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Persons Unknown and the Missing Episode

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I am, as I know I’ve stated in the past, a fan of serialized television.  I like being able to come back to a show week after week, month after month, (hopefully) year after year, and watch things unfold.  I’m always curious about where a show may be heading, what ideas the producers have, and if the producers have maintained a constant vision for the show – if they’ve had an idea from the beginning of where they would be by the end.

It is because I am such a fan of serialized television that I tend to think twice before embarking on a new serialized show.  There are questions that must be asked.  Do I think that the show has a chance or that I’ll be massively disappointed when it just disappears?  Are the characters and story the sort of characters and story I want to stick with for an extended period?  Do I have faith in the producers?  In the actors?  In the network?  What else am I watching in that time period?  Now, I don’t need all the answers to fall into the right boxes, there is a careful sort of calculus that takes place. 

This summer, that calculus led me to watch Persons Unknown.  I figured that NBC would stick with the series even if the numbers weren’t good because, hey, it’s the summer, what else are they going to throw on?  The numbers weren’t good and the show got punted to Saturday nights, but I have a TiVo so that didn’t matter and I stuck with it.  I stuck with it to the point that when the NY Giants had a preseason football game on the local NBC affiliate this past Saturday night, I hunted down the series on one of NBC’s digital feeds and recorded it there (something I’ll be doing again this coming Saturday night). 

Sadly for me, this time out my faith has not been fully rewarded.  While I am intrigued by the plot and some of the characters, NBC has opted to not bother airing all the episodes that they have.  The network did promise all summer long that they would finish the season – that our questions would be answered – but they’re going to get to that finale next week by skipping an episode.  This past weekend we got episode 10 and next weekend we get episodes 12 and 13.  It doesn’t take a very astute person to figure out that, sequentially, an episode must be missing and that disappoints me mightily.  It just doesn’t seem right to do that. 

If you’re one of the few other people out there watching Persons Unknown, while you may be as equally disappointed as I, all hope is not lost.  NBC has placed the “missing”  11th episode of the series on their website.  Not having seen it yet, I have no idea at this point how relevant said episode is to the conclusion, but as a lot has taken place over the last few weeks, I wouldn’t be particularly surprised if it is an exceedingly important episode… at least, important if one wants to understand all that takes place in the finale. 

I will admit that I’m happy that NBC won’t simply be throwing that episode in on the DVD release, in this day and age of streaming video that would seem completely wrong, but still have trouble imagining that they couldn’t have worked out a way to air it on the network. 

In case you’re displeased with NBC to the point where you don’t wish to go to their website to view the episode, it’s embedded below.

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About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.
  • An online-only release of one episode? Really? Is this the way NBC rewards its viewers (at least some of whom don’t have access to high-speed internet) for a summer of devotion to one of its series?

    The good news is that “Seven Sacrifices” didn’t do much to move the story forward anyway, so those who miss it are suffering no grand tragedy that a “previously on Persons Unknown” segment can’t resolve.

    – matthew

  • David

    I am shocked that the NBC affiliate in New York is bumping these episodes for local sports and not airing them anywhere else on the schedule. When the CBS affiliate in NYC was airing Yankees games, it would regularly effect the airing of Big Brother. In that case, CBS would air the show in the wee hours of the morning – but at least they would AIR it. Those who are not savvy enough to find the DTV broadcast (4.1) will simply not see the finale. Just another example of how the networks simply do not care about viewers.

  • Jen

    Yep, another dumb move by NBC. I guess I’m not completely surprised, though. I mean their coverage of the Olympics was disappointing, they let Medium and Scrubs move to other networks, and look at what they did to Conan. Heck, they even let Letterman move to CBS way back when. It’s like they keep shooting themselves in the foot. Some kind of subconscious fear of success perhaps?

  • jan Peters

    I find it unconscionable that NBC would not air all episodes of Persons Unknown. I watched Sat. evening and found it difficult to follow, having missed the on-line episode.
    This is so unfair to the writers, actors and viewers.

    Netflix is looking better and better!

  • Chuck

    So, I go to watch the final two episodes I recorded last night and am completely lost during the review of the previous show. I thought I was going nuts – I didn’t recall most of what I saw on the review.
    The Jerks – they couldn’t squeeze one more hour in? Why didn’t they run 2 hours of Persons Unknown on the 21st and finish up with the 2 episodes last night on the 28th. How could that screw up any other program objectives?
    The major networks viewership of summer series like this one will be at least 1 less from now on.
    Having been screwed over several times now, I say SCREW them back – I won’t even entertain watching one of their summer series anymore. I hope you do the same.

  • Skipping the episode does seem like a poor choice, particularly during the summer when they almost assuredly could have found time somewhere to air it.

  • Chip

    I thought I was crazy and had to jump online for confirmation – I’ve stuck with this, eventhough I thought the premise was getting more convoluted by the episode – trainwreck in all senses of the word – now I’m half watching the final two episodes, and just getting more and more angry I wasted 12 hours of my life on this – all will be revealed indeed – all NBCs faults. Shame on them…