Wednesday, January 15, 2014

SyFy's Being Human is an expert in taking a cliffhanger and resolving it as blandly as possible

Yay Being Human is back on SyFy. Above: Family Portrait of ghost, two werewolves
and a really old and powerful vampire. Do you know which is which? This series
is all about family values, only the family they have is not anything like the kind
you or I can relate to (at least I hope that's the case).
Yay, Being Human is back on SyFy. As much as I love this series, however, I have one small bone to pick: it's an expert in taking a good cliffhanger and resolving it as "meh" as possible. This is not how cliffhangers should pan out people! If you blow up a planet, the next season shouldn't be, "Now that was just a hologram. Good thing it didn't really happen..."

Allow me to explain further:

Last season, the American Being Human series ended with ghost Sally being dragged into what looked a lot like Hell by the witch Donna. This left me on the edge of my seat shaking my fist at the screen. And seriously that's where it ended. It was just as bad as season 3's ending that had Aiden buried in the ground, Sally lost in Limbo with her voice coming over the radio, and Josh in a fatal gunfight with the werewolf that made him.
I guess I should just celebrate that Sally is back. Only I wish it had been just a LITTLE harder.
I waited a whole year for the resolution, and this is what I got: Sally's consciousness basically couldn't handle the purgatory in which she got imprisoned with Donna so naturally she created a "happy place" that resembled a day spa where she could get massages and lounge by the hot pools. So there had to be some trick to escape from this horrible place, right? Well it turns out...not so much.

See, Sally is a very "powerful" ghost (as expert witch Donna has labeled her) and all she had to do to get out of said place was come to the realization that she had all this power and could leave anytime she wanted. Just like that, she found the exit and got away from Donna. And thus we are off to a whole slew of new episodes and plot lines. Sadly, Sally's dilemma is resolved in like five minutes (if it even took that long) and I'm feeling very unsatisfied.

The writers behind Being Human are far from "inventing the wheel" on taking the easy way out to what looks like a difficult situation. Author George R.R. Martin made the most infamous cliffhanger in fantasy when he wrote (in A Feast For Crows) that Arya wakes up blind.

Martin seriously did this and then made us (the patient readers of the world) wait eight fucking years for the conclusion in A Dance With Dragons! The answer (major spoiler ahead) was that it was only temporary. Meh. She gets her eyesight back in just a few pages because it's induced by this stuff she drinks in the House of Black and White in Braavos (which is training her to be an assassin).

I LOATHE this kind of cliffhanger: the kind where the stakes are so high that it seems everything in the world has now changed yet is resolved in one paragraph of text.

If you still can't relate to what I'm saying, imagine reading the following words of a beloved character: "The woman clutched her chest, fell back, and her face filled with intense pain." Only to turn the page a year later and read, "A horsefly bit her, she squashed it, and went back to drying the dishes."

What the hell? Who does this? Why are writers using these kind of cliffhangers? I'm at a loss to explain the phenomenon, but it really is starting to bother me. Could it be that they have no ideas in their heads and want to write something so that it comes across way more interesting than it actually is?

Can you think of other examples of cliffhangers that turned out to be way over-hyped and anticlimactic? Does this kind of thing bother you or am I the only one?

As a side note, I do like the whole Ladyhawke-esque thing that SyFy is doing with their version of Being Human. In Josh's storyline, the role of his human part has flipped 180-degrees with his wolf part and he is now "human" only once a month, and this single day just happens to coincide with the only day his wife must turn into a wolf. So they can only be together for 30 minutes. The heart aches with how awful this must be, which is why I must watch the entire season to see if Aidan, Sally, and Nora can find a solution for poor Josh.
Ladyhawke. I hope that you guys have seen this show.
Oh and I'm also glad that Kenny is back and isn't the horrible monstrous looking Kenny and back to being cute. I just hope he isn't a bad guy. He seemed like a really sweet person last season and maybe it's time that something went right in his life. But if I know this series, no one can stay happy for very long.


  1. I admit I've never watched the show. However, I do want to go back and watch Ladyhawke again now. Michelle was hot in that film.

  2. That sounds as boring as how they resolved Coulson's "resurrection" on Agents of SHIELD. Come on TV writers, try a little harder!

  3. I think the JJ Abrams idea that he promotes is that people love mystery and hate resolution. Well, maybe not hate, but lose interest.

    I think he's sorta right, but that he and other writers think that means they shouldn't worry about it feeling like an honest resolution of the mystery is necessary.

    That's just horrible. I'd like to talk about that more, but doing this on my phone wears me out. Hopefully - what I wrote made some sense.

  4. I've only watched and loved the original British show, and was appalled to hear that US are making their own version. The UK one had a very unique atmosphere which was based on the very fact that it was a British show. Imagine Russians making their version of DALLAS :) or Egyptians making their STAR TREK.

  5. I thought that was a UK show. Either way it's boring and I never watched it.

  6. "After the cliff hanger events" must be very hard to write. There are only so many possibilities that writers can come up with.
    I understand your disgust but I would consider the limitations of fiction writers as well.

  7. I'm so with you. It drives me CRAZY when shows or books drop us off of a cliff, and then wrap up it in a neat little bow after about ten seconds. What's the point of the cliffhanger???? At least make it worth my while. If you're going to make me wait, make it JUICY. Make it hard. Make it take a while! The best cliffhangers are the ones that lead to whole new plotlines in the next season (or book).

  8. I recently watched Ladyhawk, a movie I remember liking when it came out, but I didn't think it held up very well. Among other things, the music was so distracting.

  9. The thing is it's much easier to pose an intriguing question than it is to provide a satisfying answer. But I've encountered enough good answers (even if it's only 42) to know what's possible and not be satisfied with weak efforts that a twelve year old could come up with. Shame on writers who think they can get away with it (I'm looking at you JJ).

    Moody Writing

  10. Yes, that does sound very frustrating. I don't like cliffhangers simply because one has to wait so long to find out what happens. By the time the show comes back on again..usually I've lost interest.

  11. Come to think of it, 42 is kind of the thing you're talking about here.

    On the one hand, you do want everything to turn out all right. But of course, it'd be nice if things the heroes got into more trouble from the cliffhanger thing.

    Wow, that made no sense. Sorry.

  12. I know!!! Oh my God, I want to scream at these writers. Or I also hate when a beloved character gets a stupid death or useless exit i.e. Tessa in Highlander. All that time helping Duncan getting rescued from a hellacious kidnapping only to be shot by a random mugger in the last 30 seconds of the finale. WTF!!

  13. I remember the season cliffhanger of ST Next Generation when Picard was kidnapped by the Borg. When the new season began, the story proceeded logically, so clearly the writers had in effect written both episodes and thought things through. Sounds like that didn't happen with this show.

  14. I watched the season finale and had high hopes too for the new season. Its starting to get boring though.


  15. I totally know what you mean! Every time I feel like finding an easy loophole in one of my cliffhangers, I have to remind myself to brainstorm a list of interesting ways to get out of it. I've seen the commercials for Being Human on SyFy, now I'm definitely going to have to check it out to see what you mean.

  16. I want to watch LadyHawke again too. I like Being Human but I missed some of last season. You are so right that no one is happy for long on that show. They do mix some good humor in with the horrible though.

  17. "A horsefly bit her, she squashed it, and went back to drying the dishes."-- You are so funny.

  18. OMG those horseflies bites are the worst! ;) I never got into this series, not sure I will, I get this meh vibe about it...

  19. @Brinda: I do try my best!

    @Elise: Being Human even with the "meh" cliffhangers is a really good show. I think you'd love it.