Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Can Spoilers Go Too Far?

Don't forget to watch the all new episode of Stargate Universe, tonight on Syfy at 8 pm CST!!!!!


Also, check out the newest episode of Riese:  Kingdom Falling right here!


Warning:  This post is about spoilers.  It might therefore be reasonable to assume that it contains spoilers.  

 (Mostly for Stargate Universe, but also a little bit for the BBC show Luther.)


Spoilers, you say?

So, remember last week in my review of the SGU episode The Greater Good I said it pretty much looked like Ginn and Perry had been killed by Creepy Lucian Alliance guy? Then, the day after the episode aired, a bunch of people from the show (most notably David Blue and Joseph Mallozzi) went on the record telling us not to jump to conclusions, and we didn't know what we thought we know?

Sure, a couple of the trailers for tonight's episode have made it look pretty convincing that those characters are now ex-characters, but that could all just be down to editing.  Then, yesterday, I am perusing the weekly What to Watch article on io9, and imagine my surprise to find that this is the synopsis for tonight's episode:

Simeon makes his escape from Destiny after killing Ginn/Amanda Perry, sending Nicholas Rush on a vengeful mission. But Young and Greer attempt to retrieve Simeon unharmed.
Well.  That seems pretty darn definitive.  

Then, yesterday afternoon, I was catching up on Sunday's episode of Luther, which is a really fantastic miniseries that has been airing on BBC America for the last few weeks.  I was fast forwarding through the last commercial break of the episode and stopped when I got to what looked like the return of the show.

Except, that's not what it was. 

It was a preview for next week's episode, which for some reason BBCA decided to air before the episode was actually over.  In this preview, we see that Luther's wife Zoe has been murdered by his crooked cop pal and framed for the crime, and now Luther is on the run trying to prove his innocence.  My brain exploded a little bit.  When last I saw Zoe, before the break, she was alive and well.  After the preview, the episode wrapped up, giving us the big climactic scene wherein the crooked cop kills Zoe.  But the scene had lost all of the tension that the show had worked so carefully to create, because I had just seen an ad for next week and knew that Zoe didn't make it.  It really killed the end of the episode for me.  At least next week's ending won't be spoiled in the same way, since it's the final part of the series and there won't be any previews to show.  But still.

All of this got me thinking about spoilers and how they have wormed their way into the mainstream in the last few years.  Do television viewers truly not want any more mystery in their shows?  Is it just that the people who make the preview trailers aren't paying attention and put in something they think will grab viewers without realizing it gives away the ending of the episode?  

I really don't understand the thought process that went behind the programming decision to air the preview for the next week's episode before the episode had actually ended.  Granted, this series had already aired in its entirety across the pond in Britain earlier in the year.  Maybe somebody just figured that it was technically a rerun and spoilers were off the table? 

Then again, BBCA isn't the only network doing that, now that I think about it.  Psych on USA usually had their ad for next week before the last bit of the show as well.  Although usually the bit after the last break for that show is a wrap-up and all of the big reveals in the episode have happened already.

As far as preview trailers go, I know I've seen quite a few that have raised the ire of actors or writers from a given show.  They feel like they worked hard to make a really cool episode that would keep you guessing, and then someone with some editing tools somewhere went and cut together a teaser that doesn't tease but in fact totally gives it all away!  (The return of Carson Beckett in season four of Stargate Atlantis, anyone?)  What, then, is the point of bothering to watch the show?

The really good teasers do just that.  They hint at what the twist might be, and the best make you think it is something completely different from what it actually is, so that when you watch, you really get the full effect of the reveal.

I mean, I am all for spoilers for the most part.  I tend to see them as harmless fun that gets me excited for the new show.  I mean, heck, I read a daily article on io9 called Morning Spoilers after all.  But I very rarely read the whole thing.  I tend to skim, and only check out the entries for shows or movies that I like or am anticipating.  But if it's just an episode synopsis of, say, the sixth episode of the season that hasn't started airing yet, or an actual reveal about a big plot point, I try to skip it.  The spoilers I am usually looking for are casting scoops, or a general idea of where a show is headed for a season (as in, the vague overarching plot).

So, I guess when I say I like spoilers, I mean I like hints.  The problem is that the hints tend to get roped in with the really big ruiners and it can be hard to separate them without stumbling across some of the latter.  Sure, it's my own fault for reading the spoilers page in the first place, or the comments on a discussion thread or whatnot, but I do like to have a general idea of what could happen.  It's knowing that something is probably coming, but not knowing how it's gonna end up happening that makes it worth watching.

I have this problem with books a lot too, actually, because I read so many series.  I remember one of the first fantasy series I really dug into in college, I had read the first two books (out of six) and went to the store to pick up the rest of the series before I went out of town on a trip.  I read the back jacket of the fourth or fifth book, and it totally gave away the ending of the book I was reading at the time.  I was so appalled!  What made it worse was that it was a plot development I had seen coming and was really hoping would end up not happening.  So I was grumpy reading the whole rest of that book.  Now, I don't even look at the back cover (or inside flap) of books in a series unless it is the first book and I am trying to decide whether to pick up the series or not.  I realized the other day when putting away a book I had read multiple times that I had never read the story blurb on it.

But sometimes, even if you're someone who goes out of your way to avoid spoilers, you can't escape them.  Like when it's right there in the commercial before the show is over (and the networks are pushing you to watch things live), or when the usually spoiler free preview for next week instead gives away the big reveal at the end of the episode.  Heck, I love the author Jim Butcher, and as much as I enjoy The Dresden Files series, I completely adore his Codex Alera series so much more.  But once I read the first couple of books, and looked at the titles for the next few books, I realized that the actual titles of the books themselves are kind of a spoiler.  It's crazy!

I have really struggled with this in my reviews of the Star Wars Republic Commando series that I have been doing on this blog.  I've tried to discuss the primary plot of each book without giving away any of the really cool stuff that actually happens in the story.  For example, there's one plot line throughout the series which I totally left out of my review, as much as I wanted to expand upon it, because I just felt it would not be doing right by the readers to tell them that it happened before they read the book. 

I'm just left wondering, can spoilers actually go too far?  It's right there in the name, isn't it?  Spoilers.  If you're looking at something labeled "spoilers" aren't you asking to find more than you're probably looking for?  I do know that it's not fair to inflict spoilers on someone who isn't suspecting them.

I know, I know, life isn't fair.  Sigh.  But don't you kind of wish it was?

Anyway, I don't really have any answers on this topic, it has just been on my mind, and I wondered if anyone else hangs out in the middle of spoiler-land like I do.  I'll just be floating around, trying to figure out the best way to cope without letting all of my fun get ruined, I suppose.

No word count update today.  I did a lot of world-building yesterday but no actual writing, sadly.  On the other hand, I now know exactly what the paper is made of in the various countries in my story.  I also know what kind of fabric they use and what they eat, and how their language evolved.  Whee!  In that sense, my word count from yesterday is huge, because I added to my notes like crazy, but nothing in the story sad to stay.  Still, I am right about on track, and I think at this point it's very important to get my ducks all in a row in the notes so that I don't have to stop to look things up when I really get into the wrapping-up part of things.

Ta ta for now, folks.  Join me tomorrow, when we'll find out if Ginn and Perry really are dead or not.  (And you'll get to see me express my rage or amazement about how it was pulled off if they really are still alive.)

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