I started thinking about writing this post not long after I began watching the television series Supernatural and Vikings.
Both series had been on for years (more than a decade for Supernatural). I had been meaning to watch both of them, but I had all these various Star Trek series to watch, so it took a while for me to get around to them. I did get around to them, this year, and not long after I started watching them, I found out that each series was getting one more season, then they were done. Kaput. Finito. Cancelled.
The moral of this story? If you want your favorite series on the chopping block, let me begin to watch them.
This doesn’t bother me too much. I still have a season-and-a-half of Vikings left to watch, and about nine seasons of Supernatural. But now I know that there is an end in sight.
There was a time in my life when it seemed like I never watched a series until it was off the air. I worked odd hours and never watched much television in those days (seems hard to believe now, doesn’t it?). What I did watch were syndicated programs or, after Netflix was a thing, the discs in those little red envelopes that showed up like clockwork in my mailbox. After I began watching re-runs of Seinfeld on television, once the series was already off the air, my wife bought me the entire series on DVD, and I loved it. Through Netflix, I watched series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Alias, Lost and Smallville, along with too many others to list, let alone remember, after they were all off the air. I received the entire run of Freaks & Geeks in a collectible yearbook as a Christmas gift.
Of course, I recently completed watching all of the existing Trek episodes, including Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise, which I had never watched when they were originally on the air, all thanks to streaming videos on Netflix.
There is something about knowing you’ve watched every episode of a series that gives you a feeling of accomplishment, of satisfaction. Perhaps there’s even an element of obsessiveness. I won’t deny it. There’s an element of being a completist, something I’ve experienced in other areas, such as collecting books by my favorite authors or music by my favorite performers. When I was a kid, it was comic books. I’m a sporadic collector these days, usually losing interest in any collection before it takes up too much space in my house. My British cousins probably understand the completist compulsion better than I do. While I was content with owning the American versions of every Beatles release, an avid British collector might want bootleg recordings, alternate pressings, and taped radio appearances. In any case, if you’ve ever collected anything, you may be able to relate to what I’m saying.
That’s why I think the cancellation of a television series—especially a long-running one—is a cause for celebration. The set will now be complete.
I’m currently watching the final season of iZombie. The story had run its course, and it is time for it to end. Likewise, with Game of Thrones. I’ve already finished the final season of Gotham, which stopped being good a couple of seasons ago. The upcoming season of Jessica Jones will be its last, at least on Netflix, joining Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Punisher as series that ended too soon, as a result of corporate competition. The next season of Arrow will end the story of Oliver Queen on the CW; I quit watching after last year, but know that I will watch the remaining episodes at some point. The episodes of Preacher and Legion that begin airing later this year will be the last ones of these programs as well. Modern Family, a show that Sharon and I still watch together, will end next season. I stopped watching Big Bang Theory regularly a few seasons back, but next season is its last. The same thing is true of Orange is the New Black.
There are shows I’ve never watched (yet) that are also ending their runs. The Man in the High Castle, Veep, Mr. Robot, and Suits are a few of those I’ve been meaning to watch. They will now probably join that list of shows I didn’t watch until they were off the air.
I feel better about television series that are allowed to play out with everyone involved knowing its the final season. It gives the writers a chance to finish any dangling story threads and give the viewer a sense of closure. Sudden cancellations such as those of Firefly or Freaks & Geeks don’t give me the same feel-good vibe, although it’s much easier to watch the entire series of a show that didn’t have a second season.
We are living at a time when we are blessed with an overabundance of entertainment options. I know that new series will continue to be made and will include many that I will want to watch.
But, today, I celebrate those stories that are coming to an end.