I know, I know, I can’t stop talking about Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Bear with me for a minute.
Star Wars started in the middle of its tale, and did it brilliantly. Did you really need to know how Darth Vader became a bad guy? No, the movies were perfect just as they were, starting with part four. Certainly the prequels could have been better, but no matter what story they told, they still end with Darth Vader becoming the villain, which you figure out pretty quickly in the very first scene of the original movie. Why bother telling the whole story when you can just tell the interesting stuff and leave the rest to your the imagination?
Lost has just gotten through a similar problem. When the show started out, the flashback sequences were a great format that gave you background about the character that contrasted with what was going on the present. But once you know that Charlie is a failed rock star and junkie, how many more episodes do you need to see of his pathetic life? Again, just give us enough to know what’s going on. Fan fiction writers will will in the rest.
Dr. Horrible gives us a neat spin on this. We see how a small time crook becomes the mighty Dr. Horrible, but we never see who he is afterwards. Maybe he becomes the leader of the Evil League of Evil. Maybe he really does take over the world. It’s like Joss Whedon just gave us Bruce Wayne’s training on the mountain and cut out the context where he becomes Batman. We get Dr. Horrible’s tragic rise to power, and then a fade to black instead of the rest of the picture. Sure, he could probably go back and make the rest of the movie, but why bother when he’s already shot the good parts?