Forums: Ask the Editors: When Do Seasons Begin?

  • Avatar of Vandaman11


    [1]Mar 5, 2009
    • member since: 12/05/08
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    When does a series season begin? It looks like many shows run from Sep of one year, beginning with episode 1 for that season until August of the next year. And yet, other shows seem to run by calendar year, with Jan beginning with episode 1 for the season.

    Some series seem to run every week, year round...some documentaries, for example...with no seasonal break...

    Are there any guidelines for this?


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  • Avatar of Gislef


    [2]Mar 5, 2009
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    Traditionally in the U.S., a "season" starts in September and ends in May. However, with the increase in cable shows, mid-season replacements, and summer tryouts, there really is no given pattern.

    For shows that run year round, as you say, there really is no "season," and some folks use the beginning of the calendar year to demarcate new seasons.

    If the show's episodes have a production code, that may give a clue to when a new batch/season of episodes start.
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  • Avatar of Angus_Mac


    [3]Mar 5, 2009
    • member since: 04/29/05
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    Some series are branded differently across seasons. There might be a new opening or closing video, major cast billing changes, costume changes, title changes. Unofficial 3-digit production codes might jump from 101 to 201. In television show archives, you might see a collection of episodes clumped under a series. DVDs sometimes have their own season demarcation. British shows sometimes call their seasons Series X, where X is a specific number. Half-series are fairly popular these days. Some shows mark their seasons by their major storylines. Some videos just clump an assortment of episodes and call it a season.
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  • Avatar of more_ncis_now


    [4]Mar 6, 2009
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    From a UK point of view, there are no standard TV seasons within a year like there are in the US. Certain shows often start at similar times of the year (reality shows are a prime example of this) but there's generally no time during the year when several shows all start airing, as tends to happen in the US.
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  • Avatar of TheOldBill


    [5]Mar 8, 2009
    • member since: 05/12/05
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    For most shows, it's fairly clear when a season begins and ends. For never-ending shows, like soaps and chat shows, some guides follow an unofficial convention whereby each new calendar year marks a new season. In all cases, the official view of the broadcaster/production company would trump a contributor's preference.

    I edit two police procedurals which, having started off as conventional shows running for defined seasons, started running year round without a break. For one of these shows, I treat the first episode broadcast on or after January 1 as marking a new season. For the other show, the broadcaster/production company treated a run of 400+ episodes broadcast over 50+ months as a single season. So does our guide.

    I edit a couple of shows where the DVD releases group episodes in seasons that are at odds with those used by the original broadcaster. Our guides generally reflect the first broadcast of shows on the original network and I prefer the conventions used in the original press releases and TV listings to those determined after the fact, which are sometimes designed to ensure even distribution of episodes between DVD sets. I know of one editor who ignores the original broadcast schedule in favour of her own season conventions. As she does not share this insight with anyone else, she is able to ensure that only she is able to add new episodes to the guide.

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