Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Series, a Season, a Show. A Word (or Two) About TV Semantics.

Before I started watching British television, I never gave any thought to whether the word "season" was an appropriate or useful term to denote the set of shows that airs in a given year. It's just what it's called, right? As in "The new season of Hill Street Blues is coming up!" Or "Are you watching Cheers this season?" It all made perfect sense.

For the sake of argument, I suppose that a string of shows might be better served by being called a "series" in that, well, it is a string, of shows, all shown in a nice little row, you know, in a series . . . It's just that we already have a use for the word "series". It means the program, on the whole -- the show (as in, "Little House on the Prairie is a good TV series, isn't it?") But, if series means the show, then why can't we all just call the series a "show" and be done with it?

Because "show" is already taken. It also means the particular program, ... you know, the "episode."

Wait. This is getting hard. ...if "show" can mean "episode" AND "show" can mean "series", but "series" only means "show" to people in America, whereas in Britain, "series" means "season", how can I ever write a meaningful blog post about the show I watched last night in the series that I've been watching this season??

Figure it out and let me know. Until then I intend to freely use whatever words come off my fingertips while typing and hope that you can make sense of it.

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