July 12, 2011

THE SKED: Terra Nova and Other Short Orders

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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The typical episodic order for a new Fall show is 13 episodes, with a network option for 9 more (known as the “back-order”) to bring the full season to 22 episodes.  Shows that debut at Midseason typically get the same 13 episode initial order, with the network having a 13 + 9 option in their second seasons.  There are certainly plenty of exceptions to those rules, but TV Guide is reporting an unusual number of oddities this coming season:

Most curious is the fact that even though FOX’s TERRA NOVA debuts in the Fall, it will apparently have only a 13-episode run next season no matter how successful it is.  This is presumably due to the same production difficulties that have led to multiple postponements of the show along the way.  (See our Pilot Report here.)  If the producers can’t get their act together to produce more than 13 hours in a 9-month TV season, one has to wonder how the show–which is hugely expensive by ordinary network standards–will work going forward.  
ABC is responsible for most of the other short orders, which are probably attributable to the network choosing an unusually large number of midseason hours with limited space (and budget) to air them:
GOOD CHRISTIAN BELLES (which is apparently now called GCB):  10 episodes (pilot report here)
THE RIVER:  8 episodes (pilot report here)
SCANDAL:  7 episodes (pilot report here)
MISSING:  10 episodes (no pilot yet)

Also, NBC has ordered 6 episodes each of its midseason sitcoms BENT (pilot report here) and BEST FRIENDS FOREVER (no pilot yet)

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."