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The Stubborn Viewing Habits of The Geek

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Is there something inherent to the genetics of the genre fan that provides the pig-headed determination to keep watching a series to the very end, even if the show isn’t as enjoyable as it used to be? Is it an ersatz faith, believing in the show despite the problems? Is it because genre shows never used to be so prevalent before, and it’s a loyalty issue? Is it the fact that it will provide ample opportunity for passionate complaining about how it isn’t as good as it used to be? Or is it just plain stupidity, a lack of critical faculty when it comes to the type of entertainment you enjoy?

I know that I have a dedication to seeing something through to the end in other aspects of life – unless something is completely without any redeeming features at all, I will watch a film or a sitcom or an episode of a programme or read a book or whatever until it is finished, believing that I owe the creators the benefit of the doubt because they’ve gone to the effort of making it in the first place. But this determination seems to extend further when it comes to watching an extended sci-fi-based television series.

The example, and the impetus for these thoughts, is Heroes – this is a show that stopped being good in the final episode of the first season, when it totally ruined the rest of the otherwise good series. I’ve kept watching it and watching it, and I don’t really know why – the villain of the recent series, Samuel, with that really annoying American version of an Irish accent and the stupid triangle of facial hair under the chin, was perhaps the most irritating so far (and, when he tries to kill thousands of people, after killing hundreds of people in a small town, his big comedown is … falling to his knees and realising he can’t kill them? What kind of denouement is that?). We see that the regular Chris Claremont story of telepaths stuck in someone’s mind with a wall to represent a block REALLY doesn’t work on television. It seems that television is no different to comic books because nobody actually cuts off Sylar’s head after all the killings; the dialogue had got so wooden (Sylar actually saying the words ‘It’s a Brave New World’ at the end without laughing his arse off was impressive), I was feeling sorry for the actors for having to look serious while being forced to speak it, as if somebody was holding a gun to their puppy or something. It’s actually quite a relief that they’ve finally cancelled it …

Anyway, my point – why do I keep watching? I have continued to watch FlashForward, despite it not being very entertaining, if only because the central idea is actually rather interesting and I want to see if they can come through on the promise; I will admit that the second half of the season has picked up a little, remembering that things HAVE TO ACTUALLY HAPPEN for people to become engaged with the programme, but it can still fall back into lazy episodes where nothing happens until the last two minutes. It’s so frustrating, but I’ve set my series link and I will watch it until the end of the first, and now final, season (as it has got the chop, too).

Is it just because I have an affinity with programmes that use a sci-fi or paranormal element? These are not the only things I watch on television – see my thoughts on The Wire or various comedy/other programmes – but I feel duty-bound to try out new stuff that veers into the geek niche. There are always things that keep me sufficiently interested – FlashForward has a great central idea, of people having visions of their futures; Heroes has glimpses of common comic book tropes that survive the transition to moving pictures that make me smile even while the rest of the story makes me frown or get angry – but why is that enough to allow me to persevere through the hardships? I don’t think I’m a sadomasochist …

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