Preface: Spoiler Warning

[Book Title] represents a unique experience; it reveals and explains a previously undiscovered and unprecedented phenomenon in the history of popular culture and the arts. Through the medium of television dramas, [the Series Creator] has successfully hidden in plain sight an astounding Secret that went undetected for the entire broadcast run of [the Series]. You will be astonished by the hidden truth about these shows and the many layers of meaning they contain. Due to the unusual aspects of this situation and the singular experience provided by this book, a few suggestions must be given for optimal application of the information presented – and we urge you to take them to heart.

Most importantly, do not spoil it for yourself by skipping ahead to the chapter that explicitly reveals The Secret. This natural human temptation is understandable but will cause unnecessary difficulties for those who give in to it. Aspects of The Secret are hard to accept and even shocking; accordingly, we have written a special introductory section whose chapters prepare you for its revelation. In addition, these chapters provide evidence that allows you an opportunity to guess The Secret, or a part of it, for yourself. Patience is a virtue – and will be rewarded (at least in our book).

We fully realize that a public account of The Secret will become widespread knowledge. Unfortunately, such reports may give a confused or misinformed version of what is hidden in these shows and what it means.

If you come to this book without having heard a second-hand account of The Secret, we urge you to consider yourself fortunate and fully explore the revelatory process by reading our presentation in the order given. In such a case, you will have the opportunity to guess The Secret for yourself from the evidence offered.

If you have heard an account of The Secret, we urge you to take it with a grain of salt – in fact, make that the whole salt mine. The truth is almost certainly more subtle and profound than you have been told. Put hearsay aside and clear your mind of preconceptions. You will gain the most by approaching the presented information from a new perspective, exactly as the shows will seem new once you know what is fundamentally occurring in light of The Secret.

Concerning the revelation of The Secret to others, we take this opportunity to ask our readers and all people of good will to join in a noble, although probably doomed, cause. Do not spoil it for others by the equivalent of blurting out “the butler did it.” By all means, inform people that The Secret exists, and that, through an astounding artistic achievement, [the Series Creator] put one over on everyone who has ever seen his shows. However, please refrain from telling all; do not “ruin the ending.” The opportunity to guess The Secret for oneself is priceless and can never be regained once lost.

The nature of The Secret will make the revelations of [the Series] of interest to film scholars, media academics, and a wide general audience extending far beyond fans of the shows. Accordingly, we add a friendly caution: Do not read this account of The Secret without having watched a few, and preferably many, episodes of [the Series]. In addition to syndicated reruns, [the Series] is readily obtainable on DVD.

Moreover, this book is not an episode guide. Such guides, available online or in print, are useful as tools for refreshing one’s memory of the stories, but they cannot replace the experience of watching them – any more than study guides can substitute for reading the classics. In discussing the hidden meanings in these shows, we assume our readers are familiar with them or can become so.

What [Book Title] presents is an unofficial “decryption” of [the Series]. As such, it represents the opinions of your authors based on our critical analysis and assessment of these shows. This book does not present unauthorized fiction or new stories involving copyrighted characters; instead, it offers entirely analytical commentary about [the Series].

All quotes and citations from these shows (and other sources) are completely to the credit of their creators and are employed entirely within the meaning of the fair use doctrine for the purpose of providing support and evidence for this critical analysis.

As providers of unofficial commentary, we are in no sense spokespeople for [the Series Creator] or any other entities involved in producing and distributing this series. In fact, we intentionally refrained from any contact with [the Series Creator] and related entities, which thereby avoided contaminating the independence of the discovery process. Literally everything revealed here was found by viewing [the Series] and reviewing public commentaries by those involved with the shows. We emphasize this as an aspect of [the Series Creator’s] achievement in communicating hidden meanings in his shows – understanding them requires no inside knowledge. Everyone willing to do so can confirm the truth of The Secret for themselves.

A further, admittedly subtle, point must be made about this account of The Secret. The existence, nature, and implications for his shows of The Secret are entirely to the credit of [the Series Creator] and his associates. Your authors not only make no claim to have created or invented any part of The Secret, but particularly note that any such claim would be contrary to what we are saying is true of these shows. The Secret is there to be discovered and anyone could have uncovered it at any time. We admire and celebrate [the Series Creator’s] accomplishment in hiding The Secret and the complex, multi-layered references to fine arts and popular media in these shows. We are honored and privileged to share with readers our discovery of this accomplishment.

We state emphatically that we are not “deconstructing” [the Series Creator] and his shows. We are in philosophical disagreement with art analyses that seek to explain the work of artists as mere products of their subconscious influences and social conditioning. In fact, this book reveals the highly original and creative nature of the “constructions” that are [the Series Creator’s] shows.

We believe in a rational and objective approach to art analysis that maintains a proper perspective about the artist and the creative process, recognizes the important role art plays in people’s lives, and respects moral values and cultural legacies.

We take this opportunity to plead for reason, restraint, and responsible analysis that acknowledges the profound artistic achievement these shows represent. [The Series Creator] has earned the full consideration and due latitude owed to serious artists. When his shows feature tragedy or harsh outcomes, be assured they are required by the creative vision being expressed and the artistic integrity of the stories themselves.

If you believe you are of a sufficiently sensitive nature that you would not be able to handle hard truths without undue and unacceptable emotional distress, then refrain from reading this account of The Secret and don’t say we didn’t warn you.

In common with other great works of art, [the Series Creator’s] [Redacted] stories touch on every aspect of existence and deal with timeless themes of life, death, and meaning. Like Shakespeare’s plays, they feature characters of all types and provide messages that are universal and timeless.

Eventually, emotional reactions to the aspect of deception in these shows will be resolved. When The Secret and the many layers of hidden meaning have been understood, the judgment of history will properly be that [the Series Creator] achieved with these stories a brilliant and unprecedented artistic accomplishment. As you read this account of The Secret in [the Series], we hope and expect that you will come to appreciate [the Series Creator’s] incomparable feat for yourself.

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