After thirty years, it's not surprising that I don't remember any specific details of the four episodes that compromised the entire run of Time Express. But in thinking back on this show, and of the many other short-lived series during my childhood and adolescence that lasted a few weeks or months before disappearing, I realized that the kind of nostalgia I feel for these shows is something that won't be part of the adult lives of younger fans growing up today. Thanks to the release of every new TV program on DVD, even short-lived series can be a part of their fan's home library. Had that been the case in the late '70s, early '80s, I'd be the satisfied owner of complete sets of Automan, The Phoenix, The Powers of Matthew Star, and Manimal, among others. Today, the cancellation of shows like Dollhouse may be a disappointment to their dedicated viewers but at least fans know that within weeks of their favorite show going off the air, they can own the series and maybe even see a few extra, unaired episodes in the bargain.
If I never experienced the prolonged, and potentially permanent, absences of the series I loved as a kid, would I still feel the same way about them? Much of my lasting affection for all these shows that quickly came and went is undoubtedly based on the fact that I saw them at an early age and, in most cases, never saw them since (save for a few Sci-Fi Channel airings in the '90s). The current generation, though - and those after them - will never know what it is to not be able to relive their childhoods any time they please and I can't help wondering how that will affect their emotional relationships to the shows and movies that they're growing up on.
Up until this generation, a desire to recover the touchstones of childhood has been a large component of the fan mentality. Look at the euphoric reaction among Gen-Xers when it was announced that Fred Dekker's Monster Squad and Night of the Creeps would finally see a release on DVD. Even the most culty of cult movies today gets a special edition DVD right off the bat.
Fans - understandably - now take the availability of everything for granted. Nothing is lost. But maybe until you know what it is to miss something, you can't really appreciate it. And maybe some things have to be lost before they can become valuable.