How long should you wait before bailing on a TV show? Karl Puschmann knows the answer, but first, some questions ...

Three. Tarantino. Seinfeld. Dolly mix.

You now have all the answers to what follows. You don't know what it is the butler did, but you do know that there was a butler and he did, in fact, do something. So let's have a closer look at our answers.

What do we know about three? It's a number, it's a rule in comedy, and it's a crowd. Our number two, Tarantino, is an acclaimed filmmaker and a terrible actor. Seinfeld, the third answer, is an acclaimed comedian and also a terrible actor. Does this dubious connection mean anything? Is the order of these answers important?

And Dolly Mix? WTF? What part do those little blue bags of mixed lollies play in all this? What am I even on about?

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Yes, here it is.

That's another answer, by the way. Here's the corresponding question: will I get to the point already?

Answers can be just as mysterious and intriguing as questions. Especially when you don't know the question to your answer.

Answers pull you in. The right answer piles question on top of question until you don't even know what you don't know anymore. Answers make you want to know why, what, how, who? All questions make you want to know is answers.

Back in the '90s an acclaimed filmmaker and terrible actor described his style as "answers first, questions later". He demonstrated this masterfully in his debut feature Reservoir Dogs in which the carnage hits you almost immediately and the explanations are left until later.

Every time an answer is questioned - so to speak - the film drops more questions on you.

Example:

Answer: A gangster is shot and dying.
Question: Who shot him? Why? How?
Answer: He got shot by police waiting at the jewellery heist.
Question: How did the police know to be there?
Answer: The gang got ratted out.
Question: Who ratted on them? And why?

And so it goes. Answer followed by question. It's a powerful narrative device.

Seinfeld did something similar in Seinfeld. The season nine episode The Betrayal played out backwards, hooking you in by continuously showing the consequences before showing the actions that led to them.

This concept's been on my mind having recently started in on a few new telly series.

Under the Dome, Extant and The Leftovers are all fairly similar in being extremely generous with questions and extremely miserly with answers.


Halle Berry in a scene from Extant.

This is a device I have little patience for. I don't know how those masochists who sat through six seasons of Lost did it. I'm all for intrigue and mystery but I need some return on my interest. And I ain't waiting six years.

No, I've determined I need to start getting satisfaction by episode three. I don't need or expect every secret to be revealed but I do need something other than more questions.

Applying this rule saw me abandoning Under the Dome by its third episode due to its steadfast refusal to reveal anything other than that everyone is trapped under a dome and that Stephen King's version of a tough guy is laughably outdated. Extant hung in there, just, despite Halle Berry's hammy acting, but got ditched soon after for just not being very good.

The best of the bunch by far is The Leftovers, which had a cracking third episode but better start explaining why the cult members suck down fags like oxygen or I'll soon stop caring.

Answers are where it's at, and the false prolonging of a story by withholding them just doesn't fly with me.

Afterall, there's only so long you can drag out the fact that Dolly Mix is your favourite candy before everyone stops giving a s***.

* How long do you stick with a show before bailing? And what makes you bail? Post your comments below.