Does Anyone Else Feel Ripped Off By This Ultra-Short TV Season?


With season finale time right around the corner and many of our favorite series coming to a close, it’s time to be brutally honest.

The shortened seasons felt the full plight of the dual strikes. And you know what? It sucked.

Yes, the overall experience of having a shortened season has been a misfortune to diehard TV Fanatics.

But also, the quality of the seasons delivered to us has generally been any combination of disappointing, boring, unhinged, or perfunctory.

It’s an unusual situation when we craved the return of our favorite series for so long but quickly realized they should’ve forgone a rush job to salvage the television season and given themselves time to cook up better, stronger full seasons.

At the risk of sounding ungrateful, this shortened season could’ve been an email for some series.

It’s not the first time strikes have severely hampered the quality of an otherwise excellent series. The 2007-2008 Writers strike notoriously did some damage. Do you remember that abysmal murder plot for Friday Night Lights Season 2?

We don’t blame you if you’ve strategically pushed it out of your mind.

And juggernaut hits like Lost and Heroes saw questionable plot choices and dramatic shifts during the strike period.

Unsurprisingly, the dual strike year is similar, but it’s infinitely bleaker, too.

The issue with the truncated season formatting is that far too many series are ill-equipped to pull off the plots they desire to do in 10 episodes or less.

In some ways, it feels as if we’ve just gotten into the groove of the season. Now that it’s almost over, we’re left to wonder what was accomplished in the first place.

Regarding this season’s offerings, there has been a wide array of glaring issues with how some series have taken on this challenging situation.

We have some series that opted to cram a full 16-21 episode season worth of plots into roughly ten episodes, and thus, it’s all gas and no brakes with trying to draw out plot points in an organic manner.

If those behind certain shows are unaccustomed to the art of tighter storytelling within a specific frame, a series suffers for it.

It results in many congested installments with no connective tissue to carry one plot to the next.

Things like proper character development are set aside when a series focuses too much on flashy plots and not enough on the characters meant to carry them.

Another issue that’s become all too common is how easily you can tell that they’ve abandoned a concept to adapt to the shortened seasons, whether it makes sense to do so or not.

We’ve seen season premieres meant to address or pick up where season finales left off, but everything seemingly goes off the rails.

It results in complete tonal shifts for the series, as many shows have subsequently lost their steam by the second episode of the season.

Also, can we talk about the disappearing and postponed plots? It’s become grating.

With a shortened season, it’s evident that some series have hitched their all to one central plot point and dragged things out as long as possible with it, but when we go most of the season without touching upon it, what’s the point?

Case in point: The Rookie’s Season 5 Finale left us on the edge of our seats, wondering about the series’s latest villain and plans.

And The Rookie Season 6 Episode 1 naturally intended to continue with that, resulting in arguably one of the strongest premieres in an otherwise underwhelming television season across networks.

But they’ve since placed the most significant storyline on the back burner for the entire season. The upcoming finale will likely revolve around figuring out who is behind everything.

And that’s fine, but without even checking in with the case or sprinkling some context clues along the way all season, as we disappeared into contrived Chenford Breakup drama and a colossally dull child-planning plot, it’s blatant that we’re just biding time until the big finale.

Everything in between is essentially filler to carry us over until the big event. While The Rookie is arguably the best in the bunch for pulling this off, it’s still glaring.

It makes it difficult when they throw in what should be an essential storyline to explore a character but don’t have the time to develop it properly.

We’ve seen that with Tim Bradford, whose narrative during The Rookie Season 6 has consisted of the series illuminating us and Lucy on his Army background, including some decisions he made that essentially disrupt everything we know about how he’s been established as a character.

But because the season is under such a strict time constraint, there has yet to be enough time to delve deep into this arc, unpack it, and give it the breathing room to develop and adequately land before shifting into something else.

It becomes apparent with 9-1-1 as well, as Buck’s sexuality arc doesn’t have the space to blossom as it should.

We’ve seen something similar with Chicago PD: they sailed past adequately addressing the Ruzek cliffhanger and slowly dove into a compelling serial killer arc sporadically addressed throughout an otherwise underwhelming season.

The season finale will likely be the resolution to the season-long case.

However, with such a short season, they could’ve devoted it to just this one case instead of still attempting to balance the “Case of the Week” format and irritating viewers to pieces by sidelining half the cast and only doing centrics.

You would think that if any genre could adapt to a truncated season, it’d be that of a procedural, but many of them have struggled the most.

They’re perfectly set up for tighter storytelling and focusing exclusively on cases with some light interpersonal character matters sprinkled in, yet they’ve fallen short this season.

With Chicago Fire, they burned through so many miscellaneous plots, pardon the pun, without giving any of them any breathing room.

In a disappointing move, and one likely due to the Cast Shifts Via Budget Constraints, Gallo was written out.

His departure was so underwhelming for someone who has had such a strong presence that you’d have thought he was a run-of-the-mill guest star.

It felt as if there was little thought to how to write him out and zero emotion behind his exit.

And then they introduced Rome Flynn’s Gibson, seemingly building a fascinating storyline around him that could have easily carried throughout the season.

In a puzzling move, they wrapped it up and had him signing off in a measly six episodes.

Flynn barely had the chance to re-enter the character before he departed, though he piqued interest during his short stint.

But considering that outside of that, Chicago Fire has been merely going through the motions with no actual thematic string tying the season together, why couldn’t Gibson stick around?

Similarly, the FBI franchise has felt relatively aimless all season, as if they didn’t know what to do this season because there wasn’t enough time to juggle a handful of big plots, so they opted not to try.

With Law & Order: SVU, they dragged on the Maddie cast, which stopped being interesting by the end of the premiere and yet overstayed its welcome.

Between Olivia Benson collecting lackluster stray detectives like Infinity Stones and forgettable cases, there is little to brag about for this mediocre milestone 25th season.

More often than not, the vibe is that we’re treading water through this current season until season finales set the pace for what’s to come during the Fall.

As a result, this current strike-impacted, trimmed season has felt like filler to hold us over until the real seasons start up.

This season bridges the previous one and what’s upcoming — like a half-season crammed with filler.

It feels as if everything previously left on the cutting room floor over seasons was cobbled together and taken out for a spin, contributing to an overall disjointed vibe.

However, one of the most egregious issues with the shortened season is how it has impacted significant events related to some of our favorite series.

Sadly, Station 19 became a casualty, canceled ahead of this season, and thus shortchanging fans.

Can you think of anything worse than having less time to say goodbye to a series you devoted multiple years to watching?

Worse yet, because it was a shocking cancellation, the writers had to scramble to piece together a final season that actually made sense, did justice to the characters, and wrapped things up to the satisfaction of all.

But how do you do that in ten episodes?

This results in another pattern that shortened seasons have produced: a series of dropped storylines.

It’s lent itself to suspension of belief as well.

Saying goodbye to a series that has been fortunate enough to survive the past two seasons is difficult enough on its own.

Still, forcing viewers to do that when they’ve been cheated out of roughly half the episodes they would’ve gotten under normal circumstances is infuriating.

Nothing about that is fair.

We’ve seen that with The Good Doctor as well.

While, at the very least, we knew the series would be signing off, it’s no less frustrating that they didn’t get a full season for the swan song of one of the most influential autistic characters currently on the air.

And NCIS Hawaii’s cancelation felt like a total blindside, with no real chance to say goodbye to the characters in the way that one would’ve desired.

It’s not just show cancelations and sign offs that suffer from strike-caused brevity, but it’s character exits as well.

One of the more frustrating aspects of Hailey Upton’s impending departure from Chicago PD is that they’ve devoted most of this brief season to flimsily setting up her departure.

The narrative space it takes to set up this one character’s departure has resulted in the sidelining of other characters.

Meanwhile, as previously stated, series regulars, such as Gallo on Chicago Fire, got shuffled off with little fanfare, which felt like a disservice to the character.

The shocking news of Chief Boden’s impending departure is rivaled by the fact that nothing that has transpired during this middling season indicates how he’ll step back with only two remaining installments.

But then, FBI: International could proudly shout, “Hold my beer,” regarding the sendoff of team leader Scott Forrester.

His final episode aired, yet he wasn’t explicitly written out at all.

We had no proper buildup to this exit; the actor is gone, and Forrester’s absence is shrouded in ambiguity.

FBI: Most Wanted has notoriously had a cast shift issue, but their biggest problem this season is in how they continue to focus exclusively on one character, Remy, and little else.

Because we have fewer episodes in the season, this problem of theirs is far more glaring, similar to Chicago PD with Hailey.

And for 9-1-1’s Eddie Diaz, there have been a host of puzzling storylines that seem to suggest that the writers don’t even know what to do with the character anymore.

Meanwhile, series like Fire Country’s most significant problems have been more evident than ever, with no padding or enough episodes to hide some of its flaws.

According to our Fire Country reviewer, it’s a series that has suffered a sophomore slump.

And we previously discussed how the series flamed out this season,

Without extra episodes, we’ve seen the issues with Bode’s characterization focused on relentlessly with no break, and they threw in contrive plots like the paternity of Genevieve.

But more than anything, Fire Country Season 2 has crammed too many plots into the season with little payout.

In contrast, situations like Grey’s Anatomy have consisted of the season plodding on with no real substance or anything memorable happening.

It’s certainly not “must-watch” television; half the time, one forgets the plots that transpired when the credits rolled.

Whereas with Fire Country, everything and nothing happen at once, with Grey’s Anatomy, nothing truly happens.

This shortened season is simply fodder to carry us over until the real storylines begin the following season.

Even the attempts at grand moments, like Meredith’s appearances and the Arizona Robbins’ disappointing return, have fallen short and not been as impactful as necessary.

Milestone seasons (Law & Order: SVU) or 100th episode celebrations (The Rookie, Station 19, 9-1-1) had the misfortune of falling in a shortened season where there wasn’t enough time to champion the accomplishments with episodes that actually feel like celebrations.

And huge moments like Chim and Maddie or Bailey and Nolan’s weddings probably didn’t meet the high expectations of viewers.

As this tumultuous television season ends, saying things have been underwhelming would be an understatement.

With very few of our favorite returning series delivering on highly-anticipated seasons and some signing off and losing some of our favorite characters, it’s been a tough season to navigate.

It’s felt like a placeholder season to us, but we’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Over to you, TV Fanatics. Has the ultra-short season felt like a ripoff?

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You’ll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on X.

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