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On Endings and Event TV

How’s it going to end? What’s going to happen? Did you see it? Oh my God. OH MY GOD! NO!!!!!!!!

If you’re like me, you’re on tenterhooks waiting for the very last episode of Breaking Bad. Although I’m a bit behind so I’m going to have to have a marathon back to back this weekend. Even so, it’s hard to dodge spoilers and I’ve seen arguments breaking out ; personally, I tend to side with actor Dean Norris (Hank) who tweeted:

For last time. Social media = watercooler. Part of experience of BB is sharing at watercooler. If NOT up to date, avoid fucking watercooler.

Although I think tweeting during a show means you’re probably not that engrossed in it, (and I don’t mean things like X Factor and Great British Bake Off where Twitter definitely adds to the fun) I love going online straight after the credits have rolled and seeing everyone’s reactions. There were howls of derision and outrage at the end of What Remains, The Fall and The Returned. For different reasons, but everyone seemed to be collectively shouting at the screen or saying Huh?! I’ve been on the Robert McKee screenwriting course, I know my inciting incidents and my five act structures, but all that goes out the window, when you’re immersed in the fictional world they’ve so expertly built up.

I suppose what I’m looking for is some satisfaction – that the protagonist(s) has acted in keeping with the character that has been so painstakingly built up, that it was believable and grew out of what had gone before, no nonsensical turnarounds, that there were no plot holes left so gaping wide they could swallow you whole. That it was worth all that time and investment – especially for a long running series. I knew I didn’t want to commit to Lost but I stayed with ER for all 15 seasons. The ending of that was, I think, perfectly judged. I’m hooked on Game of Thrones but worry that it won’t, in fact, ever end.

Sometimes you can almost see SECOND SERIES COMMISSIONED flashing on screen. I hate it when you look at your watch and you think – how the hell are they going to wrap this up in ten minutes? because that means they invariably won’t. Fade to black is often a cop out.

I’ve just started the book Difficult Men : Behind The Scenes of a Creative Revolution by Brett Martin which covers Mad Men, The Wire, The Sopranos (surely one of the most hotly contested endings ever) and Breaking Bad; there was an extract in The Guardian at the weekend which gave a fascinating insight into how the team of writers work with story boards and brainstorming and Post it notes. Even so, imagine the pressure on Gilligan who said,

” I would be very unprepared for people to hate the ending. That would throw me. I’d probably have to go into hiding or be hospitalised.”

I grew up with Who Shot JR – if you hadn’t seen it you were practically frozen out of playground conversation. But what else recently? Sherlock I suppose. Broadchurch – I went into town the morning after the final episode and every single conversation I overheard was about it – in Marks & Spencer, in the street, in the queue in the supermarket, at school pick up. How amazing to have that effect on the nation’s consciousness.

Have you ever screamed at the telly as the credits roll? What’s the worst ending to something you’ve ever seen? Or the best?

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Alison – Ah, yes, Who Shot JR.… I remember that one. I’m like you. I like to have some sort of closure when I’ve been watching (or reading) a series. I’m not even really a fan of ‘cliffhangers’ between series of the same show. Once in a while it works, but too often it’s quite unsatisfying.

    September 26, 2013
  2. I always seem to be a series or three behind everyone else. We were still working our way through the first box set of The Killing when Sarah Lund was onto her third sweater.

    October 5, 2013
  3. I am one of the very few people remaining on the planet (the first-world planet, gah, I sound so privileged) who have not seen BB. I am currently addicted to a show called The Americans. Do you have it in England? About two Russian spies who live in suburban DC and have a fake/real/fake marriage?

    October 21, 2013
    • I think I’ve seen that trailed (with Matthew Rhys from Brothers & SIsters?) but I haven’t seen it. Sounds like my sort of thing – thanks!

      October 21, 2013

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