The closing of the calendar year tends to be when we look back and look ahead, but in some industries it isn't necessarily the optimum time to do that. TV is one of them.
As for the old-style TV season, we're in the middle of it. So for some shows, what you're kind of evaluating is the second half of one season and the first half of another.
Looking at overall TV trends, however, is a different thing. That's something we can do.
So considering 2013 as a means to predicting 2014, here are five TV trends to keep an eye on as what we used to call the boob tube continues to bend and shake.
More movie stars on TV
When you see that Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson have signed on for the new series True Detective (Jan. 12 on HBO Canada), you understand the state of show business. All those mid-range movies -- the ones between superhero blockbusters and no-budget independents -- don't tend to get made any more. And those were the ones that used to win Academy Awards. Many of those actors and writers and directors have moved to television. If you're not one of the seemingly seven actors who star in all movies now, TV is where the work is.
More web series
I know when this changed for me. When the technology got better. Trying to watch web series in the past could be an exceedingly frustrating exercise. But now just about everything works, so to speak. So if House of Cards with Kevin Spacey, or Lilyhammer with Steven Van Zandt, is on Netflix instead of traditional TV, what the hell do I care any more? I'll go where the good content is.
More live events
Here's a number for you: 18 million. That's how many U.S. viewers tuned into NBC's three-hour The Sound of Music Live! with Carrie Underwood (City had it in Canada). Yes, I know 18 million is what a rerun of Cheers used to get back in the 1980s, blah blah blah. But for 2013, that was an eye-popping number. About the only things that attract big audiences to the big TV networks any more are big-time live events (Olympics, Super Bowl, Oscars, etc.). So be prepared for more live story-telling, too. Good lord, it's like the early 1950s again.
The British model always has been toward shorter seasons, not necessarily always by choice, but for financial reasons. But the real positive is that it tends to keep the quality up. Twelve-episode cable seasons have become the norm in North America, but increasingly there are 10-episode seasons, or eight, or six. I'd much rather watch six great episodes of something than 22 mediocre ones.
Rampant use of the "F" word
No, not that 'F' word. I'm talking about "finale." With shows now debuting in any month of the calendar year, and the concept of a singular TV "season" having gone the way of the dodo, TV shows desperately are trying to drum up excitement by any means necessary. So everything is a damn "finale." And it isn't going to stop. Fall finale, winter finale, spring finale, mid-season finale, quarter-season finale, black-and-white finale, left-handed finale ... well, you say finale, I say fini.