Withering Glance: TV series viewers spoilin' for a fight

  • Article by: RICK NELSON and CLAUDE PECK , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 7, 2013 - 4:08 PM
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Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in “House of Cards.”

Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.

 

CP: A great old friend stopped by the other day while driving from Seattle to Maine. As happens more and more in conversations, we reviewed the serial TV we’ve seen lately. Walter casually asked if I was surprised, in “The Killing,” that the killer turned out to be so-and-so. As I had spent seven hours watching and had six hours to go in Season 1, I naturally became irate, and told him to get out.

 

RN: The spoiler is really starting to spoil the sport of binge TV watching.

 

CP: Not just that. It’s wrecking cocktail parties, marriages, reunions and phone calls.

 

RN: What’s a phone call?

 

CP: Laugh all you will, but this is turning decent everyday folk into two-faced liar-balls. I know a couple who were watching “House of Cards” together. One night, as she slumbered, he went ahead and watched three episodes — a clear violation of his wedding vows. He re-watched them with her, never revealing his “cheating.”

 

RN: Shame on him. I would never do that to my spouse. Well, almost never. There was the season finale of “The Good Wife.” Don’t tell.

 

CP: This reminds me of the bad old days when Charles Dickens serialized his novels in the popular press.

 

RN: I wonder if “The Pickwick Papers” spawned the 1830s version of the incessant commentary subculture that seems to germinate around so many of today’s TV and Web series.

 

CP: Face it, Rick, We the People are out of sync. You get six friends around a table, and all you can safely talk about is weather.

 

RN: When I do go online, it’s wall-to-wall spoiler-laced content. It’s the equivalent of visiting a newsstand — remember those? — in October 1980, a month before that famous “Dallas” episode, and the cover of every magazine, right down to Scientific American, trumpeting, “Sue Ellen’s sister Kristin shot JR!”

 

CP: When the words “spoiler alert” appear, I can stop reading as easily as I can look away from a good building fire or car wreck. You?

 

RN: Total catnip. It’s even worse when the teaser gives it all away. I remember a PBS series-obsessed website where, after clicking on “So-and-so dies” — I don’t want to plunge you into despair by revealing the character’s name — readers were taken to a page that began with, “Warning, if you haven’t watched the latest episode of ‘Downton Abbey,’ stop reading.” Gee, thanks. At least the Dowager Countess of Grantham was spared. That’s my own little spoiler, I guess.

 

CP: That’s it: I’m updating my online dating profile to say, “Looking for someone who has watched all 13 episodes of ‘Orange Is the New Black.’ ”

 

RN: It’s an improvement over “likes walks around the lakes.”

 

E-mail: witheringglance@startribune.com

Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib

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