i was getting my downton abbey on the other night and realised that the show is moving at a much faster clip than i’m comfortable with. it kicks off with the sinking of the titanic (1912), breezes through the great war and is now temporarily resting in 1920. in just 16 episodes, 8 years have elapsed! at this rate (180 days per episode), the third season’ll end at about the time that double decker buses were first introduced to london (1925).
how does the downton pace compare with mad men? the latter show (which has more episodes per season, is moving much slower (42 days per episode). each season spans a year but the jump between seasons is usually a year by itself.
i thought i’d plot 24 as a goof (each season = 1 day) but then found out that the time between each of those “days” is as many as 3 years. i found a few other series with readily available dates (mostly period dramas) but then a sexy collaborator of mine reminded me that each star trek episode begins with a stardate and could thus appear on the same chart.
as always, you are free to make your own observations. here are a few of my own to get you primed:
- rome was originally slated to be 5 seasons but halfway through writing the second, the series creator learned that #2 would be rome’s last. said the creator, ”i telescoped the third and fourth season into the second one, which accounts for the blazing speed we go through history near the end.” this is clearly apparent in the chart.
- i had no intention of finding the date of every single the wonder years episode, but then learned that each season takes place twenty years prior to the date of broadcast. the wonder years line (dark green) is therefore a pretty decent basis ( with a 1:1 ratio of seasons to years) for the pacing of american-style tv shows.
- look how early on in star trek, the episodes did not progress in chronological order. this is because 1. there was never an overt continuity between episodes & 2. the writers were given license to use whatever “stardate” they wanted so long as they conformed to certain guidelines.
- i had another very insightful observation to make but i forgot it and then someone knocked on my door and now i have to pretend to be doing work.
data request: if you wanna see your own favourite programme plotted on this chart, send me the data and i’ll see what i can do.
many thanks to the nerds over at trekguide.com. stardate conversions are not as clear-cut as i thought and their website was helpful in providing a secret formula.