Tag Archives: The Vampire Diaires

The Art of the Season Finale: Smash, Hart of Dixie and Nikita.

22 May

Well the time has come, it’s the end of ratings season and I have watched at least 7 season finales in the last 2 weeks. The season finale is a hard beast to get right. You don’t want to leave your audience too satisfied but you don’t want to leave them too irritated either. In my opinion a great season finale is a mix of tantalizing questions and satisfying answers.

Many writers underestimate the benefit of a good answer. A show like ‘Lost’ for instance just kept asking questions and rarely gave an answer for anything but season finales are the perfect time to give answers for lingering questions and close some doors. If this isn’t done I would argue that audiences become unsatisfied and may lose faith in the show and turn off. A writer must never lose sight of the fact that viewers are watching for answers not for questions and it you don’t give them what they want sometimes, they will stop watching.

Nikita  gave us plenty of answers in its finale, Division was shut down, Birkhoff got the girl, Alex got together with Sean and Nikita had finally been seen as a legitimate hero in the eyes of the government. In fact Nikita answered so many questions it had to change the game entirely in order to keep the story going, it’s a risky move but I think it paid off.

Smash still had plenty of questions still in the tank but managed to give us a few answers of it’s own. Karen finally became the star of Bombshell. Ivy’s evil ways caught up with her and Dev was exposed for cheating on Karen. Ahh the satisfaction of a secret being exposed, this is the season finale bread and butter.

Now Hart of Dixie was perhaps the slimmest of them all on answers, but it did provide a few. George called off his wedding admitting he was in love at least partly with Zoe and Zoe and Wade finally worked out their differences and slept together. And George admitted to Zoe that he loved her. That last part was more of a question than an answer as it created a whole lot of trouble that as a fan of Zoe and Wade I could have done without. This show is doing the love triangle very well at the moment, confusing it’s audience at every turn. It could even give Vampire Diaries a run for it’s money.

Now for the questions or the cliffhanger. The cliffhanger is the reason viewers come back but don’t make your cliffhanger too bleak other wise you’ve got a Grey’s Anatomy situation on your hands. I found it very tough to start watching that again after last years depressing cliffhanger and this years season finale was even worse. I prefer cliffhangers that have the possibility for good as well as bad.  For example Hart of Dixie, who will Zoe choose? The beautiful Wade, whose abs would make icebergs melt or the country good boy George whose name should tell you how boring he really is. It could go either way.

Or Smash, the love of Karen’s life has cheated on her with her worse enemy and the emotionally bankrupt but super sexy director is making his move, again who will she choose. I like this one because even though you know Derek and Karen would be a disaster together it’s a disaster you would really like to see.

Or changing it up Nikita has finally taken down Division, the shady ex government agency that made her life hell and has been offered a job as it’s new leader, will she go into the belly of the beast and make it a force for good. What does the future hold? Very positive but with a dark underbelly of foreboding lurking in the future.

Now while all three of these season finales were very enjoyable I would have to say that Nikita was the best. Having seen many season finales I know or can estimate where Smash and Hart of Dixie will lead in the next season but the best season finales are the ones that change the game entirely, leaving the audience in a completely new place with no idea what will happen next.  It’s risky but Nikita’s season finale changed the rules of the show and as a result, it blew the others away.

What was the best season finale you saw this ratings season?


The Vampire Diaries: Kevin Williamson is a Master of the Love Triangle

25 Apr

Has anyone seen last weeks episode of ‘The Vampire Diaries’, because if you missed it you are missing out. It was hot, steaming hot. I haven’t seen anything that hot on TV for quite sometime and I’ve watched every episode of ‘Secret Diary of a Call Girl’.

The moment when two characters finally get together is a vital one in the success or failure of any TV series. In some series it happens too quick, everything seems meant to be and after a few minor obstacles the couple gets together 6 episodes in, 10 episodes later the couple has broken up and no matter how much you loved them to begin with, the on again off again can never compete with that pre kiss, pre anything sexual tension.

The OC is a perfect example of this Marissa and Ryan get together eight episodes in and sure it was great but for longevity’s sake it was terrible move. They became a super annoying couple and Marissa’s constant flakiness is no longer seen as damsel in distress but as an idiot looking for trouble.

Getting your meant to be couple together too early, burns through story lines too quickly and doesn’t allow for the vital ingredient in any successful TV romance, the longing. And no I don’t mean the longing between the characters I mean the longing from the audience for it to finally happen. That longing or hope or obsession from an audience member is a powerful tool, it can turn minor flirting into major entertainment and it can power otherwise dull stories, but if you don’t build the longing you can’t use its power.

But that is not to say that you should never get your couple together, the excessive use of the longing is also a crime. Shows like the X Files, Gilmore Girls, Castle are massive abusers of the longing. Once the audience begins to feel that the couple who are essentially perfect for each other will never get together simply because the writing team don’t want them to, the power of the longing disappears and is simply replaced by irritation. Characters can only have so many interrupted moments and lost opportunities before the possibilities of the sexual tension grows stale.

So what’s the solution, how can we have the longing without the irritation, without the feeling that nothing is happening and nothing ever will. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the love triangle. The love triangle allows for there always to be longing for one side or the other and for there always to be action, for the point of the triangle to be swinging from side to side with never ending romantic fodder. Kevin Williamson the writer of Dawson’s Creek, Scream 1-4, Teaching Mrs Tingle and of course The Vampire Diaries is the master of the love triangle. BTW the love triangle always works better with two guys, just saying.

The best thing about Mr Williamson’s love triangles is the slow burn, he totally convinces you that one pairing is meant to be and then slowly and subtly manipulates the story and the characters until you are on the edge of your seat voting for pairing number two. Dawson’s Creek is the first time I was introduced to Mr Williamson’s talents. I was 100% Dawson and Joey all the way but then slowly and sneakily they didn’t seem right anymore. Dawson was immature, he didn’t love Joey enough and Pacey, he was self sacrificing, gentle and rugged. The next thing you know Dawson was chopped liver and I would have been fine with Pacey killing him. And so we have the beauty of the love triangle we get to do the longing over and over again, the writer gently manipulating us one way or the other.

Well fool me once same on you, fool me twice shame on me. Mr Williamson’s new series The Vampire Diaries, is pretty damn awesome but even I didn’t see how Elena and Stefan we ever going to end up in a triangle. Sure Damon has always wanted Elena but given that Stefan is perfection and incredibly moral and Damon on occasion snaps and kills people it seemed unlikely Elena would make the jump. But this season when Stefan agrees to help the evil Klaus to save his brother Damon and gets hooked on killing again, Mr Williamson got a chance to weave his magic once more.

The most important thing is that the switch seems plausible, your character can’t just throw over the love of their life, they have to slowly fall in love with someone else without knowing it. And that is what happened to Elena. Stefan is evil now and Damon is trying to help Elena get through it. Her influence is turning him around and he’s challenging her. Suddenly even when Stefan comes back to the light, Elena is torn and so am I. And so Mr Williamson does it again, turned my sympathies and put me into a truly awesome love triangle.

And this week was the reward, the forbidden make out that finally confirms what the rest of us have known for weeks, Elena has feelings for Damon. Beautifully staged with very little dialogue and tonnes of sexual tension, the couple explode off the screen in a scene, that I had to rewind and watch a second time. Hats off Mr Williamson you’ve done it again.