Over the years, TV shows “shrank”!
Observing DVD running times of shows from my prime viewing period of the Sixties, an hour-long show ran about an average of 50:00 to 52:00.
This would cover the period of Perry Mason, Outer Limits, Lost in Space, Star Trek TOS, Wild Wild West, Man From U.N.C.L.E., Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, etc.
There are two “modern” hour-long shows that I collect on DVD – Lost and Heroes. Their running times average 40:00 to 42:00. I’ll assume that is the modern standard.
We’ve lost about Ten Minutes per hour show, and (I’d guess) a corresponding drop-off for half-hour shows. I’m curious as to when that happened.
I suspect it was slow and gradual… a minute here, two minutes there, until ten minutes were excised. I further suspect it happened over the seventies and eighties, but those periods are not well represented in my collection.
Further, did a series actually shrink over its run? I would assume so, if it straddled the periods in question. Ironside ran from 1967 thru 1975. I wonder if the later episodes are shorter than the earlier episodes. Hawaii Five-O might be an even better test case, given the length of its run (1968-1980).
This is why, on the RARE OCCSAION that you ACTUALLY SEE an older show these days, it is always edited – and never aired uncut. I’m curious as to how we went about losing those ten minutes.
I posed this to an online forum, and received a wide range of theories including: Deregulation of the FCC – or back when programs had “specific sponsors”, the ads for other products were limited to give the primary sponsor the most indelible impression with the audience – to just plain old, garden variety corporate greed. But, no clear and winning direction emerged.
Your thoughts and comments are welcome… and, if you see those missing ten minutes (times the number of shows per season!) of LOST or HEROES, please let me know – they might make great DVD extras!