Keep Me Hanging On

My DVR is more like a train station than a library.  Shows arrive, I watch them within a day or two, and then they are gone.  I keep a few things in storage, namely all of the Doctor Who episodes that aired in 2013.  But even these will go away once I have the DVDs in hand (which should be the case by mid-January for everything except “The Time of the Doctor.”).

There is, however, one resident that has remained far longer than planned.  On December 10th, 2013, my DVR recorded the most recent first-run episode of “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD,” and I still haven’t watched it.

I suppose I could claim that I’ve been busy with the holidays and all, but that would be a lie.  Despite the holiday crunch, I managed to watch episodes of “How I Met Your Mother,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Elementary,” “Community,” “Doctor Who,” “Psych,” and “James May’s Man Lab” that were recorded after the “SHIELD” episode aired.  I even went back and watched “The Day of the Doctor” and “The Time of the Doctor” more than once.

“SHIELD,” however, remains untouched. 

So why haven’t I gotten around to watching it? 

If I’m honest (And why wouldn’t I be honest with you, dear readers?), I’m just finding it hard to get up the interest.  Last Fall, I wrote about my hopes for the show.  So far, though, SHIELD hasn’t risen above the level of an entertaining enough Tuesday night diversion for my kids and me.  Nothing about it has made it reach the level of appointment television…


And I say that “yet” with a large amount of hope.  I really REALLY want to love this show.  I want to be as involved with it as I was with “Buffy” and “Firefly.”  I want to want to hang out with these characters every week.  I want to be so obsessed with the show that it invades my dreams (I had A LOT of “Buffy”-related dreams when it was on the air.  All perfectly innocent, I assure you.  Well…mostly innocent.  Well…moving on.).

As it stands, though, I am seriously wondering if I’m going to get around to watching this latest SHIELD episode before new episodes start airing later this week.  And then there’s the really big question: Am I about to give up on the show altogether?

While for many people, giving up a show isn’t a big deal, for me it’s a fairly drastic course of action.  Now I’m not talking about watching the first episode or two of a show and deciding it’s not for me.  That’s just sampling.  Once I’ve decided that I’m on board, though, I’m usually there for the long haul.

For example, I’ve seen every episode of “Mythbusters,” every “LOST,” every “How I Met Your Mother,” every “Big Bang Theory,” every “Buffy,” every “Angel,” and every episode of every single incarnation of “Star Trek” including the animated series.  I’m still working my way through the early episodes of “Doctor Who, but the fact that there are episodes missing is like an incredibly annoying itch that I cannot scratch.  In short, I am not a casual viewer.

I have on occasion dropped a show, though.  It took a lot, but these shows managed to drive me away at one point or another:

“The X-Files” – I was a die-hard X-Files fan.  Up until Season 9, I had seen every single episode.  I’d stuck with the show through David Duchovny’s departure, increasingly dull plots, and even as it became completely apparent that the writers were making up the alien colonization storyline as they went along.  When Season 9 started, though, the weight of all of the accumulated issues with the show became too much.  After the teaser for the season premiere episode aired, I turned to my ex-wife and asked her if she cared anymore (About the show!  Not me.  Smartasses.).  She said no, and we turned off the episode.  That was it.  I still haven’t seen how the series ended.

 “True Blood” – I’m not generally big on vampires.  I liked “Buffy” and “Angel,” but the presence of vampires in those series was pretty much irrelevant.  I started watching “True Blood,” though, because the concept sounded interesting.  The first season was generally well-structured and enjoyable.  I haven’t read the original novels, but my guess is that the first season is also the one that stays closest to the source material.  After Season 1, things got dicey.  Again, without having read the books, I imagine it’s because the novels are able to stay focused on Sookie, while the show tried to find plots for its large cast of characters, including at least one who actually died in the books.  By the time Season 4 began, the storylines had gotten so outlandish and disconnected from each other that I found myself fast-forwarding through large sections of episodes (Jason and the were-panthers, for example) just to get to the parts that I cared about.  Eventually, I was down to watching about 15 minutes per episode, which was a sign to me that it was time to pack it in.  I never finished Season 4.

“Glee” – I can sum this up in two words: Character Assassination.  Somewhere in Season 3, it became clear to me that the writers of “Glee” didn’t seem to have any idea who their characters were supposed to be.  Did you ever get the sense in the first season that Will Schuester was a bad Spanish teacher?  Yes, he was considering leaving teaching before he got the chance to take over the glee club, but that was because of low pay and his wife’s financial demands.  In Season 3, though, Schue is made to look completely incompetent at Spanish and generally like an idiot.  He’s just one of the many victims of the writers dragging the characters where they want the plots to go rather than allowing the characters to dictate sensible stories based on their established traits.  About a quarter of the way into Season 4, which introduced many new characters while systematically destroying the old, I was done. 

So where does this leave “SHIELD”?  Besides still sitting on my DVR.  I can’t accuse the writers of “Glee”-like levels of character assassination because the characters haven’t been developed enough yet for me to know who they are.  I saw some glimmers of hope in the later episodes last Fall, but I have yet to be grabbed.  And “SHIELD” certainly hasn’t hit the outlandish levels of “True Blood.”  Honestly, it could stand to get a bit more outlandish.  

Instead, like Season 9 of “The X-Files,” the show hasn’t made me care.  And that more than anything else saddens me.  I respect the team working behind-the-scenes on this show, I enjoy the Marvel film universe, and I like a lot of the actors on “SHIELD.”  I'm about as receptive of an audience as they are going to get.

Make me care, folks!

At least make me want to watch this episode and get it off of my DVR.  For now, it waits.  But if it is joined by this week’s episode in the land of the unwatched, we may have a serious problem.

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter