Friday, August 2, 2013

There Are No Spoilers


I get my TV and movies exclusively from Netflix.  My usual M.O. is to wait for a show to be cancelled, so I can watch it nonstop from the beginning to the end (sometimes in a few weeks).  The main problem is to avoid spoilers from my friends who all assume I watch TV like normal people (or eat like normal people, or talk like normal people…).  However, I noticed a lot of shows can’t be spoiled.

Lemmie try to explain.

Years ago, I attended a “story in games” tutorial at the Game Developer’s Conference.  As part of the tutorial, they brought in the creator of Star Trek Voyager.  If you’ve never watched Voyager… 

Well, don’t it’s a terrible show.

Anyway, I asked her about maintaining dramatic tension on a television show with a permanent cast.  In other words: how do you make the audience fear for characters they know will all be back next week.

She said something about trying hard not to “hit the reset button” so the viewers aren’t “counting time” until the characters come back to life.  I wasn’t allowed a follow-up, but it would have been “But you do it every fucking episode!”

Oh, sorry, I should put that in Star Trek terms for our nerd friends: “Get your Bat’leth out of your ass!”

The previous night one of the characters (Harry Kim) was blown out into space and died.  By the end of the episode, he was (of course) brought back to life through the magic of alternate realities.
 
"Alternate realities" is Klingon for “Ha!  Fooled you!”

Seriously, what was the point of even watching that episode?  What was the point of even watching that show?

Which brings us to Tron:Uprising and Kings.

I’d heard good things about how groundbreaking they were, so I gave them a try.  They’re dramatic, exciting shows.  Every episode, major characters cheat death.

There’s only one problem: there are no spoilers.
In “Tron Uprising,” there are massive, world changing events that always go away by the end of the episode.  Accidentally let your best friends know you’re a costumed vigilante?  They’ll forget by the end of the day.  Your enemy frames you for a crime?  He’ll let you get exonerated.  Start dating that hot woman who works for the bad guys?  Yeah, she’ll break up with you in the morning.

I’d love to live in that world.
Kings, on the other hand, changes things so often the changes become meaningless. Every episode alliances are broken and reformed.  King Cyrus allies with his son, the prince, against David.  Next week, David and the prince team up against Cyrus.  Next week, David and Cyrus team up against the prince.  On and on, episode after episode until the absurdity becomes overwhelming.

So, as much as I liked Kings and Tron: Uprising I can’t recommend them.  And as much as I hate Star Trek: Voyager…  No, wait, don’t watch that either.

For that matter, don’t watch anything unless you have my permission.

Now go to bed.  You have a big day tomorrow.

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