A farewell to one of the great shows of this or any era, some 'Andor' and 'Mythic Quest' thoughts, and a look at the state of modern TV recaps
As the editor of a Substack dedicated to episodic television criticism—Episodic Medium, which folks can find at my profile—AND as someone who forced my way into criticism through the comments on What’s Alan Watching?, I obviously echo much of what you reflect on here.
One thing I’ll add is that Twitter obviously changed these dynamics considerably, as it grew into a space where you could excise a few thoughts about something without dedicating a formal review to it.
But this again raises the issue with the binge releases: in addition to destabilizing episodic coverage (I’ve only reviewed Heartstopper at Episodic Medium on principle, I’d never pay someone to cover), it also destabilizes social media conversation, with everyone moving at different paces. I wrote about this for an academic journal a few years into covering Orange is the New Black for The A.V. Club, and the point basically stands. https://quod.lib.umich.edu/f/fc/13761232.0040.120/--binge-reviews-the-shifting-temporalities-of-contemporary-tv?rgn=main;view=fulltext
With Twitter basically on its last legs, I’m obviously personally invested in us moving the dialogue to platforms like this one, so I’m thrilled at being able to relive our blogging days and put our critical dialogues in conversation.
I miss the recaps - a part of my enjoyment of watching your recapped shows was from trying to guess which phrase would be referenced at the beginning of your recap (especially true of Justified) - but understand there is so much to choose from now, its hard to know where to begin. Just want to offer my thanks for helping me sort out the wheat from the chaff in the days pre the streaming wars.
Just want to 2nd/3rd what was said below. I became a TV show junky, in a good way, based largely on your old blog posts/recaps of shows that I could trust were worth watching if you were writing about them. Happy to read whatever you have the time to write. Keep up the great work. Thanks!
Will take and read whatever you have to offer. Never would have discovered or enjoyed nearly as much some of the great TV shows of the last decade if your writing hadn’t been available.
Hey, the commenting band's getting back together! Good to see some old faces!
You didn't mention the scenario where I especially appreciate your recaps: dense and/or twisty shows, where you provide a second perspective, plus a few errant plot points or nuances I might have missed. Maybe there's less TV like that these days, aside from puzzle box shows like Westworld, or confusingy over-plotted stuff like The English, which are sort of a whole other thing (and not my bag).
In other news, I'm finally getting to Deadwood, and while UPROXX has maintained your Deadwood Rewind, they've lost nearly all the Jim Beaver and Keone Young comments, so I've been reading them in Wayback archive. That stuff is important TV history, so if you want to add one more post to the old blog updating on this, I'll be happy to shoot you the links.
Alan I miss your weekly reviews but I understand that the system has changed and it is almost impossible. However, I can't help but think that I wouldn't have seen Brockmire or The Leftovers if it weren't for you. I think the ideal now is like you did with Barry that you did an overall and then the finale.
So glad you are here, doing this. Your double-threaded Wire recaps way back when, with the spoiler-full and spoiler-free versions, taught me how to watch TV like a thoughtful grownup, with both skepticism and appreciation.
I absolutely love Atlanta and I don't know anybody else who is watching it in my friend's group. Sometimes I enjoy watching the familiar and cozy, but with this one I loved never knowing where the episodes were going. So smart!
Mr. Sepinwall, I am curious - is there any chance you might start doing the more elaborate episodic recaps on this newsletter? Perhaps something that doesn't fit over at RS? I would certainly be interested in reading those.
I appreciate how this newsletter, unlike Twitter, can let me know what you've worked on week-to-week (rather than hoping I've seen all of someone's tweets). It'll help me stay more on top of the Discourse, in some ways (if a bit behind).
I understand that the highest profile properties — the Marvel and Star Wars and Westeros of it all — naturally draw the largest audiences at the offset, and naturally critics and recappers flock to those, because they want to be part of a conversation that can guarantee the most numbers of folks already sitting at the table early on (not to mention more clicks = more money). Unfortunately, that also means that we're all buzzing about the content from billion dollar corporations that can afford the ad space that other, tinier operations can only dream of.
I know that there's never been more television before and that makes y'all's job of being aware of everything worthwhile impossible. I just hope that folks like you also continue giving yourselves the space and reserves of energy to point us towards those smaller shows that deserve our attention but will never blip on our radars because their marketing campaigns are smaller and they don't have their critical champions early on. There's nothing better than that feeling of truly discovering that next show.
You have the best job in the world. Not only are you paid to watch TV & write about it but you get to decide what you want to write about. I always thought you were assigned shows to review. But you can just be like “Nah. Not doing that”. I’d be terrified of missing out on the hottest show, ya know? Suddenly a show you skipped hits it big & someone else is writing about it and doing a damn good job. “What if that happens again? Will I get fired? Will that someone else get my job?”-that’s what my paranoid ass brain would be thinking lol.
Honestly? I wish you reviewed more than just TV. I’d love to hear you thoughts on movies as well. Is that a union rule or something? I remember when the late great Roger Ebert started his amazing blog I often hoped he’d write about shows like The Sopranos or Deadwood. But he rarely even mentioned them. I always wondered “hmm. I wonder if it’s some union regulation that movie critics can only write about movies and TV critics can only write about TV”. Of course then comes the obvious dilemma “what about a TV movie?” Lol. Anyways glad to see you’ve got a new spot to communicate.
I’ve been wondering, what did you think of the Sheridan/Terence Winter show? Tulsa King?
Alan, you are the OG of this genre. I cannot tell you how many times your recaps launched discussions of favorite tv shows between myself and fellow producers and editors (I work in TV production). I know you're not going anywhere, but just wanted to thank you for your work.
Thank you for the commitment to writing about Atlanta, even at a time when a lot of focus on it isn’t there. This was an excellent final season, and the finale was spectacular.
hope this is a safe space to advocate for the return of TV Avalanche because I desperately miss it