Let The Games Begin
Posting on a Monday (especially after putting up a quick post Saturday along with the usual Sunday bleat) is pretty much against my religion, but extraordinary times call for extraordinary efforts. As I mentioned in Saturday's post, the honorable Mr. Tim Goodman (TV critic for the SF Chronicle) has left his cool northern sanctuary for the brutal heat and choking smog of what our local television news morons call "The Southland." He's here to join his fellow sharp-tongued scribes for the summer Television Critics Association press tour, wherein all networks large and small shall parade their wares in public for the first time -- in effect, standing naked to the world -- before an audience that on a really good day might be charitably described as "skeptical."
On a bad day... well, we've all seen those bloody chum-fueled feeding frenzies on Discovery Channel during "Shark Week."
Just like those of us who toil in the bowels of the Industry, TV critics have been lied to, cheated, shortchanged, disrespected, and fed great steaming vats of foul smelling disappointment by the networks over the years. Unlike we who suckle on the gradually withering teats of the Hollywood Cash Cow, however, these critics get paid to speak out -- often with murderous intent -- at their grinning network tormentors. Indeed, it's their job to speak truth to power in the service of the viewing audience, who really are the ultimate victims of network perfidy and incompetence.
In a way, all of us who watch TV are critics -- we vote with our remotes and TIVOs, rewarding shows that tickle our imagination by staying tuned, while spurning whatever we as individuals consider to be inferior programming. But this thumbs-up/thumbs-down judgment is a very long way from the job of a television critic, who must occasionally explain that a show we hate actually has a few redeeming virtues, while pointing out that the shows we totally love sometimes have feet dusted with clay. More importantly, a good critic will tell us exactly why a particular show does or doesn't work, and it's this analytical dissection I find particularly fascinating.
Tim Goodman was born for this kind of thing, and reading his columns and blog on the "Death March With Cocktails" over the next two weeks will be highly entertaining and edifying for anyone interested in the absurd business of television.
Take a look for yourself at his first column on the day before all hell breaks loose.
And let the games begin...