Today let's dish about
Cliffhanger Television Shows
You know, shows that you just can't stop watching, no matter how hard you might want to. Shows that you start looking forward to as soon as the current episode ends. Shows that you think about during the week and wonder what in the world is going to happen next. Shows that lure you into hanging around whatever fills in for a water cooler in your life and offering your own personal insight.
In short, television that gets under your skin.
I'm okay with past tense too, as in older shows that kept you mesmerized in their day. Now there are those people who might call these programs Soap Operas, and in some sense I think they're right. Ongoing character development, unexpected plot twists, skanky bad guys, good guys you root for, good guys who turn out to be bad guys (and vice versa) - these are all crucial elements to the cliffhanger. And to the Soap Opera. Call it what you will. Just make sure you're sitting in front of the television set when it comes on.
#1. 24. The only current one of my three, and in my humble opinion the best. It has elevated the cliffhanger to a whole new level. I will admit that it's gotten a trifle weary lately, but I still think the basic premise is wonderful. Each episode takes place in "real time" over the 24 hour course of a (very eventful) day. In my view the first season (which has been on DVD for quite a while) is one of the best seasons of television ever. Do not even start watching it unless you have 24 hours to spare with nothing else planned. I'm not kidding. It will drive you crazy.
I'm not big on political thrillers and I am terribly anti-violence. I have very little patience with guys who have pissing contests to see who has the bigger gun. And every last one of the medical scenes in this show is a joke. I mean laugh out loud bad.
And in spite of all of that, it's terrific.
#2. Dallas. Okay, this is without question a soap opera, but anyone over 35 remembers the catch phrase that captivated the world the summer of 1980 - Who Shot J.R.?
And even though I was just a year old I remember it still. Alright, I was slightly older. Alright, I was taking my very first post High School all alone with a girlfriend trip to London for a month during this time. And if you can believe it, those Brits were in as big a tizzy as we were. If my memory is not faulty, this was right before Diana Spencer knocked J.R. Ewing right off the front pages and into reruns.
The arguments were everywhere and any person you spoke to had their own opinion as to who had done it. I don't remember how far into the season they made us wait to tell us, but I seem to recall it as being a little anti-climactic.
Oh, and just for the record? I knew it was Kristin all the time.
#3. Twin Peaks. This may not be the best of the bunch, but it
is by far my favorite. Even now, after all these years, whenever
I think about this show all I can think is What In The World????
(WTF works too). This clip is very fuzzy, but it gets the idea across pretty well.
Everything about it, from the wonderful, quirky music, to the plot that virtually demanded a flow chart to a bunch of the most twisted characters ever assembled to dream sequences that were like some LSD flashback as interpreted by Donny Osmond - this show was pure magic. The signature line - "She's dead. Wrapped in plastic"- set the tone. (Of course it was pronounced more like "She's day-ed, wray-upped in pal-as-tic.")
I was working at Paramount when this show started and let me tell you that we were a hard sell. But every single Friday morning the entire lot would be buzzing about what had happened the night before and how in the world they were going to top it the next week.
It was great.