“Stay tuned for scenes from our next episode.”
Does that phrase fill you with excitement and anticipation or does it send you lurching for the TV remote? There was a time when I could barely sit still through those last commercials waiting for the promo to begin. But lately I’ve been leaning more toward a quick channel change before I see one second of what’s to come. That way, I can watch each new episode as it was intended, reveal by reveal and spoiler free.
Let’s take last week’s episode of Rizzoli and Isles. It opens with a kidnap victim and a murder right out of a slasher flick. Jane and the team arrive on the scene and they’re overwhelmed by the horror of it all. Chains, blood on the wall, instruments of torture. This is the lair of one very disturbed madman.
But it’s not. It’s actually a set for an underground club where people pay to get scared nearly to death. Think Halloween Haunt, only the actors can touch you and chain you to a wall. It was quite a reveal, but because I had watched the promo the week before, I knew it was fake from the start. If only I had gone in cold, the reveal would have been delightful.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been spoiled by an official promo. It’s happened on Supernatural. It’s happened on Castle. And I don’t get it. Promos are supposed to get us excited and looking forward to the next episode. Sure the editor has to reveal something about the plot, but don’t hand me the twist that makes the whole episode worth watching.
What I don’t want is the artistically edited, fake promo. The kind where they edit together clips in a way that makes it seem like something is going to happen that isn’t. Project Runway does this all the time. They’ll show Isaac Mizrahi saying a dress looks like a dirty tablecloth, then they cut to a designer in years. Only it turns out that the tears are tears of joy from the winner and the critique was aimed at someone else.
Creating the perfect promo is a tricky business. You have to reveal just enough to make an exciting and coherent promo without lying or giving too much away. Seems like a dying art or maybe I’m just getting pickier. When I was a teen, I lived for those weekly promos. I’d hold my breath through three commercials (5 these days) then lose my mind over the tiny reveals. Of course, back then plots were more simplistic which left me plenty of room for embellishment and fan fic writing between the promo and the episode itself. My imagined versions were always a lot more angsty than what actually appeared on the screen, but that’s the joy of a great promo. It’s inspiring and so much fun.
I doubt I’ll be able to give up promos altogether but I may try weening myself off the worst offenders. Just once, I’d like to watch an episode completely cold, experiencing it the way the writer and director intended.
What about you? Do you shy away from promos? Have you been royally spoiled by a badly edited ad for next week? Or are you too in love with those juicy tidbits to give them up for good?