What happened to the cliffhanger?

It’s taken me a while to finally put some words up on this blog, but here it goes.  My first Observations blog entry.

I just watched the finale of House for this season.  Yes, I know it ended over month ago.  It took me a while, as I had PVRed the entire season and didn’t start watching it until May.  First off, what a great season.  Some real impressive episodes.  But, I’m not here to talk about the individual episodes of any one show, but to ask a question that has been bothering me with dramas, dramedies and even some comedies.

What happened to the cliffhanger?  When I was growing up, every drama ended their season with a cliffhanger.  Something that the viewer could think about all summer.  Gave them a reason to tune into the season premiere in the fall, so as to get all their questions answered.  There were cliffhangers like, the ever famous, “Who Shot JR?” (sorry, if you are too young to remember this, but your parents or grandparents will) and so many other shows which had you wondering if your favourite character had died at the hands of the enemy, if a company was taken down by some horrible act, or the always favourite, did your favourite couple finally get together?

This just doesn’t happen anymore.  As I mentioned, I just finished watching this season of House.  I sat there in the last minutes wondering whether House was going to fall off the wagon?  How would he ever get back on it after all his hard work?  How would he live without his love?  SPOILER ALERT (just in case you are slower than me catching up on TV)  But, then into his apartment (no one locks their doors) walks his love, who tells him that she broke off her engagement to some other guy because she loves House.  So, they kiss, he doesn’t take the drugs and they kiss again.  Nothing to wonder about over the summer.

Now, sure I want to come back next season and see what happens, but again, I can PVR the entire season and catch up in a couple of weeks next May.  I don’t have a need to watch it right away when it starts in September.  Okay, it makes life easier, and far less exciting, when a show ends a season like that, but I want the excitement of questioning what will happen.  It should have ended with him sitting there contemplating taking the drugs or something bigger.  That would have really brought me back and kept me guessing all summer.

And there were other big shows that did the same.  I only really watched the season finale of Grey’s Anatomy, but that ended in a happy little package.  We weren’t left wondering if McDreamy was dead or alive.  We knew he was fine.  The episode ended with him asking for his wife.

Then there was Private Practice.  Yes, a character died in the end, but everyone else was fine.  And the two people that you wanted to get together, got together at the end of the episode.  No questions.  Even last season, Private Practice left us guessing.  But not this year.

I think that a well crafted cliffhanger really makes for an interesting and exciting summer between seasons.  Or at least that’s what I observe.

© 2010, Anne-Marie. All rights reserved.