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'FlashForward' and 'V': Can viewers handle long breaks in TV seasons?

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This is officially network TV’s Year of the Hiatus. Yesterday’s announcement that ABC’s FlashForward won’t be returning until March 4 follows the network’s plan to give rookie V a long break. Fox earned itself some reader discontent announcing that Glee would take a post-Sectionals hiatus until April 13. Lie to Me will also be gone. What’s a viewer to make of all this?

Lost and 24 both demonstrate the best thing about a long hiatus: no reruns! Serialized TV is supposed to leave you breathlessly desperate for more, more, more! at the end of every episode. Back in 24’s early seasons, we all used to scream at the sound of the “Next Time On” dude uttering the terrible words “24 returns in four weeks. And as much as the term “fall finale” feels like a PR invention, you have to admit that some shows have really run with the idea. FlashForward’s fall finale, which aired last night, might’ve been its best episode yet.

On the other hand, there’s plenty of evidence that long breaks can be problematic. Viewership can evaporate for already-struggling shows. And as annoying as reruns were, there was something pleasant about the lengthy spread of an old TV season, especially since it gave TV creators a chance to gauge viewer reaction. Put it this way: What if an entire season of Lost featuring Nikki and Paolo had already been completely shot before a single episode aired?

What do you think, PopWatchers? Do you like the idea of eradicating reruns, or are the long hiatuses of your favorite shows driving you even further away from network TV? And do you think that FlashForward and V will survive their break, or are they both destined to be beautiful, tragic one-season wonders?

Photo Credit: V: Sergei Bachlakov/ABC; FlashForward: Ron Tom/ABC