Monday 8 July 2013

Unresolved Cliffhangers That Ruined Great TV Shows

6 Unresolved Cliffhangers That Ruined Great TV Shows |

Earlier today my better half Tweeted this link. I popped over for a read.Well it has to be admitted that apart from 'Twin Peaks', occasional student hangovers with Spiderman and about half the first series of Stargate Universe I didn't watch these shows... but I've got a few endings of my own to gripe about... they may not have ruined the shows - but boy, did they frustrate me.

The 21st Century is hard for TV. You don't get much of a chance to make and impression, and with a few exceptions there are no second chances. When you are canned, you are canned; and the execs who hold the purse strings are not swayed by unresolved cliff-hangers. If you are really lucky you might get a short order to sort things out (Warehouse 13) or if your fans run enough of a campaign (Chuck, Jericho) you might get one last 'hurrah' to bow out with dignity.

The 4400
 So, exactly 4400 people who have disappeared over time since 1946 all reappear in Washington non of them having aged a day, or remembering what happened including their disappearance. Of course Homeland Security gets involved and stories develop from there. The series ran on the USA Network from 2004 until its cancellation in 2007. Part victim of budgetary problems, lower than expected ratings and that famous strike of the Writers Guild of America.

Over the course of the seasons the returnees develop abilities and it is determined that this is down to a neurotransmitter in  their brains which is (of course) synthesised - Promicin; 50/50 chance that you'll develop abilities on end up dead. At the end of the last episode Kyle (one of the 4400) is seen with his father, Tom, who worked with NTAC (part of Homeland Security) giving him a syringe of Promicin telling him "It's time Dad" - cut scene to a "Welcome to Seattle" sign graffitied over with "Promise City" (taken over by the growing population with abilities). Short, confusing synopsis - it was good though. Well acted, well written. But what happened... did 'Heaven on Earth' spread beyond Seattle, did Tom take the Promicin... how did all the abilities beginning to manifest play out?

There was a campaign (similar to that which gave Jericho a second season) where fans sent sunflower seeds to USA and it's execs; but to no avail. The show remained a distant memory.

John Doe
What is it about Seattle, Washington? Back in 2002/03 a naked unidentified man wakes up there. He remembers nothing about himself; but knows just about everything else! He has a mysterious brand on his body; is colour blind (except when seeing the red scarf of a lady) and suffers extreme claustrophobia. John uses his abilities to help the Seattle police solve crimes, but in the meantime it is revealed that a sinister organisation; Phoenix are watching him. The final episode reveals that John's closest friend Digger is the head of Phoenix. I should think that the wails of frustration echoed round the world! A year later an article in Entertainment Weekly spilled the beans. I'm not satisfied. They had a year to come up with that, I find it unsatisfying and not in the least in keeping with the show to that point.

I'm not adding Jericho to my list. I was annoyed only because I kept watching as long as I did to find out the end, but then end, when it came; I could have lived without it . Warehouse 13 is on the cusp; Season 4.5 left a lot of cliff hangers out there, so if their extra order doesn't clear these up... well there will be a lot of mad fans out there.

Some shows have it easy; they have a finite run... or enough time to bow out with grace and dignity. Noteable excellent endings:- The West Wing, set some years in the future you get to see that everyone's stories resolved satisfactorily; Six Feet Under, best finale ever... as a series it had ups and downs, but the final episode was awesome.

There are some who know the end is coming, and to me don't do themselves justice with their wrap-up:- Buffy the Vampire Slayer, they're all Slayers? I'm sure there is some positive message... but really? Angel, well they go out fighting, but that is it. Deep Space Nine, fine - resolved, I just didn't like it. Lost, resolved - I just thought given all the smoke and mirrors that it was a pedestrian and unimaginative ending.

TV is subjective, not objective. We all take something different away from a series - and, it is still a universal truth... you can't please all of the people all of the time!