DEAR SUN SPOTS: Could anyone explain why there are only repeats of the programs on Channel 8 on Wednesday’s comedy night starting at 8 p.m. and running until 10 p.m.? These four shows started about two months ago and were a breath of fresh air compared to what is usually on TV. Now at 8 p.m. there is a cartoon for a half-hour, then repeats. I hope these shows are not going to be discontinued. No Name, No Town

ANSWER: Without knowing the names of the shows Sun Spots cannot check online to see if they are being canceled. However, if they are not, she has a pretty good guess about why you are seeing repeats instead of originals now.

There are only a couple of dozen episodes of each individual show made, even though there are 52 weeks in the year. That means that for more than half the year you will be watching reruns or substitute programming. In order to limit the impact of reruns, the networks try to broadcast them at times when they think viewers will be less likely to be watching. This includes much of the summer, when people are outside into the evening hours, and around the holidays, when people are busy with friends and family.

The three times of the year you can be assured to see new episodes will be during “sweeps,” when shows are rated by Nielsen for determining the number of viewers for each show and hence what can be charged for commercials. For 2009-2010, those dates are Oct. 29-Nov. 25 (already past), Feb. 4-March 3, April 29-May 26, and July 1-July 28. There are also now a number of new shows introduced in the summer, when viewers tired of reruns might be more willing to sample something new.

By the way, you might be interested to know that in the 1960s many shows featured 29 to 39 episodes per season. That number is now down to 20 to 26, with some shows (for example, “The Sopraonos,” which was on HBO) down to 13 episodes per season. The length of each episode has also declined over the years. In the 1960s, the average one-hour show included 51 minutes of content. It is now down to around 42 to 44 minutes, according to Wikipedia.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I am looking for a cobbler in your area. I may be reached at [email protected] John Capponi, No Town

ANSWER: Sun Spots knows of three. They are:

Paul’s Shoe Shop at 22 Cumberland St., Westbrook, ME 04092, e-mail [email protected], 854-4338, will provide service by mail. They are open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

Midcoast Shoe Repair, 14 Maine St., Brunswick, 725-8557, open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tom Finn Shoe Repair, 165 Water St., Augusta, 623-8491, open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Finn says he repairs anything leather, as well as shoes.

If readers know of any others, please let Sun Spots know.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: The Congregational Church of East Sumner is having its monthly supper on Saturday, Jan. 2, at 5:30 p.m. It will be a lasagna supper. Donations will benefit the Haiti Outreach Mission. Bill and Linda Glass will give a brief talk about the mission school.

At 7 p.m. there will be an informal new year and epiphany service to honor the coming of the wise men to see the baby Jesus and present gifts.

On Jan. 9, the community movie “Secondhand Lions” will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free; refreshments will be on sale. For more information, call Bill at 388-2263. Cynthia Norton, Sumner

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I hear you have helped a lot of people. I’m wondering if you can help me. I have some very old buttons. I am wondering if there is anybody who collects them, maybe a dealer. Thank you. — L.G., Norway

ANSWER: Sun Spots doubts that there is much of a market for your buttons, but even if there is, the column is not a venue for selling items, only giving them away. Maybe someone has developed a craft or hobby using them?

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be e-mailed to [email protected]

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