12 June 2012

SPOILER ALERT


NBC's Smash was remarkable in how it brought Broadway's behind-the-scenes to life. Having worked in that industry for several years - way back when - I can attest to the accuracy of the... cattiness. Hello, it's Broadway.

That said, this post is a lamentation directed more broadly towards excessive media and social coverage, which can sometimes suck the imagination out of some great entertainment... because we just can't wait.

Examples are all around us. It may be that badly cut movie trailer that gives the whole story away. It might be that book review that takes the fun out of reading the book. Or, it might be your friend who doesn't realize what not to say about a film others haven't yet seen. And, as you'll soon see with the Smash example, sometimes even production teams behind these shows are complicit.

Smash, NBC's answer to Glee, started off slowly as it attempted to lay the foundation for its complex storyline: a Marilyn Monroe Broadway musical, from conception to opening night. Eventually, the tv show found its voice (and how); and it soon became one of the best new shows of last season. The season finale, which featured the debut of the fictional musical's much-anticipated final song and an apparent suicide attempt, contained just the right amount of cliffhanger suspense that gets one through a summer of reality programming and cable news.

A couple of weeks ago, however, in announcing its plans for next season, NBC inadvertently released spoiler alert-type information without even realizing it. I won't name them here; but come season two, four actors will be out of Smash.

I understand the reason for casting announcements. But, let's call a spade a spade. Announcements that confirm the exits of key characters is a window into next season's storyline. Though NBC made sure to include a disclaimer stating that some or all departing actors would be back to "tie up loose ends" (paraphrase), a spoiler by any other name is still a spoiler.

Why are we obsessed with this stuff? We didn't used to be.

In 1985, back when the cast of Dynasty was gunned down in a Moldavian wedding massacre, you can bet there were no casting announcements released about the show that summer. We were content to wait until the show resumed the following September to learn if Joan Collins and Linda Evans would be brawling again in the next season.

Recently, Madonna herself became the victim of the spoiler culture when a clever soul grabbed a newsworthy bit of her new concert's rehearsal and unleashed it on the web. Okay, "victim" may be too strong a word. The Material Girl may indeed have played some part in this stunt. God knows, a viral video days before kicking off a global tour makes good marketing sense.

But it shouldn't make good marketing sense.

It takes a tremendous effort to give the world a piece of art. I think it's our job as the consumer to enjoy it as intended... all in good time.