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Viewers in the 1970s and 1980s probably never questioned how much worthwhile entertainment content there was in shows like Charlie's Angels , TJ Hooker and Starsky and Hutch but suddenly it is highly relevant.
The Sony Corporation and its production studio, Sony Pictures Television, which controls the rights to these programmes and many other relics of a distant television era, have come up with an answer to this question: three and a half to five minutes.
That's the length to which Sony has shrunk episodes in order to create what the company hopes is an appealing new business that retools old shows for a new era of entertainment. Sony even has a name for these shrunken slices of television nostalgia: minisodes.
Sony Television is planning to introduce in June an Internet-based service called the Minisode Network, which will initially offer the mini-shows for an exclusive run on MySpace.
The network will consist of a line-up of tightly edited versions of shows lifted off the shelves of Sony's television library. These are not clips of the shows, but actual episodes with beginnings, middles and ends, all told in under six minutes.
Steve Mosko, the president of Sony Television, described the minisodes: "So in Charlie Angels they have a meeting, Charlie's on the intercom telling them what the assignment is, there's a couple of fights, and then a chase, and they catch the bad guy. Then they're back home wrapping it up."
That sums up the main aim of the minisodes. Nobody expects these shows to captivate anyone with their exciting plots , writing or ageless acting. "It's really campy and fun," Mosko said.