While I was out: ‘Making a Murderer,’ blog plans, and more

Senior Television Writer
01.04.16 65 Comments

Happy New Year, everybody! I've been on vacation since Christmas – give or take a quick pop-in to discuss the news that George R.R. Martin's next book definitely won't be out before the next “Game of Thrones” season – but spent time here and there struggling to make the ascent up Screener Mountain. Not only are there a few dozen TV shows premiering in January alone, but press tour officially starts tomorrow (I don't get there til Thursday), so between the broadcast networks, cable, and the various streaming outlets, it's been a terrifying reminder that, as John Landgraf once said, we haven't hit Peak TV in America quite yet.

That said, while there's an absurd amount of new stuff premiering this month alone, much less of that is worth getting excited about as a viewer. I'll be doing reviews of the things I find genuinely intriguing – in ways both good and bad – over the coming weeks, both new and returning shows. But in talking with other critics as we prep for TCA, there's a strange sense of relief from some that there aren't more shows worth flipping out over, given how behind everyone is on everything. I liked some shows a lot (TBS' “Angie Tribeca” and Netflix's “Love,” to name two), but it's been a less inspiring pre-tour binge than a lot of others I've done lately.

Before we dive into all of that in the days and weeks ahead, I wanted to touch on a couple of things – why I haven't finished “Making a Murderer,” blog plans for the new year, etc. – since I've been asked about all at various times:

* First, Screener Mountain is the main reason I never got past the second episode of Netflix's “Making a Murderer,” which was as well-crafted and infuriating as promised – and which, based on the non-scientific sampling that is my Twitter feed, every single person in America watched over their holiday break. I knew I wasn't going to be reviewing it, I had around 100 hours of upcoming shows to choose between, and I could tell based on the comments from people who had gotten further ahead that it was just going to make me angrier and angrier. Which, as a card-carrying fan of “The Wire,” I don't necessarily object to, but which made me feel relieved when I decided to just give in, Google the major, awful details, and get back to the five dozen other things I needed to see. Maybe one day, I'll get back to it.

* Back in September, I said that I was taking a step back from trying to recap as many shows every week, in the hopes it would allow me to check in on more shows, and ultimately wound up with only five regulars in “Fargo,” “The Leftovers,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “The Walking Dead,” and “You're the Worst.” I liked the way that approach worked out and want to stick with it for now. In fact, between press tour obligations and the fact that several winter regulars like “The Americans” and “Better Call Saul” – or potential regulars, like HBO's “Vinyl,” which I haven't seen yet – aren't debuting until February or even March, there won't be a lot of weekly staples in the blog this month. I'll definitely cover “Brooklyn” in its new Tuesday home, though perhaps as part of a round-up of the many comedies I enjoy that will now be airing on that night (“New Girl,” “The Grinder,” “Fresh Off the Boat”). And I imagine I'll be writing a lot about “The X-Files” miniseries starting near the end of the month, as well as checking in from time to time on semi-regulars like “Shameless” (back on Sunday) the CW/DC shows, the return of “Agent Carter,” perhaps some “Always Sunny” if there's time (Wednesday's season premiere is a “Chardee MacDennis” sequel, and it's goddamn delightful), etc. But there's just so much to watch, and to review on a macro level, and not an awful lot that I feel inspired to drill down on a micro, episode-by-episode, level, that I'm not going to throw things into the weekly rotation just to do it. You won't lack for writing from me this month, even if the content is more varied for a while.

How was everyone's break? What's the best thing you watched over the last couple of weeks, whether on the big screen (“Spotlight” was wonderful – a testament to both the importance of shoe-leather reporting and the power of telling a movie's story simply rather than dressing up facts that don't need them – but also a funny bit of career dissonance from director Thomas McCarthy, who in his other life as an actor, played fabulist reporter Scott Templeton on “The Wire”), or the small?

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