When CNN hosted the Republican primary candidates, the candidates got 3 hours in which to make (or sink) their case for the White House. It was a long affair, but some good came from it—Marco Rubio distinguished himself on foreign policy (whether you agree with his approach is a different story entirely,) Carly Fiorina shifted from “dark horse” to budding household name, and Ted Cruz was afforded more of an opportunity to get in on the conversation.

The Democrats won’t be afforded that same luxury.

Next week’s CNN debate—this time, hosting the Democratic primary contenders—will afford the Dems’ 5* candidates just two hours to make their initial splash in the primetime media pond.

*Will Joe Biden debate? We’re still not sure:

As of this writing, the number of Democrats who will be on that stage is still somewhat up in the air. Will there be five candidates? Six? Seven? We’ll just have to wait and see, folks. The biggest unanswered question is whether Vice President Joe Biden will decide to throw his hat in the ring or not. Washington pundits have been obsessing over this question ever since Maureen Dowd wrote a column about it a few months ago (with a heart-wrenching personal story from the deathbed of Beau Biden, Joe’s son). Biden himself has been teasing the possibility of a run, but so far has failed to commit. He may even (if some reports are to be believed) wait until after the first debate is held to make up his mind. This would be an incredibly late entry, to state the obvious.

Biden is in an interesting position, because even without announcing his bid, the polling companies have all put his name into their lists of questions, which has resulted in Biden already garnering enough support to be in a comfortable third place, in a seven-way race. That’s not bad, for a man not even running.

With only two hours allotted for the debate, we could see additional angst directed at DNC Chairman Debbie Wassermann Schultz, who has been inundated with criticism over her decision to limit the field to just 6 officially sanctioned debates. Charges over the DNC’s “rigged” debate schedule have gained traction, and activists and prominent Democrats from presidential candidate Martin O’Malley to congressional leader Nancy Pelosi have taken to national media outlets to question DWS’s decision to limit the number of official debates her candidates are allowed to participate in.

Even the MSM has turned on her, saying that the DNC’s iron grip on its field of candidates is meant to boost Hillary Clinton:

Look for fireworks; the Dems’ slate may be chock full of the same old “politics as usual,” but there’s more than enough drama hidden below the surface to make things interesting by the time next week rolls around.

Follow Amy on Twitter @ThatAmyMiller