Digital Cable/DVR Killed the TV Cliffhanger

I'm looking at you TiVo.

I’m looking at you TiVo.

As a TV geek, one of life’s greatest joys (and frustrations) is getting immersed in an episode of a TV show, losing track of time, then at a pivotal, suspenseful moment, the words “TO BE CONTINUED…” pop up on screen. You want to scream at your TV to keep going, you need to know what’s going to happen, but you have to wait a week to find out.

When cable went digital, we were introduced to the on-screen guide, which not only tells you the name of the show, but the name of the episode as well (something that always existed, but 99% of us were not aware of). When episode titles state “Part 1 of 2,” it strips the viewer of the suspense you feel at the end of that episode of TV because you already know there’s going to be a cliffhanger.

I’ve noticed this happen quite a bit this summer on Master Chef and Hell’s Kitchen (confession time: While I generally hate reality TV, for some reason, watching Gordon Ramsay yell at people always seems to amuse me). Maybe it’s due to the generic episode titles on these shows (which are always “[insert number of chefs left in the competition] compete.”). I haven’t noticed it as much with scripted television, but I’m going to start paying attention more now that I’ve noticed it.

Being robbed of the rush of a cliffhanger stinks, even when it is on a reality television show. When an episode title is “12 Chefs Compete, Part 1,” I already know no one is going to be eliminated, so the fake suspense created on these shows is ruined before the episode even starts. While there still is a suspenseful moment at the end of an episode, knowing that I’m only watching “part 1” has me trying to figure out where they’re going to cut it off, ruining the effect it’s supposed to have.

I wish there was a way to go back to the ignorance of not knowing episode titles that spoil things for me before I’ve even started watching them. OR, maybe the people in charge of naming TV episodes need to actually put in some effort as to not ruin the surprise of the cliffhanger for me as a viewer. What do you all think?

One Response to “Digital Cable/DVR Killed the TV Cliffhanger”
  1. Esther says:

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