If you’ve ever asked yourself whether Heroes would have been better off as a limited series, you’re definitely not alone. Some TV execs are starting to wonder if high-concept shows (especially sci-fi series that rely on complex mythology) should last for only one or two seasons. There’s some thought that NBC’s Day One, a postapocalyptic drama from Heroes‘ Jesse Alexander that’s in development for fall, is better suited as a limited-run series. And CBS’ upcoming adventure Harper’s Island (bowing April 9) unfolds and wraps in just 13 episodes, during which the overarching whodunit will be solved.
“It’s a fictionalized Survivor,” explains CBS Paramount Network TV head David Stapf, who says that the show will change characters — and its title — if it ends up being picked up for more seasons. “If Survivor can work cycle in and cycle out with the same premise but different people, why can’t a fictionalized show?”
Drama scribes like Kevin Falls would certainly be open to the idea. Though his NBC show Journeyman never made it past its 13th episode last season, he got enough of a heads-up to craft an ending that he thinks made the show more appealing for the international and DVD marketplace.
Another perk of a short-run series? Says Falls, “It may deliver you a big-name actor…who doesn’t want to commit to TV for seven years.”