We're Todd VanDerWerff and Erik Adams. We're the TV Editor and Assistant TV Editor of The A.V. Club.

Most of the time, we're reviewing TV, or writing thinkpieces about TV, or editing others' reviews/thinkpieces about TV. Our site has become somewhat known for Todd's Community coverage, and you can read his review of the season premiere here. He also interviewed creator Dan Harmon about the whole of the show's second season here. And if you're interested, you can wade through more than 150,000 comments on Todd's review of last season's finale here.

But we like talking about TV in general, too! Feel free to ask us about the TV landscape, your favorite shows, or working at TV Club. And if you have a question for Todd or Erik specifically, please make sure to say so!

Twitter Verification: http://twitter.com/TheAVClub/status/299956395846033408 Todd exists, too: https://twitter.com/tvoti/statuses/299956051757891585


Hey all: Thanks for participating in this! Unfortunately, we need to get back to work now, because those TV Club reviews don’t write and/or edit themselves. There were way more questions than we anticipated (and, wow, even some for me!), and we’re trying to make our way through the ones that came in near the end. If we didn’t get to your question, please accept our apology—and then accept this invitation to ask that question again below one of our reviews or on Twitter. We now return to your regularly scheduled programming.—EA


Okay, I'm done now, too! Thanks for the great questions, guys, and you can always talk to Erik or I on Twitter! -- TV

Comments: 415 • Responses: 103  • Date: 

midwestspitfire119 karma

My question is for Todd:

Todd, why are you physically incapable of bringing me ice cream when you get up and get some for yourself?

thesmash54 karma

For those unaware, this is Todd's wife.

TheTVClub28 karma

She is also my podcast co-host, and would make the best Ask Me Anything. -- TV

TheTVClub33 karma

I am too busy to get anyone ice cream. Even you. Even Erik. -- TV

Irony_Maiden60 karma

I sometimes find it hard to have a critical mindset when I’m watching TV, and tend to uncritically get swept up into whatever’s happening on the screen. I don’t get much past funny/not funny, or emotionally satisfying/not emotionally satisfying, etc. I love reading reviews from both of you and other critics because you’re able to dissect the shows so well and give me a much deeper understanding, but I’d love to be able to do a better job of forming my own opinion beyond liked it/didn’t like it. Any tips on how to do that, like are there things you’re consciously watching for, or specific questions you’re always looking for answers to when you’re reviewing a show? Does criticism come naturally to you, or is it more a conscious thing that you’ve had to hone along the way?

TheTVClub64 karma

This is Todd. (I feel like I'm responding to you on an old-fashioned two-way radio every time I say, "This is Todd." Home base to mobile base. Mobile mobile.)

I tried to think of a fancypants answer to this, or to tell you about my process, but my process tends to involve doing lots of Internet surfing, then realizing it's midnight, and I'm supposed to be writing about Nashville or something. I will tell you this: A critical reaction is nothing but a gut reaction, an emotion that comes to you based on what you feel, not what you think you're supposed to feel. If you enjoy something, that's perfectly valid. Criticism is as much about enthusiasm as it is about saying things that didn't work.

That said, the best way to get better at developing your critical voice is, as with anything else, to practice. Now, I'm an insane workaholic, so I used to write four or five short reviews of TV shows per night while also working a day job when I had my own personal blog. I would not recommend emulating this. But I DO think that starting up your own blog and posting on it four to five times per week is a good idea, because that will help you hone your voice. The most important thing is to watch TV, lots of TV, even TV you don't like, then read. And don't just read criticism or read about TV (though that's important). Read all types of writing. Figure out what you can steal. Start to learn what you admire in that writing and what you don't.

By far the most valuable thing you can do to learn about how TV works is to pick an episode of a show you like and watch it three times. The first time, do something else. See how much you retain by not really paying attention. The second time, take it apart scene by scene. Figure out what each scene is trying to do and where it fits in the overall structure. The third time, see if you can appreciate how it all fits together as a whole (i.e., watch attentively but don't necessarily take notes).

I hope one or two of those suggestions help.

MyrnaMountWeazel26 karma

Hello TV writers for A.V. Club! My question is directed towards Todd VanDerWerff and his recent article about Netflix's programming strategy, but any of the writers are free to answer.

Todd you wrote that "Netflix has frequently stated that it would like to essentially become an alternative to HBO before HBO is financially able to break its relationship to cable companies and become a streaming service like Netflix." When/if HBO breaks off from Timewarner to start streaming, Timewarner will lose having HBO as a bargaining chip to cable providers as an exclusive deal.

The funding for HBO will be cut down and the ability to produce artistic/innovative/straight-up-weird television shows will be too much of a risk for them.

With a smaller pool of funding, will HBO's future shows become like House of Cards, a solid show that strives for the solid B grade, never alienating the audience?

If so, what do you propose that HBO carry out to save its creative designs?

TheTVClub32 karma

Hey, everybody. This is Todd. Erik and I will be sharing this account, and will do our best to explain which of us is typing. I hope.


HBO's advantage over Netflix is that it, ostensibly, has a boatload of cash. (This is one of those generally accepted things; in reality, we'll never know how much either company has on hand, because the earnings reports released to the public are heavily massaged. If you get TV executives drunk enough, maybe they will tell you the truth. But probably not.)

Anyway, I don't think that HBO will break off from Time Warner. I think it will remain a viable asset to the company. There will just come a time when it will make more sense for them to have an online subscription service--i.e., turning HBO Go into a Netflix competitor--and then they will launch subscription HBO Go. That point will come when the amount of money they'd lose from irate cable companies is less than the amount of money they'll gain from new subscribers. I suspect that point will come in the next few years.

Will this diminish their ability to take programming risks? Time will tell. But in the short term, yes, I expect less risk-taking on TV. Then again, TV doesn't HAVE to take risks to be great. Good, old-fashioned stuff can be just as fun. Justified, for instance, doesn't break any new ground, but it's one of my favorite shows on TV.

InSciopero21 karma

What do you think are the most influential shows for modern television? What shows should someone be versed in to fully appreciate TV today?

TheTVClub35 karma

I will give you four shows per decade of television. If you watch at least a handful of episodes of these shows, you'll have a pretty good idea what the medium is all about. (Okay, you'll have a pretty good idea of what the AMERICAN version of the medium is all about.)

'50s: I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, Leave It To Beaver, Get your hands on the Criterion "Golden Age of Television" set and watch that.

'60s: The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Defenders, The Andy Griffith Show, Route '66

'70s: Mary Tyler Moore, All In The Family, Barney Miller, Taxi

'80s: Cheers, Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, thirtysomething or Moonlighting (take your pick, as they represent two sides of a coin TV would continue to evolve throughout the next several decades)

'90s: Twin Peaks, Seinfeld, The Simpsons, The Sopranos (I am cheating considering this a '90s show, but it DID start then, so)

'00s: The Wire, Arrested Development, Mad Men, The Office (both UK and US)

'10s: Louie. (After that, we don't know yet!) -- TV

norahrose8 karma

I'm surprised that Buffy isn't in there. It seems to have influenced a lot of shows that came after.

TheTVClub9 karma

It did, but I could only have four shows, and the four I picked influenced the medium more. Consider it a strong fifth.

thealiasman20 karma

Just how much is riding on the success of Netflix's Arrested Development? I'm not even talking about its legacy, I mean for television as a whole, mainly in terms of:

1) Reviving (not rebooting) long dormant properties

2) Whether comedy can adapt to bulk release, without weekly check-ins from viewers on which elements are working, and which aren't

3) Binge viewing as an accepted way of digesting storytelling. Does a cliffhanger matter if I've got the next episode available whenever I want it?

4) Will social media-based communal viewing completely disappear?

TheTVClub18 karma

Arrested Development is a surer bet for Netflix than House Of Cards. There's a built-in following, and the first three seasons of the show have already been a hit for the service. When it comes to comedy being able to survive bulk release: I'm betting a good majority of the people reading this found and fell in love with the show by shotgunning multiple episodes on DVD. I certainly did—and I started on the second season, even. So the show has already proven that it holds up in that presentation style.

The revival aspect is the trickiest part for me—because we can't go into it thinking it's going to be as good as it was. Because it just isn't. We've built the show up so much in our minds that nothing could possibly meet those expectations. Hurwitz and his team were smart to retain the characters and the voice of the original three seasons while tinkering with how they tell stories with those characters and in that voice. It can't be the original Arrested Development, so it's not going to be the original Arrested Development.

The social media-based experience won't go away; it'll just adapt. I'd like the competition-style tweets that House Of Cards inspired to disappear by the time the new Arrested Development debuts; but they won't, because every fan of that show has to be the biggest fan of that show. The inherent isolation of watching a TV show will always prompt the need to talk to other people about what you're watching—we'll just be talking about in broader terms, because there's no telling how far deep into the series your conversation partners are.—EA

ccampbell71720 karma


TheTVClub22 karma

This is Todd: I am a Sasha.

Erik will try to say he's a Boo, but he's more of a Ginny, and HE SHOULD KNOW THAT BY NOW.

TheTVClub11 karma

Yeah, Todd's right: Boo's my favorite, but I've got the disgustingly irrepressible spunk of a Ginny. Plus I'm totally pissed at Mel right now, so that fits.—EA

ksalat17 karma

Todd, I know that you don't consider The Wire to be the greatest show on television, and that Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood may be your top choice, but what other shows would you consider in that category of greatest shows of all time?

TheTVClub16 karma

I actually made a list of these back in 2007 or something. If you really want to read it, you can Google it, though I wouldn't recommend it, as it's pretty dumb.

My favorite show of all time is Deadwood. I think it's the most wonderful, life-filled, rich program in television history, and it does things I don't think I've seen any other program do. The season finale of season two is so wonderfully life-affirming, and in a really weird way. After that, I'd have to go with The Simpsons and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, two comedies that really defined what I look for in TV humor.

I mean, I like all the same shows everybody else does. The Wire is amazing. The Sopranos blew me away when I revisited it. (I knew I liked it; I didn't know HOW MUCH I liked it.) Arrested Development is great. Etc.

But our discussions of "best in TV history" have a disconcerting tendency to get stuck discussing "best TV shows of the last 15 years." There's nothing wrong with that, not really, but there's so much great TV before The Sopranos and before Arrested. I would encourage you to pick one older show you've heard good things about, that sounds up your alley, and watch as much of it as you can. You might like it!

(Obviously, you should pick Cheers.) -- TV

a_rabies15 karma

Hey TV Club! I'm currently a journalism student looking to get into movie/tv show reviewing and entertainment reporting in general. I know internships and experience are vital, but do you have any other tips for getting into the field?

Thanks guys, love reading your reviews. The A.V. Club is one of my go-tos.

TheTVClub21 karma

You probably hear this a lot, but the best thing you can do is pitch and write, pitch and write. And be flexible. I ended up writing about TV, but I once had designs on being a music critic, and one of my earliest breaks came as a theater/live comedy correspondent for a blog in Austin, Texas. Work in this field is hard to find, and you've got to take it as it comes. Also, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes and the better you get at it. That's been my experience, at least. (Are there enough platitudes in this answer?)—EA

TheTVClub17 karma

Todd, again, reporting to you from snowy Iowa.

A question I answered elsewhere may have some bearing in this regard. I, too, had a journalism major, but I've never taken a class in criticism or even opinion writing. ("And it shows!" say a million commenters.) I just knew that I wanted to write about TV, so I started a blog while I was working as a copy editor at a newspaper. I just started writing reviews, and while the early ones were terrible, they got better. I got involved in several online communities that led to some work at team blogs like The House Next Door. And from there, I started bugging editors of my favorite publications for paid work. I was fortunate enough to be doing this at the time when there was a boom in people wanting weekly episode reviews.

The answer is depressingly similar to the answer for people trying to break into show business: It's who you know, but it's also how talented you are, and it's also being lucky. There's no guaranteed path, and when you tell the story of how you broke in to someone asking you this question someday, you will sound like an insane person.

criminalyo15 karma

Hey, Todd, I feel like you're the right man for this. WANNA SQUEAL ABOUT RYAN AND TESSA?

TheTVClub22 karma

This is Todd.


criminalyo4 karma

Thank you! You understand. Also, I had a somewhat serious question about the show as a whole. I love every single actor on Suburgatory. Especially Allie Grant! But sometimes I find myself not looking forward to George/Dallas. I mean, I like them and love that the show went there but I don't know. I enjoyed them more when they weren't together. I love the parody aspect of the show but I feel they go overboard sometimes with Dallas. Meanwhile, Dalia continues to be just perfect.

And hey, what's your favorite episode? I always find myself going back to Down Time. That whole Tessa-being-a-unicycle-alone-in-her house is priceless. MOVE. THAT. BUS!!!!!

TheTVClub5 karma

As an adopted kid, it's just always going to be "The Wishbone" with me. That episode destroyed me in a way TV rarely does. AND it was really funny.

I agree that George and Dallas are a really problematic element on the show. I like them sometimes, but it feels like the show has forgotten how to humanize Dallas when she's with George. There were some really wonderful moments with that character last season, and this season, it's pretty much limited to the bits she had in "Chinese Chicken," which were very good, and the time she told George to let his daughter go find her mom. I dunno. I wish I liked her more, since the show so obviously loves her. But I sometimes find her hard to take. -- TV

corsac13 karma

blah blah Community notification for this?

TheTVClub9 karma

The system is broken! -- TV

bassnectarhead13 karma

Who is your favorite character on television, both right now and in history?

TheTVClub35 karma

Right now: Leslie Knope. In history: Sam Malone.—EA

TheTVClub32 karma

Right now: Pam on Archer In history: Al Swearengen from Deadwood --TV

cyco12 karma

I find it amusing that it seems like television itself is signing off on your posts, TV.

TheTVClub21 karma

When I was a kid, I realized my initials were TV, and I told my parents, "I should grow up to be a TV salesman!" -- TV

PanachelessNihilist12 karma

Can you please go back to putting grades on TV Club Classic reviews? As someone who's getting into some old shows (thanks to Netflix), it'd be nice to know which episodes deserve some special attention and which can be skipped over.

Also, is there any chance of adding some older British shows to the TV Club Classic repertoire? I'm thinking that shows like the I.T. Crowd, Black Books, and the Inbetweeners would generate some good discussion.

TheTVClub12 karma

In general, our writers hate giving grades, and those who cover classic TV shows trend toward shows they love. I get the "at a glance, I can tell which episodes are worthwhile!" argument, but it hasn't really worked out that way in practice, because the writers tend to think that, well, everything is worthwhile.

And older British shows... we'll see. We're trying out Peep Show in a few weeks (set your TiVos!), but in general, British TV doesn't draw a big audience for us. -- TV

CaptainApathy41912 karma

What is it about Girls that led it to conquer the Internet? I feel like every day brings another dozen articles riffing on some aspect of Girls and/or Lena Dunham.

For the record, I like the show.

TheTVClub19 karma

Girls is easy to thinkpiece about. Honestly, also, I think the title both hurt and helped it, because it all at once underscored how little television is run by women, while also being so general that a lot of people wanted it to be more of a portrait of, like, a generation of women, instead of just one ultra-specific portrait of one woman's life. -- TV

Laika02712 karma

I’ve been thinking about the TV Club’s approach to covering House of Cards, especially after reading your article today, Todd. Scott Tobias wrote in a season 2 review of Justified: “The biggest peril [of reviewing TV shows week-to-week] is the forest-for-the-trees problem, especially when dealing with serialized shows that may have payoffs every week but also save some revelations for other episodes down the line. And since we’re blind to those later revelations, they can make whole sections of an earlier episode review totally irrelevant.”

Now, it seems to me that House of Cards was designed precisely to negate that problem; you get all the episodes at once, so you don’t have to wait ten weeks to find out your criticisms were unfounded. So my question is: do you think the TV Club is doing House of Cards a disservice by reviewing it week-to-week when it was intentionally produced and distributed in a way that almost requires the season to be taken in as a whole?

TheTVClub16 karma

This is Todd again.

Maybe we are. That's why we're doing two different types of reviews: Ryan's week-to-week coverage, and my own review of the whole thing, which will hopefully go up sometime next week. (February sweeps is a hell of a time to try and watch this much TV, I'll say.) I can already see that the week-to-week thing will probably need to be a little more like TV Club Classic, in taking on more than one episode at a time, and I suspect we'll experiment more as Netflix's library of content grows.

Fortunately, for now, Netflix is the only place we have to worry about in this regard. Hulu is sticking to the week to week model, and Amazon hasn't yet gotten to the point where they've made a decision one way or the other.

j1train11 karma

What is the use of The A.V. Club's comment culture?

TheTVClub21 karma

I love our commenters. For the most part. I think there is a certain "old boy's club" mentality to the place from time to time, but that's changing and shifting, and I would say that 99 percent of the people who frequent the comments section at the AVC are terrific, intelligent, funny people. But! We have a lot of commenters, so it makes the one percent stand out that much more, when they start acting up. -- TV

monoglot11 karma

Todd, in a piece today you mourn the Netflix strategy of releasing all episodes of its shows at once. You mention that artistic content has been consumed serially for centuries, but of course, it's also been bound and bulk-shipped for centuries.

Would you argue that the novel as a form has declined since the era of New Yorkers waiting on the docks to find out what happened to Nell in The Old Curiosity Shop? Clearly, reading a novel's not the we're-all-in-this-together experience it once was, but it's tough to argue that that change has been bad for fiction.

Erik, feel free to jump in here too.

TheTVClub19 karma

Todd here. (Now I sound like a hero in a movie serial.):

To be clear, what I'm mourning is what I perceive as Netflix's failure to take creative risks, not necessarily the idea of releasing everything at once. I think there are some amazing things that can be done with TV released all at once; I just think it's going to take time to figure out what that looks like. (Already, I think this would be ideal for shows that want to start out a little slowly. David Simon will probably work well within this structure.)

But I do think there's value in the watercooler culture, in the world where everybody is on the same page at the same time. But that's probably just because of the era I was born in. I expect my children will think that I'm just clinging to something stupid, when they start to get into the amazing programs of whatever decade it is when they're old enough to watch that stuff.

KellyCommaRoy3 karma

I didn't get into 24 until season 6 was about to air. I really, really enjoyed being able to go to a store and buy entire seasons at once and just blow through them. I wolfed down five seasons in a few weeks and loved it.

I can never be sure if it's a coincidence that I found the seasons I watched serially on TV to be vastly inferior to the ones I watched on DVD. I'm convinced 24 was a lifeless turd by season 8, which I found unwatchable, but maybe I would have enjoyed season 6 more if I hadn't been forced to sit through commercials and wait a week for each episode.

TheTVClub5 karma

It is very possible, though 24's sixth season is also awful, and I say that as someone who ALWAYS watched it week to week. -- TV

hickorywind10 karma

Is a horrible show easier or harder to review than a brilliant one?

TheTVClub11 karma

I would much rather write about things I love than things I don't like. I know a lot of critics enjoy writing bad reviews more than good ones, but I think of myself as an enthusiast, more than a critic. -- TV

TheTVClub9 karma

It can be easier to write a negative review than a positive review. But if you're reviewing a horrible show for TV Club, you're writing that negative review every week, and that's not a fun mindset to be in all the time.—EA

drifter17178 karma

People always talk about bad episodes of great shows (Stranger in a Strange Land, Black Market, The Great Divide), but what is your favorite episode from a show you ultimately wound up hating?

TheTVClub14 karma

It's an easy answer, but "Company Man" was a great fucking episode of television, and it was in the middle of Heroes, a show I didn't even like that much in season one. -- TV

Srini_7 karma

Do any the TV pilots that have been picked up sound interesting or any good to you?

I'm really only looking forward to S.H.I.E.L.D

TheTVClub15 karma

I try to maintain a kind of heedless optimism for all TV pilots. That said, as a card-carrying Whedon fanboy, I'm really, really excited for SHIELD. I'm also intrigued to see what Jason Katims does with About A Boy, and I'm sure ABC will have a bunch of crazy bullshit that sounds interesting on the page but never sees the light of day. (They're the most fun to follow in pilot season.)

That said, the pilot I'm MOST looking forward to is FX's The Bridge. I think that has the potential to be something really special. -- TV

TheTVClub14 karma

I'm eager to see what happens with Michael Schur and Dan Goor's cop show. Andy Samberg hasn't proven himself capable of carrying a movie yet, but this seems like the right mix of talent and content to take him beyond his status as the "Digital Shorts" guy. I'm also hoping Terry Crews yells at him about being a loose cannon who doesn't play by the rules at some point.—EA

ccampbell7177 karma

This question is for Todd. I direly miss your take on each new Glee episode. Have you been keeping up with the season so far? If so, what are you thoughts? I thought the "You're the One that I Want" sequence that closed out the Glease episode was the best musical sequence they've done since "Bohemian Rhapsody." Thanks!

TheTVClub10 karma

I liked that musical sequence a lot!

I've been vaguely keeping up, in that I let it pile up on my DVR, then half watch while doing other stuff. The New York sequences have been some of the best stuff the show has ever done. The Lima storylines... have not. And the whole Sam and Brittany thing has turned me off, not in the sense that I think once Brittany dated a woman, she had to be a lesbian forever, but in the sense that the show seemed so blase about her past, both ON the show and when the writers brought it up later. I have lesbian friends who are furious, and I don't really blame them. TV is pretty terrible with dealing with fluid sexualities, and this is just another example of that.

That said, I'm a couple of episodes behind right now, so.

Blue_evenings3 karma

I finally gave up on Glee for good toward the end of last season. I posted angrily on facebook when they shamelessly appropriated Jonathan Coulton's arrangement of "Baby Got Back," and a gay friend came to the show's defense. I argued that I was the biggest booster of the show before and during its first season - I watched the pilot 3 or 4 times before the season started, and I still say that's one of the best hours of television I've seen - but the "three writers" eventually lost me with inconsistency and character betrayals.

Any comment on the "Baby Got Back" brouhaha?

TheTVClub8 karma

Glee has been stealing cover arrangements ever since it began. Hell, the "Don't Stop Believin'" in the pilot is basically Petra Haden's arrangement. The show is pop culture as collage, and this is just another part of its problematic relationship with that. I do wish the show had acknowledged Coulton's arrangement in the credits, however. -- TV

digifreak6427 karma

Questions for Todd:

  1. What do you think will be the highest grade you give to an episode of Community season 4?

  2. Did you see the 4th episode of Legit (the one on the plane that aired last night)? I thought it was the worst episode of the show so far by a big margin and am more reluctant to recommend it to others now.

  3. Correct me if I'm wrong: You think that Enlightened, Bunheads, Happy Endings and Community will all be renewed.

  4. Which of the following is LEAST likely to make your top 5 of 2013 (yes I realize that some of these haven't had episodes yet in 2013) Enlightened, Girls, Mad Men, Breaking Bad

TheTVClub16 karma

  1. I'm sure I will give something an A at some point. I'm easy like that.

  2. Not yet.

  3. I think all of those will be renewed, yes. Of the four, I'm actually most concerned about Enlightened, probably because I like it best.

  4. Jesus, dude. It's February. -- TV

atropos777 karma

Hi guys! Thanks for the AMA.

I must admit to not following Community (I know... I'm sorry). But I WAS an avid follower of The Office until a couple seasons ago, so maybe you would take a minute to answer an Office question or three (?)

First, have either of you narrowed down the season, or perhaps even a particular episode, when The Office jumped the shark? (Mine is 'Sabre' from Season 6 if you don't mind my input.) Also, given its current awfulness, laziness, desperation, and joke recycling, do you expect ANY of the last episodes of The Office to receive an 'A' grade from your publication?

Finally, do either of you have any preferences as to what you'd like to see from the show's finale? Is there anything that the writing staff could possibly come up with to make the last few years seem a bit more bearable in retrospect?

Thanks. :)

TheTVClub22 karma

Oh, The Office. What are we to do with you?

I've long contended that the "jump the shark" moment for the show was "Dunder Mifflin Infinity," the episode where Michael drives his car into a lake.

In spite of the ongoing arc with Brian The Sound Guy, I'm certainly not ruling out an "A" episode cropping up in the show's final batch. It still has the capacity to make me laugh very, very hard (see this season's "The Target"), and even last night's so-so episode demonstrated the show's continued ability to turn up satisfying emotional material. If any of the final episodes combines both of those qualities like the show used to in the first three seasons, I can see myself reaching for the "A."

I try not to make wishlists for the shows I review, but I would like to see some sort of satisfying conclusion for Jim and Pam. Either they move to Philadelphia and start a new life or they realize they have everything they've ever wanted in Scranton and choose to stay put. It would also be nice if Andy died on the way back to his home planet.—EA

TheTVClub15 karma

I don't believe in shark-jumping, and Erik has answered this question splendidly already, but I do think that the episode immediately following Jim and Pam's wedding was a giant misfire that showed how the series was going to trend going forward.

But I also think season five is the best season, so I am not to be trusted. -- TV

drifter17177 karma

Hey guys, I've been a huge fan of the A.V. Club for a while now.

I've been doing some tv reviews for a site for the past two weeks now and I'm just starting to get the hang of getting a review done as soon as possible after the episode airs. I was wondering, is there any sort of ritual you go through when you are getting ready to review something? Do you watch an episode multiple times, take notes, or try and read as much into the background of the show as possible? Has writing reviews become almost a second nature at this point where you can just crank out a good review of say "Monday Mornings" in less than an hour?

Also, are you starting to worry at all that there are less and less options for TV Club Classic? A ton of the best Classics have either been cancelled/put on hiatus or have run their course already.

(Also, would you ever consider having a "second opinion" for the Classics? I will never get over how much I hated the Cowboy Bebop reviews)

TheTVClub7 karma

I actually probably shouldn't admit this, but I try not to take notes. I find that it disrupts me from really paying attention to the show. And, yes, I've gotten to a point where I can write a 1,500 word review in about 30-45 minutes, if I really have to, and I know where I'm going. Once you've figured out what you're doing, it gets easier. This is why I'm doing more For Our Consideration writing: I think it challenges me a little more.

As far as TV Club Classic goes: Every time I send out the call for pitches for new ones, I'm amazed by what my writers come up with. The problem isn't finding enough good shows to cover, because there are many. (I could write you an amazing Mary Tyler Moore TV Club Classic, for instance.) The problem is finding TVCCs that people want to READ, and that's tougher. By and large, people only want to read about recent TV, and that makes our jobs harder. But I always have a few TVCCs in my back pocket that we haven't done yet that I know people will read once they're done. It's why you probably won't see one of The Wire until 2015, for instance. -- TV

ksalat7 karma

Most overrated show on TV and/or of all time?

TheTVClub18 karma

I have never been a big fan of Six Feet Under. I can appreciate everything it's trying to do, but I think it all too often flails around hyper-melodramatically on the way there. Well-acted, but the writing just drives me up the wall, too often.

The most overrated show on TV right now? Breaking Bad. It sounds weird for me to say that, I realize, because the show is one of my favorite shows ever made, but there's a consensus that's formed around it as THE TV show, and I always forcefully push back against that. It's a great TV show. It's not the only answer. -- TV

swivelchairpotato6 karma

First of all, let me say that I love your reviews. Some of them are truly thought-provoking and they make TV-watching a much more interesting experience. My question is this: What's the dealbreaker in a TV show? Is there one element that makes you want to punish the show while grading it? For me, it's boredom. If I'm bored even for five minutes, I am very severe on the episode (and the show) in question. But my criterion finds me often at odds with your review, so I was wondering what is yours.

TheTVClub5 karma

If it doesn't force me to think about something or reconsider something. I'm pretty merciless on TV that plays it safe, which is why I think I'm being harder on House Of Cards than some other critics and viewers. -- TV

BackOff_ImAScientist6 karma

First off, I am a frequent vistor to the Avclub and I love your work on the TV club. Now on to my question: what is your favorite novelty account on the AVClub message boards and why?

TheTVClub13 karma

Who doesn't love Cookie Monster? He once explained the Occupy Wall Street movement as well as anyone! While speaking like Cookie Monster! -- TV

KThrace6 karma

This is for Erik--How did you come up with the idea for TV Club Power Rankings? As much as that feature gets teased, it is a good idea.

TheTVClub2 karma

My wife and I thought that feature up over pizza before a Louis C.K. show last fall. And as little sense as it makes now, it was even wackier then: It was originally pitched as a completely visual feature, a hybrid of Tolerability Index and the New York Magazine Approval Matrix. Unfortunately, our current CMS isn't built to handle such a feature, so it became the jumble of ratings and made-up equations that it is today. I've watered it down more and more with each passing iteration, and I'm getting to the point where I'm happy with it now. I sort of see it as a companion to What's On Tonight?—though it's more like What Was On This Week, And How Many People Watched It?

And if you want to see how bugnuts the equation to determine the Power Rankings is, have a look at this: Total Viewers x ((18 to 49 rating/100 x Editorial Grade/Community Grade) + "I Watched This" Numbers)—EA

Lincolns_Revenge6 karma

Is there any chance we might see regular T.V. Club coverage of Comedy Bang Bang's forthcoming 20 episode second season?

TheTVClub11 karma

CBB was one of my favorite shows of 2012, but I've always felt it'd be extremely tough to review week to week. Without the serialized elements that lend themselves to episodic reviewing, regular CBB reviews would just boil down to "Here's what was funny." Not that I wouldn't want to write 20 variations of "Paul F. Tompkins did a hilarious impression" or "Bob Ducca's list of ailments took some surprising turns" for a living—it would just stop being enjoyable after a while.—EA

rivertam426 karma

To what do you attribute the cult following of Community? I ask because I've been reading about media fandom, and Community seems to have few of the qualities found in most other cult television. There's an auteur (well, there WAS), but not much of an endlessly deferred narrative or hyperdiegesis.

TheTVClub3 karma

It is a show that practically begs a cult audience, because it rewards you constantly for being tuned into its particular worldview. Obviously, I enjoy that here (and elsewhere), but I can see where it could become alienating. -- TV

backwards_d6 karma

Most underrated show on TV?

TheTVClub15 karma

I guess Enlightened, though that's becoming a stock answer at this point.

How about The Middle, which is consistently terrific, week in and week out, and portrays a segment of the American populace that isn't well-represented on TV right now? A lot of people tune out of it because they don't like Patricia Heaton--either for political or Everybody Loves Raymond-related reasons--but they really shouldn't. It's a very funny, but also surprisingly subdued show. Everyone watch it! -- TV

TheTVClub13 karma

There are some rough patches in Raising Hope's second and third seasons, but when that show's on, it's one of the winningest comedies on TV. The world of Natesville is well-realized, and the whole show has this wonderful sense of TV history that I find endlessly appealing. I wish more people felt the same way.—EA

SonOfMechaMummy6 karma

If you were given a three-hour primetime programming block and allowed to put any shows that you feel were cancelled too soon on there, what would it look like?

TheTVClub14 karma

We'll open with an hour of unjustly canceled comedies, and we'll put on Sons & Daughters, followed by Frank's Place.

Then! Let's give it over to an hour of Cupid, the original, with the sparkling scripts by Rob Thomas and the wonderful acting of Jeremy Piven and Paula Marshall.

THEN! It's time for Terriers!

Note: I actually believe this night of television would be vaguely watchable. I tried to stick Deadwood in there, but it just didn't fit. -- TV

TheTVClub10 karma

It's tempting to avenge the recent loss of Ben And Kate and Don't Trust The Bitch In Apartment 23 (it's my network, and you can say "bitch" now, show!) with this power. However: The fun starts at 8, with the animated hijinks of Mission Hill and Clone High.

At 9, the campus chaos continues with Undeclared, which leads in to Aliens In America!

Finally, The Night No One Wants To Watch wraps up by jumping 20 minutes into the future with Max Headroom!—EA

SonOfMechaMummy2 karma

I would watch the shit out of that.

I'll try one with the rule of not using a single show either you or Todd used; first hour is Freaks and Geeks, second hour is Ben and Kate followed by Better Off Ted, third hour The L.A. Complex.

TheTVClub4 karma

Freaks And Geeks ends too perfectly for me to want to resurrect it. -- TV

Dunkindoh6 karma

Girls: I love the show and love reading about TV but I find that I just can no longer take the vitriol towards the show and Lena Dunham in particular. Todd, I know this is something you have struggled with based on your (now famous) kick-ass comment.

How much does that affect your writing about new episodes? Do you still read the comments? In general, how much do you allow the "outside" to influence your reviews of new episodes of Girls and other shows?

TheTVClub5 karma

I read every comment on every show I review. I don't always have time to respond, though. I do think that in season one, there was a weird relationship where I became extra defensive of the show, to the point where even episodes that I was criticizing the show pretty heavily, I wound up in comments, defending it to the hilt. I don't know if that's really my job, but there were some real jackasses in those comments.

But I really do try to review every episode I review in a vacuum. For instance, I'm planning on never mentioning Dan Harmon again in this season of Community reviews, and I've tried to keep the Girls reviews focused on the show itself, rather than the furor around it. -- TV

artofwelding5 karma

Outside of the TV Club, whose reviews do you read? Of which shows?

TheTVClub8 karma

I try not to read too much TV criticism. That said, I read everything Matt Zoller Seitz writes. To me, he's the gold standard. (He also gave me my big break!) -- TV

TheTVClub5 karma

Anytime a link to a new long-form piece by Emily Nussbaum shows up in my Twitter feed, I click on it right away.

Ream5 karma

How could you stop the Scandal reviews just as it started to go full out insane?

TheTVClub7 karma

This is a question I keep asking myself. If I could take back any decision we made this season, it would be that one. But we'll be revisiting the show very soon! -- TV

Egg_porkalypse5 karma

Todd, I just wanted to get in here and say that your Sopranos write-ups are by far the greatest thing to come out of the AVClub. They are masterful, and there is nothing, not even the "definitive Sopranos" essay, that comes close to how well you write about that show. Like the show itself, the way you weave all the themes throughout the reviews of all seasons is just incredible. You should really gather it into an ebook of sorts to purchase, I know every Soprano's fan would buy it.

If you would like to answer a question, how would you rank your top 3 shows of all time? I seem to remember you saying that you enjoy The Wire more than Sopranos, but I find it hard to believe that even YOU believe this given just how much you adore Sopranos and how it comes through in your reviews. The more I read them, the more I solidified my position that The Sopranos achieved everything The Wire did, but in a much more entertaining, fleshed out, but also way more demanding, way. I've always had this funny saying that The Sopranos is for "pro" TV watchers, and The Wire is for amateurs. One requires lots of critical thinking, the other is a brute force "Imma tell you what to think" show. It doesn't make The Wire bad, persay, but I think it also doesn't make it as "novelistic" as it is often described, and also doesn't really take that many risks given that the nature of the show is something we are being exposed to more often due to the information age (institutional breakdown). Perhaps you could comment on this?

TheTVClub4 karma

I sort of doubt anyone would buy that ebook, but thanks! I'll think about it.

As far as The Sopranos vs. The Wire, I personally prefer The Sopranos, but when it comes down to it, who cares? They're both amazing television shows, and we can all acknowledge Deadwood is better than either, I think. -- TV

pejasto5 karma

When are we going to hear more about DuckTales' place in the pantheon of historic television?

TheTVClub2 karma

Why, I think you just might on Monday, February 11! -- TV

OrangeCyclone4 karma


TheTVClub7 karma

There was one Big Love that took me something like 10 hours. I don't remember which, though, and I think it was because it aired the same night I had to live-blog the Oscars.

That said, I had a lot of trouble writing the review of the American Horror Story second season finale. That really kicked off something in me that I was surprised to find kicked off. I responded to it emotionally in a way I didn't know the show was capable of. -- TV

rightrabbit4 karma


TheTVClub11 karma

I still love the death of Locke on Lost, especially once we found out that was how he really died. Such a sad story. A man manipulated by a monster because he believed he had a higher purpose. It's surprisingly grim stuff.

Overall, though, the death of Adriana in Sopranos is hard to top. That's just a gut punch hour of TV. -- TV

tally904 karma

Does The A.V. Club ever take on interns?

TheTVClub18 karma

There are three interns sitting in my general vicinity right now. One of them is lurking around this AMA pretending like he's doing work, but he's definitely lurking around this AMA. I'M LOOKING RIGHT AT YOU, ERIC!

But yes, The A.V. Club accepts interns on a regular basis. You can usually see if we're looking for new ones here.—EA

TheTVClub10 karma

Yes! I think we advertise for them, but I have no idea, because I work in Los Angeles and avoid the shenanigans of the Chicago crew. But, yes. We take on many interns. -- TV

thezandymancan4 karma


TheTVClub7 karma

This mostly comes down to expense. If you've ever seen Once Upon A Time, you'll know that coming up with a fantasy series with the quality of effects that we're accustomed to from Hollywood is too expensive, even for a show that's a relative hit. HBO can spend a bit more, but the networks are probably trapped. -- TV

scrubnpuff4 karma

Hey Todd, are you ever planning to review every episode of The Wire the same way you went through The Sopranos? Those reviews were extremely in-depth and informative.

TheTVClub5 karma

Someday, maybe! -- TV

Eye_Wood_Dye_4_U4 karma

Which dance sequence on Bunheads has been your favorite so far?

(why aren't more people watching this show? It's so unique)

TheTVClub6 karma

Bunheads actually draws what I'd expect to be about the largest possible audience it could. ABC Family seems happy with its numbers, and I think it will be around for a while to come.

That said, I pretty much have to go with Sasha's "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)," which opened up my mind to the possibilities of what the show could be. -- TV

TheTVClub4 karma

"Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" is the People's Choice, but that Tom Waits sequence from "For Fanny" should be high on the list, too, if only for being such an early indication of how bold Bunheads would be.—EA

rmarti784 karma

I miss the TVOTI podcast a lot. I listen to seven or eight different TV-related podcasts and you and Libby's are the best of all. Is there any REAL chance of that coming back on a regular basis?


Are you guys jealous of the success Alan Sepinwall had with his book and are there any plans for a TV Club book?


TheTVClub7 karma

I'm really excited about the success of Alan's book. The canon of good TV reads is pretty limited, and I hope this opens the door to other books like The Revolution Was Televised. Specifically the TV comedy book I'd like to write in that format.—EA

jdemart2 karma

italicsThe Revolution Was Televised.italics

Someone isn't using RES.

TheTVClub7 karma

So that's how it works…

TheTVClub5 karma

This is Todd.

Thanks for listening to the podcast! Libby and I are hashing out some different formats. Doing an episode takes a lot of time, and it's just, realistically, not something I can do on a weekly basis. We're trying to figure out a way to do it, either by doing it biweekly or monthly, or by making them shorter, so we can do them weekly. But, yes, we're committed to doing them again. As far as a TV Club book goes, not right now, but who knows? I would very much like to do one, but it would need to be something that justified being a book instead of a bunch of online columns, the sort of thing you'd be PROUD to read on the toilet.

criminalyo4 karma

Hey Todd! I read an article the other day on The AV Club about Anna Gunn. It was horrible. I don't know if you read it but it was basically saying to be glad she got her own show because now they can continue Breaking Bad without her. I will never get the Skyler hate. I mostly ignore talk like that because it's basically people that think she's a bitch and Walt is a "badass". I wanna know your opinion about this line of thinking. That even though everyone that works on Breaking Bad says these people are watching the show wrong, people still call her a bitch. Even though you know, she never poisoned a child. Why do you think this happens? Sexism? In other shows too the woman is slammed for being, well, human. WILL THE WORLD EVER GET THAT IT'S 2013 AND WE SHOULD BE PAST THIS.

TheTVClub4 karma

I'm pretty sure that Sean was being ironic there. I highly doubt he actually wants to see a version of Breaking Bad that doesn't involve Skyler.

That said, TV drama has become such a male-centric genre that, well, it sure seems like there's a kind of systemic sexism that's sprung up around discussion of it. I don't know that there's a way to combat that, either, other than to be aware it exists, and speak out against it when you see it. -- TV

kittens2234 karma

Is Sean O'Neal as ridiculously cynical and dark in real life, or is it simply a humorous put-on shtick for his various takes on pop culture in the Newswire?

TheTVClub11 karma

I have met Sean but once, but when I did, he kicked my dog, then laughed and said, "Your dog is stupid."

This is a lie. I don't have a dog. It was somebody else's dog. -- TV

jdemart4 karma

Hi guys, been a big fan of AV Club ever since I discovered your Arrested Development reviews.

Todd, there seemed to be a pretty big split amongst Homeland fans this season. Some loved it and thought it was roughly on par with season one, and some (including me) thought it drove right off the cliff of believably to contrived-land. Your reviews tended to side more with the former; in hindsight, how would you compare season 2 to season 1? Do you think some were being too harsh on it or do you think the decline in quality was real and tangible?

TheTVClub11 karma

Season one was better, no doubt.

That said, I do think that there was a bit too much harping on plot believability. This is a show primarily told from the point of view of a woman with bipolar disorder, and it's about a former United States military member who was turned into a terrorist because he learned to love a terrorist's son as his own, then was mad when said son was killed in a drone strike. That was more ridiculous to me than anything in season two, and it was the emotional heart of season one! I am willing to give Homeland all kinds of leeway when it comes to plot plausibility because the game it's playing is inherently unbelievable.

That said (again), I DO think the show's insistence on treating Brody and Carrie's love affair as a doomed romance is problematic. I don't mind if the CHARACTERS act like this, but I need the SHOW to have some perspective on this arc, and I don't think it does. It will be telling how the show treats Brody in season three. I continue to hope he'll be a minimal presence, but I know TV too well to think that will ever happen.

I think the final answer here is this: Homeland cleared out a LOT of dead plot wood in its final three episodes of season two. It has room to successfully hit a reset button and do something else. I hope it has the guts to, and I think those who were disgruntled with season two will come back on board if it does. -- TV

Frajer3 karma

Hi guys, do you find it's different watching a show you're going to review versus one you're watching for fun? What's the process like of watching a tv show you review?

Also Todd are you still surprised by how popular those Community review threads are?

TheTVClub7 karma

I am, actually. It is very weird to me (though very gratifying) that so many fans of that show glommed on to my reviews and our site, and I hope that's a relationship that continues well into the future (though we'll see how everybody feels next week after last night's premiere spawned some... thoughts).

I try to leave myself a handful of shows I don't review but DO watch every week, just because I love them so much. For a long time, How I Met Your Mother was that show, but it's recently become Bob's Burgers more and more. I just love that show so much and wouldn't want to even think about having to write about it week to week. But for the most part, the shows I love are the ones I want to write about. I'm weird like that.

To me, thinking critically about a show isn't an insult to a show; it means it engaged me on some level, and that's always a good thing, right? -- TV

TheTVClub5 karma

It's absolutely different. Like Todd, I try to reserve a few shows that I watch solely for fun: It's usually what my wife and I are watching on Netflix at any given time (we're working our way through Slings And Arrows right now), but I also keep Happy Endings and Archer in the "Break In Case Of Thinking Too Hard About Other Shows" case. The entirety of the NBC Thursday-night bloc used to be kept in there too, until I took up The Office. I am still unsure whether or not that was a good decision.

I feel like I'm paying the same amount of attention to a show whether I'm watching for fun or watching for review—but it's a different kind of attention when I'm feverishly typing out notes and thinking through the beats of an episode. At times I worry that I'm not paying attention to everything, but that's just the nature of the game. An episodic review can't touch on every aspect of an episode; if it did, it'd be way too long and no fun to read. So I usually just look for the one theme or plot thread that speaks most to me and start writing from there.—EA

rivertam423 karma

My friend just started a club where members sit around and watch T.V. She's calling it The T.V. Club. Are you going to sue?

TheTVClub7 karma

Forcefully! -- TV

(Actually, Slate also calls its TV coverage The TV Club. I doubt this is a name we could possibly trademark.)

Barstool3 karma


I just want to thank you for showing me the light of Ron Cadillac. At first I wasn't too keen on him, but rewatching the episodes after reading your reviews, I found him to be a perfect addition to the Archer cast.

My question is: do you think it's possible that he'll stick around? The show does love its status quo (see: Gillette regaining the ability to walk twice now).

EDIT: Also, is Cougar Town underrated or very underrated?

TheTVClub4 karma

I hope Ron sticks around. The actor playing him is Jessica Walter's husband in real life, so I think it's possible.

But I just think that this season is going to build to a moment when he sacrifices himself or something. We'll all look back on him and weep.

Cougar Town is great. But it might be a little overrated now. This season is a bit of a step down from past ones, to me at least. -- TV

mechberg3 karma

Hey Todd,

Do you have any idea what your recent piece on Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood did to me emotionally? And how does that make you feel? (A wonderful piece, thank you for it.)

TheTVClub3 karma

I'm glad you liked it. I was really proud of it! -- TV

danielelgin3 karma

Speaking of Homeland, what TV show do you think had the highest fluctuations in quality?

TheTVClub3 karma

Is there an answer other than Glee? -- TV

better_now_thx3 karma

My question is for Erik. Why? Lots of questions seem to be going to Todd, and Erik Adams deserves better.

http://www.avclub.com/articles/clarence,65313/ When you write something like this, that just digs at the basis for a person's show, do you worry that you will ever see that person face to face? I mean, what if Whitney stopped slinging garbage for a few minutes to go out and grab a coffee (while eavesdropping on couples for source material) and you actually ran into her during that coffee break? Do you fear a shanking?

TheTVClub6 karma

I haven't revisited that review in a while, but I kind of regret writing it now. It's mean-spirited to an almost unprofessional degree, and it's completely off-voice for The A.V. Club. But that's what happens when you're doing weekly reviews of a show you never enjoyed watching.

That being said: Yes, there's some worry that I may one day meet someone whose art I've criticized—but that comes with the territory. If challenged, I wouldn't back down from my stated opinions, but I wouldn't rub them in Whitney Cummings' face, either.

And if I saw her reaching for a sharp object, I'd just point "Hey, look, a couple in an argument!" and get the hell out of there.—EA

TheTVClub3 karma

Not to intrude on Erik's place, but I actually DID run into somebody who quoted a negative review of mine right back at me at the last TCA. He laughed about it because it was a show that I came around on (and came around on his performance as well), but it was still really embarrassing. But that's just part of the job, if you're being honest. -- TV

matthughes22 karma


TheTVClub4 karma

If I could live in any TV show, I would definitely live in the world of Everwood, which is a kind-hearted loving place, but also one set in a majestic mountain setting. Oh, and there's a free clinic. -- TV

Polite_Werewolf2 karma

If there was a zombie outbreak, what would be your zombie plan?

TheTVClub3 karma

My wife and I have discussed this in detail. We live by the ocean, so our plan is to get all of our cats into the car, then head to steal a boat. Then learn to sail, I guess. -- TV

hwoodo942 karma

AVClub is a branch of the Onion, but obviously takes a less satirical slant toward what its covering. Do you find that the connection with the Onion reminds you to take a more lighthearted look at your work, or do you find that it undermines the seriousness with which you guys approach your work? Or do you work entirely separately? I dunno, that's why I'm asking you guys.

TheTVClub3 karma

The Onion and AV Club share an office but are primarily separate publications. Editorial staff is separate. Writing staff is separate. I live in California. Etc. -- TV

nathanielnp2 karma

Todd, which is the BEST Oz book?

TheTVClub7 karma

I've always been partial to the books Baum wrote immediately in the wake of the success of the first book. In particular, there's a lovely, melancholy quality to Dorothy And The Wizard In Oz that suggests just how tired he was getting of his cash cow. But I think my favorite is probably either Ozma Of Oz or The Marvelous Land Of Oz, which ends on a plot twist so disconcerting it vaguely terrified me as a child. -- TV

TinzIsTinz2 karma

What have you watched so far (for business or for pleasure) that comes closest to what you consider being a perfect season of television?

TheTVClub3 karma

Deadwood, season two. -- TV

Tiako2 karma

I have often heard people claim that in the past decade, with shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, and Breaking Bad television has become an artistic medium on par with cinema. My general response to this is that television is developing, but has not passed the "8 1/2 test", by which I mean it hasn't created a piece that pushes on the boundaries of the medium like 8 1/2 (I don't mean as good as 8 1/2, mind). I'm curious to hear your thoughts on the question, as people who spend an awful lot more time with television than I do.

How do you determine which staff writer gets what show? It seems that Todd, for example, gets quite a lot of really high quality shows, like Game of Thrones, Community, Archer, and Mad Men (maybe 2 Broke Girls makes up for this). Do you just steal all the best shows from Rabin? Did Donna Bowman win an all-out brawl to review Breaking Bad? or do I have this all wrong, and is reviewing a great show just as hard, if not harder, than reviewing a bad or mediocre show? I suppose Emily drew the short straw on Always Sunny, even though that is still decent.

Somewhat related, as an Archer fanatic I was pretty thrilled by Todd's declaration that it was the funniest comedy on the air right now, but I notice that it doesn't get very much attention from anyone as, say, Community, Parks & Rec, or Louie. Was that declaration merely the heat of passion from how amazing the finale was, or do you think its lack of critical and cultural attention is from it idiosyncratic humor and oddball animation?

Thanks, and keep up the good work!

TheTVClub3 karma

I'd say TV has been passing the "8 1/2 test" since the foundation of the medium. Ever since TV shows started being made, there were people like Ernie Kovacs who were experimenting with what the form could do. And that continues all over the dial nowadays. Hell, The Sopranos was a huge nuclear bomb of everything TV had done up until that point. TV is a medium that practices constant reinvention; that's what makes it great.

Erik and I decide who gets which shows. It's usually driven by a combination of people volunteering and us forcing people to do things by being mean.

And Archer is just doomed to be a niche thing. If you're on its wavelength, it's amazing, but it requires a LOT to get on its wavelength. -- TV

jmk19912 karma

What is your favorite episode of any show you've ever watched, and why?

TheTVClub10 karma

Todd's ever-evolving top 10 episodes, which he can't narrow down to just one:

"Marge Vs. The Monorail," The Simpsons "Boy The Earth Talks To," Deadwood "Long Term Parking," The Sopranos "Jose Chung's From Outer Space," The X-Files "The Body," Buffy The Vampire Slayer "Series Two, Episode Six," The Office (UK) "Chuckles Bites The Dust," Mary Tyler Moore "I'll Be Seeing You," Cheers "Complaint Box," NewsRadio "Time Heals," St. Elsewhere -- TV

cheapgenius2 karma

Do you think the Bored to Death movie will actually happen? I just need a voice of comfort out there in the dark.

TheTVClub2 karma

I have a hard time imagining it happening. The audience for that show was always miniscule, and I just can't imagine HBO pushing forward with it. But stranger things, etc. -- TV

sohighrightmeow2 karma

What's the AVClub office soundtrack like? Do the music writers control the speakers, does everyone use headphones, or is there a crazy battle royale to put your ipod on?

TheTVClub6 karma

Erik would be able to answer this better than I, since he actually works at the office. My home office's soundtrack is me singing pop hits to my cats, with the lyrics changed to be about my cats. -- TV

TheTVClub3 karma

It's more of a musique concrete thing, with the sound of clicking laptop keys mixing with the laughter prompted by the latest Onion headline pitch. None of us can hear it, however, because we're all wearing noise-canceling headphones. I'm usually listening to something instrumental or ambient in mine—Explosions In The Sky, Miles Davis, Steve Reich, the extremely goofy Bob James record that features "Angela (Theme From Taxi)"—because words gunk up my thought process when I'm writing and editing. Which is why I'm wearing headphones in the first place.

If that sullies the more lively mental picture you have the Onion/A.V. , please know that our kitchen is now outfitted with a pair of kegerators.—EA

thesmash2 karma

What do you think NBC needs to do in order to survive as a network? It seems their primetime content is quickly ending or doing really poor in the ratings (even for them).

Also, thoughts on Christina Applegate's announcement that she's leaving Up All Night?

TheTVClub8 karma

I don't think NBC can survive as a network. It will have to start operating like a cable company. In fact, I think we're at the beginning of the end of broadcast TV as a model.

And I'm not surprised. -- TV

utilitybelt2 karma

Why is Disqus a weeping wound on the heel of my soul's foot?

TheTVClub4 karma

Disqus loves you, but it has a strange understanding of what we call "love." Because it is a robot. Is the joke. -- TV

nerdlights2 karma

Hey guys, huge fan.

First question, why does American Horror Story work? It's a bit cliche, cheesy, and camp beyond belief, but I can't stop.

Secondly, why is T.V trending the way it is? I see a lot of acclaim for shows like Boardwalk Empire, Homeland, Mad Men, The Walking Dead, and my personal favorites, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. But at the end of the day all of them seem to have the same tone, or feel, they're all mature dramas with shocking death and a "no one is safe" mentality. Obviously each show I mentioned is different, but they all seem to have this same underlying thread. Why is that?

TheTVClub3 karma

AHS works because each season--hell, each episode--gets to be a new story, a new trope, a new deconstruction. That's both the fun and the curse of the show. It's kind of beautiful, really, and I ended up loving season two far more than I ever thought possible. (You may recall I was a season one skeptic.)

The second question is something I've really struggled with. TV criticism is really bad about groupthink and about people not wanting to stray from that. And that means that a lot of same-y types of things get praised and beloved, and that means that most "good TV" is within a very narrow range of what TV is capable of. The critic Jaime Weinman is particularly good at pushing back against this, but we need to remember that a quiet family drama like Parenthood can be just as good as Breaking Bad, that a procedural like Elementary can be a good series, not a could-be serialized show with a lack of ambition, that a multi-camera sitcom with a laugh track could be amazing. We should always be willing to confront our own preconceptions. -- TV

MustardTrousers2 karma

I spend way too much time on The A.V. Club and it's all your fault, Todd and Erik.

Anywho, my question is simple and has probably been asked/answered already but whatever...What is your favourite comedy and drama that is currently airing, and why? Note: not the best shows, but your favourite.

Love reading your 'New Girl' and 'Community' reviews, by the way. Keep up the good work.

TheTVClub3 karma

Drama: Mad Men

Comedy: New Girl (I don't think it's the best, but it's the one I race to watch, and I think that's what you're going for.) -- TV

Loki100012 karma

Hello! What are your opinions of Enlightened? Do you think it will ever get the kind of critical attention it deserves? Do you think its low-key story-telling centered around a female protagonist focused on relationships causes it to be overlooked compared to something like the hyper-masculine, hyper violent Breaking Bad?

TheTVClub3 karma

Enlightened is probably my favorite show right at the moment, but it's never going to get the kind of press it needs because it has no obvious hooks, and because it's so low-rated (something like 250,000 people watch each episode first run). It's a good show, but it's also a demanding show, and that's rarely the sort of thing that makes for TV puff pieces. -- TV

sharkdude952 karma

Who is your favorite commenter and why is it barnitosupreme? Answer in the form of a haiku.

TheTVClub3 karma

Barnitosupreme/ is the best guy in comments/ hippopotamus -- TV

Spike_J2 karma

What are your thoughts on TV binging? Is it the ideal way to consume a show? Are TV shows structured to be viewed that way? Will TV be structured to accommodate this new way of watching TV?

TheTVClub7 karma

Go ahead and read the link, which gives some thoughts.

But my overall feelings are... pretty complicated. I think some shows lend themselves to binge-watching. It's how I tend to watch Vampire Diaries, and I couldn't imagine any other way of doing so. But I also think there are shows that suffer when the episodes aren't given space to allow the viewer time to reflect. Mad Men is a good example of this.

I think a good rule of thumb is that if the plot is the foremost concern of the show, then binging is usually the best way to watch. If the characters are the foremost concern, then giving yourself a little time is the best. -- TV

aol_speedwagon2 karma

Todd, I read your pieces about slow TV and how Netflix will doom us all, and found them to be well-written and thought-provoking. I wonder if you have any guidelines for the optimal amount of time to wait between episodes of a given show, or if it varies according to genre or your own level of interest. I also wonder if you watch 2-part episodes in one sitting. I can see the benefits of putting some time in between a cliffhanger and its resolution, but I don't know if I am that patient. Thank you.

TheTVClub4 karma

It is all, ultimately, up to you. I think that one episode a day is best, but maybe that's because I'm used to that sort of pace. On the other hand, I think if you watch more than two or three episodes in a sitting, it becomes hard to see the forest for the trees--and vice versa. -- TV

yazhao1 karma

How great is Eric Thurm?

TheTVClub2 karma

Super great! -- TV

jessepap1 karma

Todd, over the years what has been your favorite show to cover and why?

TheTVClub6 karma

I love reviewing Mad Men. I really feel like it allows me to stretch my wings a bit. I was really happy with my review of "Lady Lazarus" last year, which let me get a touch more literary than I usually get to go.

In general, though, I prefer writing longer thinkpieces to episodic reviews. -- TV

cormaco1 karma

Any chance you could get Teti to write his SFU reviews a bit quicker? Even on a website with such a high standard of writing, his SFU reviews stand out as particularly fine work.

TheTVClub3 karma

Teti's got a whole video game website to edit. He had to drop most TV Club work because of this, which is too bad, because he's excellent. But he'll be back this summer with more Six Feet, I hope. I agree his pieces are very good. -- TV

aethelred_unred1 karma

Just came here to tell Todd: Get out of my head! Your reviews always perfectly illustrate what I think about what I'm watching, and for a while my roommate and I joked that the set of people who watched Glee and had read and were watching Game of Thrones was us and you. (Of course, we stopped watching Glee midway through the third season, when it started making me seriously angry.) Keep up the good work! :)

TheTVClub3 karma

Thanks! -- TV

Dokterrock1 karma

Between the two of you, which is a bigger fan of Those Transatlantics, especially the former keyboard player?

TheTVClub4 karma

I can't imagine that Erik's love of Those Transatlantics could possibly compare to mine. I spent a lengthy part of the summer of 2007 over-analyzing the way Kathleen Bracken sang "should" on "In Your Neighborhood," and former keyboard player Chris Hatfield may be the greatest man in existence. Though Erik can ATTEMPT to defeat my Transies fandom. -- TV

TheTVClub3 karma

Whatevs, Todd: Back in 2006, I spilled so much digital ink detailing my love of Knocked Out, one of the truly underrated indie-pop masterpieces of the '00s—elevated by the performance of Champion Human Being/former keyboardist Chris Hatfield.

But then I just turned my iPod on to listen to "Boys And Children Sing For Summer" and found that the record isn't on there, so I may have to concede to Todd on this one.—EA

laurencesmb1 karma

Hi guys! I wanted to ask about the FOX/FX network relationship.

I've always wondered about the fluidity between networks like this. For example, I just saw that FX is re-airing the aired episodes of The Following thus far. What I want to know is, does it ever happen the other way round? Has a cable channel ever moved a show to its owned broadcast network? Say FX had a show the size of The Walking Dead - would it be something they might consider to move it onto FOX in order to drastically increase it's potential viewership? I figure there are likely studio vs. network vs. creative clashes in amongst all of these concerns, but say those weren't a problem in this scenario?

Because I was thinking the other day about a scenario in which Archer got aired in FOX's Sunday animation bloc. I can't imagine too many content concerns given how little that seems to apply to Family Guy/American Dad, and it seems like it's be a good fit with all those shows. It's just an idea that tickles me a little because Archer's ratings keep going up - but then, I assume cable ratings are proportionally different to network ones? Sorry these questions are all terribly phrased but I am on my phone and it's 5.23am & I need to sleep. Thanks!

TheTVClub4 karma

I don't think Archer would fit very comfortably on network TV, not because of its content, but because it's a more literate kind of humor, and that would feel very odd fitting in with the Fox Sunday stuff. Archer, much as I love it, is a cold show, and the Fox Sunday shows are good at least faking being warm.

That said, there have been some times when a cable show aired on network. It almost never ends well. CBS actually aired Dexter during the last writers strike, and it tanked. -- TV

Spike_J0 karma

What show do you think has the best soundtrack/score in TV now.

TheTVClub2 karma

I've actually been quietly blown away by the music on Walking Dead this season. There's a rich mournfulness to it that the show sometimes only aspires to. -- TV

sohighrightmeow0 karma

How does someone go about writing about music/tv/film/etc. for a living? Is it still possible to do? Has blogging made it a volunteer occupation? Is it a career that will cease to exist in the future? Writing about music is my dream job (I know, aim high) but I'm very discouraged as to my prospects and have no idea where to start.

Thanks for doing this and for producing such high quality content. I love the AVClub!

TheTVClub2 karma

Monetarily, if you want to write about pop culture for a living, you're going to have to be willing to do it for free for quite a while, then be willing to do it for very little money for quite a while, and THEN you might get paid what's ALMOST a living wage. So find a day job you can live with, then do what you love. (This applies to a lot of life, actually.) -- TV