Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Killing the Plot

It's been a long, long day.  I had to get up before six to catch a train to get me to a training day in Bristol.  When I got there I walked three miles from the station to the venue.  Then did the same journey in reverse this afternoon.  If nothing else, I was reassured to find that nothing much seemed to have changed in Filton and Horfield since I was a student in Bristol many, many years ago.  But the end result of this long day is that I'm absolutely knackered, my feet aching and knees shattered.  Nevertheless, all that time spent on trains today at least gave me some serious thinking time.  (One of the trains was one of Great Western's new Hitachi-built high speed trains, for what it is worth).  So, I found myself thinking about soap operas when they get locked into one of those lengthy story arcs, involving some kind of credulity-straining plot which is going fundamentally change the dynamic of the series, but which has clearly out stayed its welcome with viewers before reaching its planned climax.  I was thinking most specifically about Eastenders' current ongoing storyline about Max Branning tediously exacting his revenge against various residents by helping property developers buy every property in the Square. 

I mean, not only does it seem the lamest revenge ever, but it seems to have been running forever.  Even the recent, apparently random, inclusion of James Wilmott Brown, gentleman rapist of the East End who hasn't been seen in thirty years, in the plot hasn't done anything to spark viewer interest.  Mainly because it is utterly nonsensical.  Viewers just want it to be all over and done with.  Consequently, the producers now seem to be trying to wrap it all up with unseemly haste over the Christmas period.  Perhaps what they should do, I mused whilst sat on that Hitachi train hurtling toward Bristol Parkway, is to just introduce some mystery killer, maybe a black leather glove wearing Giallo-type murderer, who starts killing off all the now surplus characters in bizarre and inventive ways.  If not a Giallo-type killer, then perhaps a mysterious character in a coat with a turned up collar and fedora obscuring their face, who lumbers out of convenient fog banks to gun down the characters associated with the no defunct storyline.  Then, once these killings have effectively wrapped up the story arc, have the killer vanish as mysteriously as they appeared and offer no explanation whatsoever as to what just happened

It would create a media frenzy and the enigma of the mystery killer would keep viewers talking for years.  I know, for instance, that had they not ended that Crossroads revival with a half hearted 'it was all a dream' cop out, but with a mysterious figure in a top hat and cloak stalking then knifing the staff and residents to death, I would have felt much more of a sense of closure.  Even if this latter day Jack the ripper had never been unmasked.  Indeed, the failure to identify the killer would have added veracity, echoing the fact that the identity of the original Jack the Ripper remains a mystery.  So, here's hoping that this Christmas will see an enigmatic psychopath stalking Albert Square, murdering the conspirators without motivation or explanation.

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