Thursday, September 9, 2010

Shameless Self-Promotion

The internal debate entitled "What the Hell am I Going to Put in My First Post" rages on, which isn't terribly surprising, since this blogging idea occurred to me perhaps ten minutes ago for the sole purpose of giving my review series more exposure. Oh, and also for some clarification of points I don't get to explain very well in the video due to time constraints. However, I don't tend to get much feedback, so maybe a format that encourages commenting will help? I dunno, let's see.

-Half an hour of browser flash games later-

So I was cruising the Escapist User Reviews forums today, and I noticed that I seem to be the only person reviewing television shows. I checked the index and there were only a handful of entries for tv shows (that aren't anime) and the most recent of them went up in May. This got me to thinking... why the hell is this such a niche thing? If there's a demand for critiques of other entertainment media, surely there's a demand for tv show critiques, too. Running under the assumption that there is, why don't more people review tv?

I speculated in my first Heroes video that part of the problem is the sheer quantity of stuff to pore through. I still think that's the case, but it does need to be qualified, as video game reviewers generally have fifteen to twenty hours (maybe not "generally" so much as "hopefully") of material to work through and criticize. Television on the other hand... well, if it's an hour long episode, then there's about forty-two minutes of actual show in it. Typical seasons have twenty-four episodes. Which means that a single season is eighteen hours of material that's created over a period of seven or eight months.

That usually (again, "hopefully") means that the show will evolve. Especially in the first season, which is why I always start with the first season of a show, since it's important to be aware of where a show started when you start tearing it apart. It's a great thing when shows evolve; in the first season, shows need to accustom themselves to their tools, so it's necessary that they stay out of strict episode formulas to fully explore the possibilities with their budget, crew, writers and actors. Later seasons, though, should evolve to avoid treading old ground. That's the whole reason that shows with a conflict-of-the-week have over-arcing storylines: without story arcs they get a little stale. And by "a little" I mean "stale enough bounce when thrown down on the counter in frustration because someone finished the peanut butter and put the jar back in the cabinet."

However, that kind of evolution makes a show difficult to summarize into an eight minute video. Premises are easily summarized into a sentence or two, but every statement that I could make about characters or inter-play or subtext (with I generally stay away from because nothing spells doom better than criticizing something so purely subjective as subtext) can be refuted with an example from any number of episodes or scenes that just don't fit the tone of the rest of the show. As happens pretty frequently with shows that have writing teams or cyclic directors. There's never a single person on which to blame a great wrong. Which is probably for the best considering the number of people that would leap to write terrible things in their livejournal.

You know, I think the primary deterrent is the quantity of material to look at when critiquing television. I mean, I watch these shows for ten to twelve hours a day and I can't ever just sit back and enjoy them. Even shows I love must be painstakingly picked apart for flaws that I then must weigh based on egregiousness. I know that it looks like fun, but it actually is work. I was rather surprised, since I'd set myself a schedule of one video a week and now I'm looking at that going "What the fucking hell was I thinking?"

Well, I could ramble in this vein for some time yet but I think I'm'a watch some more Heroes instead. If you watch my videos and have some feedback for me, feel free to comment here, or send me an email at opinionatedtvATyahooDOTcom.

And on Sunday the video for "Heroes, the All Bad, All the Time Edition" goes up on YouTube.

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