Ever since Netflix started releasing shows in giant binge-worthy blocks, the approach has been lauded by many, and derided by others. The streaming giant has apparently been paying attention, as their latest series will go a different route in its release schedule by trying to appeal to both sides. Oh, and it’ll star TV vet Ashton Kutcher.
Kutcher will be teaming up with former That 70s Show co-star Danny Masterson for the comedy The Ranch, which Deadline reports is in negotiations for a straight to series order from Netflix. Should it go through, the series will be picked up for 20 episodes, but instead of putting them all out at once, Netflix would release them 10 at a time, in two batches, at different points in the year.
That’s kind of interesting, but unless there’s some major serialized storytelling happening (which I doubt there will be), it just sounds like two 10-episode seasons, and not one full season split in half. I could see this angle working on a drama where a midseason cliffhanger would get audiences rabid for more, but The Ranch sounds a bit more easy-going with its subject matter.
One of the first multi-camera projects for the service, The Ranch hails from Two and a Half Men showrunners Don Reo and Jim Patterson, the former of whom also created Brothers and My Wife and Kids. In the comedy, Kutcher plays a guy who returns to his hometown after a short stint as a semi-pro football player, and he attempts to run the family business with his brother, the role that Masterson will be taking. Seems like this is tailor-made for audiences who wish Netflix would be more like CBS.
This isn’t the first time Netflix decided to flip the script on their “all at once” release plans. A few weeks ago, they debuted the Canadian co-production Between as the first series to get a week-by-week schedule. Netflix is of course very stingy with its viewership numbers, so there’s no telling how well this strategy is working for them, but the sci-fi mystery concept is arguably a better hook than a laugh track sitcom to keep people coming back for more. That said, there are far more comedies in top-rated lists than there are sci-fi mysteries, so they probably know what they’re doing.
Netflix’s plan for The Ranch is similar to what Crackle did for its original mystery drama Sequestered. For that show, the first half of the season was released in August 2014, with the second half coming two months later, which actually gave viewers the option of taking in one episode a week if they wanted to.
All I know is, Netflix better not try this approach with Daredevil Season 2, or we’re going to sic the Punisher on them.