TV | Ch-Ch-Changes
As detailed on social media when posting the review of GLOW's season one finale, "Money's in the Chase", last weekend, I said that there would be an change in how TV shows would be covered on this site and how many shows would be covered, so let's jump right in.
What GLOW taught me
The first episode, "Pilot", was covered by way of summary, relying mostly on opinion and broad sweeps rather than detail, but I realised straight away that by being so general and non-specific in writing about a show where each episode ran roughly 35 minutes would quickly prove fairly repetitive.
From episode two ("Slouch. Submit") onward, I instead went into greater and greater detail when recapping the events of each episode, adding some opinion to each section as and when I felt it was needed. This would be fine if I had the time spare, but I write the posts for Movies. Games. TV. after a full day's work and doing things this way quickly grew tiring.
It wasn't helped that by going into so much detail, I ended spending more time each writing about a 35 minute show than I did on the movie and game reviews combined. This wouldn't do either, so I knew I had to come up with something different.
What to do?
The issue with a lot of TV shows these days is that they are so heavily serialised, that looking at them on an episode-by-episode basis doesn't really work. Unless the show is something like Black Mirror, where each episode is effectively its own completely separate thing - or simply a less-serialised series - then trying to look at all TV shows the same way just isn't going to work.
You wouldn't review a book one chapter at a time, so why would you look at a serialised TV show like that? Both have the same objective: tell one large story divided up into digestible chunks. There are a number of TV critics who dislike the heavy serialisation of a number of Netflix shows, but I think this is simply the evolution of TV and audiences seem more than happy with it, so not a problem.
Are there episodes that seem like filler material where very little happens? Absolutely. I said as much myself in several of my GLOW recaps. Is that necessarily a bad thing? Absolutely not. In all honesty, it depends on the execution. Filler is only bad when it's poorly-executed and/or boring, but if the show is well-made and the people behind it are good enough at their jobs, episodes that contribute nothing more than an extra episode to the season can still be good.
To give an example of what I mean, two of my favourite shows when I was younger was Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off, Angel. Both of these shows tended to have season-long arcs, with numerous episodes that were effectively nothing more than another chapter of that story, but every season would be peppered with a number of great stand-alone episodes that might have had nothing to do with that season's arc and only really there to contribute to the episode count, but were still great to watch.
Hopefully TV criticism won't become like a lot of film criticism, where entire reviews are spent looking down on what a critic deems low-brow or simple entertainment, simply because it's not what they want. Throughout my reviews of GLOW, I gave my honest opinion every time I shared it, but I don't believe I looked down on the material or the format in which it was presented - instead taking that into account and making it part of my opinion.
Leaving that behind, another issue for me looking at a season of television on an episode-per-week basis means only 52 episodes would get looked at across the length of a year. To point out why that's bad, it would mean only four regular-length Netflix seasons of 13 episodes would feature on the site. That really wouldn't do either.
As I've hopefully made clear, the original plan of looking at a season of television on a weekly, episode-by-episode basis is being blasted out of the nearest airlock into the void of space.
Instead, each new post in the TV section of this site will now look at an entire season of a show at once. Yes, individual episodes may be covered in far less detail, but that will hopefully lead to less repetition of opinion on my part.
These posts will consist of a summary of that season's structure and overall arc (if there is one), followed by a brief look at each episode and what I thought of it in general, before finishing by offering my opinion of that season as a whole and what worked - or not.
This means that more seasons of TV will be covered at a far greater pace, with the added bonus of the reduced writing workload meaning no more delays. Famous last words there. Especially as there are downsides to this, which also need to be explained.
After all, I do still need to find the time to actually watch the shows in the first place. As such, the aim is to watch at least one season of television per month, with a new TV post on the first Friday of every month - starting in February with the first season of Orphan Black.
That does mean fewer TV posts per month, but an increase to at least twelve seasons of TV being covered each year. I say at least, because if I enjoy a show, I'm going to be far more inclined to press on with it and may end up adding more if I have the time free to do so.
So what will replace the TV posts on the Fridays now vacated? Actually, quite a bit. Over Christmas, I went through Krysten Ritter's (Jessica Jones, The Defenders, Don't Trust The B---- in Apt 23) debut novel, Bonfire, which I intend to review, and am currently alternating between Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and Stephen King's IT.
I also have George R.R. Martin's The World of Ice and Fire to read, as well as Marvel Comic's Platinum Definitive Thor Redux and the monstrously-large collection of Jonathan Hickman's run on various Avengers titles (seriously, it's over a thousand pages to get through!).
There are always more movies and games to be looked at as well, the latter including a couple of special challenges: the first being a trip through time in the Total War series, starting with Rome II, moving on to Medieval 2 and finishing with Empire; the second being a 'can I do what Arsène Wenger can't?' game of Football Manager 2018, as I attempt to win either the Premier League or Champions' League with Arsenal.
As you can see, there's plenty to be getting on with, so I certainly won't be resting on my laurels by reducing the number of TV posts each month and instead will be consuming even more media than before to add to the pages of Movies. Games. TV.