Staged Series 3 Ep. 4 Swapped with Finale; BritBox "Looking Into This"

The new series of Staged, starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen, launched on the Britbox streaming service this week in the UK, and I've been watching it with the good lady wife. She was especially pleased to see Neil Gaiman in episode one, as she got to meet him earlier this year for the launch of Ocean At The End Of The Lane. But a few episodes in, she is very, very cross indeed. And I confess, I'm a little narked myself.

Staged: Tennant and Sheen Return for Season 3 Shockingly Soon
"Staged" Season 3 key art: Britbox

Because… and I apologise, numbers are involved, so please bear with me. Staged Series 3 has six episodes, but when you go to watch episode 4, you get episode 6 instead. Except you don't know it's episode 6, it is labelled episode 4 in all the places it should be labelled.

Now episode 6 is the big finale that the entire series leads up to. So watching it, thinking it is episode 4, is a lot of fun, but you do feel like something is missing in the set-up. A big something.

Then you go and watch episode 5, and it's set before what you have just seen. What you thought was episode 4 was actually episode 6. Telling you things you already know because you've seen the next episode but referring to things you haven't seen because you haven't seen the preceding episode. But you don't know any of this, it's just weird. Especially as it ends just exactly when what you thought was episode 4 began.

And then you watch episode 6, and you get episode 4 again. Or rather, what you thought was episode 4, now revealed to be episode 6, and it rather ruins the whole thing, though does at least make some of episode 5 a little clearer. It's not just us; a quick check on social media reveals others in similar situations.

Staged Series 3 Ep. 4 Swapped with Finale; BritBox "Looking Into This" Staged Series 3 Ep. 4 Swapped with Finale; BritBox "Looking Into This" Staged Series 3 Ep. 4 Swapped with Finale; BritBox "Looking Into This"But at least BritBox is replying to people, admittedly not actually able to do anything about it. Especially for those who jumped episodes without realising.

 

Warning: Britbox Replaced Staged Series 3 Episode 4 With Final Episode

 

Staged Series 3 Ep. 4 Swapped with Finale; BritBox "Looking Into This"

Warning: Britbox Replaced Staged Series 3 Episode 4 With Final Episode

And no one has seen episode 4. Though having seen episode 5 – and episode 6 – we can hazard a guess as to what is in it.

To explain it in terms of watching Star Wars films (always a good idea), it is like watching The Phantom Menace, Attack Of The Clones, and Revenge Of The Sith, then Return of The Jedi, believing it is Episode IV. Then The Empire Strikes Back and then Return of The Jedi again. And not watching Star Wars A New Hope at all, just working out what happened through references.

Warning: Britbox Replaced Staged Series 3 Episode 4 With Final Episode
Britbox screencap

Staged series 3 has become a very entertaining and metatextual television show with multiple layers to peel back. And while I love a non-linear television show, I normally prefer it when they do it on purpose, don't miss out on an entire episode, and put the finale in its place instead. I am sure they will apologise. Or maybe they will announce that this is all deliberate and is part of the Staged meta experience…

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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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