Why continuity matters, dammit
Doris Egan, former producer on Smallville and current producer on House, sums up why fans care about continuity:
I’ve never forgotten when I was a kid, watching a show called It Takes a Thief. Throughout the series, the hero would say, “I’m a thief, like my father and my grandfather before me.” Then suddenly there was an episode where a woman asked him why he became a thief, and he told a story about having been a geologist and getting into thievery almost accidentally. And this wasn’t presented as a lie. You can tell the difference; even as a kid, I could tell the difference. They expected you to accept this – for this episode. A few episodes later we’d go back to the previous story.
I’ll never forget how betrayed I felt, because I loved that series with a love only a pre-teen can feel. And I thought, “Someone had to have noticed that. If nobody else, the star must have noticed. And yet nobody fixed it. Which means… I care more than they do.” It was disillusioning and depressing.
Which is why I’m a continuity believer.
Certain franchises should have that printed in giant signs over the doors to their offices. The fact that their audience cares more about the story and characters they are making than they do should shame them. They care more for free than you do getting paid for it.
And when the franchise holders take money from you for it, it’s even more deplorable. How many times have you bought a comic book or novel tie-in that said “This is the real backstory! This is what really happened in the missing year between these two events!” only to have it waved away later by management fiat?
We hear people say, “oh, it’s a tie in, it doesn’t count” and I call shenanigins. You sold it with the franchise trademark on it. You have a reasonable expectation that it ties in with the story. It’s particularly annoying in the case of tie-ins, because the folks who follow them often spend a LOT of money on them. And you know what? It actually benefits the franchise holder if it all ties in well. Look at Dark Horse’s sales figures on Buffy The Vampire Slayer before Joss Whedon was closely involved and after, and see the sales spik– er, skyrocket. By not having a strict continuity between properties, the franchises are leaving money on the table.
What say you?