Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Cheapskate's Lament, or: Marketing Is For Vultures

In 1992, I found myself accidentally caught up in a show called Renegade. I happened to catch it one night after watching what was then my favorite show, Highlander: The Series. I was intrigued by the character of Bobby Sixkiller, a bounty hunter who struck me as part Lando Calrissian and part Leo Getz. I tuned in for a few more weeks and decided I thoroughly enjoyed Cheyenne Philips, Bobby's half-sister. Eventually, I warmed up to the show's protagonist, Reno Raines, and I admitted that I was becoming invested in his quest to clear his name and put his wife's killers behind bars.

Renegade is cheesy in the best possibly ways. My cheese-o-meter is set kind of high, though, so take that statement with a grain of salt. Whether or not it was "high caliber entertainment," it had all the elements that usually hook me. There's an underdog struggling against seemingly impossible odds. He's one of a group of disparate individuals who come together to form a family under very odd circumstances. All the lead characters are endearing and humorous--with the exception of Dutch, the recurring villain, who I'd cheerfully skewer and roast over an open pit, but I still enjoy every minute of him. The adventures are over-the-top adventures and the plotlines that walk the line between being engaging in their human-ness and requiring at least a reasonable ability to suspend one's disbelief.

I followed Reno's quest for three years. Then my own life took an unexpected trip to "the badlands" and I was never able to find out what had happened. I despaired to learn that only the first three seasons of the show had been released on DVD. Seasons 4 & 5, it seemed, were doomed to be lost in the netherworld of incomplete TV series collections, where profit-vultures would pick their bones for eternity because the first three seasons hadn't raked in enough money.

Well, now Renegade fans can rejoice--sort of. Seasons 4&5 have indeed made it to DVD, but only part of the Renegade: The Complete Series boxed set. Now, I am certainly glad to have them available. In fact, my inner fangirl is already squeeing with delight and planning a post-holiday season immersion in the badlands. The cynical pragmatist who rules about 80% of my brain is already already sneering.

Of course they're only going to release them in a boxed set. Why would they want to show any appreciation toward the fans who've already shelled out for seasons 1-3? Why would they want to risk their profit margins on the gamble that fans who feel respected and appreciated might actually spend money more readily?

The answer is, of course, very simple. Fans will pay the money anyway. And we do. Stupidly. Loyally. We do. Because we are that awesome. As of this writing, the boxed set is being sold at Amazon for $29.99. I have no idea how long that will last, but to all the Renegade fans who'll be purchasing duplicates of seasons 1-3 either now or later, I salute you. And I'll see you in the badlands!

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