Q: Whatever became of the fourth season of "Downton Abbey" on PBS? I saw the first few segments, and then it was on no more.
A: The fourth season of "Downton" consisted of eight episodes and a Christmas special in its original British run. PBS reconfigured the first two episodes into a two-hour telecast and used the special as a season finale — a total of eight shows.
A season of a successful American show can run about 22 episodes, although even that number can vary. "Scandal" wrapped up its season recently after scaling back its number of episodes because of star Kerry Washington's pregnancy.
Other shows, though, might do shorter seasons — 13 episodes or fewer. For example, the first season of "Graceland" contained only 12 episodes — it will be back for a second season in June — and the final season of "Warehouse 13," now in progress, contains only six. The length can be a function of network needs, economics, actors' availability — and how many ideas the people making the show think they have.
No problem with 'Elementary'
Q: I checked my TV listings for Thursday, and sadly, there's no "Elementary." What's the scoop?
A: "Elementary," which was on a two-week break when you asked, returned April 24. It has its season finale scheduled for May 15 and has been renewed by CBS for another season.
'Cop Rock' had a good beat
Q: There was a cop show in the 1990s where all the characters sang their lines. It was "Cop Opera" or something similar to that. It didn't last long. Can you can find any information on this show?
A: You're thinking of "Cop Rock," which aired on ABC for a few months in 1990. The series came from Steven Bochco, then renowned for "Hill Street Blues" and "L.A. Law," and was somewhat reminiscent of the British work by Dennis Potter ("Pennies From Heaven," "The Singing Detective"). Potter often mixed storytelling with the characters lip-syncing to older songs.
"Cop Rock" went for original music and a cast that could often handle it. (You can see Sheryl Crow in one number.) But the blending of music and drama didn't sit well with critics or viewers. Even with no authorized DVD release, you can see how weird it was in clips on YouTube — not only the one with Crow but one that's a musical version of the "Hill Street Blues" catchphrase, "Let's be careful out there."
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