Plot versus story, redux

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: When it comes to TV, plot is not important.

That thought rang out while watching the fourth episode of this season of “Orange Is The New Black” the other night. (Yes, I’m “behind,” or whatever that means in the days of bingewatching. Whatever.) Very little has technically “happened” this season, but I have really loved it so far. No two shows do plot the same, but to be sure, no matter what program it is, it’s always and ever the least important aspect of what makes it successful.

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The Heart Over The Head

Part of why I stopped writing so many episodic recaps was functional: The pace at which I was writing them outstripped my desire to keep doing them. But part of it was also due to that fact that I couldn’t do the type of writing I always wanted to do, because so much of that subgenre of television criticism accentuates what happened and what might happen versus what any of it actually means. That’s not all episodic recap culture, to be sure, and the best balance both worlds. I tried to do my best in balancing that, but it’s really easy to speculate since it’s hard to disprove that in the moment. Read More »

The difference between joy and relief in the modern TV landscape

Savoring is the new binging.

Well, it would be if I were Emperor Of Pop Culture. But since that position doesn’t exist, and since I probably wouldn’t have the savvy or martial forces to capture such a title, bingewatching is the predominant way many people currently consume television. It’s a little strange to step back and think about how seismic “House Of Cards” was during its first season, and here we are two scant years later with bingewatching part of the “normal” way people watch shows. From catching up with past seasons or simply consuming a Netflix/Hulu series in a single sitting, bingewatching is here to stay.

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All Art Was Not Made For You

It’s 2015, yet we still need to disabuse some of the notion that not all art is made for them.

I’m writing in this in the wake of James Poniewozik’s excellent piece today about the “Not For Me” moment in television viewing. He says a lot of things I wish I had said first, but didn’t say first, so credit where credit is due. But I want to take things just a step further, since it really can’t be said enough: We are at a time and place in which shows aren’t merely watched, but cultural battlelines are actually drawn. People are mad about “Game of Thrones.” People are mad about people who are mad about “Game Of Thrones.” Take “Game of Thrones” and apply it to dozens of other shows, whichever one happens to be stoking the flame of our current attention-deficit disorder culture. (Remember when “The Interview” was going to take down Western Civilization for a hot second?) Read More »

Introducing The TV Thunderdome

I generally don’t comment upon ad campaigns for television shows, since I’m into reviewing shows, not promos. A skillful promo can be made for a crappy show, and the reverse is also true. (That first FOX promo for “Enlisted” was so bad it probably killed the show before it even aired.) Talking about a promo that originally aired over two months ago for programs that have since ended their respective seasons might seem odd at best and downright lazy at worst, but allow me this late exception all the same.

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State of the Writing Union

About every six months or so I go into a spiral in which I wonder things like WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT, not in terms of my overall life per se but the writing part of it specifically. It’s one of my more charming qualities, and I’m sure those of you that have been reading me for a long time take private bets on what week I’ll deploy one of these bad boys. Luckily, this iteration isn’t nearly as mopey as past ones, at least I hope.

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Old School: I Wanna Boof

“Old School” is a series of old posts that I wrote when I first started writing online over a decade ago. Most have been lost except for my own copies, as I’ve had trouble archiving my material online. Very few of them have anything to do about TV. Most of them have a lot to do about me.

Originally published August 19, 2003

So today I wanna talk about “The Boof”. Read More »

Monday Morning Critic: Penny’s Anatomy

Welcome back to another installment of the Monday Morning Critic. In this space each week, I’ll be looking at the week that was in addition to the week ahead in television. The format will shift each week, as the world of TV will dictate the form and content of each piece.

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Monday Morning Critic: Goodbye to “Justified”

Welcome back to another installment of the Monday Morning Critic. In this space each week, I’ll be looking at the week that was in addition to the week ahead in television. The format will shift each week, as the world of TV will dictate the form and content of each piece.

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Monday Morning Critic: Two FX comedies

Welcome back to another installment of the Monday Morning Critic. In this space each week, I’ll be looking at the week that was in addition to the week ahead in television. The format will shift each week, as the world of TV will dictate the form and content of each piece.

In this week’s installment: reviews of FX’s “The Comedians” and “Louie.”
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