In talking about canonicity in Doctor Who, Paul Cornell goes into some very interesting points about 'canon' as a fan construct and why it doesn't fit the world of Who. But it was this line - this discussion of 'infinite flexibility' - that really interested me.
My preference is one that leans towards solid continuity. There is nothing I love more than those little 'canon' details being right three years down the track. I always appreciate it when television writers research what they and their colleagues have said before, go into their bible and pull out already established details, as opposed to deciding to make it up anew. I positively revel in that nod to those who have been paying attention.
Perhaps this is why I have, in recent years, come to take more interest in the self-contained short-arc series as opposed to full-blown serials. It is much easier to keep continuity over 16 episodes than it is 160+. I cannot help but admit that Cornell's approach reminds me of the noble tradition of the soap opera, where three of the most used devices are retroactive continuity, rapid aging syndrome, and the reset button technique. Taking the easy way out.
But am I missing something here? Am I limiting myself unnecessarily against forms of expression that are just as valid as the closed canon approach? That flexibility Cornell talks about surely belongs in the oral tradition and has been part of storytelling since stories were first told?