Just Show Me What I Need To Know, Ok?
Over at All Along The Watchtower, Big Orange Michael talks about the Direct to DVD Battlestar Galactica movie that is supposed to clear things up from season three and set the stage for season four. Prior to this season of BSG there were several mini-episodes of the show which ran on the internet. Those webisodes introduced several characters and provided some backstory.
Other shows, like Lost are doing similar things with their content. Sure, you can watch the show during its normally-scheduled airtime, but if you want to know extra fun facts about characters and show mythology you need to hunt down a website or two.
I blame George Lucas for this. When the new Prequel Trilogy Featuring Jar-Jar® finally hit the screen, they were long on special effects and short on story. Time and again I'd visit a fansite to say "what's the deal with [blank]" only to have some 45 year old guy named Trent who worked at Comic City tell me that the entire story behind [blank] would have been revealed if I watched the animated series, read the comic books, followed the website, attended the talk with Lucas, jumped down, turned around and picked a bale of cotton. Apparently just showing up and paying ten bucks to get into the movie was not going to inform me.
I've had it. Yes, I like learning interesting things about the various characters that don't pertain to the story itself. *** But when I sit down to read a book, watch a TV show or take in a film, part of that experience is to be told the story in the package I bought. I don't want to be told 80% of the story and have to track the other 20% down on the internet. In every case where this gimmick is used, the main body of work suffers in quality and viewership. The ratings for this season of BSG are down. Lost is a shadow of its former self, with all the intriguing Hanso Foundation stuff left out of the tv show in order to make a compelling web experience for Superfans. And we all know how C+ the new Star Wars trilogy was.
So here's the thing, Hollywood. Tell the story within the parameters of the story itself. If you are giving us a TV show, keep the narrative on the episodes themselves. If you're shooting a movie, find a way to put the story we need to know in the movie itself. That's what we fans are paying for. We have no interest in building up your Web Presence. Thank you.
***For instance, did you know that in the Harry Potter series, Dean Thomas--who thinks he's a muggle--is actually the son of a wizarding father? His father was cruelly murdered by Voldemort and his mother remarried a muggle to keep Dean safe. That's a nice little side story but has nothing to do with the Septology.
I'm also a big fan of Office outtakes on the web.