We got cable TV when I was 16. We hadn’t needed it before then. Cable arrived in our house as part of an Internet upgrade – in early 2002, we finally shed dial-up for DSL. The sudden influx of channels was too much to handle. And by then, any TV shows that mattered had been airing for too long to start watching now. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was in the middle of Season 6. Babylon 5 had been over for years. Farscape? Nearly over. Before you ask, I grew up in a TV desert, where the WB and UPN were not part of a basic network TV package – you needed cable to get them. Sci-Fi Channel? You mean there’s a whole TV channel for people like me? I don’t know that I found that out until I’d reached the age of majority.
So I stuck to books and movies, the things I had access to without cable. My Joss Whedon TV experiences were limited to the few episodes of Buffy that I had watched during my insomniac phase in high school (our local Fox affiliate had Buffy in syndication at 3 am). I had read some Buffy novelizations from the local library. I knew who Angel was, and about the curse and soul thing. I had even taken the original movie out of the library – it was silly and campy, but nothing to write home about. I heard about this movie “Serenity” when I was first in college, but had no reference to the TV show it was apparently based on, and never went to see it.
By this time, I had given up on anything set in George Lucas’s universe, as canon had gone a bit wobbly for my taste. I’d read all the Dune books Frank Herbert had actually written, chewed my way through Sandman and the entire Gaiman oeuvre. What was left for the fan that wanted more? The boy that would become my boyfriend had the DVD’s of a short lived TV show created by that same guy that had done Buffy, which all of my friends were crazy about. I spent an evening with the pilot episode of Firefly. And I fell in love with Joss.
Firefly gave way to a “Can’t Stop the Serenity” screening of the film. Even though I knew who was going to die, seeing it on that big screen still punched a hole in my heart. But Firefly was 14 episodes and a movie. A small, self-contained unit. Buffy was a seven season (6 of whom had 22 episodes each) commitment. I wasn’t sure I was prepared to invest that kind of time.
Then I went back to school, and found myself with a ton of time on my hands I hadn’t had before. And in the fall of 2008, over five years after the show had gone off the air; I began to work my way through it. Remember when I fell in love after the pilot episode of Firefly? So yeah, it happened again. And I couldn’t stop watching. It took about six months or so of watching in mini-marathons, but I finished the series. Buffy got me through breaking up with the guy who had shown me Firefly. It was something to chat about with a friend who had gone abroad for a year to study. After Buffy, I started Angel. It’s slower to get off the ground, suffers from the same “made of frickin’ weird” issues that Buffy does around the time that Firefly was foundering. But still pretty good.
Season 5 of Angel was something else entirely. A good friend of mine (who had been crushing on me for a long time by then) had never seen it when it aired, and asked if I’d like to watch it with him. Just him and me. This, for those of you who might not see through the less than subtle hint (as I didn’t at the time), is one of the fannish equivalents of “let’s go out sometime.”
Angel turned into Doctor Who e-dates and Dollhouse recaps and dinners in and proper restaurant dates and conventions together. We’re working our way through Babylon 5 together now. It’s funny to be watching the show that taught other shows how to have Large Mythic Arcs so many years after it became the norm to have them. And now we snark together.
So thank you Joss. Maybe being late to the party wasn’t so bad after all. Besides, now I don’t have to wait a week to watch the next episode.