Friday, March 30, 2012

The Rare Episode

Every collection seems to have an artifact which is rare or unusual but not terribly out of place beside its sibling specimens. Beanie Babies had Humphrey the Camel, Pokemon cards had that ever-sought holofoil first-edition Charizard, and comic books have their vast seas of the often under-printed number ones. Of course these are all material goods. Tangible, breakable, possessable. The notion of a television episode being rare? Preposterous, especially in an age when many shows end up on DVDs or iTunes.

Ignoring the very frustrating fact that no, not all shows have made their way to digital or physical home media, yes, there are rare television episodes. Allow me to explain what these are (although get out now if you're looking for a list) and exactly to whom and why these are such important landmarks in our country's (I really should get used to saying "planet's") broadcast history.

How many of you watch a little show called Adventure Time? Oh, yep, yep. I see some hands there. I also see a few of animation snobs squicking your stupid faces, but maybe you might consider giving new media a try. I didn't regret it. Anyways, who knows how many episodes of that show exist? Anyone? Some hands, some hands. Now if you looked at Wikipedia, put your hands down. I see three people left. Either you wrote the show, or you're wrong.

Finn and Jake have been on 78 adventures so far, and not a one of them looked like this.
That's seventy-eight episodes of Adventure Time. With all those episodes to choose from, why do I only see the same five or six whenever I turn on the TV? What's the deal, Cartoon Network? Those episodes had the highest viewer turn-out so now they're the only ones you play to appease your viewer-conscious advertisers?

This rule applies not just to Adventure Time, and hell, not even just to cartoons. Every show in syndication has its share of studio favorites, and it's those episodes that get aired again and again and again. You may have seen a different episode when it first premiered, but other than that you very rarely see anything outside of the special seven or so. Really, what other explanation could there be for Adult Swim to air the same episodes of Family Guy, American Dad, or King of the Hill month after month after month? With nearly a decade's worth of episodes to each of those shows, I shouldn't see any repeats for at least a year.

These episode preferences are leaving gaping holes in my understanding of continuity, man! Why does Finn have a sword when he's fighting Me-Mow? I've never seen that before, but it's been here the whole episode. When did he get that? THIS IS A CHANGE THAT OCCURRED AT WHAT POINT IN HISTORY?! The world may never know...

As a kid, finally getting to see "that" episode, the one that changed continuity forever but you never actually watched because your aunt had some kind of weird party that night and you were made to go and dress pretty, is like a slice of heaven pie. You savor every second of it, from title card to credits. It's almost as euphoric as watching the episodes they used in the opening segment and recognizing the clips as they happen. Maybe adults can't understand this, I know the feeling faded for me when I was about sixteen, but there's always going to be something special about witnessing a rare episode.

No comments:

Post a Comment