Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Thursday Three

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.


laurie said...

and here, ladies and gentlemen, their weird twin-ness abruptly ended.

RC, i never watched any of those shows. for one thing, i didnt' have a TV for a long stretch of the late '70s and early '80s, and then i worked at night and tivo hadn't been invented. (it still doesn't exist in my house.)

the soap opera show that i most loved: ballykissangel. hands down. no question.

Sweet Irene said...

I never watched any of those shows either and I don't have any excuse as to why I didn't. I just didn't. I think I was watching a lot of PBS at the time and I never was a soap opera watching type of person. Now that I live in the Netherlands, we do get the American TV series, albeit a season or so later, but I still don't watch them. I suppose I am a quirky TV watcher. I like how people get excited about new series, but I only get that way with British TV series such as Silent Witness and Inspector Morse.

Kaycie said...

"The X-Files" wins for me, hands down. Even in the later seasons. Hell, I even liked Agent Reyes. I was seriously obsessed. DVD sets, books, and that's how I started listening to Bree Sharp. I was so bad I can still rattle off episode titles when the re-runs come on. My kids laugh at me.

"24" kicks serious ass. I want to marry Kiefer in my next life. I have watched it from day one, and it is the ONLY show I have ever watched every episode of when it is on.

Number three is a hard one, but I'm gonna go with "Knots Landing". I loved it, especially when Nicollette Sheridan and her mother, played by Michelle Phillips (of The Mamas and Papas) had the same lover in William Devane. Talk about some twisted up people! I never missed it back in the late 80s.

That was fun, RC. Great post.

my two cents said...

Current show is The Office - can't miss it, can't wait for the next episode, can't get enough on DVD. Also, one of only two show we watch these days, the other being Desperate Housewives. Glad you reminded me of Twin Peaks, that was great. Pie anyone? The Sopranos would have to be in there, too. But, the all-time for me would be The House of Cards Trilogy: House of Cards, To Play the King, and The Final Cut. It is a British series that was on Masterpiece Theater here with Ian Richardson. Brilliant, simply brilliant. Great topic!!

ped crossing said...

I have never been that into TV. My parents were die hard into Dallas. Go the long way around the house, do not block the TV into Dallas.

I do love the DVR though. Now I can choose some shows to watch when I have time and after boys are in bed. Grey's Anatomy is my only current series.

Dee said...

24 is just amazing. Admittedly, I got into it very late (this year) but then we caught up big time! In the last 4 or 5 months my partner and I have watched Seasons 1 to 5 of 24 on DVD. Needless to say we haven't watched much else! That's pretty much one episode of 24 a day.
I agree with you, season 1 was just brilliant, but I think what happens after that, is that you get used to it (to a degree). The other seasons aren't bad either, but you learn to predict what is going to happen and figure out the moles. But they still manage to surprise us all the time though.
The only thing I'm not keen on is all the torture in Season 5 and now 6. I think we've seen enough of that now.

As for Kiefer Sutherland and all the other main characters, let me just say that the casting director is a genius.

Flowerpot said...

I never watched any of those shows either! The only ones I like are Have I got news for You (which I dont suppose you have) and Doc Martin which you won't have either so you have no idea what I'm talking about!!!

Potty Mummy said...

It's got to be 24. All I need to say about it is that our younger son is called Jack. 'nuff said?

BTW - are you saying Donny Osmond took LSD? Shatter my teen illusions, why don't you...

Jen said...

I wasn't allowed to watch Dallas.

And I admit to agreeing with Laurie on Ballykissangel, the first season anyway.

I did like the X-files, and I'm currently watching Stargate Atlantis. Some very good writing, and the season always ends in a cliffhanger. Sometimes a little soapy, but good sci-fi!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

Twin Peaks used to do it for me, till it got so ridiculous. Never was a Dallas fan. Recently, I was into Lost (loved all the men on it), Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, CSI (the original). I watched The Sopranos till it was put on at a really late time. Same with 24, Six Feet Under, and Nip/Tuck. I have to say my absolute must watch at the moment is Heroes.

Jo Beaufoix said...

I remember Twin Peaks as Bob used to terrify me. It was amazing though.

We watched the first season of 24 but then kind of lost interest.

We loved Buffy and Angel. They were so well written with some really imaginative story lines.
And I was a huge Friends fan, as well as Cold Feet.

At the minute I'm watching Ugly Betty, Murphy's Law and Silent Witness to name but a few.

Flowerpot, Doc Martin is good, as is have I Got News For You. And QI is fabulous too.

Anonymous said...

Dallas has to be my favourite! I couldn't miss an episode and sadly I'm now watching it all over again on UK Gold.

I don't watch a great deal of telly but if there's a good drama on (usually Sundays at 9pm) I will make the effort.

Crystal xx

auntie barbie said...

Lets see, I got hooked on Desperate Housewifes because everyone was talking about it at work when it first came out. I also like Brothers & Sisters, must be that curiosity of living in a big family.
We lived in Dallas in the early 80's and used to go to a lake that was near the South Fork Ranch and we would drive right by it. I remember being disapointed the first time I saw it because its really not that big.

p.s. I love that you take the time each day to reply to everyones comments. Its what makes your blog so friendly and personal.

laurie said...

oh, and "slings and arrows."

it's a canadian show. it's the best-written, funniest, most intelligent, most surprising, most unusual, did i mention best-written show i have ever seen.

so there.

miss yerem said...

oh,oh,this is one for me:-)) as these shows come to germany a lot later than chez vous,this is probably not very up to scratch,but never mind:


Happy in the Abyss said...

First Off...LAURIE- I still find Ballykissangel on! THAT'S COOL!

OMG- Not Twin Peaks. Not brain can't take anymore.

Cliffhangers, huh? Well, I remember the "Who Shot JR" crap...but how about "Desperate houewives" with way-too-thin-and-not-dressing-age-appropriate Nicollete Sheriden hanging herself. WOWZERS. I was actually seriously disappointed that she wasn't dead. Is that wrong of me? HELL NO...I mean, who sleeps with Michael Bolton....and then comes back for more? Anyway....

ER has always been a favorite and I have watched it since the beginning. Just FYI - and you know this, Jules....I did not start watching it because of Mr. Clooney, and he is just not my type. Doug Ross was a loser...Now, Mark Greene...ouch! Spank me! Anyway....they always have a great season-ending cliffhanger. I look forward to September every year.

CSI did it for me this year. With poor, oddly-bloated Sara Sidel trapped under the car by the Miniature killer. OOH.. AHH...OHHH

Love u, Sister, Sister!

Akelamalu said...

I remember Dallas - one of my favourite programmes. Kirsten shot J.R.? Only kidding. :) I had the hots for Ray!

I liked Dynasty as well.

Akelamalu said...

PS I'm a Doc Martin fan too. :)

Amy said...

Twin Peaks started so well. If only they could have pulled it off better. I was hooked, I admit. And I quote the show often, especially the one you mentioned. "She's dead, wrapped in plastic." I had that as my computer beep for a while. Until I switched to "What would you do with a brain if you had one" from Wizard of Oz.

Of course it was Kristen. I knew it, too. Poor JR.

I've never seen 24.

Others in the last five years: SeaChange, Ballykissangel, Doc Martin, Highlander, although I wouldn't really consider any of them to be cliffhangers or soaps, just continuing threads veering toward soap.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

laurie - why is it, as I cruise around the blogosphere that there are all kinds of comments from you - ON YOUR BIRTHDAY??? I need to imagine you out raising hell, not hunched over your keyboard.

irene - the irony here is that I watch almost no tv anymore, but I do have shows I really try to not miss. Not many though...

kaycie - I like the X-Files too. And it's a really funny thing with me and Kiefer Sutherland. I think he's a perfectly lovely looking man, but he doesn't do it for me, if you know what I'm saying.

But...Jack Bauer? Hubba hubba. Once he's in character - I'm there!

my two cents - see, I had forgotten about the pie. Ha! I'll check out your other shows.

ped crossing - I have never seen Grey's Anatomy. Can you believe it?

dee - totally agree with you about the casting director on 24. Brilliant. I'm in awe that you watched that many seasons in a row and stayed sane. Every time I watch it on DVD I say, okay, just one more episode. Then after that one I say alright, just one more. And so on. This way leads to sleep deprivation and 24 dreams.

flowerpot - I don't think we have either of those but I could be wrong. I'll have to check.

potty mummy - didn't you always think those Osmonds were just too good to be true? And better to name your son Jack than Kiefer.

jen - I guess I need to track down ballykissangel. What channel is it on?

wakeup - yeah, Twin Peaks did get too weird, even for itself. I love a lot of the other shows you mentioned. Six Feet Under is a big favorite and I absolutely adore Nip/Tuck. Love it! (But only after the kids are solidly asleep!)

Jo - Bob was way too creepy all around. Even watching him on that you Tube commercial gave me the heebies.

crystal - oh, you lucky woman. I'd love to watch Dallas again. All that '80's hair! And shoulder pads.

auntie barbie - isn't that the truth about television? Everything looks bigger and better on screen. Ah, the magic of Hollywood!

And thanks for the comment about my comments. That's my favorite thing about blogging - the give and take and the interaction. I always feel bad when I can't check in and shoot my mouth off!

laurie - is it on CBC or here?

miss yerem - those seem pretty current to me. I love The Closer too. Kyra Sedgwick is amazing.

HITA - yeah, you and I certainly had some ER marathons, didn't we? (On TV of course!)

akela - Ray was hot,wasn't he?

amy - you should check out 24 if you get the chance. I bet you'd like it. How do you set quotes as computer beeps??

The Ex said...

I liked 24 for like...three minutes and then I was like DUDE this is so unrealistic. I even wrote a post about how much I hate people who like 24 but I've since retracted that sentiment.

I have the Twin Peaks series of my Netflix. Still waiting for it.

ciara said...

unfortunately, i watched ALL those types of shows back in the day. dallas, knot's landing(spinoff from dallas), dynasty, colbys(spinoff from dynasty), falcon crest...but then this was also the time i was into 'all my children' and was so for many years thanks to my mom lol i really got sucked into those shows lol

ooo and we are getting a whole new tv/internet/whatever system next wk that includes dvr. now i don't have to try to rush home to watch my guilty pleasures (ANTM, project runway, top design, top chef...those types of shows lol)

p.s. as you can see i am alive and well. i will try to post something tonight :)

Willowtree said...

At the risk of being non supportive, I can't stand 24! And I never watched Dallas.

But Twin Peaks is another matter. It was my favourite show of the time. Here's something funny, we went to LA while the season was on in Oz, so we set the video to record 5 episodes, then we watched it in a marathon session when we came back.

While I was in LA I bought a Twin Peaks t-shirt but never wore it because is had a graphic of the the two mountain peaks right across the chest, with Twin Peaks Sheriffs Department written under it. It always looked like it was a joke about tits so I never wore it. If I can find it you can have it.

david mcmahon said...

Can't argue with your logic or your choices!

The Rotten Correspondent said...

the ex - well, I guess I'm glad you retracted your statement. I think. Welcome anyway! (but if it's realism you're after you may want to pass on Twin Peaks).

ciara - you've really nailed the only shows I consistently watch - the Bravo shows. Project Runway in just a few weeks!

willowtree - you? not supportive? pshaw. What is it you don't like about 24? But now that Twin Peaks t shirt sounds way cool...

david mc mahon - I love agreeable men!

Kaycie said...

Kiefer totally does it for me. The only actor I'm more enamored of is Val Kilmer. I've loved them both for years, all the way back to "Lost Boys" with Kiefer and "Real Genius with Val. I also have a pretty healthy crush on David Duchovny. Even post X-Files. I've even seen "Evolution". Twice. (That's a little embarrassing to admit.)

Diana said...

I loveloveloved Twin Peaks. So quirky and funny and full of pie and coffee. Plus, I figured out the mystery, so it made me feel smart.