Welcome to the new home of What’s Alan Watching? here at HitFix! Many of you probably followed me from the previous incarnation of the blog and know what I’m about, but for those of you who don’t – and/or those of you who want a sense of how things will work here at HitFix (short version: about the same as before) – I’ll have an explanation coming up just as soon as I figure out more excuses to quote “Midnight Run”…
As the name (which was inspired by an unsold pilot produced by Eddie Murphy in the late ’80s) suggests, What’s Alan Watching? is a place where I write about the TV shows I watched in a given night. At any given time (particularly during the duration of the broadcast TV season), there are a couple of dozen shows in the blog rotation at once. Some are dark dramas (“Breaking Bad”), some are goofy comedies (“Community”), and some fall in between (“Chuck”). I did cover a few reality shows off and on, notably “Survivor” and “American Idol,” but as my enthusiasm for them has waned, it makes sense to yield to Dan Fienberg’s superior coverage of them at our Monkeys as Critics blog. (You can get a better sense of some of the shows I did cover and/or will cover by looking at the side rail on the old blog; the goal is to get something similar going here as I start building up an archive of material.)
Some shows (particularly the cable dramas) I get to see nearly every episode of in advance, and when I do, I try to get reviews ready to post as soon as the episode finishes airing on the East Coast. When I don’t, it can come later that night (I tend to put sleep on hold to write about “Lost”), or the next morning, and sometimes it may take a few days. Some shows may not get covered every week, depending on my schedule and level of interest, and some shows may go out of the rotation altogether after an episode or run of episodes that causes me to throw up my hands, George Costanza-style, and declare, “That’s it for me!” I’m only one man, and so I have to do triage sometimes in terms of what I do and don’t cover.
These are not recaps I’m writing, though of course a good chunk of the plot can and will be discussed. My goal is to figure out whether an episode worked or didn’t, talk about why, and in the cases of some shows that go deeper (“Lost,” “Treme”) talk about theme and hidden meaning and the rest. Some reviews will be very long (have your reading glasses ready when “Mad Men” returns in late July), while others will be fairly brief. Again, it depends on how much I feel I have to say about a given show, and some lend themselves more to dissertation-style reviews than others.
There will also be regular advance reviews of new shows before they debut, and other posts (modeled on my old columns for The Star-Ledger) where I analyze the TV news of the day, or check in on a show midway through its run for the sake of those not watching the regular episodes. (My goal is to do one of those on “Community” for tomorrow or the next day, assuming I get my hands on a copy of this week’s episode.)
Over my years at the old site, I developed a group of commenting rules that helped keep everybody civil and happy, and the new bosses at HitFix are okay with me instituting and enforcing them on this version of the blog. I’m going to post a longer, revised version of the old list (as I’ve made some tweaks in my head over the years since I last posted it), but here are the ones you should know right away:
1. Be respectful to other commenters. The cardinal rule, and the one from which the others flow. This is an opinion blog, and a place where people can and should argue passionately for their point of view. But there’s a difference between arguing with passion and arguing with hostility. If you can’t find a way to express your viewpoint without insulting other commenters, or getting strident and self-righteous — say, equating your opinion with fact, and deriding other people for not seeing the truth of your words — then either tone down your words until they’re more respectful to other people, or don’t comment. Talk about the shows, not each other.
2. No spoilers. There are plenty of places online where you can find out and discuss details about shows that have yet to air. This is not one of them. Anything that hasn’t been part of an aired episode yet – and that includes commercials/previews for upcoming episodes, which vary in their spoiler level – is off-limits.
3. No politics. Politics is one of those subjects that we as a country – or, we as an internet culture – have ceased being able to discuss rationally, so I’m making it off-limits, as an adjunct to Rule #1. If, say, I do a post on an “SNL” episode featuring an Obama sketch, you can talk about whether you found the sketch funny, but don’t start praising or attacking Obama, or the Republicans, or anyone else. I don’t care if I agree with your position or not; any of this is verboten.
Anyway, that’s a lot to assimilate, I know. Should be a busy day today, with reviews of last night’s “How I Met Your Mother” and “United States of Tara” later this morning, “Lost” and “Justified” tonight, and reactions to any random news that happens in between.
So let’s have fun, and if you have questions or issues that you don’t feel belong in the comments, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com