This week is the end. All of our favorite shows are coming to an end, going on summer hiatus. Yes, it is TV season finales time. When I was a kid, you could practically set your watch by the television schedule. Second week in September they all started. Nothing was ever switched or pre-empted except in the case of a national/international event. In June, about the third week, everything ended, justin time for the kids to finish off school and head back out into the fresh, summer sun, which did not cause cancer, and a sunburn or tan was the mark of a healthy child.
All the shows ended the same week.
Our lives revolved around our televisions. They were the center of the living room with all the chairs facing it. We could almost always see the TV from the dining room even though we rarely ate in front of the TV in those days.
I remember the old timey TV dinners, Swanson of course with the metal tins and foil over the top. No microwaves. You had to have patience for both the start of the season and your dinner. Fried chicken and corn was my favorite.
We had no VCRs. There was no ‘let’s watch it later or tomorrow.’ You missed it, you missed it. Forget about internet spoilers, it took an act of Parliament to find out what you missed on the episode that you would not be able to see until summer reruns. We wanted spoilers. Desperately.
When TIVO was first introduced, I was offended as a capitalist that you could fast-forward through commercials. Commercials were the price you paid for a good television show.
Things are a little different for my kids. We will often have dinner in front of the TV for a special viewing – a holiday special or newly watching a series on Netflix – our newest one is Heroes and we all love it.
We’re (well basically just me right now) are planning a premiere party when The Walking Dead returns in the Fall. Although now, the modern Fall season begins in October, not everything begins on the same couple of weeks, and it ends in mid-May, if you’re lucky.
My kids, especially my oldest knows what it means to jump the shark, but they are surprised that it is not a metaphorical admonishment of going too far, but that it was a literal shark and I watched it happen on live TV. Well, if not live, then on a premiere episode that everyone else was watching at the same time.
We plan meals around special episodes – Scottish fare for the most recent Doctor Who, fish fingers and custard for the last one. I traveled 500 miles for a premiere party of the Supernatural TV series. Every week, my husband and his friend and I would have chicken parm heroes with our Star Trek night. I even made gagh (a Klingon noodle dish) for one auspicious event. I even coordinated a cookbook associated with a fan-fiction of Harry Potter.
We have no real food plans but we do have finales coming this week: The Flash and Supernatural (Arrow was last week). Then we wait for Netflix to get them, and we can rewatch this season before the next one starts in October.
Not to mention, new series that begin when the regular ones end: Major Crimes (returns June 8th), Orphan Black, loads of new things on BBCAmerica and TNT and old favorites on TBS. We still call it primetime, but it is nearly all-time!
I thought I was a TV junkie as a kid, but this new schedule is an enabler with the best of them. ANd there is almost as much television off the TV as on it with online discussion groups (they’re not just for books anymore) and a variety of Wiki entries. For many, the television season doesn’t necessarily end. They have Tumblr, fan fiction, and fan art, and stores like Hot Topic and FYE with fandom merchandise to keep them going until the hiatus is over.
I’m certain (because I’ve seen many of them) that the actors associated with Firefly wish that this onset of fannishness was around when they were cancelled. They would have been switched to a web series or a podcast. As it is now, they are welcome at all manner of sci-fi conventions. We still clamor for George Takei and William Shatner.
I’ll leave you with the description of a popular image on the internet. It is a picture of an iceberg. The big, dangerous part is hidden underneath the water, and the only visible part is tiny in comparison. The visible part is the original material and the giant, well hidden but a force to be reckoned with that hits you unexpectedly is the fandom.
TV is a limited series, but fandom is forever.