Friday, October 17, 2003
The Friday Grrr…
3: Soap Spoilers
I used to be a soap addict, or "drama serial devotee", as I believe we're meant to call ourselves these days. A well-brought-up Northern lad, I tuned into the Street religiously, and had done ever since Elsie first spat into her mascara. A weekday wasn't the same without a wander down Walford way, and I was always turning up at the Close, although that was mainly because one of my exes was shagging a cast member at the time (and no, I am not naming names, so don't even ask).
I certainly didn't watch them for the acting, but rather their intricate storylines, devious interweaving of characters' lives, and often completely unexpected plot developments. Half the fun of turning on your favourite soap was never quite being sure what was going to happen in the next twenty-five minutes.
Of course, these days we all knew for months that Dead Den was going to come back from the canal, and that Nick and Todd were set for the chastest, briefest gay snog in tellyland history. That's fine by me. Without publicity, ratings would plummet and the shows would be axed.
But it’s not just the big, audience-pulling, loo-flushing events which get trailed way in advance. Nowadays, every minuscule and intricate plot twist and turn, from the colour of Pat's new earrings, to what Emily and Norris are having for breakfast, is reported in such great detail in the individual episode listings that any suspense is gone. And without suspense there's no drama.
Most publications carrying daily or weekly telly listings receive their info from one central source. The episode breakdowns, provided a couple of weeks in advance, are pretty detailed, and very rarely embargoed. It's the job of a good TV editor to take that information and edit it, adapting it for the readers, and providing a succinct and seductive (dare we also ask for witty?) teaser for the forthcoming episode. Tell us just so much, and no more, dear Mr Telly Editor, and we'll be counting the seconds to 7.30 to see what happens.
Of course, what most of them do is just cut and paste the whole lot in its entirety and piss off to the pub, having just given away the plot, and spoilt it rotten for the rest of us. If I know how Corrie's current story arc is going to pan out just by reading next Friday's episode listing, then there's very little point in my watching it. Instead, I could join the TV Editor down the pub, couldn't I? The Rovers' Return, of course, and with a pint of Newton & Ridley's in my hand, served by Bet Lynch who is just about to – oh, you mean, you really didn't know?
Next Week At Invisible Stranger:
It's drastic measures as Stranger makes a last-ditch effort to improve his stats. An important piece of gym etiquette is breached, and a midnight stroll leads to darker things. And just who is the boy in the sailor suit, and what sinister secret is he hiding?