Do animated miniseries have a future?

Rhaynebow

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2013
Messages
2,454
Location
New York
Earlier today I read an article from Animation Magazine about Over the Garden Wall, Cartoon Network's first miniseries. Though the show was a huge success, the creator talked about how difficult it was to make the show in the first place because it was so different.
And besides miniseries, I also want to bring up the plot-driven shows like Legend of Korra. An article posted by Salon.com last summer interviewing Mike and Bryan had the two state that what made both Avatar and Korra so good was that they were designed to end.

Both types of shows carry the same idea of an ENDING. My question is finding out whether shows like these have a future in the animated tv industry. I personally think they would do well because the shows wouldn't go on and on and become stale (like Family Guy and FOP), and the writers won't have to dance around potential plot elements just to make the show last longer (which is why I can't get into AT). What do you guys think?
 

Light Lucario

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
May 11, 2007
Messages
48,165
Location
In a Dream World
I could definitely see more animated miniseries down the line, at least on Cartoon Network. After how successful Over the Garden Wall was, I'm sure that they might consider doing another miniseries and I'd be all for that. I loved Over the Garden Wall since it captured everything it needed to do in just ten episodes. It would have been nice if it lasted longer, but it was a miniseries after all.

As for series with planned endings, or at least how many seasons they'll have, I'm not sure about that. The end goal in mind can help prevent a series from dragging on for too long, but if it's a huge hit, networks and studios might try to get more seasons out of the show for marketing reasons.
 

Zanneck

HAIL NEO ARCADIA. NEO ARCADIA FOREVER.
Joined
Sep 26, 2011
Messages
11,585
Location
Neo Arcadia, USA
Every good show needs an ending. Every bad show needs cancellation. But this can only happen in a world where execs don't market something because it's some kind of cash cow. All I know is that there would be a lot less shows dragging on in this perfect world and good shows with an endgame in mind (in order for creators to stay creative by moving on to other things to work on if they haven't been drained, that is...) would thankfully reach that said endgame - kinda like how Over the Garden Wall succeeded.
 

Dudley

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Aug 10, 2003
Messages
29,189
Location
East Coast of USA
The problem with long running shows is that over time new writers come in and old ones leave thus causing the show to not be able to keep a consistent quality through its run.

I admire how in anime they have long running shows that don't have this issue, but that's mostly due to being based on a pre-existing work, among other factors.

Regardless, they definitely should make more animated mini-series. If they ever felt the need to continue the story due to popular demand, they can always make DTV movies or TV specials, instead of making another season.
 

Goldstar Neo

Good Morning!
Joined
Jun 4, 2007
Messages
21,373
Location
Cartoon Country
One problem with miniseries is that like episodic sagas, miniseries don't have much replay value. Not many people want to re-watch a saga after the story is told. It's like finishing an RPG; not many people want to replay an RPG once they've beaten it.

Another thing is merchandising. Many toy companies aren't interested in licensing characters from a limited run series.
 

Silverstar

Rock the Dragon
Joined
Jun 4, 2007
Messages
29,508
Location
Cartoonland
Personally, I think a good average run for an animated series is 3 seasons. Maybe, maybe squeeze in a 4th if demand is high and the team responsible for said show feels like they can effectively do another season, but no more after that. If after that there's still a demand for more, then release a half-hour special or a DTV every so often. That way, the audience gets some breathing room between installments, the cast and crew can just come back to it every so often instead of them being locked into the show for life and it prevents the show from becoming a zombie that refuses to stay dead.

I'd also reduce the minimum number of episodes which constitute a season, say, to just 6, 7 or 8 shows per season as opposed to 13. This would lighten the workload for the people working on it and keep the show from becoming stale sooner.
 

Rhaynebow

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2013
Messages
2,454
Location
New York
One problem with miniseries is that like episodic sagas, miniseries don't have much replay value. Not many people want to re-watch a saga after the story is told. It's like finishing an RPG; not many people want to replay an RPG once they've beaten it. Another thing is merchandising. Many toy companies aren't interested in licensing characters from a limited run series.

Those are really good cons to miniseries. Probably the main reasons why networks don't really want them.
 

Gatordragon

Learning and Animating
Joined
May 14, 2012
Messages
11,299
Location
The Land of Flowers
One problem with miniseries is that like episodic sagas, miniseries don't have much replay value. Not many people want to re-watch a saga after the story is told. It's like finishing an RPG; not many people want to replay an RPG once they've beaten it.

Another thing is merchandising. Many toy companies aren't interested in licensing characters from a limited run series.

Eh, depends on the RPG. The Fallout series and the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series have plenty of nonlinearity and branching paths to have a lot of replay value.

Anyway, if we're going to talk about the pros and cons of miniseries, I made a thread last year discussing that. I'll paste the pros and cons from that thread here:

PROS:
1. Miniseries are made with a definite ending in mind, so they'll have tighter and more developed stories.
2. The limited amount of episodes means that they are more likely to have higher production values. This means better looking animation.
3. Since they don't have to worry about the long run, they can take more chances and try different things.
4. Better DVD sales potential. (This wasn't from my thread. I got it from here).


CONS:
1. Since miniseries only have a limited supply of episodes, they can be more expensive to produce relative to the amount of money they make.
2. Miniseries are designed to be watched from the first episode to the last episode. Therefore, it's not easy to get into a miniseries by starting in the middle as you may get lost and confused.
 

Ed Liu

Frog of Thunder
Staff member
Moderator
Reporter
Joined
Sep 6, 2001
Messages
14,282
Location
Princeton Jct, NJ
Short version: yes, I think animated mini-series have a future, as soon as someone can make the economics work.

If animated mini-series have a future, I think it's going to be coming from the changing economics of the entertainment landscape. A vast number of things (Internet streaming, cable channel proliferation, alternative entertainments) are all combining to ensure that the TV and movie business as we have known it for years will need to change or die. I strongly suspect Over the Garden Wall is a test balloon as much as anything else to see if the economics of a mini-series can work. I think the problem that most of the big media companies face now is that they've done business one way for decades, and are highly reluctant to spend money now to figure out how to solve the problems of these new economics when there's no built-in barrier to entry in doing so. Sony isn't going to be willing to lose money on experiments when Warner Bros or Disney can just swoop in and copy them when one of the experiments wo

The issue as I've always seen it with TV series (and, for that matter, almost any form of serialized fiction) is that the commercial needs and the artistic ones are fundamentally at odds with each other. Stories need to end. Serial fiction needs to run forever, or at least as long as it looks like they're making money. Some serial fiction has done better than others in running a long time (the Bond movie franchise being the best example to my mind), but most really doesn't (look at the average soap opera, where problems of serial fiction are exacerbated because it's a 5-day-a-week drama running for years instead of weekly or monthly). I think you can build change into a serial fiction concept specifically so you can keep it going forever (Doctor Who seems to have been the most successful at this; in principle; Green Lantern and the X-Men should also but in practice I find their comics to be the most hidebound and resistant to change than nearly anything else), but it's hard to do and limits what you can do in principle.

A mini-series is a nice way to get something more substantial than a 2-hour movie without sacrificing more natural storytelling. I'm not sure I agree that mini-series have no replay value, since I think it really depends on the mini-series. I will still happily re-watch something like Band of Brothers even though I know how it ends, but I am not sure I'm ready to commit the 10 hours to rewatch the whole thing. Then again, it's also structured where you don't have strict continuity between episodes -- you can watch just one episode and stop, vs. Over the Garden Wall (where trying to pick up in the middle will, at most, make you think, "I should watch this from the beginning" but may just leave you horribly confused). Then again, I think that looser continuity is just something to make it a better sell to syndication, which is another holdover in TV economics that I think is going to die sooner rather than later. Syndicated TV existed to milk some more out of a series cash cow, but I think the implicit assumption in the economics is that there's no other good way to watch the series. Online, On Demand, and home video have all put a big dent in that theory, so watching something complete and in order is easier to do than ever before. I think that's why so much TV storytelling has gotten so much more sophisticated than it used to be.

The bottom line is that the animated mini-series is definitely something that I think has a future, but I couldn't possibly tell you what that future looks like or how it will pay for itself. If I could, I'd be out there getting rich creating the brave new media world :).
 

Trombone77

Member
Joined
Feb 25, 2014
Messages
679
Location
Arkansas
I think miniseries do have a future. Seeing how Over the Garden Wall meet critical acclaim from critics and fans alike (and, at the time, considering the Dish blackout, had okay ratings), I could see miniseries being a thing again. With that being said, I think Cartoon Network will be the one popularizing it though. With most of its series being short-form series or based on quarter-hours, it rarely has special events that last more than a half-hour (save for Hall of Game Awards, which we don't really know if it will be returning). This would be a great way for Cartoon Network to do something big. As for Disney Channel and Nick, I can't see Nick doing one (due to its target demographic being kids 2-11), but I can see Disney doing one. In fact, I think they premiered an acquired miniseries called Evermoor. However, I don't think Disney would do an animated miniseries. So, while I do see a future for miniseries, I think it will take time before miniseries are accepted as a way to program towards a younger audience.
 

Gear3dGryph0n

Active Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2014
Messages
447
Location
Damnation Alley
This format definitely has a future, but only if in the hands of someone who plays the cards right. Definitely they would appeal to people who are burnt out on shows, especially animated shows, rarely ever getting the proper series finale, either being cancelled too soon or being run into oblivion. This is a format that enables things to have a definitive beginning, middle, and end planned out from part one. That is a natural plus for the many of us who believe that story should be the number one priority.

The networks could really do this, seeing as how it benefits them with not having to worry about the long-term issues, but I'd really put it on the Internet channels to help revolutionize the format. The miniseries format seems like a natural fit for Internet producers with smaller budgets and returns.

As for the long-term issues...the old mantra says "always leave them wanting more", and good things can have sequels, right? :D
 

CoolEric158

She rocks both ways.
Joined
Jan 19, 2013
Messages
3,260
Location
Pennsylvania
Probably. Over the Garden Wall was a hit and can also be easy to market in terms of DVDs and give a more proper conclusion if the creators want a limited run and a finite ending. But I'd be lying if I said I want a bunch of them. I usually enjoy watching shows that have a long run as I get to see characters I like more than a brief run. Yeah there can be sequels to a miniseries, but for whatever reason, it just doesn't feel the same. Now if said characters I like overstay their welcome, especially if its past a seventh season, then I say it's time to pull the plug, but for me, a longer series is what I prefer. But that's just my opinion. :)
 

Spotlight

Staff online

Who's on Discord?

Latest profile posts


Found this from Reddit. Had to trim the original a bit. And yeah the guy in the 2nd half of this is the new Sokka actor.
20 years ago today, Apple released Mac OS 9.2.2, the very last version of their classic operating system. It would be available on computers as late as mid-2003, whilst Mac OS X (now macOS) up to 10.4.11 had Classic Environment for computers released before the Intel switch in 2006.
Asa
Today would've been the 120th birthday of Walt Disney.
Man I love how progressively insane Jojo gets

Featured Posts

Top