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Avoiding trailers, previews retains element of surprise

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From page B1 | March 02, 2012 | Leave Comment

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With the fifth season premiere of “Mad Men” set to arrive in just more than three weeks, I have been on a quest to know as little as possible.

It’s not that I don’t love the show. To the contrary, it’s my top program on television and, barring any serious shark-jumpage in upcoming seasons, could sign off as one of the all-time greats.

Don’t misinterpret my desire to be kept in the dark as disinterest.

It’s a purposeful aversion tactic. I want to be immersed in the surprise when the season starts, knowing as little as possible.

Thankfully for me, the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner, is an exemplar at being tight-lipped about the show’s direction.

For me, this aversion tactic isn’t exclusive to the “Don Draper Good Time Hour,” as Daily Republic News Editor Brad Stanhope jokingly refers to the show.

Last month, the trailer for this summer’s “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Killer” was unveiled.

The concept of the film, and the 2010 novel from which it’s adapted, is that the 16th president had a secret identity as a slayer of those bloodsuckers.

Who doesn’t want to sink their teeth into that picture? As a writer, it’s one of those ideas that when I hear it I say, “I wish I’d thought of that.”

Add it to a list of 2012 films about which I’m excited to see that includes “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Avengers” and December’s first part of “The Hobbit.”

Trailers exist already for all of these films, but other than “Lincoln,” I’ve intentionally avoided all of them based on the aversion tactic.

Since I was recently reading about the brain, I now know that my purposeful avoidance takes place in the cerebal cortex, the part of our brains that rattles against the outside of our heads when we headbang like Beavis and Butthead. It is this area that controls a lot of our higher brain functions, such as memory, language and consciousness, as well as an understanding of — wait for it — delayed gratification.

It’s a practice I’ve been doing for years, after a ghastly spring 2004 afternoon that I spent continuously rewinding a VCR-taped copy to view the same 200 frames of a preview for the then-upcoming week’s episode of “The Sopranos.”

After 25 minutes of slowing, pausing and getting angry that I rewound too far to dissect its every millisecond, I threw the remote at the couch and admitted defeat.

Did I mention that the preview I was scrutinizing was for an episode that aired five hours later?

I knew there had to be a better way.

The solution I came up with was to stop watching previews. They reveal too much. The Internet is a minefield of revelations waiting to explode at any minute, so conversations about shows are best kept to a shocking minimum and require plenty of spoiler alerts, including jamming my fingers in my ears and yelling, “La la la la la la, I don’t watch previews” until people stare at me for being weird. Again.

I’m now so dedicated to the element of surprise that I don’t watch previews for upcoming episodes, unless we’re talking about what’s on the next “Arrested Development.”

Sadly, this ruins something friends and I invented, coined “the trailer game.” Each player picks a number and it corresponds to the order in which the previews are shown before a movie. The person who picks the coolest-looking movie wins.

I’m not alone in this behavior. Roger Ebert once wrote that his late partner in critique, Gene Siskel, abhorred movie trailers so much that he would stand outside until the film started or, if he couldn’t, would “plug his ears and stare at the floor.”

I read that and I thought, “A man after my own heart.”

If a movie is ever made about Siskel’s life, I hope they include that.

And if it’s in the trailer, I guess I’ll never know.

To read more of Nick DeCicco’s blogs, visit http://dailyrepublic.typepad.com/forthoseabouttorock.

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco is the editor of the Tailwind and writes the pop culture blog/column For Those About to Rock. Before joining the DR staff in July 2007, DeCicco (pronounced Deh-CEE-Coh) worked at The Union in Grass Valley, Calif., and the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colo. A 2004 graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, DeCicco spends his free time attending concerts, listening to music, going to movies, traveling and hiking.
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