Wednesday, May 23, 2007

'Tis the Season

by Tory Butterworth

Well, it's that time of year again. I'm not speaking of violets and rhododendron in bloom, or shedding coats and boots and being able to wear shorts again. I'm talking about the time of the year when television shows are wrapping up their seasons.

Maybe, with my writing hat on, I'm more critical this year, but does anyone else dislike what many of the shows are doing at the end of this season?

I'm not talking about the shows that you know the premise is lousy and the writing is uneven, but you watch anyway because it's your area of interest or your spouse is watching or you enjoy seeing a good train wreck.

I'm talking about the shows that had decent to excellent writing all year, interesting plots, good character development, and in the last few episodes it's like the writers are on speed.

And maybe they are. I've never written for a television show, so maybe it's like finals. By the end of the season you're so sleep-deprived you'll put anything on the page just to get it over with?

And I guess not only do writers have to think about how to wrap up their current plots and subplots but also how to keep viewers interested enough to want to tune in next season.

But still, why do they think we like cliffhangers manufactured out of thin air?

And here's the thing. If the season comes to a satisfying conclusion, if it ties up loose ends, if I breathe a sign of relief like I do at the end of a good novel, that's when I'm going to be tuning in again next year. If the writers' drop a bombshell, turning everything I've taken for granted upside down and making it a whole new show, then I'm going to think twice about sticking with it.

But maybe I'm in the minority. What about you? What will get you to tune in next fall?


Joyce Tremel said...

That's why I don't watch much TV. Most of the shows have become way too bizarre for me. I've been buying seasons of old shows like Miami Vice. It's not any more realistic than today's shows, but where else can you see a car phone as big as a shoe box and all those eighties fashions? And Crockett. He's still hot.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Joyce has good points about Miami Vice.

Me, the only show I'm hooked on (other than Dog) is Criminal Minds. And only because I can routinely count on it to creep me out, especially on nights when the Tour Manager's at poker.

Cheap thrills...

Anonymous said...

I'm not a big TV watcher, either, but I do love the show LOST. Every episode ends with a cliffhanger, and the season finale is usually a culmination of the entire season.

As in fiction novels, a good cliffhanger leaves me wanting more. Not just in action but also in emotional impact. If there's an emotional attachment that is left hanging at the end of an episode, I'll definitely tune in to watch what happens.

Annette said...

LOST lost me somewhere between the end of last year when the hatch imploded and early this season with all the stuff about the "others." Or maybe it's because they pushed it back to 10:00 which is past my bedtime.

I did get addicted to JERICHO this year, which is similar to LOST in that a group of people become isolated from the rest of the world and must battle unknown enemies to survive. But it looks like JERICHO has been cancelled.

That's what annoys me the most with the "To Be Continued" cliffhanger at the end of the season. Often there is no next year and I never find out what happens next.

Yeah, bring on Sonny Crockett! Or MacGyver. Ah, the good ol' days...

Anonymous said...

I was a big, big fan of HBO's Deadwood series. The last season ended with the conflict unresolved and about to come to a head, and then they cancelled the series, so now we'll never know what was going to happen. And then there's The Sopranos, which is working it's way down to the series finale and just getting more and more depressing. I'm starting to wonder if they're just going to kill everyone off. I refuse to start watching any other HBO series, and as soon as the series finale of The Sopranos airs, I'm cancelling my subscription to HBO!

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way about FOX. There was a show a few years ago that I loved and got totally hooked on, where the entire thing was a whodunit. The identity of the killer was to be revealed at the end of the series. Only there wasn't a series. It didn't even make it to the end of the first season, and they NEVER answered who the killer was. Grr...

At least we don't have to worry about that happening in books. That's why I choose to read instead.