There’s a really good reason NOT to watch the new season of “American Horror Story,” and it has nothing to do with the quality of the production. Or the presence of Kim Kardashian in the cast.
Although the presence of Kardashian is enough all by itself to keep me from tuning in. Well, her and the spiders.
But the even bigger reason is that we already know that Season 12 of the series, titled “American Horror Story: Delicate,” is going to leave us hanging — potentially for a very long time.
The new season is based on Danielle Valentine’s book “Delicate Condition,” about an actor who believes a malevolent force is preventing her from having a baby. Emma Roberts plays the actor; Kardashian plays her manager; the cast includes Cara Delavingne, Matt Czuchry (“The Resident”), Annabelle Dexter-Jones (“Succession”), Michaela Jaé Rodriguez (“Pose”), Odessa A’zion (“Fam”), with “AHS” veteran Zachary Quinto making a cameo appearance.
It’s kind of weird that, in the midst of the strikes by Hollywood writers and actors, I’m cautioning you against watching one of the few new scripted releases on TV. But it’s precisely because of those strikes that I’m warning you away.
• “AHS: Delicate” will premiere on Wednesday, Sept. 20, on FX, and start streaming on Hulu a day later.
• We don’t know exactly how many total episodes there will be (previous seasons of “AHS” have been had between 9 and 13), but we do know that the first part of the season will be broken up into two parts. Five episodes will air/stream weekly starting Sept. 20/21, and more episodes (the number was not announced) will start airing/streaming sometime later. Could be weeks later. Could be months later.
• The remainder of “AHS: Delicate” will air … eventually. Because of the strikes, production has not even begun on those episodes yet. FX is optimistically postulating the episodes will air sometime in 2024. Which could, of course, mean more than a year from now.
That’s assuming the strikes are over by the end of the year — which is a big question mark.
For all I know, there could be a big breakthrough in talks between the producers and the WGA and SAG-AFTRA tomorrow. But I’m a pessimist by nature, and I would not be at all surprised to see the strikes drag on for months. Until early 2024. Or later.
If you’ve lost track, the Writers Guild of America went on strike on May 2. The last time union representatives sat down with producers was Aug. 22, and it did not go well.
The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists struck on Aug. 22 and, as of this writing, has not met with producers since then.
If you’re an “American Horror Story” fan, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should never watch “AHS: Delicate.” But I’d wait at least until the final episodes are in sight. Watch it on Hulu or on demand shortly before those final episodes are scheduled to air.
Less frustration that way. Less chance of forgetting what happened in the first two batches of episodes before the third arrives.
A long wait
Cliffhangers are just a fact of TV life — a common way for TV series to end a season. And waiting from a May season finale to a September season premiere is not that big a deal.
Waiting from May 2023 or earlier until sometime in 2024 is another matter. And there’s a whole lot of cliffhanging going on right now, including on “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago P.D.,” “Chicago Med,” “The Cleaning Lady,” “CSI: Vegas,” “The Diplomat,” “The Equalizer,” “FBI: International,” “Fire Country,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “La Brea,” “NCIS,” “Night Court,” “9-1-1 Lone Star,” “Quantum Leap,” “Station 19″ … just to name a few.
At what point do viewers quit wondering/caring and just forget about what was happening? Or does absence make the viewers’ hearts grow fonder … or more curious?
There was a big gap in the greatest TV cliffhanger of all time: Who shot J.R.? on “Dallas.”
J.R. (Larry Hagman) was shot in the Season 3 finale, which aired on March 21, 1980. Because of the 1980 actors strike — which lasted from July 3 to Oct. 23 that year — the Season 4 premiere was pushed back until Nov. 7. And viewers didn’t find out whodunnit until Episode 4, which aired on Nov. 21, eight months after J.R. was shot.
Despite (or because of) the delay, the episode that revealed that Kristin Shepherd (Mary Crosby), J.R.’s sister-in-law/mistress, was the shooter, drew 83 million viewers — more than 3 million more people than had voted for Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter combined in the presidential election 17 days earlier.
It remains the second-most-watched TV series episode of all time, exceeded only by the 1983 series finale of “M*A*S*H” (106 million viewers).
Strange new/old cliffhanger
No spoilers here, but the second season of “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” ended on a major cliffhanger involving the Gorn, a reptilian race first seen in the original series “Star Trek.”
“Strange New Worlds” is a prequel and we know that the U.S.S. Enterprise, Pike (Anson Mount), Spock (Ethan Peck), Chapel (Jess Bush), Chin-Riley (Rebecca Romijn), Uhura (Celia Rose Gooding), M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun), Sam Kirk (Dan Jeannotte) and Scott (Martin Quinn) all survive to appear in episodes and/or movies that take place after this one. Other characters are in jeopardy.
And … what with the strikes, who knows when this cliffhanger will be resolved?
For Trekkies only, it might be worth pointing out that the three Gorn episodes of “Strange New Worlds” to date all violate “Star Trek” canon. In the original series episode “Arena” (Season 1, Episode 18) — which takes place years after “Strange New Worlds” — it was clear that this was the first time a Federation crew had encountered the Gorn. Several of Capt. Pike’s crew members still on the Enterprise under Capt. Kirk (William Shatner), when they have no prior knowledge of the Gorn. And in “Strange New Worlds,” Starfleet Command is worried about war breaking out between the Federation and the lizards.
This does not impair my enjoyment of the Gorn episodes in the prequel. But it violates canon nonetheless.
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