all roads lead to spoilerville

Posted: November 10, 2017 in FYI, lessons-learned, Movies, Television

After abandoning broadcast television in favor of re-watching DVDs of beloved shows from the past, spoilers became a non-issue for many years.

When I began to want variety and branched out to DVDs of series I hadn’t seen, I found myself in uncharted territory. My previous experience following a new show on the Internet involved waiting after each airing for some industrious fan to write and post recaps, reviews, etc. Now, extensive episode guides are already available online… and I need them more than ever, because I usually watch with my family, and we tend to miss critical exposition because one of us is talking.

The big disadvantage — as you may have guessed from the theme of this entry — is spoilers. Of course, I know to avoid common sources, such as summaries and commentary for episodes I haven’t seen. But I’ve found spoilers lurking where I never suspected, to the extent that viewing an entire series unspoiled is proving to be quite a challenge.

If you, too, are discovering a show after its original run, be aware that spoilers can pop up in seemingly innocuous places:

  • Fanfiction. When I’m concerned about spoilage, I diligently avoid fanfiction for the topic in question. Fanfic writers are often inspired by key events, and synopses of the fics can be very revealing: “This scene takes place after Jojo’s death at the hands of Zulu.”
  • Fan videos. The montage could contain pivotal scenes, such as the main guy character proposing to the main girl character.
  • Facebook. A double threat, not only from friends’ comments, but also since Facebook might recognize the series as one of my interests and supply commercials for the current season — even though I’m several seasons behind.
  • Overambitious “wiki” episode recaps. In an effort to be thorough, they cross reference to future events: “We see Susie again in season four when we learn she has a long-lost sister.” Even their link designations can share too much. For example, I knew a character’s amnesia wouldn’t last long when my options included, “For the character briefly known as Jezebel, click here.”
  • Google image search. I was looking for a screencap of a fight between three characters, and displayed among the search results was a fan-made graphic of one of them, captioned with “R.I.P.” and the year.
  • Actor biographies. The dossier could reveal the character’s exit or return by providing appearances by year, season, or specific episodes.
  • Articles about the stars. A photo of a smiling couple is captioned “Sylvia out on the town with her TV husband.” But — d’oh! — their characters’ marriage is a very recent development. Hope all of that website’s viewers are caught up on their TiVo!
  • The main page of major news websites. If I watched Game of Thrones, it would be maddening that so many “news headlines” rehash the happenings of the latest episode. (No doubt those sites aim to up their link count using GoT‘s popularity.) Even if they warn of plot talk, very often there’s a telling screencap with the headline.
  • Amazon product reviews. I was about to place an order, and the featured review began with, “This was my least favorite of all the seasons.” Maybe that’s not a true spoiler, but such a verdict might predispose me to dislike it before even I’ve seen the first episode.
  • DVD covers for later seasons. When a would-be cliffhanger has a main character in jeopardy, I’m anything but on edge: “No worries. They’re still pictured with the cast for the final season.” (Okay, I confess. I actually like this bit of foreknowledge. My life’s hard enough without having to fear for the safety of my fave characters!)
  • Episode descriptions on DVD packages. Having written similar summaries myself, I understand how tough it can be to strike a balance between providing details for those who are looking for a specific scene, and ruining key surprises for the rest of us. As a public service to DVD Blurb Writers, here are two examples that, IMHO, land solidly in the latter category:
    (1) “After a failed battle with Xolor…” If the opening scene is a battle, we know how that will end. :thumbsdown:
    (2) “The team falls victim to a smooth-talking con man, and Sam must save the day.” … manages to give away the entire episode in one sentence! :thumbsdown: :thumbsdown:
  • Forums about other shows. Curious to know what fans of Program A had to say, I ventured to read one short thread, and I spent the next several seasons dreading the series finale of Program B because of one of the comments. Happily, in said finale, the plot twist that commenter condemned played out extremely well, in my opinion. Even more happily, I learned that exposure to TMI doesn’t necessarily negate any future enjoyment… although I’d still prefer not to take any chances.

With my eyes now opened to the plight of the “spoiler-phobic,” I realize that I need to post warnings with the episode information at my various websites. In the meantime, remember that, when it comes to having your viewing surprises spoiled, the only safe search is NO search!

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Comments
  1. Anne says:

    Reblogged this on video juliet and commented:

    A public service announcement re: spoilers…

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