Friday, November 19, 2010

Unhappy Endings (AKA When Good Series Go Bad)

Sorry I'm so late with this blog, I've been lost in puppyland all week--and no, I'm not talking about next week's installment of ZVCSWB!

The newest Harry Potter opens today and I did not rush to the theater at midnight last night to see it. This makes me sad because I have fond memories of midnight excursions with my daughter when the last few books came out. 

Unfortunately, it's also put me in mind of how much I love series and how depressing it can be when a once promising series begins to disappoint. I know it's unfair of me. I know how next-to-impossible it is to hit the bull's eye with every book/episode/movie in a series. And the longer the series, the harder that gets.  

However, the sad truth is, once a series has jumped the shark, so to speak, or turned unbearably dark or begun to repeat itself to an irritating extent, I find it ruins the entire series for me. I don't just lose interest in any future installments, I lose all desire to revisit the earlier books/episodes/whatever have as well.  Even the beginning becomes tainted. Once you've seen/read/heard/learned something you can't really undo it, you know?

Okay, wait a minute. Perhaps I shouldn't include learning in that list. It seems to me I've "unlearned" many things in my life, although rarely things I've wanted to unlearn. Like French, or Algebra. *sigh* But I digress...

I guess the point I'm trying to make with this mini-rant is that even though I believe an author's first allegiance should be to her characters and story, we also owe something to our audience--those people who have come to love our characters and become invested in their stories.
What do you think? Does it spoil things for you when a series you love takes a turn for the worse? If characters you care about are randomly killed off (yes, I know this happens in real life. but fiction isn't real life, so the same rules don't apply.) or begin to act in ways that are "out of character", do you feel betrayed?  Or is that just me?

For the record: I do intend to watch these last two HP movies. I just don't expect to enjoy them very much.


Meg Benjamin said...

This is actually something I've bitched about in the past--when a romance series author suddenly decides that her heroine doesn't get to have a HEA with her SO because the series needs to keep running. I refused to read the Dana Stabenow book where she killed off the heroine's SO, and I really admire Margaret Maron for allowing Deborah Knott to actually get married!

Kelly Jamieson said...

I don't think I've read many series books, other than Harry Potter :-) and I can't wait to see the movie (though I wish they didn't have to cut the last book in half). But I have felt this way with some TV shows. I got hooked on Lost in the first few seasons, especially the characters and the mysterious ways they were all connected. But then things just started getting too weird and by the last season I was watching just to find out what the heck was going on, but not necessarily because I enjoyed it. They just pushed it a little too far for me. It was disappointing.

Debra St. John said...

It is difficult when characters we've grown to love in books are no longer with us. I think an author has to have a darn good reason for killing off beloved characters if he/she's going to do it.

BTW, I'm heading out in two hours to see HP7:1. We'll see...

Ava Quinn said...

I've found some series disappoint me after several installments if the author takes the story somewhere I didn't want to go or if it becomes repetitive.

But I also try to keep in mind that the "great new voice with the new perspective" that I found in the author at the beginning, becomes familiar after reading several installments of a series. The author continues to write with the same style that she always did, but I've read so much by her that I've learned how she operates. I don't think that's a failing of the author's. She's still writing well. I'm just "on to her" so to speak.

Sometimes I think this is partly what happened with M. Night Shyamalan. Everyone was so blown away by The Sixth Sense, when he made his next film, the audience was expecting the twist. It wasn't new anymore.

This isn't always the case, of course. Just sometimes. Interesting post!