WHINGE

WHAT DO WE WANT? MONSTERS! WHEN DO WE WANT THEM? WEEKLY!

Ahh, monsters—on television, ideally fought and dispatched [1] in an hour-long episode (or several shorter episodes over the course of a week), in between some nifty tech (Doctor Who), hints of URST (The X-Files), and American muscle cars and snappy one-liners (Supernatural). My favourite kind of telly!

But my favourite kind of telly is too often RUINED by unnecessary “story arcs” and “character development”. The monster of the week is replaced with dark, brooding, never-ending story lines, usually involving the end of the universe and pitting brother against brother or BFF against BFF. Heroes are made to face unpalatable truths about themselves—are, in fact, made to BE unpalatable. Someone dear to them dies. (And is then brought back from the dead but is terribly damaged and nothing is ever the same and they keeping going on and on about how they should have been left in peace). In short, they turn my favourite shows into soap operas with special effects. They may as well just chuck in some babies switched at birth, a family fashion dynasty and a villain called Victor.

We don’t actually WANT Mulder and Scully to get together. (Or if they do, it turns out to be an alien-induced hallucination [2] and everything is back to normal by next week). We don’t WANT to see Sam and Dean hurt each other’s feelings for ANOTHER season while they take turns bringing each other back from the dead and then getting cross with each other for doing it. (I don’t mind a bit of jaw-clenching-as-visible-evidence-of-feelings, but it’s getting ridiculous). And I am certainly not interested in the love life of TARDIS companions thank you very much and also PS could we have some actual science fiction and not just magic-wand-waving? These are supposed to be shows about IDEAS.

I don’t mind a little bit of story arc or a hint of character development, here and there. I just never want to see any of it fully realized, or for it to dominate everything else. The sense of strangeness and mystery is part of the thrill of these shows, knowing that you will never really get to the bottom of what is going on but enjoying the endless speculation. Each week is time spent with friends in their curious universe. There is a problem encountered and a problem solved [3] [4]—a satisfying comfort not to be scorned. Spines are tingled and imaginations fired; we marvel and squeal and chuckle. None of this sobbing into a hanky business. These shows are like short stories or fairy tales, object lessons of a kind. Soap will rot your brain, but a monster will keep you on your toes.

ALICE CANNON, MELBOURNE

  1. OR IS IT
  2. OR IS IT
  3. OR IS IT
  4. Preferably without solely relying on a sonic screwdriver
Scene from an unaired Supernatural episode where Sam and Dean visit a diner run by a demon and accidentally drink demonic soup. Here, the demon summons more demonic soup in her oversized crystal ball. Studio executives pulled the episode as they thought it would anger the powerful Diner Lobby. Monster Soup, commonly called Thames Water, coloured engraving by William Heath, published by T McLean, London, 1828. Wellcome Library, image no. L0006579.

Scene from an unaired Supernatural episode where Sam and Dean visit a diner run by a demon and accidentally drink demonic soup. Here, the demon summons more demonic soup in her oversized crystal ball. Studio executives pulled the episode as they thought it would anger the powerful Diner Lobby. Monster Soup, commonly called Thames Water, coloured engraving by William Heath, published by T McLean, London, 1828. Wellcome Library, image no. L0006579.

Scene from an unaired Supernatural episode where Sam and Dean trace a series of unexplained disappearances back to a local doctor's studio, where he has been keeping some demonic "pets" for medical experiments. Deceased patients were taken to a local pet food factory for disposal. Studio executives felt the episode could cause legal issues with Big Pet Food. Fever, represented as a frenzied beast, stands racked in the centre of a room, while a blue monster, representing ague, ensnares his victim by the fireside; a doctor writes prescriptions to the right. Coloured etching by T Rowlandson after J Dunthorne, 1788. Wellcome Library, image no. L0012192.

Scene from an unaired Supernatural episode where Sam and Dean trace a series of unexplained disappearances back to a local doctor's studio, where he has been keeping some demonic "pets" for medical experiments. Deceased patients were taken to a local pet food factory for disposal. Studio executives felt the episode could cause legal issues with Big Pet Food. Fever, represented as a frenzied beast, stands racked in the centre of a room, while a blue monster, representing ague, ensnares his victim by the fireside; a doctor writes prescriptions to the right. Coloured etching by T Rowlandson after J Dunthorne, 1788. Wellcome Library, image no. L0012192.

Scene from unaired Supernatural episode in which Sam and Dean encounter the terrifying "man-monster". Studio executives decided not to run the episode, citing "too many jokes about bottoms". 'Homme monstrueux, veu en la France de nostre temps' (Man monster who has been seen in France in our time), from the Histoires prodigieuses by Pierre Boaistuau, 1560 (folio 137, verso) . Wellcome Library, London, image no. L0025563.

Scene from unaired Supernatural episode in which Sam and Dean encounter the terrifying "man-monster". Studio executives decided not to run the episode, citing "too many jokes about bottoms". 'Homme monstrueux, veu en la France de nostre temps' (Man monster who has been seen in France in our time), from the Histoires prodigieuses by Pierre Boaistuau, 1560 (folio 137, verso) . Wellcome Library, London, image no. L0025563.