Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Spoilers Aren't the Devil

We are in the season of TV show finales. Usually, when a TV series is wrapping up a season, it usually resolves a year-long arc and/or blows everything out of the water with a sudden reveal. This usually ends up blowing up the Internet for a couple of hours, as people say everything from "That was dumb" to "I CAN'T BELIEVE THAT JUST HAPPENED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Marketing executives live for this time of the year. If their show can generate buzz to last into the next morning, then it's a likely guarantee that the show is a hit and will carry over into next season.

Of course, ultimate finales and the like often prove to be the bane of Spoilerphobes, too. You know the type: refuse to click on preview posts of shows, avoid anything with a "spoiler" tag, yet take waaaay too long to watch those same shows and get angry at other people who end up slipping up on the big reveal of the show or movie.

I have been subject to spoilers before - no one has found that almighty cure for Spoilerphobes. Even if a person doesn't go on the Internet ever, actual live, physical people can still slip up in normal conversations.

There are some shows or movies where I really try to keep it fresh and be surprised in the theater - Captain America: The Winter Soldier's surprise (not the one about The Winter Soldier - the other one) blew me away, and the way it carried over into Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D ended up giving that show a much-needed dose. I was incredibly thankful I saw Cap on opening day.

Another example was back in November, when the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who was taking place. One fine Thursday morning, I check the Internet and find a "minisode" for Doctor Who, and click on it. Lo and behold, Paul McGann - the 8th Doctor who only appeared in a 1996 TV movie - made his triumphant return! I was floored, as was the rest of the Whovians out there. No one knew! It was one of the greatest moments in my TV/movie-watching life.

But there are other surprises that I did know beforehand. Sometimes I found out by reading about it online, and sometimes I was just too young and just grew up with knowing it all along. ("No - I am your father.") Do I wish I'd been able to sit on my couch or in a theater and drop my jaw with everyone else? Heck yes! (If I ever get amnesia, the first thing you need to do is reintroduce me to my family. The second is to show me Star Wars.)

Even if something gets spoiled for you, there is a way to save the situation. If all you know is one little plot point, focus on everyone else in the scene. How do they react? If it was a surprise for you, then it probably is a surprise for those characters, as well. If you love the show, you'll not only be invested in the surprises (Ross and Rachel finally kissed!!) but also in how other characters will react. (The girls want all the details! The guys just eat pizza!)

Another good example is from a fantastic movie, Mary Poppins. Most of us have seen that movie several times in our lives (hopefully), and we enjoy the music, costumes, Britishness, and Julie Andrews. We all know that in the end Mr. Banks goes a little crazy at the bank and then takes his family and goes to fly kites. The end!

But watch it again. Instead of focusing on the music, costumes, Britishness, and Julie Andrews, focus on Mr. Banks, played excellently by David Tomlinson. He is my favorite character in the movie (when I was little it was because he had a mustache, just like my dad), and his slow walk from his house to the bank is so gut-wrenching after watching the whole movie. He starts with his whole life in perfect order. Then Mary Poppins comes along and "ruins" everything for him. But after the chimney sweeps come into his home, he has a heartfelt moment with Dick Van Dyke's Bert, who pulls a "Cat's in the Cradle" on him (years before that was actually a thing) and reminds him that when Mr. Banks thought he had everything in order, he actually was missing out on the love of his children. That's why he goes a little nutty at the bank: it clicks for him to stop being so serious and enjoy life - especially life with his kids!

Have you ever revisited that movie, or did you decide not to because you already knew what happened at the end? Have you done that with any other movies? Go back and watch them again, but this time focus on the characters instead of the spoiler. I'm sure you'll get a lot more out of it the second time around, even if you know all the "spoilers."

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