is ridiculous that you have to do that. What was worse was that our local news came on at 10 last week even though Glee should have still been on. Thank goodness Fox reaired it so I could see the Like a Prayer number on TV.

MPH said...

I raised this in my comment on the AI thread... you would think the affiliates would be affected, because when AI runs over, so does Glee, which means that their news broadcast doesn't start on time either.

Could be an issue for those people just tuning in at 10 hoping to get some local news..

Ryan said...

American Idol is practically unwatchable by now and the format has been run into the ground. Doesn't help that Kara and Ellen are insufferable judges and Randy's not much better. But I do enjoy Glee as a guilty pleasure, particularly Jane Lynch and her witty one-liners. For those affected by AI running over its scheduled time, Hulu offers the full-length episode of Glee the morning after the airing, which is what I usually do.

Heather said...

Ultimately, the buck does stop with the directors/producers, but as I flipped on Fox last night for Glee, and it was running over yet again, all I could think was - this is Ryan's entire job! The whole point of Ryan Seacrest on American Idol is to keep things moving and bring the show in on time. If he can't do that, WHY IS HE THERE?

Stephen said...

Viewers: If it's a recurring thing, take the extra 20 seconds to add 10 minutes extra time on your DVRs. It's such a simple thing really. (My DVR even automatically suggests adding extra time for live events.) People just love complaining.

iamnoahjames.com said...

I don't think you understand the real story under all of this. Running long means that you'll stay for the next show (since you already missed 5 minutes of any network's show).

Then the next show will run a little long, which will help the 10p news on FOX with ratings.

So not only does it help FOX retain the Idol ratings, but it undercut the other networks' ratings.

Schmoker said...

I know you talked to FOX and came down on the side that they were annoyed also, but is it possible they are BSing you? This situation, while it bugs Glee fans, keeps people from watching other networks both live and via DVR. If watching live, you miss the start of shows on other nets, while if you are a DVR person, then you are screwed when trying to tape multiple networks if FOX is forcing you to alter your taping times. I, for one, cannot extend my Glee DVR time because it runs over into Justified and V if I do. Plus, Lost often runs past 10 pm, so that screws things up even more.

Sitting at home, I just cannot believe the FOX isn't getting something out of this.

renton said...

Well, I watch/record a couple of 10p ET shows and Lost also spills over into that hour. Since I can't set my DVR to go 10 extra minutes, I'll just stop watching Glee if I know that Idol ran late.

I'm sick of the spillover - especially, as Alan pointed out, when the show has fewer singers every week.

LA said...

Screw FOX, I turn the g-d channel.

Bryan said...

It's annoying no doubt - but I'm in the "it's intentional camp" - As Alan pointed out there are at least six people that could fix this if they wanted to. They don't want to.

Gayle said...

Lost routinely runs past the hour, but the DVR appropriately shows the time extension.

Of course it's not a big deal to pad the DVR at the end of Glee to make up for Idol's overrun (intentional or reckless) but if one is also recording something else after Glee, that's not possible.

IMO, it shows disregard for the viewers and if the execs are really upset about it, they should stop wringing their hands and do something.

Alan Forkosh said...

While the spillover causes problems for DVR taping of other broadcast networks at 10pm, it does not usually cause a problem for shows on FX (such as 'Justified'). FX runs the show several times, including a repeat of the 10pm showing at 11pm (or a few minutes after). Just remember that, on occasion, FX shows run long: when I know that I am going to record the 11pm showing of 'Justified', I add 10 to 15 minutes padding at the end to cover any overage from the first showing and assume that it will also be in the second showing.

ST said...

@Stephen: It's not as simple as you think. Sure, telling the DVR to tack on time is easy, but if you record two shows in the time slot after Glee (or one show if you don't have a dual-signal DVR), that means you've just dropped a show recording because of the overlap between Glee and one of the other shows after it, just because Idol ran long.

Hollywoodaholic said...

There's no way that Fox or Ryan or the directors couldn't easily speed things up as needed or fix this if they wanted. As previously mentioned, it discourages DVR, and promotes staying on the channel into the next show since you just missed the opening of other network shows.

rosengje said...

I would agree with all the conspiracy theorists, except that the time constraints are clearly hurting the quality of the show. It isn't like they are still giving each contestant two songs to sing and they are going over. Instead, they are going over because of the judges babbling. That pisses off both people trying to watch the shows after American Idol and the actual fans of the show. With competition from X Factor looming, it doesn't make sense to me for them to be allowing such gross excesses.

Dave T said...

Viewers: If it's a recurring thing, take the extra 20 seconds to add 10 minutes extra time on your DVRs. It's such a simple thing really.

Yeah, I did that. Then they ran over by TWENTY minutes!

I'm showing my age here, but I remember when a show scheduled to run from 8 to 9 actually started at 8 and ended by 9!

Running long means that you'll stay for the next show

Not if I don't want to!

IMO, it shows disregard for the viewers and if the execs are really upset about it, they should stop wringing their hands and do something.

This time showing not so much my age as my understanding of TV history ...

In "the old days," Jack Benny and the like would close by thanking the viewers for "inviting us into your home." They knew that people were making a conscious decision to watch them, and were grateful.

Now the networks feel entitled to our viewership, which is backwards. Back then, if you were watching TV, it was Benny and maybe 2 other choices. With 500 choices of channels, plus Netflix et al, there's even less of a reason to feel entitled.

Yes, they want us to watch it live, but the world ain't like that anymore. We don't just sit in front of the TV from 8 to 11 every night. Instead of complaining about VCRs and DVRs, they should be thankful they exist and allow us to watch their product in the first place!

(Word Verif: "morkarcu" - a spaceman who lands in Romania)

Dave T said...

Viewers: If it's a recurring thing, take the extra 20 seconds to add 10 minutes extra time on your DVRs. It's such a simple thing really.

Yeah, I did that. Then they ran over by TWENTY minutes!

I'm showing my age here, but I remember when a show scheduled to run from 8 to 9 actually started at 8 and ended by 9!

Running long means that you'll stay for the next show

Not if I don't want to!

IMO, it shows disregard for the viewers and if the execs are really upset about it, they should stop wringing their hands and do something.

This time showing not so much my age as my understanding of TV history ...

In "the old days," Jack Benny and the like would close by thanking the viewers for "inviting us into your home." They knew that people were making a conscious decision to watch them, and were grateful.

Now the networks feel entitled to our viewership, which is backwards. Back then, if you were watching TV, it was Benny and maybe 2 other choices. With 500 choices of channels, plus Netflix et al, there's even less of a reason to feel entitled.

Yes, they want us to watch it live, but the world ain't like that anymore. We don't just sit in front of the TV from 8 to 11 every night. Instead of complaining about VCRs and DVRs, they should be thankful they exist and allow us to watch their product in the first place!

(Word Verif: "morkarcu" - a spaceman who lands in Romania)

Dave T said...

sorry about that -- I had thought the first posting got eaten

Anonymous said...

I'm kind of a technological idiot, but I don't understand how the DVR system hasn't progressed to the point where the recordings don't start until the actual program begins. It seems like this should be pretty easy, and I feel like all it would take is the person ad Comcast/Verizon or whatever cable company syncing the channel guide with what is actually on screen. Is there any easy way to do that or am I not fully understanding how the DVR works?

Having said that, still completely unacceptable that this continues to happen.

-MJ

Melanie said...

In case this might help anyone:

I have Comcast digital, and The Good Wife, Parenthood and Justified all are available On Demand for me. So there's that. Gave up on V, so I don't know about that one.

And yes, Justified is re-broadcast by FX, but according to my DVR the original broadcast always seems to be longer by a minute than the re-broadcasts. I don't want to miss out on an entire minute of Olyphanty goodness.

Of course, throw in a new Lost episode next week and all bets are off. Actually? Glee loses. The hell with it.

Pamela Jaye said...

>(My DVR even automatically suggests adding extra time for live events.)

But Glee isn't a live event. I've had many reasons to hate American Idol over the years. Just add one more. Man, Dancing With the Stars can get it in on time. (sometimes it feels iffy but so far....) I guess Tom Bergeron can get his job done, and Seacrest can't. Someone should tell Dick Clark.

Pamela Jaye said...

>I'm kind of a technological idiot, but I don't understand how the DVR system hasn't progressed to the point where the recordings don't start until the actual program begins. It seems like this should be pretty easy, and I feel like all it would take is the person ad Comcast/Verizon or whatever cable company syncing the channel guide with what is actually on screen.

One time Tivo tried that - with Grey's Anatomy. As I've heard it, there were two models of Tivo at the time. They decided mid-broadcast to reset the end time by about two minutes.

The old Tivos immediately stopped recording the show. The new ones kept running.
Something like that. (could have been the new ones that spit up, I don't know - I have mythTV, we get our schedules from Tribune Media, I believe, and the machine only checks them once a day.)
In any case, viewers of Glee are either aware of what's on before and take responsibility for the network's job, or we are screwed. Lucky us.

Mandy said...

I can't record the extra minutes at the end of Glee if I want to catch the beginning of both Parenthood and Justified. It's just a big annoyance.

Alan Forkosh said...

"And yes, Justified is re-broadcast by FX, but according to my DVR the original broadcast always seems to be longer by a minute than the re-broadcasts. I don't want to miss out on an entire minute of Olyphanty goodness."

I believe that the extra minute or so is to squeeze in an extra commercial or two in prime time.

Hollywoodaholic said...

@Mandy

Justified runs the same episode again immediately following at 11 p.m. So just record the 11 p.m. showing (or one of the other repeat FX showings) and it won't conflict with other 10 p.m. recordings or DVR limits.

Karyn said...

I would imagine that Fox isn't actually all that happy about it, since the younger demographic (to which they are presumably catering) is more likely to turn to watching Glee on Hulu / alternative sources than watch it live if they can't trust their DVRs. The two Glee episodes aired before this are already the third and fourth most watched videos on the site this month.

While I'm sure their partnership with Hulu yields them some kind of compensation, I'm sure it's nothing compared to what demographic brings in TV revenue. Maybe fewer people do this than I think, but I'm betting if you give technologically savvy people the choice of "live" or "internet" it's more likely internet.

Nicole said...

I suspect they drag out Idol past 9 pm in the hopes that the audience will not bother to flip over to Lost since it would have already started and missing the first few minutes could be crucial for that particular show. The week where the overflow is the least happens to be the week where Lost is a rerun.

Not all Fox affiliates have 10pm newscasts and since Glee ends up running late, Fox is still airing the commercials originally intended. In many cases, it ends up being a Seinfeld rerun that gets cut short, so it's not a loss for as many affiliates, as an overrun for an NBC, CBS or ABC station, where they all have 11 pm newscasts.

Melanie said...

"I believe that the extra minute or so is to squeeze in an extra commercial or two in prime time."

Huh, that's a thought. I'd like to know for sure though, as I know it wouldn't be the first time for a cable drama to cut a scene from re-broadcasts.

Melanie said...

Of course, as with The Good Wife and Parenthood, I could always just catch Justified on On Demand -- that's assuming that they would be showing the original version.

Hatfield said...

Like others above, my Tuesdays are packed with DVR bizness, and GLEE going over a few minutes just blows everything to heck. Damn you, AI! Damn you to hell!

dez, I love that you damned it to Hell just a few words after everything got blown to heck. Nicely done.

And I third the shock collars. Hell, how about the exploding kind from the movie version of The Running Man?

tankthat said...

There is another solution to be had here, but it would cost Fox money on their bottom line. Many shows on other networks have gone to the 58 minute format. This cuts out a commercial or two in the 10 oclock hour series but gives them another couple of commercials in the previous hour.

Going to a 58 minute format for Glee would solve so many issues, because its not often that the overrun is more than those 2 extra minutes. Plan for the overrun on the network level and make sure you make that episode of Glee end at 10 no matter what.

Henry said...

Yeah, this has become a problem. Would be easily rectified if Fox could rerun the episode of Glee on Saturday night like they did with the Madonna episode last week (though they didn't with the stupendous Kristin Chenowith episode this week). It seems however that TPTB that control the American Idol juggernaut will not change things (the lack of comments on the problem by the network post-broadcast speaks VOLUMES) and we're all stuck.

I'd add five minutes to the recording of Glee... if I wasn't recording Lost (which takes priority over AI and sometimes runs over time) and V and Parenthood on NBC in the same timeslot as Glee. It creates a big problem because the DirecTV DVR (as with most DVRs in homes) I have won't record three programs simultaneously. I don't care for AI but it upsets me that Glee gets cut off. And also, there is the problem that people now have no idea when AI will end. It could be as short as a minute over or as long as 20 minutes over (which I think is just ridiculous). I remember railing against this error when they completely cut off a full scene at the end of Fringe last season and I went ballistic. Eventually saw the scene on Hulu but that shouldn't be happening with a show like American Idol.

And programs can't just start recording when a program begins in a DVR. This isn't like VCR recording, where you can adjust. The system guide is programmed in half hour increments and records based on time, NOT the program airing.

It's times like this where I just think Fox is a really incompetent network.

Katie said...

For me the biggest issue came last week when I was watching Glee LIVE and had the final number interrupted by the local 9 pm newscast; no amount of DVR padding would've corrected that one.

Needless to say, I wasn't happy this week when I actually had to DVR the show and lost the last part of Kristin Chenoweth's brilliant rendition of "Home." We will definitely be padding the show until AI is over.

...and if AI runs long and causes the preview of "The Good Guys" to start late, there will be hell to pay. Seriously; I'll send Bradley Whitford's pornstache after Ryan Seacrest.

Stonecutter said...

Alan, regarding the extra judge versus the extra songs, do you think the producers did it to save money? I can't imagine that the rights fees for all those extra songs wouldn't exceed what they're paying Kara.

jimmo said...

its a Fox/ AT&T conspiracy! The Uverse DVR is the only one that can solve the issue, albeit with one or two of the shows in standard-def