SFX Issue 155

April 2007

SFX historical note: After we booted Jayne off the mag, she just wouldn't get the message and insisted on writing a regular column for us, which remains a firm reader favourite to this day. Here’s a sample…

Nelson’s Column

The Crying Game

Mine overflowed rather magnificently the other day when I watched the Supernatural episode “In My Time Of Dying” (renamed, just for me, “In My Time Of Crying”). I can’t even begin to tell you how much I blubbed when John Winchester died, so I won’t. Afterwards, though, as I looked in the mirror and wondered why crying always makes your face go all puffy and red like Ken Russell’s, I started thinking about this whole “crying” thing. Many of us snuffle at the cinema, but television shows can hit you harder than the weepiest of three-hanky flicks. Television sneaks up on you, see? You’re more invested in the characters; you’ve given them more of your time, so when they’re snuffed out or traumatised it’s harder to deal with.

The first time my heart was torn out by my telly box was when Leland Palmer died in Twin Peaks . Did I get emotional? Just a tad. His final moments hit me like a sledgehammer to the kneecaps; I seem to recall that I blew my nose so hard afterwards that I got a nosebleed. A while later, I sobbed in front of the screen over Robin’s untimely demise in Robin of Sherwood – when he fired his last arrow into the air, my innards turned to mush.

Then there was the final episode of Quantum Leap , which cleverly brought us the double-whammy of “sad” and “happy”. So Sam Beckett never leapt home, which was tragic, but there was also that amazing scene with Al and his true love and “Georgia On My Mind” playing on the soundtrack… surely one of the sweetest, most emotional endings ever. I can’t even listen to Ray Charles now without getting something in my eye.

(Oh, and speaking of music, Sarah MacLachlan’s voice is virtually guaranteed to bring on the blubs, after her songs were used to great effect in both Due South and Buffy. I’d hazard a guess that her soulful whine is the ultimate in sob-soundtracking.)

Star Trek: The Next Generation made me cry exactly twice: at the end of “The Inner Light” as Picard played his little flute (bless!) and during “Family”, when our intrepid captain confessed to his brother just how upset he was over that nasty Borg business. Funny how both those Next Gen moments featured Patrick Stewart, isn’t it? I wonder if anyone ever cried over Geordi? The new series of Doctor Who also seems to know how to press my weepy buttons. As though I didn’t sniff enough during “Father’s Day” and at Sarah-Jane’s goodbye to the Doctor in “School Reunion”, Rose’s farewell scene last year just about did me in. “Rose Tyler, I…” said the Doctor, and, as he disappeared with his declaration of love cut tragically short, my heart broke apart so violently that bits of it splattered across the inside of my ribcage like so much offal.

However… the number one, top dog, undisputed king of heart-rippage is that tricksy tearmonger who goes by the name of Joss Whedon. Thanks to him I’ve spent more time crying than a woman at an onion-slicing factory who’s feeling a bit hormonal. Buffy skewering Angel in “Becoming, Part Two” was bad enough, but then he went on to give us character deaths, the end of “I Will Remember You”, more angst than you can shake a stake at…

…And “The Body”.

It’s the ultimate tearfest, an episode so rooted in primal anguish that even just hearing its name has me reaching for a tissue. From Buffy’s horrified reaction to finding her mum’s corpse to Dawn crumpling when she hears the news; from Xander impotently putting his fist through a wall to the way Joyce’s body gets more alien as the episode progresses, it’s a shocker. And, for the record, the most tearjerking moment ever to air on a television show? Anya’s speech. You know the one. When I said earlier that it’s therapeutic to cry, her little breakdown is the exception.

Her words should come with a health warning because they honest-to-God physically hurt you to watch.

But isn’t it wonderful that a fictional television show can make you feel so wonderfully, desperately, painfully alive?

Although I really wish they hadn’t knocked off John Winchester. Sniff.

Dave Golder
Freelance Writer

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.