It was this spring when we first heard from Kurt Sutter that “Sons of Anarchy” could feature longer episodes once again. Given that season 5 had its share of episodes that went well past the 11:00 p.m. mark this was hardly a surprise, but how many episodes this time are going to be longer then an hour? Well, we now have an estimate for you.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly recently, the show creator stated that there would be at least four episodes that are at the 90-minute mark including commercials, with the words “at least” suggesting that this number could rise depending on the post-production process.
As for the reason why the SAMCRO world is getting a little bit of extra love this season, his answer was simple, and related to the depth of the content:
“A lot of the dynamics and relationship stuff take a little longer to unravel. Things just don’t happen as quickly. They’re much more complicated.”
Whenever you are this far along in a series’ run, there is a trade-off that almost has to happen between the content creators and the network itself. You can either keep the episodes in the 42-47 minute range, and in the process either marginalize or kill off characters in order to justify it, or you can instead merely extend the episode to tell the stories in which you mean to tell. Luckily, “Sons of Anarchy” airs on a network in FX that has shown it’s self to be focused on the creators-first, since other broadcasters may not have allowed the series to be so liberal.
There are clearly some shows on television that do not need 90-minute episodes, and some to be honest really don’t even need 30. (Luckily, most of those are canceled.) The truth here is that while there have been many deaths on this series, Sutter’s reputation as a TV death-dealer is exaggerated, as is the notion that creators kill for shock value or some sort of sadistic pleasure. The reason there are so many details to unravel is because many characters are still alive. Six years is a long time to get to know a fictional face, and there is the history here between the likes of Jax, Gemma, Clay, and others to justify the means.
So no, we wouldn’t watch 90-minute episodes of most network shows, especially the ones with 22 episodes whose stories are strung out thinner than spaghetti. But we would gladly watch 90 minutes of “Sons of Anarchy” or another show that is equally rich in story and quality. It’s far and away better than being left with just fragments of a story over the course of an hour, and seeing scenes that are genuinely important to the emotional process being cut.
“Sons of Anarchy” will kick off season 6 on September 10 at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time with an extended episode. We’ll be watching, and we’ll be doing some in-depth scene analysis (similar to what we are doing this year with “Breaking Bad”) all season long.