Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Season of Cliffhangers

I hate cliffhangers. In all forms of media.

I deal with sort term cliffhangers. In books it doesn't really matter. I read really fast, so I can get to the next chapter easily. It was pretty annoying when I was listening to an audiobook of one the Dresden Files that my father had bought. I kept wanting it to go faster and I wasn't about to do other things while I listened. I would have missed something.

Cliffhangers in books are one thing. Most of the time they aren't that important. Television they start to piss me off. They usually come out during a bout of character derailment or just when they have made everything about the show suck as it is. Now the characters are all imprisoned, or about to be killed, or are killed. And we end the season.

It would be one thing if they ever dared to do any of those things but they won't. Within three minutes of the season opener they escape or dodge the bullet or discover that was only their body double. If someone does die, we know that before next season because we hear about whether they have a new contract.

All it turns into is writers or producers torturing characters we like. There was a book I read that pissed me off because every character you started to like got killed very quickly. Another book I read started out good, but devolved into how can we torture the main character. A lot of foreshadowing and a cliffhanger in that book.

When it comes to television I like how Bones handles cliffhangers. They do them with an extra episode in the season so we don't have a month to stew over nothing. If they kill off a character (or make them insane) they do it right in front of you. It also lets them discuss the emotions the characters are going through immediately instead of ignoring them as most shows do.

It might be something to do with new media and the internet but most people would now skip the last episode until they are closer to the new season so the torture isn't so strong. Of course, I have been known to stop watching a show if they start setting up for a large scale cliffhanger, often the cliffhanger is what makes me leave.

Cliffhangers in movies. Should not exist. It assumes that there will be multiple movies, which is not something anyone can assume and it's just bad formatting. The movie ends when the story is over, not after we add something extra so that you watch the next movie. I'm not talking about the Marvel movies with the teaser after the credits, I mean Matrix II and III. Pirates had the same problem too, but I can at least state that the story for that movie ended. A TV show gives us a cliffhanger and they are only being so optimistic that they will last until next season, if a movie does it either they know that they have another movie or they are just being a dick to you.

You may have noticed that several shows have decided to have cliffhanger endings this season. Now you know why I might not be watching them next season.

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