Better Call Saul, Westworld, and Game of Thrones: The relationship between patience, excellence

Call SaulWhen is Better Call Saul coming back? Why isn’t Westworld on the air this year?

These are the sort of questions that are littered around the internet right now, commonplace in an era where an increasingly large number of TV shows are breaking the traditional pattern. The way it used to be was that a season would premiere and the next season would come on approximately one year later. This is what we still seen with most network shows and many on cable to go along with it.

Yet, the exceptions are piling up. Better Call Saul is likely not premiering until late summer / early fall 2018, and that’s following Breaking Bad having some long breaks in the action. Meanwhile, Westworld season 2 is not airing in 2017 after premiering in the fall of 2016, Game of Thrones is likely set to be off the air for at least another year, and we just reported earlier that Stranger Things 3 is presumably done until early 2019. Even in the comedy realm you had Master of None coming back earlier this year after a substantial break.

Why the change? Why are we forced to wait longer these days for shows when we used to get them faster? With so much technology shouldn’t things be more efficient? Not necessarily. We’re living in an era where expectations are so much higher than ever before. TV has to look better, feel better, and each show has to stand out in the midst of more programming than ever before. Nobody is accustomed to having this much pressure to consistently be amazing. This is an era where social-media criticism is rampant and one wrong decision leads to a deluge of criticism — and not all of it is put in an altogether nice way.

The first reason for the longer delays is rather simple: It takes more time for some of the scripts to be written than before. Quality takes time, especially for shows that are super-serialized or, in some cases, shows with a limited pool of writers. When you get near the end of shows (see Game of Thrones) it often ups the ante and makes you work even harder to come up with the right scripts and the right conclusions.

Another obvious reason has to do with post-production and higher budgets. Shows like Westworld, Game of Thrones, and Stranger Things are basically cinema quality shows in television format. You wouldn’t expect a big-budget movie to be made in a year, would you? There’s a trade-off if you want those dragons, monsters, or various other CGI effects. The same goes for filming out on location, especially for shows that move locations around on a fairly regular basis.

In summation, there’s a relationship between patience and excellence with some of your TV shows. If you want TV to continue to be in the golden age it’s in, you have to be willing to accept it feeling a little bit more like the movies.

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