General Question

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

What's the difference between a tv serial and a tv episode?

Asked by MyNewtBoobs (18970 points ) December 14th, 2010

Reading Wikipedia, it says about one of the Doctor Who companions “Tegan was the longest-serving companion in terms of continuous years on the series (3 years, 1 month), closely followed by Sarah Jane Smith. Jamie McCrimmon was in more episodes and serials than Tegan, while Rose Tyler was in more serials, but not as many episodes.”

How can Rose Tyler be in more serials but not as many episodes? What the hell is a serial? Is it a British telly thing?

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12 Answers

Odysseus's avatar

Many episodes create a serial.
Usually around 9–14 episodes per season (serial) Each season is a serial

so its possible to appear in more serials by appering twice than it is to do only one(serial) season 14 times.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Odysseus Is it a set number? Or how would you know when a serial was over (or whatever)?

Odysseus's avatar

there is a break in filming, thats what defines the season (serial). Usually 6 months on 6 off in what I watch but it differs.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Odysseus Oh, it’s a season? Interesting.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
meiosis's avatar

Season is an Americanism for a series. You can have just one series of a programme, all it means is that there is more than one episode. The word serial is used to describe the programme itself, not the block of programme episodes. So Doctor Who is a serial drama, which runs in series of multiple episodes. The usual length of a British TV series is 6 episodes, I’m not sure what the length of a Doctor Who series would be.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Are you all sure that a series is synonomous with season? Even the Dr. Who fans seem to be confused. Link(series_5)

I’ve always considered a series/serial a program that can run more than one season. A season is only a term used for how television shows are run on a calendar year.

Let’s take Star Trek. There is the original Star Trek series with Captain Kirk, and it ran for three seasons. The next Star Trek series (other than the animated one) were Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager.

BarnacleBill's avatar

A serial is a television show that is made up of multiple parts. Big Bang Theory, Weeds, Mad Men, Law & Order SVU, Law & Order CI, etc. are serials.

If Rose Tyler was in 5 serials, 3 episode each, and Jamie McCrimmon was in 2 serials, 10 episodes each, then that answers the question of Rose Tyler being in more serials but fewer episodes than Jamie McCrimmon.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

So maybe the person in the OP’s quote assumes each time a new Dr. Who character is created, it is considered a new series (even though the plot picks up where the last one left off)?

meiosis's avatar

I’m not sure if series is entirely synonymous with season because season, in the context of television, is an Americanism and I don’t fully understand what it’s supposed to mean (I’ve just presumed). All I know is that a serial is a programme, and a series (in UK television terms) is a set of episodes, written, produced and usually broadcast together. So Fawlty Towers had two series of six episodes and Red Dwarf had eight series of six or eight episodes. In the Star Trek example, I would say that there were three series of Captain Kirk based Star Trek, and then spin-off series of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine & Voyager.

As for Doctor Who, since the relaunch in 2005 there have been three doctors, but five series.

Odysseus's avatar

serial means more than one season.
I got modded for making a simile of the definition of someone who commits more than one homicide.
Happy now pc mods

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@meiosis Series is synonomous with season. What you call the whole program/show, we call the whole series. It’s all very confusing.
@BarnacleBill I understand the math, it’s just that as far as I can tell, Rose Tyler was in no serials, just episodes.
@Odysseus Please pm me with this simile. It sounds fun

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