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October 31, 2014

Can 'Glee' Survive a Four-Month Break?

by Bryan Reesman, posted Nov 25th 2009 2:24PM
Those of us who watched 'Glee' prior to its September debut on Fox knew that it was something special. The combination of teenage antics, musical gusto and spirited characters make it a deliciously fun dramedy. So it was no surprise when it became the breakout hit of the season for the network. Yet despite its excellent ratings and loyal viewership, the sassy singing show is going on hiatus for the second time in two months.

The first break was not terrible. It occurred between late October and mid-November, which some of us could tolerate, but this time 'Glee' will be leaving the airwaves from December 9 to April 13 to make way for Fox's prime musical contender, 'American Idol'. Now we know that 'Idol' is a ratings monster that crushes the competition, but is that any reason to deny the growing legions of Gleeks their weekly fix?Those of us who watched 'Glee' prior to its September debut on Fox knew that it was something special. The combination of teenage antics, musical gusto and spirited characters make it a deliciously fun dramedy. So it was no surprise when it became the breakout hit of the season for the network. Yet despite its excellent ratings and loyal viewership, the sassy singing show is going on hiatus for the second time in two months.

The first break was not terrible. It occurred between late October and mid-November, which some of us could tolerate, but this time 'Glee' will be leaving the airwaves from December 9 to April 13 to make way for Fox's prime musical contender, 'American Idol'. Now we know that 'Idol' is a ratings monster that crushes the competition, but is that any reason to deny the growing legions of Gleeks their weekly fix? (Yes, we also know that the Winter Olympics will occur during that time as well, but not everyone watches the games.)

One strong argument to be made for keeping 'Glee' going is that it could get tied in to 'Idol'. Why not have the cast appear on an episode? Why not pair them up together on one night to build the show's audience further?

Unless it's 'Lost' -- and even now ABC can't pull this off -- yanking a show from the air for a few months is not a smart idea. Look at the buzz surrounding 'V' leaving the air for the same period of time, and that's only after four episodes. Fox made life hell for 'Futurama' by repeatedly changing its air time and pre-empting it because of football and baseball games. Matt Groening's status at the network is probably what kept it going for so long despite such tumult. 'Glee' is brand new and needs to keep growing.

We live in a short-attention-span world, and in a TV landscape where many shows get canceled after as few as two episodes (anyone remember 'The Beautiful Life'?) it's imperative to jump on something when it's hot. Admittedly part of the problem here is that the shooting schedule for 'Glee' resumes in January. Perhaps execs were caught off guard at the show's sudden popularity. Then again, they hyped this at the Fox Upfront last spring, even bringing the cast onstage to perform for advertisers. So they knew they had something.

Ultimately both we and Fox know that there are legions of 'Glee' fans who will patiently await the show's return in April. But then again, there may be some that bail, and many potential fans may simply lose interest. Can't we bring it back a little sooner?

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