Staying In The Story – A Look At Orphan Black

Agony, agony! I missed two episodes of “Orphan Black” while on holiday!

Right from the first episode, I’ve been a committed fan. Even though I watch quite a bit of it with my hand over my eyes, asking my husband “What’s happening now?” “Has she got away?” “Have they seen her?” “Ew! Ugh! Have they finished yet? Tell me when this bit’s over.”

Like being pulled into a novel, being held captive by a movie or tv series is a wonderful experience. What fun to be drawn into another world!

How do you hold your viewer or reader captive?

Here are a few of the suggestions Beth Hill makes in her article Stir Reader Curiosity in The Editors’ Blog:

  • ‘give them the unexpected’
  • ‘make sure each scene leaves readers wanting more’
  • ‘provide a twist’
  • ‘pose questions and delay the answers’: There are no resolutions (so far) in “Orphan Black,” just yet more complications and new plot developments. I’m not too concerned about finding out the ‘real story’ behind it all. I remember finding the Ur-story of ‘Lost’ a whole lot less interesting than the on-going series. But each new angle, plot twist and character hooks me deeper into the story.
  • ‘Give characters multiple problems and setbacks—pile on the problems’
  • ‘Encourage readers to think—keep them involved’

Sounds like “Orphan Black” to me!

It’s always hard to engage viewers or readers. It’s harder still to keep them in a story, whether written or film. One false move and you’re out of the story!

The magic can easily be broken by awkward dialogue, a character that doesn’t ring true with the overall plot, over-describing or over-explaining a plot point or image, ho-hum predictability, or any number of little and not-so-little glitches.

For me there is a very odd and extremely irritating glitch in Orphan Black that kicks me out of the story and drives me crazy every week!

At some point during the commercial breaks two presenters come onto the screen bubbling over with excitement about all the revelations about actors and behind-the-scenes stuff they have in store for viewers in the ‘after show’ at the end of the program.

That’s when I cover my ears as well as my eyes.

They are part of “Orphan Black” because they’ve been positioned right there, in the middle of it, but at the same time they’re definitely not part of it – not in tone, atmosphere, character or humor.

Why take me out of the atmosphere – just when I’m in it most deeply?

Why not let me sit out the commercials on the edge of my seat impatient to see what’s going to happen next?

Why remind me this is all ‘pretend’?

I turn the television off as soon as the episode is over. I don’t want to hear all about the actors in their real lives or what they think of the characters they play or any of the behind-the-scenes stuff. At least, not while I’m watching an episode. What I want is to stay in the story.


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