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 TV Bites with Neena Louise

To Be Continued...
by Neena Louise

There's nothing more disappointing than to see those three little words "To Be Continued" at the end of an episode. The Gimmicks (er, Sweeps) month of May had the most prolific use of the 2-part episode I have ever seen. Not only was it disappointing, it was completely unnecessary.

The 2-parter should be used to keep the audience engaged enough to want to tune in to the next week's episode in order to find out what happened. Does it make sense, then, to use this most annoying tool on mega-hits? Think about it: people are going to tune in to shows like Survivor, CSI, Grey's Anatomy, etc. anyway - 2-parter or not. So what is the point of cliff-hangers, other than to irritate viewers (viewers that the networks are allegedly trying to lure back to network TV)?

If it is imperative for a 2-parter (for, say, a longer story), ditch the idiotic "to be continued" and run a 2-hour special. There's plenty of crap that can be preempted to do this. At the very least, make the 2-parter worth watching! Most of the supposedly "cliff-hanging" episodes' first parts gave rise to a bout of eye-rolling and "anyway", making me much less likely to watch the second part, not more. Absurdities do not make for good TV.

The biggest offenders:

CSI: Miami
The 2-parter ended with a laser sight trained on Horatio Caine's back. The screen went black as a shot rang out. Gosh, was he killed? Yeah, right! If he was killed, the show would be over.

Crossing Jordan
Not strictly a 2-parter, but rather a season cliff-hanger. However, the laugh-inducing plot of Jordan waking up beside a dead guy, then being accused of murder while the lead detective inexplicably turned into a parody of "Bad Cop" made me anything but likely to watch the next episode. Like we really believe Jordan would be tried and jailed for murder. If she was, the show would be over.

One of my favorite shows definitely did not need the silly 2-parter of one of the team contracting some mysterious disease. With so much "blah blah" and angst, it was so dull in parts I went channel-surfing (something I'd never done during House before). Kudos, however, for running part 2 the very next evening rather than the next week.

The most egregious use of "to be continued" of any show this season. In its next-to-last episode, they could've chosen the winner of the tie-breaker to determine the final 3 contestants in less than five minutes (and cut out a lot of the "blah, blah" from the middle of the show). Instead, it was cut off just as the tie-breaking task was starting. The finale would have garnered huge ratings anyway, so there was absolutely no need to end the episode with a "to be continued". It was such an obvious and desperate ploy to grab even bigger ratings for the finale, I found myself highly incensed and toying with the idea of not watching the finale.

The 2-part episode should be banned. Period. I have yet to watch a 2-parter that actually needed two hours to tell the story. Filling the time with extraneous, nonsensical "whatever" and ending with a bang (literally) does not a "special episode" make; it makes a "desperate-attempt-to-get-ratings-during-Sweeps" episode. I only hope the ratings for these stupid "to be continued" episodes were disappointing enough that the networks get a clue. Like that'll ever happen.

We would love to know what you think, sound off on the TV message boards and let us know what you think!


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