So I’ve spent far too much time today figuring this out but have confirmed the cause.
Simply, as Infuse is currently operating, if you have an .nfo file — regardless if you have
<cast> tags in it — Infuse will by default, display only what it finds in your .nfo files. If you have no cast in your info files, no cast will be displayed.
(Meanwhile, Infuse still builds and maintains its own separate database of cast and crew — sourced as before by querying TMDB in the background — but this database is hidden from view. Only through text search can the user access that information. Plenty more on this in previous posts.)
So: why did the main cast members for all the shows in my collection suddenly disappear from the Cast & Crew Bars of each of the 11,459 unique episodes?
Because previously that information came from TMDB (Infuse’s background acquired database) … now it’s coming from my local .NFO files. And my episode-level info files do not include main cast members — only recurring players and guest stars (all actors who don’t appear in every episode of a series).
I generated those .NFO files in Kodi — which scraped the information from TMDB (same as Infuse). In fact, I’ve scraped them all anew in the past year specially to make sure the content of my local data (particularly, movie and TV show titles and dates, and episode numbering) matched that on TMDB — solely to aid scraping in Infuse.
Turns out Kodi, to save digital space, doesn’t think it necessary to include series regulars in the .nfo files it creates for each specific episode of a series. Instead, Kodi creates one additional .nfo file for each series — always named “tvshow.nfo” — that it places in the primary folder of each TV series; and in this file it names the cast members who appear in every episode.
When Kodi displays the cast and crew for a specific episode, it will pull that information from both the primary “tvshow.nfo” file, and the specific “(series name) - SxxExx - (episode title).nfo” file.
Infuse apparently ignores the “tvshow.nfo” file.
So I spent another day frustrating myself trying to figure out TinyMediaManager.
Gods, I hate that program. It overwrites your existing data constantly and NEVER gives you a warning if the next button you push will cause it to do that.
I spent a LOT of time searching for and choosing and often CREATING my own well matched poster, season poster, and fanart images (all of my 4K titles, for example, use the exact same 2000x3000 poster template; because mismatched ones bother the heck out of me) TMM just makes them disappear without warning. Kodi never does that. I had to recreate a lot of art (or pull it back down from TMDB, where I usually, but not always, upload it) after it wiped me out a couple times.
But TMM will include primary cast members in the per-episode .nfo files, so that’s something. I finally managed to get it working (carefully) and update my .nfo files for a few Television Series to Infuse’s liking (as a test, and proof of process) … but it scares me to think of having to give this psychotic software access to my entire television collection just to get back the functionality I already had before Infuse added this new “feature”. And how updating all my .nfo files through TMM will likely takes hours — or days worth of effort.
I don’t want to have to do it. And even if I do, it will only make Infuse’s issue with duplicating cast and crew entries (when searching) even worse.
Infuse broke itself. It needs to be fixed.