…or a fourth or fifth for that matter. I’m referring of course, to Ricky Gervais’ decision to finish Extras with a “One-off special” as opposed to writing what the London Metro newspaper described as “a disappointing third series” of the awkward comedy. Why would it have to be disappointing? What is this rule in British comedy that you can only have 2 x 6 episodes, and any more than that would be overkill or cashing in/selling out? Somebody please tell me, I’m dying to know???
People are always saying Fawlty Towers only had 12 episodes, and that’s the standard. Well I’m pretty sure if Connie Booth and John Cleese hadn’t divorced, they would haver written many more years of that particular comedy (that I love, in case you are wondering).
Look at the US version of The Office. They must be almost 50 episodes in, and although not at it’s best so far this season, episodes in Season 2 were showing what could be done with these characters both in and out of the office. Incidentally the episode written by Gervais and Merchant this season turned out to be one of the weaker ones.
Conversely, I remember the outrage on forums in the days after Mtchell Hurwitz’s announcement that he would not be continuing Arrested Development on Showtime. Commentators anger stemmed from their belief (which I don’t share) that if Mitchell only had 58 episodes worth of material in him, he never should have started Arrested Development. Imagine how these people would react to another UK sitcom creator calling it a day after 2 lots of 6…
I think UK comedy writers need to buck up their ideas if they want to be taken seriously. The bottom line is if you have created a set of characters, and you can only do one intro episode and put them in 11 different situations, then your characters must be one-dimensional, or you aren’t much of a writer, or both, and you should stick to sketch comedies with repetitive catchphrases. Because sadly in the UK, thats where the real comedy money is.