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I must TV Talk. Immediately.

The number of mental blocks I have on TV right now is RIDICULOUS (imagine if all the road construction projects that close down roads in your area got half finished, then were abandoned to start new projects, while the roads they were working on remained closed. For years. THAT IS MY BRAIN. There are like 2 streets left in the city). I need to undam some of them if it kills me. I AM STRONGER THAN HEART-HURTY TELEVISION.

And thus did I make it through two episodes of NCIS.


I had to write off episode 3 unfinished because no one would tell me if there was happy Jake/Ellie at the end -- and I was willing to Spoilerpedia myself all the way up to the present for reassurance, but both the NCIS and 'pedia Wikis failed me -- so I assume there wasn't. Episode 4 was a weird hour of Vance giving up all semblance of authority and playing Cops and Robbers with Gibbs, who was having an equally weird day of "cool I guess we r friends and this is fun lol," and its only redeeming factor was having SecNav appear on screen a lot (I had it in my head that she had died? I must have been remembering her predecessor. I was VERY HAPPY to find myself wrong).

Then episode 5 tried to punch me in the face re: the Bishop marriage again, which at this point is like, WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS THING PLEASE STOP. The only acceptable reason to do such a thing is to restore it to happiness in a spectacular firework explosion of Communication Is Key, Love Conquers All. NCIS does not have a good track record of doing this, and if they're going to change their tune with anyone it's clearly being squandered on McGee.

All it's doing is riling up my feelings of "your new job is clearly the problem, Ellie, why don't you just quit your dumb job and go back to the other agency that starts with N," as is always my opinion of how little career matters as compared to romantic relationships. Particularly if you are not choosing between your job and unemployment/the poorhouse.

Anyway, it is rapidly wearing on my sanity to continually lose couples I care about, so I need to come up with some sort of coping mechanism before this show gets blocked up for me again. Maybe he doesn't talk to her because he's out scoring hookers and blow. Maybe there is an alien taking over his brain and turning him violent and cold a la Under the Dome, except because Ellie doesn't know about aliens she doesn't know it's not his fault. Maybe he's obsessed with adopting a baby and wants to be a dad more than he wants to stay married. Whatever it takes to make me want him gone before they take him from me.

BUT EPISODE FIVE. I stuck around because Abby (In Danger) Feature, and oh, it did not disappoint. This is what the show does best.

"Lockdown" (one of those oddly common titles they somehow haven't used yet!)
A list of things I loved:

-Abby Being Awesome, just front and center all of the time from beginning to end. SO MUCH ABBY. SO EXCELLENT.

-Abby's "World's Best Boss" banner (later amended with "not the") and the obvious yet enjoyable interplay of "Gibbs fix this thing for me" / "Nah, you were already told no" / "I have not even begun to start pestering you about this" / "I know I just want to see the next 2-3 things you come up with before I cave," with her conflict about wanting to trade the basement lab for digs with a view being handled perfectly from beginning to end

-Abby's very elaborate and hand-designed "permission slip" re: being allowed to leave her dungeon. I couldn't read all the details, but I look forward to seeing it in crisp DVD copy.

-Poppy the Parasol going on the field trip with her, and receiving numerous compliments

-Abby's ingenuity when trapped in a tiny supply closet. Trapped? Of course not. She has a whole closet full of supplies, the tongs she rode in with, and also access to an air duct, allowing her to do everything from mix up a noxious smell (that she herself is protected from) to allow her a brief window to get onto the internet, to escaping sight-unseen back to the safe zone.

-The part before that, when the gunshots first went off and Abby was tasked with keeping both herself and Delightful New Lab Lady calm. Speaking of...

-ABBY'S NEW BEST FRIEND/SOULMATE JANICE. Despite the Super Sadness of her getting packed off to jail for unwittingly hiring some murderous people in her innocent attempt to be a whistleblower. WHY. I mean I understand you want to add a layer of "what if Abby was safe but still sad/disappointed in people who aren't what they seem," but why you gotta kick us in the teeth like that. Maybe what you want is not the best choice.

-Anyway, Janice was the absolute best and I hope she gets out with like, a fine and probation after 0-5 days served in jail.

-Using Caff Pow to create orange smoke. Should Abby be concerned by how chemically close her favorite beverage is to a smoke bomb? Probably, but whatever, is her conclusion.

-Abby's unshakeable faith in Gibbs, despite the fact that she mostly had to do her own saving. Her faith in his pending arrival provided enough courage to do that, which is really lovely to me. (and also makes me want to binge-watch all of the Abby's In Danger episodes from the beginning. I bet they make quite a heady rush all strung together)

-Cheek kiss at the end.

-Basically every second of this entire episode once we wrapped up Ellie's stupid phone call. I'm sure I've already forgotten even more, which will make this episode fun to re-watch later. I'm mostly impressed that despite how calm both Abby and Gibbs were at the time of rescue -- because normally, I live for anticipating just how intense the thank-god-you're-OK payoff is going to be -- I thought how the rescue was ultimately resolved was really fitting and in tune with the Abby Is Awesome theme of the episode, and frankly better than everything I had concocted in my head up to that point.

--------
In related news, since I am talking about a super old show that I just got great enjoyment out of: a post popped up on my LJ homepage in which someone was glad to hear that The Good Wife is ending, citing Criminal Minds as an example of what happens when shows go on too long and creatively suffer for it (lol). This post was already not my friend, but then I rocked with fundamental horror at a specific turn of phrase they used that TV should aspire to: "Get in, tell your story, and get out."**

I know I've mentioned this before, but that is what novels/book series and movies are for. I am very strongly of the opinion that TV's primary purpose should NOT be to tell a story, even a long story, and then end. You can plan that for one season, given the odds against you getting a second, but in the back of your mind it needs to be clear that you are building a world and creating lives, and TV's job is to give us a window into those lives for as long as the network will possibly let them/a sufficient number of actors whose characters you most care about are willing to portray them.

Because while sometimes it will do horrible, unforgivable things in a misguided attempt to reach the above goal, in most cases, it can always get better. It can come out of a slump (Without a Trace! The Office!) and reach new heights. If it gives you even one episode -- hell, one scene -- out of a
whole year's worth of hell, it's worth the extension. Life isn't a narrative arc. Life is a series of episodes within a larger life arc. I want to be in your life as long as I can, because I love you, whether you are real or fictional.

[**As an aside: the author of A Natural History of Dragons chimed in with agreement about how she's limiting her series to 5 books in order to avoid causing series burnout, even though some fans are disappointed, and oh boy, there go my hackles. Not because I want more than 5 books -- though I probably would have, had she not committed one of those Horrible, Unforgivable Sins at the end of her first one -- but man, now is not a good time to remind me of that old wound. That's really what triggered this post.]

Another quote was "it's better to be begged for more than to be begged to stop." I BEG TO DIFFER. (actually, I don't beg. I demand.) When a show ends badly, you have the satisfaction of closure. After you finish complaining, you can also go back decide for yourself where the show ended (Bones: episode 100, after about 38 minutes, but then the actors filmed a bunch of cute domestic scenes for bonus content that I can look up on YouTube). You also tend to feel relief when cancellation is announced, instead of hurt. I know which one I prefer to feel.

Furthermore, not only can you leave whenever you want (feeling "compelled to stick it out/see how it ends" is your own character-flaw problem, not something showrunners shold feel obligated to consider.*), latecomers might enjoy the later content in ways that early adopters don't, expanding its fan base. (says this circa-season-8 Criminal Minds fan, circa-season-11 Law & Order: SVU fan, circa-season-9 ER fan, and disdainful dismisser of Doctor Who in a post-Tennant state). Community slammed into a wall for its last season, yet I'm still glad they made it.

*I speak from a place of authority on "House." I cannot believe I actually watched that for 7 full years. What did I even like about it? The desire I have to rewatch so much as one scene other than that "Get Happy" number is non-existent

But when a show chooses to end on a high note, you forever have that gnawing feeling of what if. What if they had one more amazing season in them? What could they have done on another network/platform? You try to create fanfic to fill the gap but it is terrible and inferior compared to the majesty of seeing payoff on screen. If I wanted to simply imagine what happens, I'd write my own stories, or at the very least I'd stick to books.

Honestly, the only show I can think of that I am genuinely upset about lasting as long as it did was CSI: Miami**. Never before or since have I seen a show fall that hard off a quality cliff and stay there so long. Yes, I still found moments and even entire episodes I managed to enjoy all the way up to the end, but it wasn't the same show, more like talented high school students recreating a show -- impressive for what it is, but not the same. And since that's quite an exception, I will continue to fight tooth and nail against anyone who thinks British TV/cable shows are moving in the right direction.

**Glee is still too raw, but honestly, while I may have hated a lot of turns it took I'm still glad that last season exists. I would be glad for "A Thousand Miles" alone -- and I'm sure there are many more golden pockets than that amidst the wreckage. If the show had ended after season 3, the way a lot of former fans think it should have (at the latest), we would have missed out on so much.

...anyway,
that was a fun waste of half an hour or so. Thank you for letting me get it out.

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