Oh, I have such a treat for y’all today. My perky quirky friend, Geralyn, is in the house! She’s blogging about entertainment, some wicked cool Castle episodes, and the power of a great story.
I Love Me Some Schmuck Bait
by G.V.R. Corcillo
Schmuck bait. It’s what TV writers call that technically impossible hook that will get everyone watching a certain episode.
Example: “Oh, my God! Is Fonzie gonna die?”
Of course Fonzie isn’t going to die! There would be NO MORE SHOW if that happened. But everyone watches anyway. Schmuck bait.
Gotta admit it – I love schmuck bait. I lap the stuff up just as voraciously as I dig into corned beef from a can with a key or into bologna and mayo sandwiches. I should know better than to eat such heinous stuff, but on certain days when I’m in the right mood, it’s just so damn good! Seriously, there have been times when that key broke and I went after the can with a carving knife.
I’m the same way with impossibly dramatic complications on television shows I love. I gotta have ‘em!
Yes, I cried when Olivia Walton took her first steps after being told that the polio would mean she would never walk again.
And I can’t help but get teary every time when the Brady Bunch realizes that Jan is allergic to the flea powder, and they won’t have to give away their beloved Tiger.
And yes, I was ridiculously relieved when Steven Keaton chose not to cheat on Elyse with Judith Light and destroy every family tie in sight.
I saw all those shows when I was growing up, but schmuck bait isn’t just for kids.
Just a few weeks ago, I saw what I think is the best Castle episode yet: “Under Fire.”
Ryan and Esposito are trapped in the secret basement of a building consumed by a deadly inferno just as Ryan’s wife Jenny is on the verge of having their baby. Pure schmuck bait. Ryan and Esposito are not going off the show – Castle is not about ax the two tight ends of its supporting cast.
But you know what? It didn’t matter that I knew they would be fine.
The tension in that episode is strung more tightly than Scarlett’s corset as the NYFD realizes that the guys are in there but there is no way to get them out. Then Jenny goes into labor….
Ryan manages to rig up a phone in the fiery basement and call Beckett, who tells the guys they are stuck there and they are going to die. Then Ryan gets on the phone with Jenny.
I get shivers just thinking about it.
You see, if schmuck bait is done right, it can be friggin’ beautiful. After all, Castle makes effective use of schmuck bait all the time. Beckett is not going to die from the gunshot wound to her chest. The kidnappers are not going to kill Alexis. Castle does not actually commit a murder. Nor are he and Martha going to blow up in the bank.
But you know what? Those of us who love Castle aren’t schmucks at all – we just like to tap into all the fear, love, and desperation while getting cozy in a warm, safe environment. It’s an addiction and it’s visceral.
It’s why we read the same dog-eared book over and over or watch the same movie again and again. It’s why romance is so successful as a genre, even though we know how almost every story is going to end.
We want to take the ride that gets us there.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a good story even if you already know the ending. I mean, does anyone ever dis Shakespeare because the endings of all his tragedies are so predictable? “Really, Bill? They all die again?”
Frankly, I don’t give a rip if I already know the ending. I just want the story to keep pushing my buttons.
How about you? Are you a schmuck bait addict too? What stories push your buttons over and over (and over) again?
Jenny here… *raises hand* I am a TOTAL schmuck bait addict!
Here’s your chance to discuss your favorite shows, movies, and books to your heart’s content. Enquiring minds LOVE to share these things here at More Cowbell! ~ Jenny
* * * * * *
Need more Geralyn in your life [of course you do!]
Her fantastic book, She Likes It Rough, was voted a ‘Best Indie Book of 2013!’ It was also the winner of the Rebecca’s Reads Choice Awards for Best Indie Book of 2013 and Best Humor Book of 2013.
The story begins…
Six months ago I woke up rich, famous, and thin. Every woman’s dream, right?
Believe me, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Not by a long shot. If it were, I wouldn’t be speed hiking up a mountain in what’s left of my Dolce and Gabbana power suit. Chasing a man I don’t know, no less.
I wish he would slow down! What was I thinking, following Jack Hawkins into the woods?
What was Lisa Flyte thinking? Outdoor extremist Jack Hawkins wants nothing to do with a discombobulated scaredy-cat like her.
But Lisa needs a backbone. When the tabloids humiliated her after that freak fast-food incident, she knew it was time to stop letting life plow right over her. And she’s sure adrenaline-junkie Jack is the one to make her tough.
So, when Lisa learns that Jack needs a clueless urbanite to test his top-secret line of beginner adventure gear, she strikes a deal with him: she’ll be his undercover test dummy if he helps her get brave during their adventures in the wild.
But can the moxie Lisa discovers in the great outdoors help her pursue a career she really wants, or stand up to her bullying family? And can it make her gutsy enough to go after Jack? He’s a man who’s not afraid of anything…except maybe of falling for Lisa.
About GVR Corcillo:
“With my Ivy League education, white-trash sensibilities, and pop culture savvy, I write humorous women’s fiction about characters who try not to trip as they valiantly march to their own bongo beat.”
Geralyn has lived in suburban Pennsylvania, New York, Washington D.C. and England. She currently resides in North Hollywood with her television comedy writing husband, Ron, and several cute cats. She’s done everything from co-hosting a radio show, to starring in an award-winning short film, to teaching high school in Watts and South Central Los Angeles.
Her first short story, “Jane Austen Meets the New York Giants,” in the Marlo Thomas anthology The Right Words at the Right Time: Volume 2 hit the New York Times Best Sellers List. She Likes It Rough is her debut novel.
You can find her at her website or on Facebook and Twitter.