IMHO: 31 December 2007
"Everything comes to an end, eventually."
That's what the good Nanny Roberts would like us all to bear in mind. Well, shucks, Ms. Roberts, that includes our planet, our sun and our galaxy, too. Meanwhile, a handful of diehard fans like to think The Avengers will last forever. Are we to take them literally? I rather doubt it; it's just a touch of hyperbole naturally present in most fans' enthusiasm.
But what will happen to The Avengers, aside from evaporating along with everyone and everything else when our sun goes poof, that is? The only possible prediction one can make with any hope of accuracy is to simply assume that, like most other things in popular culture, interest will swell and wane, all owing to two large forces at work, both of which are entirely outside any individual's influence: the Copyright Owner, and the Current Generation.
The Copyright Owner has the power to inject new life into the series through re-releases and other merchandise. If the marketing just happens to capture the interest of enough young people, the popularity will grow once more. Or, it might not. It all depends on the whim of the Current Generation, and how (or even if) they're approached. They might suddenly "rediscover" The Avengers and make it their own all over again, or allow it to slowly fade, once and for all, into oblivion. There's no predicting either fate.
It's true that many of the other Avengers websites have not been updated for a very long time. This is served up by Nanny Roberts as proof in part that interest in the show is on terminal decline. I'm in touch with the webmasters of many of the sites in question, and they're all quite, quite busy with their lives (including new children, new jobs, new homes, dying family members, and all the other trappings of Real Life). There's no denying that interest in the show has faded for some of them; there is just so much one can say about an old TV show—just so many observations and revelations—particularly when one's website is strongly themed.
Being a general-interest site, The Avengers Forever tends to receive more regular attention, which is why the What's New page has at least a few new entries every month, even though I personally have not watched a full Avengers episode over the course of the whole of 2007. Yes, dear reader, I confess that the Avengers Fire has not burned very brightly for me in recent times. Still, the 800-pound gorilla, as I refer to this website, continues to snag new fans, accidentally or deliberately, as over eight hundred visitors pass through its portals every day.
As for the show itself, given the number of significant events from 2007, I dare say The Avengers has not yet flat-lined. Merchandise can still be found on store shelves (Santa brought me the 2008 Avengers calendar—when the calendars stop, then I'll be a little worried), the show is still important enough that there's some digging going on for new materials by the Raiders of the Lost Archive crew, and there's even talk of High Definition transfers. Of course, it's just talk, but the noise has not yet faded.
Comparisons are inevitable, and Nanny Roberts predictably invoked the name of Doctor Who. Can we say apples and oranges? Doctor Who has seen far more air time—including the last decade—than The Avengers. Doctor Who is (more recently) deliberately designed to be a campy "cult classic" targeting a young, hip audience, whereas The Avengers came by its cult status honestly and lives predominantly in the hearts of older Boomers. Doctor Who has droves of fans who, unfortunately, tend to sully more than support the many online discussion boards devoted to the show. Comparing it to The Avengers was a silly thing to do.
But who is this Nanny Roberts, anyway? A wheelchair-driving, machine-gun-weilding Diabolical Mastermind from "Something Nasty in the Nursery"? No, in this case, Nanny Roberts comes to us as an anonymous Avengers.TV International Forum member who, like a "good nanny," is providing much-needed guidance for her "children" (read: "fans"). As has been the case several times in the past, the remarks of a Forum member have inspired me to comment at such length as to make it unsuitable for a Forum post (indeed, that's how IMHO got started).
Yet, as much as I might wax philosophical about our favorite show (and make no mistake, regardless of how often I watch it—or don't—it's still my favorite), one particular response to Nanny Roberts sums things up nicely. As The Thunder Child put it, "What are you doing to keep Avengers fandom alive? Supporting websites? Posting cheerful and informative messages here? Introducing family and friends to the show?"
Indeed, rather than just bash fans over the head with the cold, cruel facts of reality (and needlessly at that), why not do something positive in support of the series? Why not show all of those "deadbeat" webmasters out there how it's supposed to be done? There's no end of free web space and software; literally anyone can run a website. And while it might not help to "save" the series, if indeed it truly needs saving, it never hurts to have another voice on the Internet.
Amusingly, Nanny Roberts is quick to point out that I must be quite full of myself: "...to assume you'd be hung, drawn and quatered [sic] for closing a site devoted to a TV series that's over 45 years old is placing it, yourself and the series way too high on the list of what's really of value in the world." Thank you, Nanny Roberts, for setting me straight on this.
Thing is, I nearly always speak with tongue very firmly placed in cheek, and Nanny Roberts appears to have missed this tiny detail. I'm quite self-aware, thank you, and fully realize that neither my website nor myself could ever possibly register even the faintest blip on any Universal Importance Meter, regardless of how The Avengers itself might rate. I'm well and truly a Nobody—just another blob of protoplasm with a website among billions of other blobs of protoplasm with websites.
Why do I keep toiling away in the face of obscurity, pointlessness, and/or almost certain doom, then? Because it's a nice hobby. Sure, I've thought about closing the site down once in a while, but in the final analysis, it does not create an unmanageable amount of overhead to keep alive. In fact, it's actually given rise to considerable learning, several good friendships and even some business. And if nothing else, it sure feels good when I receive a kind message once in a while from an appreciative fan. So, closing it down might free up an hour or so of my time a month, but it would also cut me off from opportunities I could not possibly foresee.
So, here we are poised at the cusp of another year. The Avengers may well be dead and buried by the end of 2008. But hopefully I won't be, and as long as I'm breathing, chances are pretty good The Avengers Forever will be, too.
And that's my humble opinion.
David K. Smith, 31 December 2007
materials copyrighted per their respective copyright holders.