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Sequel Mania


(The lovebirds of Bad Couple and Bad Family)

 
I find the following article (indented stuff in dark blue font is the translated article; the rest are my comments) particularly interesting because I’ve thought this topic over a lot in the past, and pretty much completely disagree — not with the article’s logic, but the conclusion. The piece draws upon comparisons between kdramas and their American drama counterparts, which have multiple-season structures that differ from the kdrama format (of single-season, finite series). I have long believed — strongly, at that — that in this respect, the kdrama format far outstrips the U.S. model.

But I’ll get more into that after the article. First, here’s what it’s got to say:

“Demanding More Seasons of Television Dramas”

When popular dramas end, you’ll find these sorts of comments on the audience message boards: “Produce a season 2!” That was the case not long ago with MBC’s Coffee Prince Store #1, as well as Time of Dog and Wolf.

 
(Random) SONG OF THE DAY

The Hi-Lights – “Mister Tambourine” [ zShare download ]

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(Goong)

 

Shows like MBC’s Goong [Princess Hours] and Hello Franceska did produce sequels, but strictly speaking, they weren’t new seasons but entirely new series. A true continued season would not merely have the same title and broadcast some months after a drama’s end, but each season would have its own organic purpose and construction. The same characters would have to appear and the story would last the duration of the entire season.

The following series are all examples where the season was not extended but rather new series were created: dramas Bad Housewife–Bad Family–Bad Couple; Beautiful Days–Stairway to Heaven–Heaven’s Tree; Lovers in Paris–Lovers in Prague–Lovers; Spring Waltz–Summer Scent–Autumn Fairy Tale–Winter Sonata.

 
(Not-quite sequels: Lovers and Lovers in Paris, both starring Kim Jung Eun…)


(…and Autumn Fairy Tale and Winter Sonata)

 

On one hand, American dramas are produced in advance by production companies. The season that is to be aired over the year is completed, and broadcast over six or seven months, with one episode being shown per week. The first six months are allotted as the series’ broadcasting period, and reruns show for the remaining six months, which is set as production time for the next season’s material. Before a drama begins, the story and everything is planned and decided.

The process differs greatly with the Korean production environment, in which four to eight installments are shot in advance at the drama’s outset; production then becomes incredibly busy as the rest is filmed and edited throughout the middle and end of the series run. Of course, in the case of American dramas, there’s the uncertain question of whether a series will last, depending on the performance of the show, but there is still some measure of safety in the backing of its production environment.

[javabeans’ note: The above paragraph(s) bother me because so much of the information is wrong. I don’t know if the writer didn’t do his/her research completely, but this is NOT how American dramas are produced. They are written and shot as the series progresses. There’s just too much money at stake to film an entire season (22 episodes, usually) before the first episode airs. Because American television is so market-driven, it’s extremely dependent on the knee-jerk reactions of the viewing public (and advertisers) to determine what stays on the air.

The year is also not divided into six months of airing and six months of reruns — rather, they’re mixed in the most aggravating combination possible. Let’s not forget “year-round programming” with midseason shows and summer shows — and the schizophrenic scheduling when new shows are bumped up to fill in timeslots for prematurely cancelled ones. The following season is not produced in advance during rerun season. And while some ideas may be generated before a season begins, let me tell ya, sometimes the writers have no idea where they’re going with a series more than one or two episodes in advance — even on terribly complicated shows where you think they’d need to plan everything intricately over months and months. (Of course, some dramas do know where they’re heading; many, however, do not.) And cable shows are a different story altogether. Bad paragraph(s)! Bad! Go sit in the corner for your time-out.]

Popular shows like Lost, Desperate Housewives, 24, Prison Break and the like, which get ratings [in Korea] as high as Korean dramas, suggest that domestic dramas may also need to switch to the multi-season model. [javabeans’ note: Please god, no.]

Fortunately, in keeping with the times, recently more dramas have been introduced following the multi-season format. One example is cable channel tvN’s docudrama Vulgar Young Ae. Telling the story of an ordinary woman in her thirties, the series produced a second season which was just as popular as its first.

In the case of Vulgar Young Ae, the producers kept up a close relationship with the cable channel and their lead actors starting in its planning stages, which made it easy to produce a second season afterward.

 

(Vulgar Young Ae)

 

Broadcast networks are also planning more multi-season dramas. Case in point: MBC’s upcoming drama Auction House, premiering on the 30th.

Auction House delves into the world of art auctions, the people who work there, and their loves, with a twelve-episode season 1. With four PDs and four writers, it will air one episode every week, with each director producing his own segment in his own style — the drama plans to take on the challenge of using different genres, such as thriller, “human drama,” detective story, etc.

In an interview with Park Sung Soo, who is in charge of coordinating the project, he explained: “I’m in the middle of preparing the second season of the drama, which is set in the world of plastic surgery. While the other season is being shown I’ll be planning and prepping Auction House 2 for broadcast for next year, maybe May or September.”

This is a laudable effort to distance itself as much as possible in form and content from the current system of drama production.

 

(Auction House)

 

Another example, a drama whose broadcast station has not yet been decided, is the series Agent Zero, starring Son Ye Jin and Cha In Pyo. With 24 episodes in one season, Agent Zero, filmed in advance, deals with a special organization that fights against the dangerous forces that threaten the human race. It will likely face postponement.

It will be a challenge for new dramas like the aforementioned to develop and change the current Korean production system. However, when a drama is planned and produced completely in advance, that may influence its success. Using the flood of incoming American and Japanese dramas to spur on a competitive spirit, domestic dramas may be able to hold their own: This is just the start.

======================================================

 
I find this argument interesting because I have for years been saying that the Korean drama format is superior to the American one, and I say this as a great enthusiast of both types.

(I also think the reporter didn’t quite know how American television works, and guessed on some of the finer points — and in praising the American system, he gave American producers a helluva lot more credit than necessary for being perfect planners and masterminds. His point is valid — that there’s a different way to looking at drama production — but I just wish he drew on the two systems in a little more detail, with more accuracy.)

In the kdrama model, you get a full season’s worth of character development and plot turns — the opportunity to really delve into their relationships with depth. It’s definitely more development than you’d get in a two-hour movie, but at the same time, you’re not stuck keeping the series dragging for five years, or indefinitely. You get to explore real conflict but can lay off creating manufactured conflict purely to keep the series running. It’s a welcome format, especially in romances — I get so sick of the will-they-or-won’t-they aspect of romantic pairings in American dramas. In Korean dramas, you’re given the satisfaction of paying off those relationships at the end of sixteen (or twenty) episodes. Even in a tragic drama, an ending may be sad, but it’s satisfying and complete.

Although there have been U.S. series with fantastic multiple seasons, inevitably they linger far beyond their freshness date, and it’s unfortunate to see a show that was brilliant in its heyday puttering along in mediocrity, a shadow of its former quality. It’s worse when the amount of time a show is on the decline outstrips the amount of time a show is good: Buffy (3 seasons awesome, 4 seasons in gradual, steady decline); Alias (2 seasons great, 3 seasons crap); Friends (3 (or 4) seasons good, 7 (or 6) seasons bad); Lost (1 season good, the rest WTF?); Gilmore Girls (3 seasons charming, 4 seasons shrill and aggravating); Dawson’s Creek — never mind, that one was always crap.

 
(Lost, Prison Break)

 
Sure, long-running “procedural” shows that keep each episode “stand-alone” (and not dependent on soap-opera-y character entanglements) can go on for years and years — i.e., CSI, NYPD Blue, the unkillable Law & Order franchise. But relationship dramas and soapy series (Melrose Place, Ally McBeal, Grey’s Anatomy) are just bound to run out of material — you can only play romantic musical chairs for so long before you (1) run out of romantic couplings, (2) run out of story, and/or (3) wear your audience’s patience thin. It becomes a case of “We know Meredith and McDreamy are going to end up together, so just how long are they going to keep them apart? Ah, let’s just have them sleep with everyone else! Even when it makes no sense! Besides, Patrick Dempsey’s magnificent head of hair will distract them so much they won’t even notice that our story sucks!”

In fact, some American producers have started thinking the indefinite-season structure is problematic, and are looking at moving toward the single-season (or “limited-run”) series model. (They won’t change the system completely, but they might allow for more alternatives to the norm.) So far, there haven’t been any success stories (and the money is just too tempting in the longer-running series), but they’re experimenting. It’s ironic, since this happens just as Koreans are making the move toward multi-season dramas. Hm. Maybe they’ll meet in the middle somewhere. Which is good, because not all series are meant for all formats — as long as we have all options on the table, the product has the best chance to put its best foot forward.

 

(Grey’s Anatomy, Gilmore Girls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation)

Source: OSEN

 
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me for one like you is an enthusiast of both formats.. but in some respect.. i love the drama one season one go thing just cause it cuts of agony and torture if the story sucks. two, its straight forward and it has an end (like the ending or not). three, the story is well written and more sure and u wont go on wondering what happenned to my favorite show after its gone its course after getting so attached. i think that hopefully they can stick to their format, but of course taking in to consideration for some. maybe have more than one season but not a long and winded indefinite one. i hope they wont go to americanized on us.. that's what i like about kdramas. they can explore many storylines without having to muddle every aspect of the series in the same way. hope they can resolve this issue..

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I agreed with your observation Javabeans. One thing I know for sure series like CSI Las Vegas is shot a couple episodes away from the airing date and they have very limited time to finish every process before the airing date. I think the writer got confuse coz the series end in somewhere between Mar-May and new season air between Sept-Oct, well most series like CSI franchise, Heroes, Ugly Betty, Prison Break, LOST, Supernatural, Ghost Whisperer, Smallville, etc...
I think most shows, it is hard to keep the momentum up thus they fizzle out on 2nd season onward, eg: Prison Break, LOST. I hope series like Heroes and Ugly Betty can keep the momentum up and keep us glued on the TV week after week.
My personal observation: I think the CSI franchise was able to keep up the momentum coz every week, their focus is on the cases and small development of the characters which can be seen through out the whole season, eg: the relationship between Sara and Gil Grissom in CSI Las Vegas. After 7th Season only we saw much development in that and everyone is waiting to see what will happen to Sara after the last episode in Season 7. I saw the making of CSI Las Vegas and they have tons of stories base on real life crime case, so we will get a dose of it each week and that's what keep me tuning in every week.

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Hi Dramabeans, I think the article is comparing apple to oranges. While I do watch American sitcoms, I can't watch last more than one season (with the exception of Buffy). Kdramas has its own appeal, whereby we have a variety of scenarios the ultimate love story can be told over and over again.

As how Marzy puts it, if it sucks, at least there's only 16 episodes to put one out of their misery. If it's good, just let the good feeling remain in your memory and you will cherish it even more. All good things need to come to the end anyway :)

Having said the latter, I'm still having Coffee Prince withdrawal symptoms, and in the process got hold of two people addicted to this drama!

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I think a mixture of both systems would be interesting. Giving producers the options like you said would give shows the chance to find the perfect way to be produced in. I like the Korean system of a one finite season (although it leaves me hankering for more sometimes but I do like the whole be-all-and-end-all conclusion of the show) but I think more episodes should be produced in advance to allow shows the time to settle in and iron out any problems. The current system means as the show advances into later episodes, it starts to rush and the quality drops sometimes. You can tell when a show is going manic because of the filming schedule.

Thanks for the informative article though. And that Korean journalist's researching skills makes me wonder about the Korean media...

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I totally agree with you.

I don't want American series anymore because I just don't have the stamina to wait 7 years for it to end.

I tend to prefer romance-ish series and so the multi-season series really kills that. It's like you said, they'll sleep with everyone else except each other before they get together and that just makes me lose interest---

What might work though is to have a 2nd season focusing on another character from the 1st season. While the main leads can make cameo's. I think that might be interesting...

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i think your comments are really interesting, but i agree with nileey, in that the comparison is sort of like that of apples and oranges. the types of shows in both countries seem really different, not just the format. if bad couple or something similar had more than 16 episodes, i think a lot of fast forwarding would be involved (uh, case in point, save the last dance for me, which could have been good if it was like 15 episodes shorter, also with only you, full house, etc). also, i think the format of american shows has changed a lot in the past few years to reflect the publics lack of tolerance for dragging things out for no reason. hence, you are seeing a lot of the most popular shows on cable with only 10-12 episodes in a season, sometimes less (extras, curb your enthusiasm, monk, the 4400, DEXTER...sooo good, weeds, and all those others). if those shows followed the standard format we'd be seeing half the amount of seasons and probably a lot more filler/less quality (in essence, i think it has finally sort of filtered into the mainstream that less could be more).
random tangent....i think this is why veronica mars tanked after three seasons, though it had so much potential and a huge fan base...if they had stuck to 10-12 episode seasons, they could have held out longer and built a larger viewer sharehold as word of mouth seemed to spread slowly.
what did this have to do with korean dramas? oh yeah, likewise how shorter seasons are potentially, in my opinion, saving american series, i think longer or more seasons would kill korean ones. it works the way it is, and without the freedom to end things you wouldnt get shows like flowers for my life.

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oh, and when i first heard about prison break i read somewhere they had planned the show for at least five seasons if it was successful. i was like, seriously? ...this is exactly what is wrong with american television. the show outlives it's name by four seasons.

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Lisa, it's like the whole Lost thing. How many seasons do people take to die off or get off an island? When I heard about the show, I really wondered how you could drag on an idea like that for that long.

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Yes. The writer seemed to have really no idea how American programming works. Most American series go on hiatus at one point in the year (which I totally cannot remember when at this moment) while the season is ongoing and yet still continue filming even if it's off television. So, to give the American writers that much credit for planning is really rather wrong.
I think basically content is the reason why multi seasons can't really work. Or rather, the lack of it. Veronica Mars was a huge success for season one (despite the lack of ratings) because it had a great premise. That appeal was somewhat lost in the second season because there was some sort of resolution in the first season.
Lost and Prison Break are really just stretching it at this point.
Gilmore Girls is one show that could have last for several reasons mainly because the producers had planned for it to end with Rory's graduation. But, it's hard to maintain the show's bullet-paced dialogue and fresh wittiness over so many seasons, especially when writers come and go.
So, my point is, some stories CAN go on for a few seasons, but well, you really need to plan it to the finer details or risk losing the audience. If a show started off as a one season thing, then it's really because there is not much potential for it to go on, so it's better not to push your luck.
For that very reason, no matter how much I like Coffee Prince (and Goong to a smaller extent), I really cannot see a sequel for either of these two shows.

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yup, totally...long-never-ending season can be so distracting n boring...but somehow, i've managed to watch all of the seasons for The O.C aka orange county...it ends at season 4...the series ended mainly becoz the girl who plays marissa (the main girl) was no longer in the scene....basically, there were no silly argument n climax anymore for every episode to go on..
o yeh, btw, lisa....
seriously??? prison break will go on up until season 5? what other prisons must scofield have to break out from .... these writers n directors, have such a long eye out on the world...woohoo~

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quote "Dawson’s Creek — never mind, that one was always crap."
hey I loved dawson's creek, so much that am still putting up with tom cruse crap just to get a glimps of miss katie homes, she and josh, totally rock back in time, tha series was worth it to the last very moment just to see dawson not get the girl!
okay sorry for the rant, I really enjoy your analisis, and i have to say once i discovered Korean dramas and the fast pace they move, I just cant watch any more american series or Mexican novelas, they are just plain boring and seem nothing ever happens...
thanks.

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I agree with you. I do not watch American series anymore (apart from the stand alones) because it is too exhausting in year 4 to remember why I liked the series in the first place. Give me something that has a beginning, an interesting storyline and an end in continuous airing (loved Jumong even with 81 episodes)

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Haha, just to clarify, since there are comments that say "I agree with you -- I don't watch US television anymore!" -- I love US television. I still watch tons of it. In fact, the new season that just started has me all excited since I think last year's crop was pretty disappointing and this year looks better. (Current new favorites: Chuck, Reaper and Pushing Daisies.) I just mean that I much prefer the Korean drama FORMAT to the American one -- not that I prefer all kdramas over American ones as a rule.

By the way, I don't think Prison Break was written with the original intent of lasting five seasons. Five is the magic number for US series in general because that's when the series goes into syndication (=huge revenues) but I remember reading from the Prison Break creator that he only had two seasons or so in him. Lost has been heavily criticized for losing track of its story and jerking along the audiences, which is why ABC actually gave them a finalized end date (something like three years from now) so the writers could actually write toward a conclusion. Fans might appreciate the move, but to me that was just a last-ditch effort to stanch the bleeding after most of the harm was already done. That's just me though, since I can't stand Lost.

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The problem with American series is that they don't know when to let go. Too busy trying to squeeze out as much ad revenue I guess. But the REAL reason why I'm here is ...........
Hey Javabeans, your man Lee Jung Jae is on Popseoul's blog looking mighty FINE in a suit. Yum! Yum! Hope you like it :)

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I must admit that I do like the Korean model better.... I have a higher chance of watching it right up till the end, and the endings are usually very satisfying. American dramas are okay but kind of tedious if it goes on for years and years... I always catch the first season, only to gradually lose interest in the second... Lost was complete rubbish after the first season, though I'm watching Desperate Housewives season 3 now... (Let's not talk about Spanish soaps, the endless tug-of-war is very exhausting.) Korean dramas have a length that is just right and if it got any longer, I'd be yelling at the tv screen, Just die already!!!(for those tragic dramas.)

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Multi-season or single season? I don't really care as it depends on how much I like the series. Some I can watch more than one season, while some I just want it to end. Personally, I find that by the 3rd or 4th season, the stories are not so fresh, creative or innnovate anymore and I want to move on.
A few exceptions (western series) are the Pretender and Battlestar Galactica. The writing was always inspired and the directing good. But I must admit I haven't watched much american series since getting hooked on kdramas. I wouldn't mind checking out Ugly Betty this season.
It would also be interesting if kdramas ventures into this format for some of my favourite series. I certainly would check it out.

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lol at dawson's creek always being crap...

i'm more into the korean format... though i have to admit that i love that tingly sensation i get when a new season starts... :P

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I think I prefer the kdrama one season format - even though, like in the case of Goong, I would love to see the life after the "happily ever after endings" (in most cases)...

Take note, for example of a couple of dramas that have been running in Australia for, wait for it, over 20 YEARS. "Home and Away" and "Neighbours" have become a part of the daily way of life for some people who have literally grown up with the show, as have the actors - one actress on Home and Away is leaving the show after 20 odd years - she started when she was just 9 years old.

Is it dragging on too much - I think so - so far the producers have had plane crashes, typhoons, hurricanes, mine collapses, shootings, evil twins, sects, etc to keep the audiences happy - people leave and die, get married and have children or divorce. In the case of Neighbours, which is based on the lives of, funnily enough, neighbours in a single street, every couple of years, the old stale families move out while new ones move into the same houses.

Should the series have been cancelled? Probably. But while for me it seems stale (let's face it, there are only so many new ideas out there and pretty soon, it's the same storylines just involving different people), while the shows provide a launching pad of sorts for "stars" (and I use the term loosely) like Kylie Minogue, Delta Goodram, Natalie Imbruglia and Natalie Brasingthwaite to name a few of the more successful ones, and a host of other unsuccessful ones, I don't think there is any chance of the series ending.

I guess it depends on the country - in Korea, the kdrama format seems to be the most appreciated form of entertainment. In the US where entertainment seems to be profit-driven it's more like flogging a dead horse - they're going to squeeze a show to get as much of it as possible regardless of the fact that the entertainment has been sacrificed ie Prison Break (there's only so many times one can break out of Prison) or Lost (surely with the technology available today, someone can find them all). In Australia, people seem to enjoy the shows that follow the day to day lives of the characters (the shows celebrate Christmas when we do in reality, and school holidays happen at the same time).

It is why I thank the higher powers that are for websites like Dramabeans who have introduced me and many other people to the kdrama format, providing a medium to see what else is out there.

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It's often difficult to have sequels for any sort, in any part of the world. There's no guarantee that any sequel for a television show, a movie, or even say, a book, will receive as much popularity and praise as the original one. Although it would be fantastic if there will be a sequel for a popular drama, such as Coffee Prince - unless there's a huge demand or audience base for the show, such as from all over Asia, I doubt that television producers will be willing to take the risk and challenge to create a sequel.

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I agree with you 100%. I enjoy watching both Asian dramas as American dramas and although there are some shows that i like to see a second season in the Asian dramas am ok with not having it so for others. Unfortunetly, American dramas are more driven towards how much ratings they can get and at a certain point with all the seasons becomes rather boring, too predictable or sometimes the work is completly distroyed. I rather have a drama that was so good that it makes me WANT to see a second season, than have them make a second season and completly mess it up.

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i live in california, and i discovered korean drama. since my first intorduction to it was with coffee prince, i was satisfied with the format of the series. korean drama has the right amount of episodes. i seldom watch american television for this purpose...the series is too long. the story lines begin to falture and lose the main topic of the show. korean drama is now one of my favorite formats. and yes, i too am having coffee prince withdrawals.

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i think the korean media industry is becoming too americanized that is soon gonna lose it's unique flair that made me fall in love with kdramas and kpop. like kpop, so many songs sound like britney or justin timberlake. i agree. kdramas should stay this way. we get the satisfaction of a movie except that it is more in depth with story development and character development. sequels are okay some sequels pales compared to it's prequel. we need to stop this americanization. don't lose ur unique flair.

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Completely agrees with you. I really do hope this article is a bad joke because I actually gave up watching American dramas because they dragged to much. Even Lost and Prison Break, people recommended it to me, I watched 3 episodes, understood I was in front of something great... So I gave up. Knowing how they always add seasons, I don't like feeling like a "slave" expecting my episodes years after years especially with all the advertisements you have to gobble down watching. Even if the story is still being good and all , I'm not patient enough to follow the same character, however likeable he is, through the years... My patience is only dedicated to Books and Mangas and that's it. One thing I really like about Asian dramas is that they focus only on one story and when It's finished It's finished. Like you said, the end is satisfying and this is itself is already good enough, I'm already pretty annoyed with the movie sequelmania I'm praying they're not thinking about doing this for real.

Moreover, Korea already have long running dramas of more than 50 episodes. American Dramas are usually 45min while korean ones are between 1 to 1 hour and 15 minutes that is to say at least 15 minutes longer... A Drama such as Jumong could already be considered a several season drama... It may be Ok for Historical Stories ( though I'd rather have all episodes on one go like they do now than wait the whole summer to know what happens next) but sentimental ones? Spare us! Even in Korean productions their love stories tend to drag too much or lack freshness in later episodes... See Goong, Lovers, Delightful Girl Choon Hyang even Full House losts its appeal in later episodes ( By the way heard they're gonna do a sequel -_- hope it's just a rumour - If It's true I'll still give it a try but I'm not dreaming of anything interesting coming out of this)

I'm already bothered enough when they decide to add episodes because the ratings are huge ( Goong was the worst... got sooooooooooo bored in the end It was a pain to finish it), this is something that deeply bothers me. At least with Japanese productions they don't add episodes or seasons like this ( though there's always exceptions such as the drama Trick starring Nakama Yukie which had 2 movies, 3 seasons and a Tv special). So please please Korea, if there's a korean wave you must know that it's thanks to the way you produce not because It's more American looking -_-

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Hope they don't don't do seasons for K-dramas, the reason I like watching them is that you know when it will end. Sure you will miss the characters but you could watch them again. Prolonged drama series is really not my style. I could only tolerate seasons with shows like CSI and House which concludes per episode. I can't stand meandering storyplot that goes nowhere and stinks with "just because situations" which populates most show that are character base. Hope you understand what I mean. I got hold of a copy of Coffee Prince Boxed set the subs are great so thank you subbers for doing a great, great, great job. This one goes into my collection.

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In the list of great shows that went on too long, let us not forget The X-Files *tear*. One must admit that it was heading along swimmingly until season 7 when all what-not broke loose. It was part procedural, with each episode working as a stand alone, but they managed to tease out some great mythology (Mulder's sister, Scully's origins for e.g.) that were threads woven througout the seasons. And therein lies the strength of the American style-production: when done right, it allows for character growth and even change. It is extremely hard to do, and seems to work better when everything doesn't centre on who's going to screw whom next. Firefly would have managed a lot more great seasons if not for those [edit less than charitable words] without vision. When done poorly (Lost, even Heroes is beginning to piss me off) it becomes a serious irritant, feeling like a soap opera where, you don't watch for a couple of months and only 2 seconds have passed in TV time since you last saw the show.
16 to 24 eps work a little better for me cos i know that there is no cliffhanger. No "are the cottages coming back? How?" (House) or "What happened to Sara" (CSI), or "why is this show still on the air?" (Las Vegas). IT will all be tied up in a little bow and I am content in the knowledge that if anything should happen, It will be tied up in a bow. It means that content is fresh and revolving and that the commitment is miniscule. I don't get vested in characters and rooting for them, and then throw your hands up in disgust when you can actually see the writier(s) attempting to make changes to the character (Cameron from House) that don't make sense. 16 episodes make it like one loooong movie, which to me is good.

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I see both merits and pitfalls in either show format. Having a show aired its entirety in one season gives the viewers immediate satisfaction – a sense of closure. In contrast, by allowing the story to spread over several seasons, the writers have the opportunity for more in-depth character and storyline developments. I think it’s the type or genre of show that should dictate single or multi-season format. If we’re looking at formulaic romantic comedies, then the usual sixteen-eps format often is sufficient (in some cases, too long). On the other hand, complex and multi-character driven dramas may benefit from additional episodes. Personally, I think dramas with 20+ episodes are difficult for both viewers (who must be willing make the time commitment) and the producing team (to maintain the same quality programming until the end). Bottom line, I don’t mind either format if the show is done right.

As much as I like K-dramas, there's a lot to be said about the originality, variety and depth of some American TV shows - some are just simply brilliant. Among the new slate of shows, Pushing Daisies looks really promising - sweet and endearing with a touch of dark humor?

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Well said. I agree with you completely. American shows become dragging in the end but I think comedy and crime dramas shows are the exceptions like seinfeld,friends, CSI. I mean material wise it's easier to come up with for comedy and crime shows compared to drama or love stories. For other genres It's sad when it starts really great but never really finishes like when the story drags until you can't relate anymore to the characters. It'd be great if the producers would look at the development of the characterts in the story rather than the ratings but thats reality. Thats why I prefer korean dramas because they end with the same characters they started with. Although some characters get blind or die in end which sucks! joke..

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Having worked in American entertainment industry for over 4 years now, shows do not go on say "hiatus". It's actually what we term 4 quarters. There are 4 "sweep weeks" as we call it, respectively in each of the quarters. Fall and spring sweep weeks are the big catch of the year for networks (normally sometime in october and end of february/march). That's why a show might start off hella good to get high ratings so they can show off to the big wigs for more money AKA production and then it can just slowly go on and it needs to last at least a full quarter. Then the summer/winter seasons are a bit downer for networks because here in America, summer is a time when people are OUT and winter is a time for holidays so they tend to keep those period slower and less big shows and which most people call it "hiatus" (cost-effective). And yes, some shows are made as the show itself is ongoing, depending on what type of show and the feel/mood. Series that take place "outside" tend to shoot within 2 weeks because of production costs. Can you imagine how much it costs to film in New York CITY a day??? Let me tell, IT IS OFTEN NOT a 5 digit bill. Some programs, mostly documentary or "cable" (channels above 20) shows would shoot an entire or half a season before it airs because it's cheaper. Normally, if the pilot is ok from the higher stick-in-the-ass peeps, then production resumes. And then if ratings flail, the show is cut and vice versa. Seriously, you learn all this in first year communication arts. Whoever didn't know this about American production...what school did they go to?

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Well, considering I watch kdramas online, it serves me well to have a 16-episode show. And even in the 16-episode shows, some still drag while some could be longer. For starters, many mini-series focus on one main couple's relationship. Even if there are other couples, they are generally only the subplot or comic relief. It's definitely different from American models. Sex and the City, for example, had four main characters and their numerous relationships. Even though they all coupled up in the end, they still had the guys rotating and coming in and out of their lives. That's not the format of a kdrama.

For kdramas to become more like American shows, they'd have to change the way they tell stories and make their dramas 'more rounded.' I only get to watch the romantic ones but are there many detective, procedural, girls-kicking-ass shows?

Personally, I prefer the American format and love to watch my 'dependable' shows. You know, the ones I've tried and liked and want to keep watching season after season. The ones with characters I've fallen in love with and want to watch their story unfold. If every single new show every fall was a series premiere, I'd probably stop watching television altogether :D

And yes, there are some shows that hold on for longer than necessary but you mentioned shows that had 3 or 4 great seasons. That's still 2 or 3 more than the korean format. If the show starts to tank, I can easily stop watching it. I'll still prefer that to just one season. Also, not knowing when to let go isn't a problem with the format itself but with its application. But I suppose it's generally the shows on cable stations like HBO and Showtime that usually quit when they are ahead.

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I like the format of Korean drama than American series. Although some very popular K-dramas are too good to finish in 16-20 episodes, it's good in a way that it leaves some sweet memories in the viewers. I prefer something good to stop at its peaks. If, for the money sake, people prolong the good series, it will sooner or later become crap and all the good feelings that it cultivates in viewers' minds will disappear. And the story line in K-drama is so transparent, it's easy to understand what's going on. When I watch American type of series, I got so confused - don't know what the story is and what kind of crap they are doing -> I ended up not finishing any season of any such series!

Having said that, the entertainment industry should also experiment a bit. As long as Korean producers won't introduce some kind of series that lasts 3 or more years, it's fine for me. I got sick of Australian's "Neighbours" or "Home and Away" which lasts for so long that I couldn't even remember when they started - and the "McLeod's Daughters" 200th episode is coming - what the hell~~~

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I totally agree Iris F..
I got hooked on Korean dramas because of the main reason that I know its eventually going to finish on the 16th or 20th episode, I have seen too many teledramas long ago that extended to 2 to 5 years with lots of twists and turns new characters emerging as long lost brother or cousin of an aunt etc etc etc..a whole roller coaster ride of twists and turns nevertheless, the hero and the heroine will eventually end up together (isn't it obvious we love happy endings). The producers are scared of different endings like someone doesn't end up together but move on, type of thing..
Here in UK, gosh emmerdale from itv and east enders from bbc has been the soap opera for 20 odd years..sheeshhh, well they have their good moments when I was hooked on it for a while just like neighbours and home and away, however.. it gets to a point it becomes so confusing and predictable, boring, although it does address key issues in the society sometimes like teenage pregnancy, racism, domestic violence etc etc etc. because of changes in work hours and not the normal 9 to 5's, one cannot catch these programmes until a repeat is shown on an omnibus during the weekend.. (gosh there are other things that we can do rather than watch dramas on a weekend..)
I take time out and watch kdramas in the comfort of internet streams and downloading fansubs..its very convenient and it most importantly makes me aware of other cultures other than my own.
It's ok to make sequels, but yes hopefully they were extensions of the old drama and the old characters (that we loved or loathed) re-appear (that's why I was confused with goong with goong s and lovers with lovers in paris (that was a weird ending). Like what hana yori dango season 1 and season 2 acheived.. they all came back with a bang.. and domyouji and makino ended up together eventually..
I welcome new concepts too..as long as they don't make it too long as some american series (dawson's creek anyone) I just think that Kdramas are the best because they end it at their peak.
Just as perky and refreshing as the first shop of the coffee prince.
If they do decide to make a sequel of this it will be a disaster surely if any one or all of the old characters would not be in it, I think lots of your readers will agree.
Cheers everyone! slurppppppppppp!

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I used to love watching the first and sometimes second seasons of dramas like Las Vegas, House and Gray's Anatomy but somehow it's really hard to keep up the enthusiasm and after the umpteenth time Meredith and McDreamy fail to stay together, I've decided to devote my limited tv time to Coffee Prince et al. Always wondered why every country sticks to a certain format actually. Why not try out what the HK or Taiwanese stations do? Korean dramas tend to limit themselves to 16 - 24 episodes or go massively long in the case of the period or daily dramas. HK dramas come in all lengths depending on the storyline and popular ones get sequels with a similar cast (some changes depending on whether the actor is in favour with the station higher-ups!) but with stories that develop. Quite a few of the detective and court dramas went on to quite a few seasons and maintained a reasonable quality (check out Files of Justice I - VI). Of course, others really faltered along the way.

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I'm a follower of so many north american drama/series since dynasty and falcon crest (up until the asian invasion) now am only watching HOUSE MD.... and yes they (no. american) may give full swing of excitement in the first season ( or few more afterwards if lucky). I have watched BH90210 until that part they chalked out perry's and doherty's love angle ..then it went on with too many transitions on stuff - i thought 'twas tiresome to continue... there was melrose place that got too entangled on good girl turned bad, to many 'sleeping around' going on - i stopped watching ... I liked will and grace but never get to watch the 3rd season (did it have that?) ...I liked charmed until they axed doherty (? what's with her?) ...buffy the vampire - until buffy lost her innocence to angel and he moved on to have his own show.... prior these, I liked tour of duty and way before it - 21jump street ... but yes like you said unless they keep on with new twists it wont last too much to be interesting... well there's McGyver - I enjoyed it, though they did a lot of replay afer sometime but still its' stayed tooooooo long ....

In our case, we used to have long running tv shows in manila but i cant say they were a series like they do now... tear jerkers and comedy shows w/political satire, during those days, for me they were addictive...they changed formats now and then but am still hoping for more improvement - since plots never really chge much... I'd recommend the first book of ENCANTADIA for a fantasy flick, i liked the fact they used traditional filipino language on tv ( - that's it! ) and the whole brouhaha about the godesses and their source of powers (love the costumes too ). On other dramas... my work takes me away from prime time television... never get to see them, so i couldn't give much of an opinion... but i know for sure, they're different from the no. american series.

Before Korean series' there was a japanese series that was aired in the philippines back in the 70's ... i liked it however it looped on lone samurai assassin commiting genocide in every airtime (something like lone wolf and a cub) - it was full of action, back then it was sort of a hit i guess, ('was too young then to give an accurate viewers pulse) the popularity of television just rising due mainly on the fact that only a few could afford it ..

... come 2004 (?) then there was that taiwanese drama - meteor garden ... which paved way for korean tv series to be brought into philippine tv (thanks to tv network competion of course!) ... that did it ... I then believed asian fared better in this genre (don't have a word for it, sorry) I like the fact that the whole series move around an ultimate ending, revolving around almost real to life stories which are more straightforward however dreamy, sad, tragic or comic... I think that it appeals more to the heart ... well am a sucker for love stories and family oriented shows... I like the fact that it comes out like an extended movie shot with almost the same quality as one would make a film.... and when it ends you'll remember the character and would distinctively remember the whole storry and compare to whatever new series coming...

I talked too much... sorry

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Hi dramabeans,
First, I'd like to thank you for this absolutely fantastic blog you're having. Honestly, this blog has made me laugh and cry, and I thank you for that.
About this article, I agree with you about the way Korean dramas are superior to American ones in this matter. They're way too different to be even compared to each other, but Korean dramas' format is better. When I had a course about movies and filming, I noticed how Korean dramas had a very similar plot structure and way of filming with movies generally. However, a Korean drama holds much more within it's 16 episodes than a 2h movie.
I watch American series as much as Asian dramas. This is where I'd like to separate the concepts of a series and a drama. American series often follow its characters lives: the changes in them regarding family, work etc. and how the charactes respond to the changes. On the other hand, Korean dramas focuses on describing relationships and character development. As one example of a series, in Desperate Housewifes, the actors don't change their characters that much. Their pairings change, but often they stay the same. However, in a drama, it would be odd if a character, mostly the lead, doesn't change. Korean dramas make it possible to tell a love story in 16 episodes, and one of the reasons is character development. In Que Sera Sera, it would have been impossible for me to watch the show if Kang Tae Joo was the same playful womanizer in the whole show like he had been in ep.1.
Besides these formats, there is another option, tv-novelas. I believe this is the mixture of the two previously mentioned ones: a series with a story that lasts for 150-180 episodes. Novelas have the freedom/time to have several couples and explore every character and relationship. Though I'd still stick to Asian dramas and American series (totally addicted to CSI and Las Vegas, used to be in love with the Nanny ~~'), novelas are a nice change, once in a while. I'd recommend Mi Gorda Bella from Venezuela and well, Ugly Betty (it's not a real novela, but it's the closest American thing to it).
Though I would totally love to see Tae Joo and Eun Soo getting together (again..), Shin and Chae Gyung having a baby, Sam Soon and Jin Heon getting married, it would be difficult for the production team to continue the story without repeating the plot and adding new characters. I love Korean dramas for ending the story, while its blooming at its fullest. However, if they manage to produce a good sequel e.g. Goong 2 with new interesting events, I'd be very glad to watch it ^^

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Friends (3 (or 4) seasons good, 7 (or 6) seasons bad); Lost (1 season good, the rest WTF?);

...It's a matter of opinion. Lost is filled with so many philosophical subtext, and Friends isn't on a definite storyline, but rather something amusing I can watch any day without having to be kept updated on its plot - those two have, and always will remain on my favourite shows. Shows aren't solely based on characters, which I find most Kdramas are about, because most of their plots are rather dry and cliche. For Kdramas, it's about making the cliche plots as fresh as possible, and finding ways for characters to keep it that way - whereas American shows are more focused on the storyline itself. I say, for Lost, they do it well enough that the characters don't lose touch.

Although, I do agree that with the shorter format of the KDramas, they have a much more satisfying end and leave more of a mark, if you will. You're more likely to remember a shorter drama that had a large impact over a large-scale show with a mediocre impact. It's good if a large-scale show can reach a large-scale impact, but few rarely do (I know for a fact Friends did, with many - although the newer episodes near Seasons 8, 9, and 10 you can see the decline, it didn't completely lose its original recipe).

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bu filmlerden en çok sevdiğim düşlerimin prensi çok güzel bir film devamını olmasını beklerdim amma bitti off :(

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I grew up in the Mexico-USA border watching USA shows and Mexican telenovelas.
The last novela (it was a unique case because it gave me a lot of laughs because it was so bad) I watched was some 15 years ago and have never gone back.

Network TV in the USA has been a chaotic in recent years and that has led cable networks to provide with alternatives, some of them very successful e.i. Monk, Burn Notice, Leverage, etc. I now watch, now and then, a few network shows (NCIS, Law & Order). I found refuge on cable shows because I got sick and tired of the networks canceling some of the shows I had started watching and became interested in. Others, such as Will & Grace, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, to name a few , but I soon lost my interest too. Thank God for Asian miniseries. I have become an ardent fan of them.

I love the fact that they don't drag for years and, if they are bad, their run is limited. I love to watch the romantic stories that do not use sex to boost viewership, but focus more on the emotional aspect of love. Except for horror movies, I love all genres. The writing, acting, directing, production of many of these series is amazing. Even those who critics pan, like Winter Sonata, have brought to audiences around the world the romantic genre that I thought no longer existed (at least not in Hollywood) , that's why they are so beloved.

I don't know what American TV needs to do, but I have seen a lot of smartly written series that have crashed and burned after a few episodes.

One thing I do know: I do not want Korean series to become Americanized. This would make them loose their appeal to the rest of the world that like them just for the way they are.

Is there a way for us foreigners to let the Korean networks know not to break something that does not need fixing?

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Hello every body
I saw korean drama it was to good it reflects major dificulties of youthes .
good good...

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have to disagree. you'd never get shows like "the sopranos," "the wire," and "mad men" in korea.. and that'd be a real shame.

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Ultimately the biggest issue is whether or not the story fits the Kdrama or American drama format.

For instance, Lost's story was complicated enough and had a lot of philosophical references that a kdrama wouldn't have been able to do it justice.

Gilmore Girls worked surprisingly well because their story was more having to do with the lives of a single mother and daughter rather than a specific incident leading to a climax/specific ending.. they kept on top with their script and were great with their wit.

However if the story is simply a snippet of someone meeting another person and their finally coming together then yes the kdrama format fits.

Basically there are shows that are about the conclusion where others are more episodic. Both have their merit and both have their flaws as well as their praises.

To outright say one is bad or one is better is to misunderstand what the story is of a particular show and miss the bigger picture. Enjoy both formats for what it brings to the table, appreciate both formats because it's both formats that help tell all kinds of stories...

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