ABC’s “The Crossing” is a new science-fictionish TV show about time travel and the potential extinction of the human race.
The first episode is pretty good.
My advice? Don’t watch it.
Not because it’s a bad show. Actually, the pilot (9 p.m. Monday, ABC/Ch. 4) is rather intriguing. It opens with a call to the sheriff (Steve Zahn) of a picturesque coastal town getting a call about a body that has washed up on the beach. Turns out there are a bunch of bodies — and 47 live people who have seemingly appeared out of nowhere.
Before the first episode is over (and on the network’s commercials for the series) we learn that these folks are escaping a war … in the future.
Cool. I’d love to see how this turns out.
But that’s the point. The odds of us actually getting to the end of this are slim to none. Far more often than not, ABC cancels shows like this without giving viewers any closure.
I wouldn’t read a book if I knew that the final chapters were never going to be written. Why would I watch a TV show that, in all probability, is going to leave me hanging forever?
ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey, asked rather bluntly if she can be “trusted with a serialized show,” dodged. “I’m really hoping that the audience will give it a chance and give us a chance, because I think the show’s great,” she said.
Which was not actually an answer to the question. The real answer is — she’ll keep it on the air if the ratings are good. If not, she’ll cancel it. And it won’t matter if it leaves viewers hanging.
ABC isn’t alone in that. That’s the way commercial television works. But ABC has a particularly weak track record when it comes to science-fiction shows.
“Miracles” (2003) never explained its paranormal plot (and it was yanked after only six of 13 episodes aired); “Invasion” (2005-2006) ended with the beginning of an alien invasion; “Pushing Daisies” (2007-09) resolved pretty much nothing; “FlashForward” (2009-10) ended on a time jump that made no sense; the “V” reboot (2009-11) ended just as a massive alien invasion began; “Happy Town” (2010) never revealed who the paranormal kidnapper was; “The River” (2012) never explained what the heck was going on in the jungle; “Whispers” (2013) never resolved its aliens plotlines; and “Agent Carter” (2015-16) left a major character shot and apparently dying.
And it’s not just this network that has more than its share of experience leaving us hanging. The résumés of showrunners Dan Dworkin and Jay Beattie include “Surface” (2005-2006, NBC), which ended with a tsunami that unleashed monsters; and “The Event” (2010-11, NBC), which ended with an entire planet (presumably) filled with evil aliens suddenly appearing next to Earth — and no conclusion.
Dworkin was quick to point out that the producers have no control over what gets canceled.
“I can tell you ... that each episode is going to give people something that’s going to make them want to come back, and that the final episode is going to give them a whole host of things that’s going to make them want to come back for Season 2,” he said. “So we just hope that people latch onto it. And if they do, I think that it will stick around.”
That amounts to nothing. Except to confirm there are cliffhangers that may never be resolved.
In my perfect world, “The Crossing” would be a closed-ended miniseries. The 10 first-season episodes would resolve its storylines. And I’d be completely on board.
Really talented writers could leave room open for another season, which would also be closed-ended. But that’s not the way American broadcast TV works.
So my advice is … don’t waste your time on “The Crossing.” Or maybe wait and binge it later.