Saturday, January 13, 2007

In praise of good cliffhangers

Another show that I’ve started watching lately is 24. Actually, that’s not true – I started 24 at episode 1, Season 1 but there is something about watching shows with a lot of tension when they’re broadcast that gets to me so I stopped after about five episodes or so. Since that time Meredith has gotten into it big time and lulled me back through DVDs. It helped a lot that Meijer, Target and Best Buy have all offered very cheap prices on complete seasons over the last few months. So I’m all stocked up on 24 DVDs and watching them at a reasonable pace – no more than one episode in a sitting.

Last summer I watched Season 1, in the fall it was Season 2 and since Christmas I’ve been watching Season 3 and they’ve all been great – I’m up to episode 14 now (it’s about 3 in the morning show-time) and, in what is becoming typical fashion, the threat has played out the way they expected it to and, surprise, things aren’t what they thought. So while a threat is still there, they get to focus on a different set of problems. Very clever because some things you just can’t keep going for 24 episodes. For example, Kim and her mom getting rescued half-way through Season 1 was great – I was getting sick of them being held and the change really helped the pace of the season.

Here’s the thing that I have noticed especially about Season 3, though, and it occurs to me that this has been true all along. 24 does not feature stupid cliffhangers. By stupid cliffhangers I mean things like situations where Jack is hanging from a cliff. We all know he’s going to get saved and, sure enough, at the beginning of the next episode it turns out that someone reaches over and pulls him up. Big deal. That sort of thing always makes me feel like I’ve been cheated – like if the camera had pulled back just a little bit I would have seen the other person there and it would have been obvious what was going to happen.

But 24 doesn’t do that – they would show Jack getting pulled up, have Jack say to the person who pulled him up “where’s Nina – did she get away?” and the person would answer “Jack, we lost her – and she has the virus!” See how that’s different? In the better scenario the cliffhanger sets up a whole episode worth of stuff rather than only the first two seconds of the episode. So among other things I like about 24, near the top of my list is the way they end each of the episodes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bob Robert! I always check out your blog. I've gotta be nuts:) What was with no anonymous comments? That was really disappointing to me. It appears you can't get enough of t.v. watching. It can be hard to resist. Was in the la segunda the other day and picked up a 'still sealed' phil keaggy: the master and the musician (l.p.) is this worth opening up and listening to; i only got it cuz you always talk about him...
montag from fahrenheit 451