If you are of a certain age, you will probably remember those summers of anticipation, where classic cliffhangers on serialized dramas like "Dallas," "Knots Landing," "Dynasty" and "Falcon Crest" (including, of course, "Who Shot JR"?), were endlessly pondered by the anxious audience. So, in this changing world of media, where you can watch anything you want digitally anytime – and anywhere -- you want, I was particularly anxious (as were you I am sure), for a look at the long-anticipated season three of Netflix’s "Stranger Things."
My advice before watching: fasten your seatbelt tightly.
Like the 18.2 million member households through July 8 that already consumed all eight episodes of this new season of "Stranger Things," according to Netflix, I was ready on July 4th for some new fireworks in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. And, because they were readily available, I consumed all eight episodes that weekend (and you did too, I bet). Happily, I was not disappointed. Trust me when I tell each episode of "Stranger Things" this season will keep you at the edge of your seat, with a true cinematic experience and a satisfying conclusion (complete with a cliffhanger) that is the perfect segue into a fourth season. And that very sentiment leads me to a question I would like to propose to the readers.
If you had a choice of the following two options, which one would you choose?
A) Eight episodes of a series (like "Stranger Things") you can binge watch that is truly outstanding; the absolute best of the best.
B) Twenty-two episodes of the same series (or something similar), one episode per week (with a two-month Christmas break) that may not be a good in the quality department in each episode, but it would give you a considerably longer viewing experience.
If this question was food related, you would have the following two options: a) the best meal you ever ate (that does not satisfy your appetite, unfortunately), or b) an endless, but less appetizing buffet.
While my personal research on this very question points to a resounding option A as the answer, my particular preference is choice B. As much as I just enjoyed this third season of "Stranger Things" (and I am still amazed at how the multiple storylines adeptly tied into one), we now have to wait God only knows how long for the next batch of eight episodes. It is over already (and the waiting period between seasons two and three was 20 months!). If this was a full network series weekly experience, it would probably conclude at around Thanksgiving.
As I have preached in the past, I just don’t think a season for any series, linear or digital, should be a measly eight episodes (or 10, for that matter). Hell, I remember the days when a typical network series produced over 30 new episodes per season.
Despite the excellence of this new batch of eight episodes of "Stranger Things," I would personally prefer a higher episode order to extend the overall viewing experience (even if it means diluting some of the action per installment). After all, I would like to fully digest the addictive sci-fi insanity after each episode. And I want to ponder the happenings with my fellow "Stranger Things" fans in between each episode in that seven-day window until the next installment.
From a business standpoint, because the off-network marketplace is still very much part of any show’s backend profitability, the originally planned four-season run for "Stranger Things" will only result in 30 some odd episodes. I also recall the days when a typical series heading into off-network surpassed the 100-episode mark.
Additionally, while I understand that the model is different in the digital world, I think the traditional one week per episode model is still advantageous for an advertiser looking for a long-term outlet to promote its product.
Of course, if my proposed question was indeed food related, I would also choose an endless buffet. Quality is imperative, but so is the whole experience and that endless buffet would just sit better with me. I want to be satisfied, not still hungry. And that is exactly how I feel following this superior short-flight season of Netflix’s "Stranger Things."