The Killing: Did Twitter Change The History Of The Universe (You'll Have To Wait Until Fall)?
It was truly amazing to witness fan reaction to the rookie-season finale in real-time on Twitter and Facebook. The hatred of the episode seemed almost visceral and most of it centered on the fact that fans were sure that the mystery that opened the series would be solved. It wasn't. People will have to - gasp -- wait until next season! Did the producers make a huge tactical error? Did the "leave them wanting more" approach best used in recent times by "Lost" backfire on "The Killing"?
I can't help but think of the classic cliffhanger third-season closer, "Dallas: A House Divided," where the nefarious J.R. Ewing was shot by an unseen suspect. Viewers had to wait all summer (and through most of fall because of an actors' strike), to find out not only "who shot J.R." - but, was he even still alive? The summer of 1980 was filled with fun speculation, Larry Hagman became a cover boy, but no one said "Worst Season Finale in the History of the Universe." In fact, Larry Hagman is still amused by the success of the closely guarded mystery in this clip.
Even "Star Trek: The Next Generation" used the cliffhanger to great effect in 1990's "The Best of Both Worlds." This episode, where Captain Riker is forced to combat with his superior, Captain Picard (who is now a Borg), ends with the classic "Mr Worf, fire." It is considered one of the best episodes of the series, yet, no one remembers an online outcry (even if it was only on dial-up BBS, CompuServe, or AOL) from the most tech-savvy of all TV viewing audiences.
It should be interesting to see if "The Killing"'s producers will stick to their storytelling and not let the buzz affect the show's DNA. Maybe they should listen to what fellow AMC showrunner Matthew Weiner, creator of "Mad Men," said about what could become a disturbing trend -- to write to the tweet:
"The audience does not decide what happens on the show. I'm not saying 'fuck you' to the audience, I'm just saying, you don't know what you want. Also the people who are vocal are not necessarily the audience. I had this strange experience about the finale this year where the internet was overwhelmingly negative immediately, then they took it back and said, 'Oh my God, it's genius.' You think about all the artists you admire and their relationship with their audience and who knows how it works. I don't want to be defending the show all the time, but the people who are writing on the internet are not necessarily the only people watching the show."
The test will be to see if those disgruntled tweeters return to "The Killing" for season two. I'm guessing, that because of the passion with which they expressed their dissatisfaction in under 140 characters, they may be back after all. Especially to see if anyone in cyberspace paid attention to their public pain....