I have developed what I am concerned may be an unhealthy relationship with TV shows: I don't watch them until after they've been cancelled. Rather like the shy kid who launches into passionate 2-week love affairs at summer camp while remaining a wallflower during the school year, I'm willing to become involved with a TV show only when I can know exactly when it will all tragically end.
I am definitely not downplaying the exquisite pleasure of these tragic liaisons. In the last month I've watched loved--and lost (figuratively)--the DVDs of two fabulous shows that were both cancelled after one season, and I wouldn't trade those viewing experiences for anything.
First there was Freaks & Geeks, the 1999 show about high school students in small-town Michigan in the '80s. It has all the delicate pathos of My So-Called Life or Dawson's Creek plus the uncomfortable hilarity of Mean Girls or, I don't know, The Office. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me want to call my mother and learn to disco-dance (all in the same episode--watch the last one.)
Then there was Firefly, the 2002 show created by Joss Whedon of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fame about a bunch of cowboy outlaw types on a spaceship in the dystopian, corporate-controlled future. I loooooooved this show, and am looking forward to Serenity, the movie based on the same premise that comes out this fall, so much that I am taking the immense and unprecedented step of not reading reviews of the movie so I won't find out what happens. True (doomed) love!
However, I realize that cancelled shows are not the only worthwhile programming. Among the currently-airing shows that I know are good and would probably watch if they existed only on DVD: Arrested Development, The Wire, Smallville, Gilmore Girls. It's not that I'm a snob for unavailable pop culture (see, e.g., obsession with TomKat and the fact that I didn't know who Coldplay was until earlier this year), it's just, I think, that I can't deal with the commitment of starting to watch a show that could end in two months or could continue for five years. Maybe I'm still not over the cancelling of Buffy. I suppose the healing process will take awhile, and, while I wait for that to happen, I'm going to go add (the recently-cancelled) Joan of Arcadia to my Netflix list.
firefly serenity freaks & geeks