My First Time (Mania.com)
Date: Monday, August 07, 2006
I'm presently showing FARSCAPE to a friend for the first time. We've just reached season two's conclusion with "Die Me Dichotomy" and we're mourning the loss of Aeryn Sun. I always forget how beautiful the episode is and I can't imagine how it must have felt watching it when it premiered January 26, 2001 on the Sci Fi Channel. I can't imagine, because I wasn't watching FARSCAPE back then. Indeed, I didn't discover the joys of Moya and her inhabitants until season three's "Thanks For Sharing." Those of you familiar with that episode will understand what a mind-bogglingly insane place to come into the series that is. I seem to have a gift for stumbling into cult TV shows when they've reached a critical mass of complication. Then, I usually have to wait for strip syndication (in BABYLON 5's case) or DVD (in FARSCAPE's case) to sort everything out and really get a grip on the context of the story where I wandered in blissfully unaware of what was happening.
If you think my first 'SCAPE experience was bewildering, let me tell you that it paled in comparison to joining BABYLON 5 with "War Without End Part 1." It could have been worse, I could have turned up for part 2 and missed the exorbitant expository odyssey that was the first installment. Instead, I merely had to familiarize myself with three years of intricate backstory, not to mention the never repeated "Babylon Squared" episode which set the stage for the events in this season three two-part extravaganza. With both B5 and 'SCAPE, I was thankfully able to latch onto enough threads to appreciate the story and found myself quickly addicted to both shows faithfully watching until their respective demises.
It's strange how certain episodes will grab your imagination and lock you in as a fan. I'd seen bits of both shows prior to the episodes that hooked me, but they left no real impression. Why were these hours special? Who knows? The first X-FILES I saw was "Space" during the summer after season one. I kept watching and I can't tell you why. Maybe it was Duchovny and Anderson's chemistryobvious even in that lackluster story. Maybe I liked the idea of FBI agents investigating the unexplained. The same general concept failed to intrigue me when DARK SKIES premiered a short time later. MILLENNIUM won my attention while the similarly conceived PROFILER did not. Is there something beyond even the quality of the episodes one watches that brings a viewer back for a second week?
For a time, I had a theory that any show I watched from the outset was doomed to cancellation. AMERICAN GOTHIC, SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND, STRANGE LUCK, and NOWHERE MAN all did excellent jobs of convincing me that was the case. I even managed to miss the premiere of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER coming in on that show's second episode and marveling as a series with a seemingly absurd title premiering mid-season on the WB became one of the best-loved cult series of all time. Perhaps the success and longevity of STARGATE: SG-1 is, in part, due to me missing eight seasons before tuning in! Absurd? Yeah, probably. Still, I spent much of the late nineties afraid that I was doomed to champion one-season wonders while stumbling across the classics half-way through their run. Even mainstream shows like ER, WEST WING and THE SOPRANOS eluded me early onand we all know how many Emmy ceremonies they've swept. In each case though, I staggered along, eventually coming to adore the series in question and devouring them like a televisual smorgasbord when they hit syndication.
What is all this in aid off? Honestly, I'm not sure. I'm in a bit of a reflective mood this week and the notion that I seem to appreciate things a lot later than most is weighing on my mind. How we watch TV seems to me to reflect how we live our lives and I sometimes wonder if I spend all my time in the wrong places while discovering the right ones as they hit their apex. Needlessly philosophical? Uh huh. Silly? Very Likely. In the end, I always seem to turn up to enjoy what I've been missing. Take JAG, for example. I've been watching season one on DVD. I'd previously seen a few later episodes back in '99. I love creator Don Bellisario's work (I discovered QUANTUM LEAP as its third season finale airedanother odd point of entry), but I never watched the show. I never even knew that Andrea Parker (later of PRETENDER fame) had been the original female lead before NBC nixed her continuation beyond the pilot. I adore Andrea Parker, who is the closest thing my generation has to an Emma Peela similarity acknowledged and intended by THE PRETENDER's creators according to the DVD. So now, I sit here writing this wondering what other shows I might have missed. What might I have sampled and never watched again that I should have? Why did "Space" lock me into THE X-FILES while the 2003 BATTLESTAR GALACTICA mini-series aroused little interest though a second sampling"Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down" of all episodesled it to be my favorite show on TV. I don't have any answers, but I'd like to hear about your first encounters with shows you fell in love with. What episodes captured your attention? Which ones put you off? What shows did you champion past all sense? Which ones did you ignore until they were winning fistfuls of Emmys and accolades? Share and enjoy!
E-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
MONDAY, AUGUST 7
LIFE ON MARS (10 PM PST, BBC America) Episode 3 Sam investigates a murder in the mill that later becomes his apartment 33 years later.
SAVED (10 PM PST, TNT) "A Shock to the System" A bomb explodes in a clinic.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 8
DEAD LIKE ME (7 PM PST, Sci Fi Channel) "My Room" The lovely Laura Harris, lately of THE DEAD ZONE joins the cast in this episode. She's funyou'll like her!
DEAD LIKE ME (8 PM PST, Sci Fi Channel) "Reaper Madness" VOYAGER's Robert Duncan McNeill directs this installment which finds George engaging in her first post-mortem affair. Is it necrophilia if you're "undead?"
EUREKA (9 PM PST, Sci Fi Channel) "Alienated" Crop circles and congressmen are the order of the day.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 9
BLADE: THE SERIES (10 PM PST, SPIKE TV) "Sacrifice" Blade's origins are explored in this episode that follows his investigation into Vanessa's infection.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 10
HEX (10 PM PST, BBC America) "With a Little Help From My Friends, Part 1" Thelma must make contact with Leon to rescue Ella from a mental hospital.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 11
MONK (9 PM PST, USA) "Mr. Monk and the Class Reunion" Monk tries to avert the murder of a fellow classmate at his 25th high school reunion.
STARGATE: SG-1 (9 PM PST, Sci Fi Channel) "Uninvited" The team investigate parasites they believe to be of Ori creation, but are startled when they learn the truth.
PSYCHE (10 PM PST, USA) "Weekend Warriors" A Civil War re-enactment goes awry and Shawn and Gus investigate.
STARGATE: ATLANTIS (10 PM PST, Sci Fi Channel) "Progeny" Dr. Weir joins an expedition that uncovers a link to a previous Atlantis discovery.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 12
Several of you have written in to suggest shows to highlight on Saturday. I'm looking into and will be back shortly with recommendations.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 13
THE 4400 (9 PM PST, USA) "The Gospel According to Collier" Dare I say it? Has Jordan Collier returned? And if so, where has he been...or when?
DEADWOOD (9 PM PST, HBO) "Constant Throb" Series star W. Earl Brown contributes this episode's script, the title of which presumably refers to Al Swearengen's missing digit.
THE DEAD ZONE (10 PM PST, USA) "Revelations" Johnny learns about Purdy's past when a young woman claiming to be the reverend's daughter arrives in Cleaves Mills.
BROTHERHOOD (10PM PST, Showtime) " Samyutta 11.10" Well, the writers have thrown me a curve ball and abandoned the Bible for a Buddhist text. Alas, I could not quickly find an English translation, so you're on your own kids.