Weekly Rant: Coming up Next

You know what I love about sporting events. You never know what’s going to happen. Oh, sure, you can assume Team A is going to beat Team B because the score is 7 – 0, but there have been those miracle upsets. Basically it’s the element of surprise. Will there be an upset? Will the team come out of this slump and win? Should I cheer for the underdog in this event?

Then we get televised sporting events. For the most part these are broadcast live. You still don’t know what’s going to happen until it actually happens. If it’s a close game you’ll be on the edge of your seat cheering for your team to hold it together long enough to win.

I won’t go into NBC’s coverage of the Olympics.

Then there are times you’ll go to the movies. There might be a trailer for a movie you want to see and the trailer will entice you. It’ll hint at just enough to pique your curiosity and give you just enough that you need to go see that movie.

On the flip side, there are trailers that sum up a movie in 2 minutes, give you all the best lines, and then you feel no compulsion to go see the movie whatsoever. What’s the point when they pretty much showed you the build up, the conflict, resolution, and ending? Do they not know how to make a trailer that doesn’t give away the movie?

Then we get back to television. There are so many shows on now days that if you record something you might accidentally hear about this, that, or the other thing if you’re not careful. It’s not always easy. Some people like to save up an entire season and it can all be blown away by one stray tweet or facebook post. But for the most part, regular television is safe in that you usually don’t know what’s going to happen until it happens.

There there’s all the reality shows on television. Nearly any reality television at this point. Be it a cooking show, housewives, Kardashians, property buying/renovation, etc. If you watch the first 30-60 seconds of the show, they’ll show you all the good parts of the show. Then they’ll show the ‘coming up’ on the first commercial break. And again on the next commercial break. Before it gets to the end of the show you’ll know everything that’s going to happen 15 minutes before it happens and it’s very anti-climatic. They’ll show the exciting parts all at the beginning and what’s the point of watching the show.

The wife and I were watching TV last night and a backyard renovation program came on. In the first 30 seconds of the program they showed the before of the back yard, the demolition, the construction, and the finished job. I blinked and thought, well, there’s 30 minutes I don’t need to waste.

This is becoming more and more common in a lot of different shows. I have to wonder, they’ve got 20 minutes or so of program to fill a 30 minute time slot (yes, some shows have crazy amounts of commercials). They’ll spend 5 minutes of their programming to show you what’s coming up next. If you didn’t record the program, you’ll know and you can skip that next segment of the program. Do they have so little content that they need to fill it in with ‘coming up’? Is their show so uninteresting that they need to give away all the excitement that might build up? Why bother making the program if you’re just going to give away all the good bits before they happen?

As a writer, it’s all about the element of surprise. You want to hint at things and build up and then slap the reader in the face. If I put something at the beginning of my book that said “Coming up in 150 pages, you’ll see Character X kill Character Y in a surprise twist that pits a man against his long lost brother. The rest is all build up so just skip ahead 150 pages to see his incredible death as the sword pierces his heart and suffer the anguish as Character X realized what he’s done.” Well, what’s the point in reading the story? Even reading the climax? You now know what’s going to happen. The rest is all just BS filler now because there’s no surprise. No excitement. Where’s the fun in that?

I do my best to steer clear of reality television. I try to DVR all I can. I do my best to fast forward when I see “Coming up!” I really do. It’s not always that easy. I think this is why I like watching something on NetFlix or DVD that I know nothing about. Like Cowboy BeBob that I just started watching. I know nothing about this show. I know it’s Anime. It’s gotten some great ratings. It looks interesting. So I started watching it. I can tell you that I’m not hooked just yet, but I’m going to give it a few episodes. I got hooked on Full Metal Alchemist rather quickly.

What do you do when you’re watching a program? Does the ‘Coming Up Next’ portion bother you? Do you skip ahead? DVR? NetFlix? Avoid TV? I’d love to hear from you.

Until Next Time!


Posted on August 14, 2012, in Weekly Rant. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Between school and my writing quota, I really don’t watch a lot of “bad” tv. Bad I mean reality tv (it’s aging so fast now), Pop culture channels, SyFy (for obvious reasons) Food Network (I avoid that like the plage, mom is a zombie to it), and the news (some days I want to, but mostly don’t want to be depressed and hinder my writing).

    The only good shows I watch, or leave on in the background as I work, is Discovery, Comedy Central, FX, USA, TNT, Travel Channel, and TBS. Some of the kid channels, but only for shows I like, the run.

    Anything else I get it from iTunes and Netflix. BTW, you mentioning Cowboy Beebop makes me want to add that to my que.

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