22 May 2009

Another cliffhanger!?!?


It seems to be part of the television industry code for writers: "If you create a cliffhanger, they will return."

Honestly, it's true, but the initial reaction I've been having lately is one of extreme annoyance. TWO of my favorite show have ended their seasons with an unfinished storyline. Possibly more since I've missed a few episodes of others and we don't TiVo.

For SUPERNATURAL it was the tantalizing picture of Dean and Sam standing there, watching as the supreme evil being rose from the earth. For CRIMINAL MINDS it was when one of its leads came face-to-face with a masked gunman. Final sound: a gunshot, then fade to black. A very effective device, btw, and one I was not expecting in the least.

Besides wanting to throw the remote, a part of me wondered if the television industry thinks we are really that fickle? Do they really believe we won't return to a program unless there's a mystery we have to solve? At first I think 'NOT!'...but then the writer in me overcomes the viewer. Um, yeah, I do see the value in keeping fans on the edges of their seats. Doesn't mean I have to like it. ;)

Back to SUPERNATURAL, which is somewhat my guilty pleasure. Both Jared Padalecki (Sam) and Jensen Ackles (Dean) are extremely good-looking -- and much-younger-than-me guys. My favorite character? Dean. Definitely. Add to that the entire realm of supernatural boogeymen (and women), a rockin' soundtrack, and lots of gore... It's not a show I watch with the family. My kids don't like the blood and my dh isn't a big paranormal buff. So this show is mom's time. My little escape. And now I have to wait months to find out just how these two characters will defeat Satan? Ugh!

Well... let's keep this in perspective. As a writer I do understand the inclination to leave people hanging. You want to keep them reading; to keep them watching; to keep them wanting and needing more. I suppose part of my annoyance comes from distant past and such moments as when DALLAS fans raced to their televisions for that first season episode after another season explored who killed Bobby Ewing... only to see Pamela waking up to find Bobby in the shower... alive and well once again. A dream? Are you freaking serious?!?!?

But a cliffhanger done well is a whole other animal. For television, it works -- it annoys, but it works. However, I'm sure I would never use such a device at the end of a book. That just seems too cruel.

Hmmmm, then again...
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