Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Foreshadowing and Diversion

I'm in the process of watching an Aussie show called McCleod's Daughters, the basic premise of which is two sisters (i.e. the daughters in question) running a ranch together.

The writing isn't bad - took them a while to catch their stride in season one - and sometimes it can be pretty dang good. I'm almost done with season three right now and, even aside from the characters themselves, I'm really into the writing part because of what they've done and to see what they'll do from here. Cue the spoilers.

Part way through season three, they introduce a breast cancer scare arc with one of the sisters. A few episodes really focus in on the medical tests, worst case scenarios, and characters reacting to the possible death sentence. Then comes the episode where she's going to get the results from the decisive test. At the beginning of the episode, the sister sees a wild white hose, which she takes as a death omen, clearly implying that the test results will be cancer. This sister is doomed, right? The writers have been building up to killing her off for a number of episodes, after all. Then, the results come back non-cancer and they have a party to celebrate. As the two sisters are on the way back from picking up party supplies, the horse darts in front of the car, causes an accident and the other sister dies.

Talk about effective. On one hand, it was a sudden, unexpected death which lets you feel with the characters as they reel from the impact. On the other, the audience has already had a lot of emotional build-up to this point because of the scare with the other sister. I was impressed.

Now, of course, I wonder how they'll manage from here. I mean, as fond as Joss is of killing off characters without warning, he never actually killed off Buffy or Angel (at least, never permanently) and here's a show where one of the two title characters just got shuffled off. Later on, thanks to IMDB, I know the actress who played the other sister also goes. Yet, the show went on. I don't know how well they'll be able to keep it going.

On one hand, based on the sleight of hand with Claire's death, I'm optimistic the writers can pull it off. On the other, the main reason I got into the show at first was Claire, then later on, other characters I like, all of whom (save one) appear to be gone by the final seasons of the show. It's hard to pull off replacements. Really, really hard.


Debbie said...

It's great when they can pull it off and not make you feel cheated. Way back when, ThirtySomething did a similar thing with 2 characters. One went thru months of chemo for ovarian cancer and came out great. On the way to the celebration for her great prognosis another character was killed in a car accident. Stunning and heart-wrenching.

Now if I can just get the hang of that myself.

Ali said...

Impressive how similar they are. I wonder whether or not it's a coincidence :)