Q: I watched "The Americans" on FX every week. What happened to the show? It was great.
A: "The Americans," a fine drama about Russian spies in America during the Reagan era, had a 13-episode first season that aired last January to May. A second season has been ordered, to begin in January.
People accustomed to TV series running from September to May have had to adjust to different scheduling cycles on cable and broadcast. Where a hit broadcast show might make 24 episodes in a season, cable series tend to have fewer episodes. HBO's "The Newsroom," for one, had 10 episodes in its first season and nine in its second.
Programmers might also split those episodes into even smaller bites, so the current season of "The Walking Dead" on AMC consists of eight episodes now and then eight more in 2014. Broadcasters, as well, have looked at shorter runs in some cases, as with summer-only series or when piggybacking two shows in the same time slot to minimize reruns. CBS, for example, announced "Hostages" as a Monday night show for the fall, with "Intelligence" taking over the time slot in February.
Viewers have to keep a sharper eye on when shows come, go and return.
'Judge Joe' has left the courtroom
Q: I am a big fan of court shows. What happened to "Judge Joe Brown"?
A: It isn't being shown anymore. While it was the second most popular court show in syndication (behind "Judge Judy"), the Hollywood Reporter said plans for a new season ended "after negotiations on a new contract broke down, apparently over Brown's salary."
Brown reportedly made $20 million a year. But Brown told the Reporter that his actual income was more like $5 million based on a split of revenues from the show instead of a salary, and that "Hollywood trick economics" hurt his pay. Either way, the distributor, CBS Television, apparently wanted to pay Brown less because of declines in ratings and ad sales, and no deal was made.
Brown said in April that he planned to launch a new court show and a talk show in 2014. But such plans might not have been helped by video of a profane, seemingly disoriented Brown that popped up in August — a rambling talk that was promptly parodied by comedian Mike Epps. (You can find both videos on YouTube.)
Those really were odd puppets
Q: I used to watch a hilarious show about a sock puppet in the late hours on MTV. Can you tell me the name?
A: You are probably remembering "Sifl and Olly," which aired on MTV in the '90s, both in late night and in prime time. Created by Liam Lynch and Matt Crocco, it had two sock puppets in conversations derived from Lynch and Crocco's odd, real-life chats. The characters continue to pop up online.