User Tag List

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 13

Thread: Cliffhangers?

  1. #1
    Litmaster's Avatar
    Tower Librarian

    Status
    Offline
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    1,108
    Blog Entries
    4
    Achievements:
    Wiki AmateurTagger Second ClassBloggerExtreme Love50000 Experience PointsVeteran
    Blog Entries
    4

    Cliffhangers?

    Don't mean to side-track the other thread about the newest episode, but since this one ended with yet another 'cliffhanger,' I was wondering what other people thought about it.

    You know what I mean by a 'cliffhanger,' right? Here's your handy Wikipedia definition:

    A cliffhanger or cliffhanger ending is a plot device in fiction which features a main character in a precarious or difficult dilemma, or confronted with a shocking revelation at the end of an episode of serialized fiction. A cliffhanger is hoped to ensure the audience will return to see how the characters resolve the dilemma.

    So with any serial, the main purpose of the cliffhanger is to get people to keep listening, to get them to tune in to that next episode, to "don't touch that dial!" But main the drawback to using cliffhangers, in my opinion, is that is can make the plot really artificial, and stretch the believability of the story. You just know that the hero is going to get in deep shit at the end of the episode and somehow work his way out of it in the next episode.

    For all I love about the "We're Alive" story, I feel that Kc is a bit too attached to using cliffhangers to keep us in suspense. It's getting to the point where, with 2 minutes to go in the segment, I start thinking to myself, "Ok, what shit is going to hit the fan this time?" It's almost as if I can hear the old Batman announcer in my head saying:

    "WILL Saul and Victor resolve their differences?"
    "And HOW will Datu fix the chopper in time?"
    "And WHERE is Reilly?!??"
    dun-dun-DUUUUUUN!!! [cue cheesy organ sting]
    "TUNE IN next week for the next thrilling episode of... WEEEEEEEEEE'RE ALIIIIIIIVE!!!"


    I'm exaggerating, obviously, but if I had one small suggestion for Kc, it would be this: go easy on the cliffhangers. You don't need them nearly as much as you may think you do. Hell, we've been listening for dozens of hours of fantastic content, over the span of many months-- if we're not hooked by now, we'll never be hooked. You've won us over, and we're in it for the long haul. I'm perfectly fine with an episode that doesn't end with a sudden, unexpected dilemma.


    But that's just me. Anyone else have thoughts on this? You cool with the cliffhangers?
    Last edited by Litmaster; Jan 11th, 2012 at 06:01 PM.

  2. #2
    Adventureless_Hero's Avatar
    "Researcher"

    Status
    Offline
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Hyrule
    Posts
    795
    Achievements:
    High Level WikiVeteran10000 Experience Points

    Gamertag: Novus Bellator
    I prefer them. It gives me something to wonder about over the next week. If I had all my answers then I wouldn't care so much about the return. Plus I think they provide a nice close to the episode. I wouldn't be as excited over an ending that went "I thought we were going to crash, but in the last few seconds she pulled it all together and we sat down int he dirt." Then I would be like, Oh, they didn't crash. Well, I guess we'll see what happens next week. That's the way a radio serial drama works when it has an overall story arc. If it was meant to wrap everything up in each episode then sure, cliff hangers wouldn't make sense unless they were for a special two-part piece WA has an intended end. When the last chapter of Season 4 closes, you will get your non-cliffhanger ending...


    ....or will you???? DUN-DUN-DUUUUUUUNNNNN!!!!
    There is no spoon. - Neo

  3. #3
    nikvoodoo's Avatar
    Dadmin

    Status
    Offline
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    4,557
    Blog Entries
    27
    Achievements:
    BloggerBug Hunter First Class50000 Experience PointsPro Level Wiki EditorVeteran
    Blog Entries
    27

    If the episodes don't end in a cliffhanger, how else should they end? It's not like a tv serial where a new bad guy of the week pops up to refresh the story and present a new scenario.

    And you don't know for certain they'll be ok. That's why you come back and listen. Especially in zombie-lore. No one is safe.

    PS: as I am renowned for my snark and ill mood...just to be clear: I am legitimately interested your/anyone's thoughts about other ending possibilities beyond cliffhangers for a story like this.
    Last edited by nikvoodoo; Jan 11th, 2012 at 05:11 PM.
    ~Ra1th: Nik doesn't sleep, he waits.~
    ~TCM Revolver: ra1th needs to be on the look out for cars that appear to be moved recently, and nikvoodoo on the rooftops
    Voodoo Lounge Here!! Twitter: Follow Me, Follow WA Follow WND

  4. #4
    Kc's Avatar

    Status
    Offline
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Orange, CA
    Posts
    3,144
    Blog Entries
    4
    Achievements:
    BloggerBug Hunter First Class50000 Experience PointsPro Level Wiki EditorVeteranExtreme LoveOverdrive
    Blog Entries
    4

    Gamertag: kc wayland Steam ID: waylandprod
    Coincidentally, all the episode have been ending in cliffhangers. It won't happen all the time that's for sure. It's a hard mix to either do that or end the episode on a down note-

  5. #5
    Litmaster's Avatar
    Tower Librarian

    Status
    Offline
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    1,108
    Blog Entries
    4
    Achievements:
    Wiki AmateurTagger Second ClassBloggerExtreme Love50000 Experience PointsVeteran
    Blog Entries
    4
    Just to be clear, I am not anti-cliffhanger. My point was that if a serialized story like this one starts to rely on cliffhangers too much, then it starts to come off as a gimmick, which saps the believability of the story. And to be fair, not all of the episodes have ended with cliffhangers (see below).

    Adventureless_ Hero writes:
    I prefer them. It gives me something to wonder about over the next week.
    I agree that is needed, but I’m not quite sure you get what I mean when I say ‘cliffhanger’: going back to that Wiki-definition, a cliffhanger happens whenever an episode that ends with a Difficult Dilemma [“Oh Shit! We’re going down!”] or a Shocking Revelation [“Walter, you better sit down—Martha’s pregnant!”]).

    nikvoodoo writes:
    If the episodes don't end in a cliffhanger, how else should they end? It's not like a tv serial where a new bad guy of the week pops up to refresh the story and present a new scenario.
    Right, but a lot of those TV serials are more or less anthologized fiction—same characters, but each episode its own little short story. “We’re Alive” is basically one long story, broken up into many chunks. I’m sure Kc has in mind an overall story arc, and within that many smaller sub-plots that rise and fall, but the arcs of each subplot don’t necessarily need to coincide with the beginning and end of each 20-odd minute episode. You get what I’m saying?

    Whether or not an episode ends with a cliffhanger, every story needs to have dramatic tension in order to keep things moving. This is what your high school English teacher referred to as conflict, but I like the term tension better because it doesn’t necessarily imply physical blows or a contest of wills. Tension comes from having something(s) unresolved, like the final note of a scale that hasn’t yet been struck. Besides, Kc just commented that

    Coincidentally, [not] all the episode have been ending in cliffhangers.
    Correct, which is why I don’t feel that they are always needed. Each episode should end with something unresolved, yes—otherwise the story goes flat. But that unresolved tension can come in more subtle ways that do keep things interesting and keep the plot moving. For example:

    Chapter 1.1 / It Begins
    Ends with Michael, Angel, and Saul set to bust out of the Army base in search of shelter. No cliffhanger here, just a huge-ass problem and 3 characters trying to find a way to deal with it.

    Chapter 4.1 / Rules and Regulations
    No cliffhanger, just a finally divvying up of tasks, and a little pep-talk by Michael that “tomorrow is the start of a new beginning.” There is still the over-arching problem of survival and how the guys will deal with it, even though the previous crisis of a zombie takeover has been resolved.

    Chapter 9.1 / The Road to Living Death
    No cliffhanger, just the ominous warning by Skittles that “No place is safe” and “You can’t go that way—he’ll get us!” I like this ‘creeping dread’ kind of ending, like storm clouds on the horizon. And again, nothing goes flat; the plot moves just fine without any sudden explosions or charging monsters.

    Chapter 15.3 / Desperate Times
    Here we have a resolution, where Michael and Pegs finally get it on after many long, awkward flirtations. No zombies breaking in, no Maller-snipers, but it’s still fine because the overall purpose of their little mission hasn’t yet been fulfilled and many of the larger story questions haven’t yet been answered.

    Chapter 20.2 / About Last Night
    No cliffhanger, but a whole lot of tension because of the abduction of Lizzy. Episode ends with a comment by Burt that “She could be anywhere by now”, which sets the stage nicely for the episodes to follow. Ends just fine, even without any sudden zombie calls or “Look out behind you!”s.

    PS: as I am renowned for my snark and ill mood...just to be clear: I am legitimately interested your/anyone's thoughts about other ending possibilities beyond cliffhangers for a story like this.
    Well, I hope this answered your question. And snark is good… I like a good snarky post now and then.

  6. #6
    nikvoodoo's Avatar
    Dadmin

    Status
    Offline
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    4,557
    Blog Entries
    27
    Achievements:
    BloggerBug Hunter First Class50000 Experience PointsPro Level Wiki EditorVeteran
    Blog Entries
    27

    I think your definition of a cliffhanger and mine are different. To call the endings of 1.1, 9.1, and 20.2 not cliffhangers seems just not right to me. In fact just in general to say there aren't cliffhangers of some variety at the end of every episode doesn't ring true either. You used wikipedia for you definition (which I rebel against because I could change the definition of cliffhanger right now to say it's that piece of skin between your nose and your lip), but here's the dictionary definition:

    a melodramatic adventure serial in which each installment ends in suspense in order to interest the reader or viewer in the next installment.
    I think the key there is suspense....obviously since I put it in bold, italics, and underlined it.... All the episodes you referenced as ending without a cliff hanger all certainly had suspense to them: How do they escape? What does the next day bring? Who is "he" and why is Skittles so afraid? What happens now that Pegs and Michael have taken that plunge, and what will they find as they travel further South? Will Saul find Lizzy who is now in the grasp of the Mallers?

    Full of suspense. Each part ending leaves you with an immediate question you want the answer to.
    ~Ra1th: Nik doesn't sleep, he waits.~
    ~TCM Revolver: ra1th needs to be on the look out for cars that appear to be moved recently, and nikvoodoo on the rooftops
    Voodoo Lounge Here!! Twitter: Follow Me, Follow WA Follow WND

  7. #7
    Eviebae's Avatar
    "Maintenance Team"

    Status
    Offline
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    642
    Achievements:
    10000 Experience PointsPro Level Wiki EditorVeteranBeloved
    I'd say that Cliffhangers done well, are addicting. Done clumsily, it's annoying and forced. A cliff hanger needs to pay for itself in some way plot-wise. By that I mean if it leads to something that is just mostly ignored in the following episode, it's irritating.

    Finally, I want a reasonable outcome not deux ex machina solution and I want a reasonable curiosity and question asking by all concerned. I mean, if I'm dying of curiosity, the characters should be too.
    SKITTLES?

  8. #8
    Litmaster's Avatar
    Tower Librarian

    Status
    Offline
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    1,108
    Blog Entries
    4
    Achievements:
    Wiki AmateurTagger Second ClassBloggerExtreme Love50000 Experience PointsVeteran
    Blog Entries
    4
    Quote Originally Posted by Eviebae View Post
    I'd say that Cliffhangers done well, are addicting. Done clumsily, it's annoying and forced. A cliff hanger needs to pay for itself in some way plot-wise. By that I mean if it leads to something that is just mostly ignored in the following episode, it's irritating..
    I like your phrasing of how a cliffhanger needs to "pay for itself in some way plot-wise". Totally agree... would say the same of emotion by the characters-- it's a fine line between sentiment and sentimentality in fiction.

    Anyway, my point was basically you don't need a 'dun-Dun-DUUUN'! ending as long as there are threads and filaments underlying the plot that give it tension--so yeah, these are unresolved aspects in the plot. I guess it depends on what justifies the tension: this latest cliffhanger with Kalani ending up in the Mallers file was good, because the groundwork was already laid for it earlier in the plot and it suggests a new direction for events. One that was handled badly, IMHO, was the helicopter crash on the way to Irwin. Everything fine, then suddenly "Oh Crap! We're goin' down!!" That seemed just manufactured to create artificial tension and did not--to use your words--pay for itself.

  9. #9
    nikvoodoo's Avatar
    Dadmin

    Status
    Offline
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    4,557
    Blog Entries
    27
    Achievements:
    BloggerBug Hunter First Class50000 Experience PointsPro Level Wiki EditorVeteran
    Blog Entries
    27

    Quote Originally Posted by litmaster View Post
    I like your phrasing of how a cliffhanger needs to "pay for itself in some way plot-wise". Totally agree... would say the same of emotion by the characters-- it's a fine line between sentiment and sentimentality in fiction.

    Anyway, my point was basically you don't need a 'dun-Dun-DUUUN'! ending as long as there are threads and filaments underlying the plot that give it tension--so yeah, these are unresolved aspects in the plot. I guess it depends on what justifies the tension: this latest cliffhanger with Kalani ending up in the Mallers file was good, because the groundwork was already laid for it earlier in the plot and it suggests a new direction for events. One that was handled badly, IMHO, was the helicopter crash on the way to Irwin. Everything fine, then suddenly "Oh Crap! We're goin' down!!" That seemed just manufactured to create artificial tension and did not--to use your words--pay for itself.
    But the ground work for the helicopter crashing was also already laid by Datu being the one responsible for the fixes to the chopper. We've seen Datu be unable to fix the generator and Burt had to do that for him. We've seen Datu fail at the Pumping Station (granted he didn't have much time). The ground work for the crash was laid back in Season 2.

    It's a mechanical repair that didn't hold, so I'm wondering if the Cliffhanger is what you're reacting to, or rather the cliche of a repair breaking and the helicopter crashing because of it. If the helicopter hadn't been shot up, didn't need repairs but they still crashed short of Irwin I would understand.
    ~Ra1th: Nik doesn't sleep, he waits.~
    ~TCM Revolver: ra1th needs to be on the look out for cars that appear to be moved recently, and nikvoodoo on the rooftops
    Voodoo Lounge Here!! Twitter: Follow Me, Follow WA Follow WND

  10. #10
    Litmaster's Avatar
    Tower Librarian

    Status
    Offline
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    1,108
    Blog Entries
    4
    Achievements:
    Wiki AmateurTagger Second ClassBloggerExtreme Love50000 Experience PointsVeteran
    Blog Entries
    4
    Quote Originally Posted by nikvoodoo View Post
    But the ground work for the helicopter crashing was also already laid by Datu being the one responsible for the fixes to the chopper. We've seen Datu be unable to fix the generator and Burt had to do that for him. We've seen Datu fail at the Pumping Station (granted he didn't have much time). The ground work for the crash was laid back in Season 2.

    It's a mechanical repair that didn't hold, so I'm wondering if the Cliffhanger is what you're reacting to, or rather the cliche of a repair breaking and the helicopter crashing because of it. If the helicopter hadn't been shot up, didn't need repairs but they still crashed short of Irwin I would understand.
    Yeah... I guess you're right about the groundwork for the crash being pre-laid. I kinda overlooked those aspects, so I guess more a fault of the reader (me) here than the writer. I'll be gettin' off my soapbox now.


 
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •