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Total posts: [32]
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Resolving Continuity Lockout with the internet:

Flower Fairy
So let's say a person has started watching a very continuity-heavy show a bit after it has started. He's lost, so he goes on the internet to look at all the plot summaries of the previous episodes so he can get himself un-lost.

Is it wrong for him to do this, or is it perfectly okay? If it's the latter, I don't think Continuity Lockout is really that big of an issue in this day and age. Maybe it was a huge issue in decades past due to a limited-to-nonexistent internet, but now it doesn't seem like a big issue today.
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 2 Fighteer, Wed, 3rd Oct '12 1:47:26 PM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
I will EXTERMINATE your unhappiness!
It's never a good idea to force new fans to seek out extra resources to understand what's going on in a work. Most people will form an opinion of a show within the first fifteen minutes, and if the whole thing is a tortured, incomprehensible snarl of continuity, they won't be motivated to pursue it further.

 3 Madrugada, Wed, 3rd Oct '12 2:43:58 PM Relationship Status: In season
Zzzzzzzzzz
It's perfectly ok to go back and use an episode guide to get brought up to speed, certainly.

But if you're writing something, it's a very good thing to recognize that setting up a convoluted structure that is likely to cause a Continuity Lockout will reduce your audience to those people who were interested from the very beginning and those who are willing to do the research to get caught up later. As Fighteer said, many people won't.

edited 3rd Oct '12 2:44:33 PM by Madrugada

...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.
 4 Fighteer, Wed, 3rd Oct '12 2:51:44 PM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
I will EXTERMINATE your unhappiness!
Another thing is that if you do have a Continuity Snarl that risks becoming a Continuity Lockout, you want to have at least one episode per series/season that acts as an intro for newcomers. Doctor Who is very good at this, at least in the modern seasons that I've been watching of late.

edited 3rd Oct '12 2:52:18 PM by Fighteer

Flower Fairy
I thought Continuity Snarl and Continuity Lockout can cause each other, but usually don't. Continuity Lockout can occur without any Continuity Snarl (which is, remember, a contradictory bit in a series' continuity), but the continuity gets so heavy that jumping in is not possible. Continuity Snarl can occur when Continuity Lockout occurs withing the writing staff, causing them to write a contradictory bit, but Continuity Snarl can also occur without that, too.
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 6 Fighteer, Wed, 3rd Oct '12 3:59:38 PM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
I will EXTERMINATE your unhappiness!
Lockout is when a series is so mired in continuity that a newcomer is left unable to catch up. Snarl is when even the writers can't figure it out. They are frequently found together but not always.

edited 3rd Oct '12 4:00:41 PM by Fighteer

 7 Another Duck, Wed, 3rd Oct '12 5:35:38 PM from Stockholm Relationship Status: Chocolate!
No, the other one.
[up]Do you mean "unable to catch up without an effort"?

edited 3rd Oct '12 5:36:04 PM by AnotherDuck

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 8 Madrugada, Wed, 3rd Oct '12 9:11:56 PM Relationship Status: In season
Zzzzzzzzzz
How about "unable to catch up without significant effort, such as watching all the previous episodes".
...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.
Flower Fairy
Well, the internet has certainly lessened the difficulty in getting a newcomer caught up, right? Since people post stuff about everything here, it's not that difficult for someone to catch up and become a hardcore fan anymore, thanks to the magic of the internet.
Please help out our The History Of Video Games page.
 10 Fighteer, Wed, 3rd Oct '12 9:24:05 PM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
I will EXTERMINATE your unhappiness!
Just because it's no longer impossibly difficult doesn't mean it's a desirable state.
Flower Fairy
[up]When is "easy to catch up with the internet" an undesirable state?
Please help out our The History Of Video Games page.
 12 Fighteer, Thu, 4th Oct '12 2:21:39 PM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
I will EXTERMINATE your unhappiness!
You are ignoring what I said in my initial reply. Despite the availability of Internet and other resources, the vast majority of viewers will form their impression of a work in the first fifteen minutes. If the Continuity Lockout turns them off at that point, they will not even bother to do the research; they'll just change the channel.

Flower Fairy
[up]What about the people who are intrigued by where all the arc-based plot devices and characters come from? Surely they will go and do the research so that they can get all caught up, right?
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 14 Madrugada, Thu, 4th Oct '12 11:17:55 PM Relationship Status: In season
Zzzzzzzzzz
Waxing, you're ignoring the point that Fighteer and I are both getting at: Some people will want to make a concerted effort to catch up on a show with a convoluted plot and character list, yes. Most people won't bother. We aren't saying "absolutely no one will"; we're saying "very few will".

If you don't care that you're missing a huge chunk of your possible audience, by all means, write a Continuity Lockout. But don't be surprised if your audience stays limited to only those people who you hooked at the very beginning and didn't lose interest along the way.

The internet has made it easier to catch up on a complicated series. It's still not particularly easy. It still takes time, and effort.

edited 4th Oct '12 11:19:19 PM by Madrugada

...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.
 15 nrjxll, Thu, 4th Oct '12 11:24:15 PM Relationship Status: Not war
I also think the monetary issue is worth noting here. The people who are willing to go back and catch up on things are a very small minority compared to the people who would just decide to watch something else. That means they can't be relied upon for the show to turn a profit.

Other mediums might not have as much of a problem with this, but for TV, Continuity Lockout is definitely still a major problem.

The direction you guys are going into is the absolute wrong one.

Continuity Lockout mostly occurs, in my opinion, when a person is watching an individual episode and said episode fails to entertain despite coming from a series with a rich background. Because if you're arguing that having to make ANY sort of effort to catch up is bad, then any series with more than two parts is probably going to qualify. For example, the Star Wars Expanded Universe. If someone decides to play The Old Republic, do they need to read Heir To The Empire or New Jedi Order in order to enjoy it? If not, it's not Continuity Lockout.

However, if they start playing said game and are instantly confused by the narrative, plot and character dynamics because the story fails to adequately explain it, that's a lockout.

Flower Fairy
I think Lockout is actually more failing to draw people into the continuity rather than failing to entertain. If it draws a viewer into the continuity, there's no lockout. If it fails, it's a lockout. But it can still entertain either way.
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 18 nrjxll, Fri, 5th Oct '12 2:24:03 PM Relationship Status: Not war
[up][up]King Zeal, no offense, but sometimes I wonder if you actually bother to read the descriptions of tropes being discussed before you come out with your personal definitions:

The writers have let the mythos or stories they have generated get so thick and convoluted that a new reader/viewer has very little chance of understanding the significance of anything. They are 'locked out' of understanding the story by all the reliance on continuity.

edited 5th Oct '12 2:24:28 PM by nrjxll

Flower Fairy
Now that I think about it, I feel like I'm in a minority now, since I am perfectly willing to put in the effort to do research to get myself caught up if a continuity-heavy show catches my eye.
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 20 nrjxll, Sat, 6th Oct '12 3:54:47 PM Relationship Status: Not war
I'm also in that minority, and in fact infinitely prefer continuity-heavy works over works with no continuity. But we - and the rest of TV Tropes - aren't really a representative sample.

 21 Fighteer, Sat, 6th Oct '12 4:09:09 PM from the Time Vortex Relationship Status: Dancing with Captain Jack Harkness
I will EXTERMINATE your unhappiness!
Once again, there is a difference between a show with lots of continuity and a Continuity Lockout. The difference being the ability of a newcomer to understand what's going on.
 22 Madrugada, Sat, 6th Oct '12 4:33:00 PM Relationship Status: In season
Zzzzzzzzzz
^ This. LOST fell prey to Continuity Lockout. By the 3/4 point of its run (personally, I'd say earlier than that — at the midpoint at the latest) it had gotten so convoluted and confusing that someone trying to get into it had pretty much no choice but to Episode Binge in the hopes of figuring out who was who, what was what, and what was happening and why. Watching 120+ episodes of an hour-long show (even if that means that sans commercials it's only about 40 minutes per episode) is 80+ hours. That's a lot of time.

continuity-heavy works over works with no continuity.

But this is making it a binary situation: no continuity at all or continuity-heavy. That's simply not the case. There's a huge range in between there to play with: The West Wing had a mid-range of continuity. Supernatural is fairly continuity-heavy, but isn't locked-out. Carnivŕle got more and more continuity-heavy as it progressed, and fell into Lockout by the end. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was continuity-light. Home Improvement had virtually no continuity. Neither did Friday The 13th: The Series. The X-Files was all over the charts, depending on which season it was, and whether it was one of the myth-arc episodes or one of the Monster of the Week ones.

edited 6th Oct '12 4:41:50 PM by Madrugada

...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.
 23 nrjxll, Sat, 6th Oct '12 5:28:42 PM Relationship Status: Not war
I'm perfectly aware that there's a middle ground between heavy continuity and no continuity. My point is that if it did come down to a binary choice, I would always prefer the former.

Also, I think you're both misunderstanding me: I'm talking about personal preferences here. For me personally, there is no such thing as Continuity Lockout, because I'll always be willing to go back and watch the rest of the series - in fact, I like DVD better anyway. But I'm not trying to argue that there really isn't such a thing as Continuity Lockout. I know my attitude towards this is definitely in the minority.

 24 Madrugada, Sat, 6th Oct '12 5:33:19 PM Relationship Status: In season
Zzzzzzzzzz
Ok, I apologize. I misunderstood you.
...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.
My personal feelings is that some shows and even movies mistake continuity for decent writing, thus a story is complicated but isn't actually telling a story but just adding more stuff on top of things.

That's a main reason I've been drawn to shows like How I Met Your Mother and Transformers Prime in that they aren't telling one story in X number of installments but telling X number of stories that lead to something bigger down the line. Otherwise those individual parts of a story tend to suck because they don't bother telling a story at all.

I feel this way a little bit about most of the recent Marvel movies, that it's more about continuity rather than making it genuinely good.

Total posts: 32
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