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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Sept. 22, 2014

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In Movies & TV Commentary

Kerry Washington stars in "Scandal" on ABC. The drama is causing a buzz with a cliffhanger plot twist in the show's finale. (PHOTO: shutterstock.com )

TV season finales showcase art of the cliffhanger


When a series ends a run, but knows there will be another run of stories, writers go into overdrive to create the compelling cliffhanger.

The practice of enticing the audience to have to check out the next installment was created in the days of the video shorts at the movies. The name "cliffhanger" came for the literal act of the main character of a movie serial hanging off the cliff. You'd have to return to the theater to see if the beloved actor or actress survived in the next installment.

In the modern age, the Marvel Studio rebuilt the practice in its run of super hero movies. The true fans of the films know they need to stay until after the film's credits roll on the screen. Often, a plot line is revealed for the next upcoming film. The first "Iron Man" movie had a clip of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Furry, eluding to a larger film that eventually became the blockbuster "The Avengers."

On TV, we've had cliffhangers to tie seasons of a show together. ABC's "Scandal" is getting a ton of buzz for the plot twist ending of the season finale that aired last night. Unlike "The Office" which was a series finale, not to return to TV, fans of "Scandal" have to wait to the fall to know how the story will continue.

"Elementary" on CBS offered a two-hour season finale that offered a deeper look into the life of investigator Sherlock Holmes. Next week, we find out if Jethro Gibbs played by Mark Harmon on "NCIS" will survive an internal investigation in a season finale. Pretty sure, if the practice holds true, there will be some sort of cliffhanger to keep us on the edge of our seats until next fall.

TV LOYALITY: OnMilwaukee.com publisher Andy Tarnoff wrote about the need to be a completionist (is that a word) when it comes to TV series he invests the time to follow. He'll even tune in after the series "jumps the shark."

You can read his take on "The Office" here.

Brian Kramp interviewed actress Angela Kinsey who played Angela Martin on the show. You can hear the podcast here.

IDOL WOES: Thursday night's finale of "American Idol" on Fox saw Candice Glover crowned the winner of the singing completion's 12th season. Producers plan a complete overhaul of the show before it returns next fall. In this latest installment, the show has lost 40 percent of its viewing audience.

With just the partial overnight ratings in, the finale drew a 3.7, which in today's fractured viewing audience, is still a solid showing. But this is America, a place where people like to put things on a pedestal and then make remarks when it falls off. So, overall, "Idol" isn't doing as badly as most entertainment news sources will write about this weekend.

But, in an advertising venue for the highly-targeted 18-34 age demographic, perception is everything. Negative buzz turns into reality very quickly. Most insiders will be on judge panel watch, and money will change hands to land the scoop on who will be looked to as the savior of this show.

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