Thursday, 17 October 2013

Hanging on by fingernails

One of the big benefits of Netflix has been bringing to me some excellent US series that I haven't tried before. Although a little hokey, and suffering from the 'Charlie Hungerford syndrome*', I have very much been enjoying watching Fringe, and recently got to the finale of season 2, which has a whopping great cliffhanger. I would like to respectfully ask makers of US TV shows not to do this.

Here's the thing. I absolutely love shows with a story arc - ones where as well as the specific story of the episode there is a building theme that runs through the whole season. The show that most springs to mind for bringing this to my awareness is Buffy, though I faintly remember being captivated by The Fugitive and The Invaders as a child, both of which I think had arcs.

But here's the thing. As we all know, TV scheduling is a ferocious, dog-eat-dog business that rarely deals fairly with its viewers. I mean, come on, they cancelled Firefly, one of the best shows I've ever seen. So any show might not come back after the end of the season. Which means if you leave us on a cliffhanger, we could be frustrated and bitter for the rest of our lives. Joss Whedon was able to deliver some satisfaction with the movie Serenity closing off Firefly, but this is a rare opportunity. If Fringe had ended forever with Olivia in the mess she's in at the end of season 2, I don't think I could ever have forgiven the makers.

So be kind, show producers. By all means leave lots open and available for future seasons, but don't leave the main characters in peril in the finale. It's just not cricket, or even baseball.


* The Charlie Hungerford syndrome refers to a UK TV series called Bergerac in which one secondary character seems to be involved some way or other in practically every crime investigated by the eponymous main character. In Fringe, Walter seems responsible for practically every new invention (in any science or technology) known to man, something that seems to be parodied in the 'storytelling' episode in season 2.

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