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December 11 2004

Do you love weekly cliffhangers? The Chicago Tribune's television critic does, naming BtVS S3 and AtS S3/S4 as some of the best seasons of serialized TV.

The author hopes that increasing TV DVD sales and the continued success of serials like LOST "embolden TV types to keep on commissioning complex, grippingly serialized storytelling."

The fragmented sentence should read: "The best seasons of 'Angel,' '24' and 'Alias,' as well as a whole host of sci-fi dramas, have a strong serialized component with complex plots stretching out over multiple episodes and character arcs getting loved, extended development."

That critic has good taste, Angel, Buffy, 24, Alias, Lost etc, even back to the X files and it's season two cliffhanger Anazasi, I even thought season two of Millenium ended leaving you hungary, we've had alot of great television ending the 20th century and starting the 21st century. Long may it continue.

Joss Whedon, Chris Carter, JJ Abrams, people behind 24, Lost, I salute you if your reading, Joss reads here:D

[ edited by SeanValen on 2004-12-11 06:19 ]
There's a difference between serialized shows and those that use cliffhangers. Some shows have cliffhangers that always have a cliffhanger feel to them. This becomes annoying and predictable. The Jossverse shows on the other hand didn't push the fact that it's a cliffhanger in your face. They were more ridge-hangers for the most part. Maybe this is all selective memory. I'll have to pay more attention to these mechanical details when I watch my DVDs again.
In BtVS, Spike getting his soul back was a great cliffhanger and what happened to Buffy after she killed Angel was another one.

AtS wise, Angel being sent to the bottom of the sea was definitely a great way to end season 3.
Cliffhangers are awesome, if they are written well. They keep me interested, and there's no way I'm going to forget to watch the show if I'm kept in suspense for a week. I just hate the season ending cliffangers where you're waiting 4 months to see if your hero really died, or why your heroine woke up 2 years later in Hong Kong with amnesia. That's just pure torture.

Hey, wasn't there a show once called "Cliffhanger"? I vaguely remember something like that from my childhood.
There was a movie called cliffhanger.

A cliffhanger is ok if it doesn't leave you thinking: "Wow, that was a cliffhanger" at the end of it. Cliffhanger scenes have to be done just right to not appear cheesy. Also it is pretty bad when a show starts feeling like a 30s western serial, where there's a cliffhanger at the end of almost every episode.
As discussed earlier in a thread on spoilers a lot of the viewers are going to know how it turns out anyway either because of spoilers on the internet, promotion activities by the networks or time delay to when the show is shown in other countries. For all the people that encounters the shows first on DVD's the whole concept of a 'weekly' cliffhanger disappears completely.

This means that a show cannot rely on cliffhangers as they could previously but in an otherwise well written show nicely constructed cliffhangers/plot twists does add some extra spice to the show.
It did occur to me when shopping just there now that the last five minutes of the Angel season 5 finale was probably the ultimate Buffyverse cliffhanger. One which will probably never be resolved :(.
Cliffhangers are okay, but I don't think using them week in week out is a good idea. You end up second-guessing the show and knowing that, with 5 minutes to go, you're not going to see any kind of a conclusion. I much prefer seasons that are peppered with 2-part episodes, which can still make good use of the cliffhanger but also provide closure.
True Simon, but that was the beauty of what they chose to do.

With the Not Fade Away cliffhanger, if nothing else ever happens in the slayerverse in series or movie form and we never get to see the story continued, you can end it for yourself, or not end it if that is your preference, in whatever way you want to.

You can tell yourself that they all survived somehow or that they were all slaughtered in one last heroic effort against evil. You can decide that Buffy turned up with a slayer army to balance out the two sides or that Illyria's time shifting abilities suddenly kicked back in for whatever reason and changed everything. Basically whatever outcome you choose.

Personally though, i'm still convinced that the slayerverse is too much of a money machine for Fox for them to ever let it end so soon. I'm definately holding out hope for some kind of continuation for Buffy and Angel and so i do think this cliffhanger will be resolved eventually.
I think that apart from a few episodes BtVS had many seperate threads and issues that ran through the seasons rather than the one big honking cliffhanger. Episodes ended with closure for the issue of the week but left enough points unanswered to keep you hooked.

Much better than the other extreme, the Star Trek example where EVERYTHING was resolved and the next week started again from scratch, the drama and events from the previous week never mentioned again, the ship patched up and as good as new and everyone bestest friends again.
I think that both BtVS and AtS were a wonderful balance of an ongoing story and the occaissional, yet mindblowing cliff hanger. Buffy driving that sword through Angel left me gasping and screaming at the tv because I never saw it coming, wasn't prepared for it. That was one of the ultimate moments of experiencing the masterful, unexpected storytelling of Joss Whedon. I was expecting Angel to be resouled and he and Buffy to put together their relationship. Never expected him to be resouled and Buffy sending him to Hell anyway. That was hard though to then live with the next few months until the new season started again. But it was a great ending.

And Angel being dumped in the sea by his son was one of the best AtS cliffhangers and the way the show picked up in the following season was great too because you knew months had passed and no one knew where he was. That was the best continuation of a season finale and opening episode IMO.

I loved the end of AtS. I loved the idea that they continued to fight. In my mind, Illyria went and got that ray gun that minimized her powers and reversed it on herself. She then did the time warp and rescued Wesley in the nick of time and also saved Gunn from his "fatal" (had my doubts about them being fatal) stab wounds because Wesley would be upset if he lost his friend. Buffy and the rest of the slayers showed up and Buffy was wearing her new ass kicking shoes and Willow was with Tara (I'm throwing in my fantasy episode that Joss had wanted to do if AB had agreed to come back). And they all defeat the demons together!
I like cliffhangers, but you need some resolution within your episodes as well. I like Lost, but I don't love it, mostly because the payoffs aren't yet all that satisfying. Very little of what's happened so far has meant much to me. The end of the episodes leave me wanting to see more, but when I see the next episode, I'm a little disappointed. e.g. Syed lost in the woods, Charlie's "I didn't see or hear anything" after he was rescued, etc. I'm beginning to watch each episode with the expectation that the resolution to the previous episode's cliffhanger will be a disappointment. Almost like a soap opera, that.

With s4 of AtS, in contrast, there were plenty of cliffhangers, but there were plenty of important changes which were dealt with properly in the following episodes. As I watched the season, I felt that they earned the right to use a bunch more cliffhangers because the ones I had already seen had payed off. I don't think Lost has done the same.
The biggest clifhanger for me was the end of AS3. Also BS5 when Buffy would return in S6.

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