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Play Fair, Networks

If Igoing to commit to a series with a progressing story arc, then please sign my pre-nup that you won't run off without fulfilling your obligations.
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I feel like the woman who's been burned in the singles scene too many times and finally goes on an extended break. No, I'm still happily married and monogamous--my betrayals have been not in the bedroom, but the family room, where my TV has let me down and left me in the lurch once too often.

I'm talking about the relationship I've carved with new dramas that seduce me with their pilots and then, just when the bonding becomes intimate, get canceled and disappear with nary a nod to the investment I've made and the secrets still unshared. Sure, once in a while they wear out their welcome ("24"), or, after years of loyalty, sorely disappoint ("Lost"); but the majority are yanked out of my life right after the third date.

"Vanished" fascinated me with its shady characters and its intriguing mystery of the sudden disappearance of a politician's wife. "Traveler's" college students' journey down the rabbit hole had me on the edge of my chair, wondering whose heads would roll from the Queen of Hearts. "Flash Forward" stimulated me with science and lavished me with classic tragedy and epic romance. "The Nine," "4400," the list goes on...

And yet, they all abandoned me in the end, or, frustratingly, before the end. "Vanished" vanished, leaving plot threads hanging, or worse, wrapped up incomprehensibly. "Flash Forward" had fantastic episodes, but was lacking in the prescience to arrange for a denouement before cancellation. "Traveler's" creator was kind enough to post some of his plans for future years on the web, but still left us tortured with unanswered questions. (Though we do owe him a debt of gratitude for releasing Matt Bomer for "White Collar.")

And now, with the launch of the fall season, there's a new roué on our TV screens. No, I wasn't talking about Matt Bomer, but NBC's "The Event." Its come-hither advertising is accompanied by a promise that plot machinations for the series have been laid out for five years. Trouble is, I'm not naïve enough any more to believe there's a good chance "The Event" will stand by me that long. I've learned my lesson. Show, show me you won't dump me first, and then I'll buy your season one through five DVDs.

Frankly, "Traveler's" DiGilio may have touched on a possible solution. With my busy schedule, I most enjoy stand-alone episodes that I can watch when I have time. If I am going to commit to a series with a progressing story arc, then please sign my pre-nup that you won't run off without fulfilling your obligations. I understand that networks are loath to spend more money filming more episodes that don't bring in ratings or advertising dollars. What I'm suggesting is that every story arc series come with a contract for an inexpensive book--an e-book if you have to--that finally, and fully, wraps up the plot threads and character arcs if the show is canceled prematurely. Sure, only a million or so of us lovesick fans are still waiting by the "phone," but, heck, a million sales for an e-book is good geld for producers and writers, and allow us some closure and a civilized chance to say goodbye.

Books based on successful TV series have sold well for decades. "Star Trek," "Psych," and "Monk" are also winners in your local bookstore. Even Jessica Fletcher lives on in new "Murder She Wrote" adventures penned with veteran author Donald Bain. So, let's see the novelizations of "Vanished," "Traveler" and "Flash Forward" (yes, I know the series was based on Robert J Sawyer's book with the same title, but I'm seeking a wrap-up of the very different TV scenario).

And guarantee us that if I make a date for "The Event," you'll be there by my side until I find out what it is.