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Archive for August 26th, 2021

It’s probably difficult for people under 40 to imagine the frustration of being unable to complete a multi-part story due to the conclusion being unavailable.  But in the days before home video, there was no way to see missed episodes of a TV show except by finding it in syndication and waiting until the missing stories were shown again.  And in the days before Amazon and other online stores, it could often be extraordinarily difficult to find the missing issues of a comic book or serialized magazine story, especially if one lived in a small town or minor city with only one library and few if any places that sold used books.  Add OCD to that mixture, and I think you can probably grasp how frustrating it was for me as a child and teenager when months would go by without a given title appearing on any comic book racks I visited, and when the comic at last reappeared it was a new story because for some reason the distributors had apparently skipped, one, two, or even three issues.  Or I’d anxiously look forward to the next in a series of novels, only to discover that our library didn’t have a copy and the only accessible bookstore told me it was out of print.  Because of this I developed an aversion to multi-part comic book stories and multi-volume novels, and by the time I had grown into an independent adult, I was strongly averse to beginning any story I was unsure I’d be able to finish.  It became my habit to buy entire series of books I wanted to read all at once whenever possible, and when it wasn’t possible I’d diligently search every possible source until I found whatever I needed to complete a set, even if it meant driving around for hours.  And due to more than one instance of a network cancelling a show I was enjoying with a complex story left incomplete (American Gothic and Farscape leap immediately to mind), I generally won’t start a new TV series until it’s concluded and I know I can get the entire set; I imagine a special circle of Hell for corporations which release the first few seasons of a show I want and then suddenly stop before finishing the job (Disney is notorious for this, but Warner can be nearly as bad).  So when TV series started using long, interconnected arcs in the late ’80s, I was not at all happy about it; though many of my friends enjoyed The X-Files, I never watched it because the first two episodes I tried to watch were both part of longer arcs and therefore made little sense to me, and in VHS days buying an entire TV series was prohibitively expensive.  Now that I can in most cases easily buy an entire series on DVD, my view of long story arcs has changed; upon rewatching the last three seasons of classic Doctor Who (the first of the series to employ such an arc) I found I enjoyed them much more than in the days when there was no way to ensure I could see them all, and in the correct order.  But I still won’t invest the time and emotional energy into new shows until and unless I’m dead sure I won’t be left in the lurch.

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