Thursday, January 24, 2008

How much is too much?

So I've noticed that the comments for the "Cupid" posts have been dwindling as we've moved along, and I'm wondering why. Are people just not that into the show? Or is two episodes a week too many, even during the strike?

The reason I ask, in part, is because Monday brings the debut of "In Treatment," the latest in a long tradition of HBO shows about people in therapy (see also "The Sopranos," "Tell Me You Love Me," "Sessions," etc.). What makes this one unique is that it's a five night a week show. On each of the first four nights, Gabriel Byrne's shrink sees a different patient (including Blair Underwood, Josh Charles and Melissa George), and on the fifth night, he goes to see his own shrink (Dianne Wiest).

Now, admittedly, I'm the guy who got all sucked into "Tell Me You Love Me" and watched all 10 episodes in a day and a half or something, even though I hated two-thirds of the characters, so take this opinion for what it's worth. But after starting off somewhat cool to "In Treatment," I'm really enjoying it, and the only thing preventing me from watching more (HBO has already sent out seven of the nine weeks of the first season) is the number of hours in the day and the other stuff I have to do. Byrne is brilliant, as he almost always is, and the format (all therapy, all the time) is surprisingly engrossing. A few of the characters have problems similar to the people I hated on "Tell Me You Love Me," and I'm much more into it here; I wonder what that show would have been like had it all taken place in Jane Alexander's office without all the genitalia.

But even I recognize the kind of commitment you need to make with this show. I know daytime soap fans watch their shows every day, and fans of shows in other formats ("Jeopardy," Conan, "The Daily Show") do that, too, but it still feels like a lot. There's some modularity to it -- if you only care about Blair Underwood, you could probably just watch his episodes -- but there's enough crossover from patient to patient (something that happened with George may affect Byrne's behavior with Underwood the next day, that kind of thing) that you'd feel like you were missing out if you didn't watch it all.

I'm going to deal with this more in my column review of the show on Monday, but I'm wondering how many people are going to want to put in the time for this, even with little other scripted programming at the moment. I'm not even sure I'll have the patience to blog it five nights a week; since HBO is airing it in a variety of formats and platforms, including a Sunday marathon of the previous week's episodes, maybe I'll just hit it at the end of each week. I don't know.

Just thinking out loud. Don't mind me.

42 comments:

mj said...

i have been enjoying cupid quite a bit - just more a lurker than commentor although i have plenty to say about the next one. i would be fine if you went to one episode a week, if that is easier. and sorry about the no capitals - keyboard issues.

special k said...

As much as I know I will love Cupid, I just don't like watching full episodes of anything via YouTube or on my computer. I get delays, interruptions, quality isn't that good, etc... so I think that's why I haven't begun to watch all the Cupid eps yet.

Matthew said...

Personally, I have only just managed to start watching Cupid (second episode today), and was looking forward to catching up. So far, I'm really enjoying it, and regret dismissing it on its first run.

I am fine with two posts a week of that show, but if you reduce it down to one a week, that is fine (but please don't stop posting on the show - over Christmas I rewatched Freaks And Geeks with your rewatch posts, and am currently rewatching Twin Peaks with the posts over at the AV Club, and they really bring a lot more to the exercise. Rewatching a show so long after it aired is such a solitary experience since you can't really talk to anyone about it, since most people don't have the just-seen-it freshness of memory of a particular episode, so the posts become particularly valuable.)

As for In Treatment - sounds like an interesting idea for a programme, and I'll have to keep an eye out for it when it eventually makes its way to New Zealand.

TL said...

(HBO has already sent out seven of the nine weeks of the first season)

Whoa - are you saying that there are 9 five-episode weeks in the first season? 45 episodes total? Or is the first week just a stunt?

Alan Sepinwall said...

45 episodes, or close to it.

Like I said, it's a lot.

Theresa said...

Like MJ, I have been keeping up with Cupid as more of a lurker, but I've been enjoying in thoroughly and would encourage you to keep it up.

On an unrelated topic, do you know when the next episode of Scrubs is supposed to air? I had been checking NBC.com which said that Scrubs would be back on January 24th. However, this does not appear to be the case and now the website doesn't appear to say anything about when it's coming back. Any info?

TL said...

Alan - thanks for the tip-off. Although I guess hour-wise it's not much more than a 22-episode network drama season, 45 episodes sounds like a bit too much of a commitment for a guy who still has about 8 episodes of Chuck on his TiFaux (not to mention who's still at work when he's writing this....)

Anonymous said...

I'll give it a shot. With On-Demand and the wrap up on Sunday I can probably keep up. I don't have much interest in therapy, but the previews looked ok.


HBO has done a great job post-Sopranos. Their strategy of offering a variety of different shows is working. And that's why I'll continue to pay for their service even after the Wire comes to an end here in 7 or 8 weeks.

Matty said...

I'm in the same camp as special k. I can't wait to see Cupid, but I won't watch anything more than a short clip on YouTube. Once/if it comes out on DVD, I'll buy it the first day and watch it immediately. Your posts will be invaluable, but it's not happening until I can watch it on my big screen.

I would also love to watch In Therapy, but there's too much good basketball on at this time of year to devote that much time to one show.

Rock Chalk Jayhawk

filmcricket said...

As a Canuckistani who doesn't get HBO or whatever the hoser equivalent is, all I know about In Treatment is that Byrne (whom I love) is so airbrushed in the print ads you can barely tell it's him. (I'm exaggerating only slightly.)

I'd love for you to keep up with the Cupid posts, and I'm hoping that if (God forbid) the strike continues you'll have time to get to Sports Night, but I completely understand if you don't feel you have the time or energy for it.

Alan Sepinwall said...

and I'm hoping that if (God forbid) the strike continues you'll have time to get to Sports Night, but I completely understand if you don't feel you have the time or energy for it.

I've been stalling on Sports Night, in part because I keep holding out hope that the strike will end soon and that I can save it for the summer, in part because, despite the relative lack of original scripted programming, I feel more swamped with things to watch and/or write about than ever. Some of that's me creating my own work (the Cupid stuff), but I have a bunch of Netflix movies just gathering dust on the shelf because I'm too occupied blogging on The Wire, or watching 17 episodes of In Treatment, or prepping for Eli Stone, or whatever.

It's my job, so I'm not complaining. I'm just surprised. One of the few benefits of the strike is that I expected to have more free time for a little while, not less.

R.A. Porter said...

I don't think two episodes of Cupid is too much for the week. The only reason I didn't jump into comments for "Meat Market" was I felt you and Rob Marshall had said all there was to say about the episode.

I started writing a ditto post and then remembered you aren't Rush Limbaugh. Plus, I hate Rush Limbaugh.

Mo Ryan said...

Please blog In Treatment. If you care to :) Maybe pick your favorites -- the patients you want to write about -- and blog it in one big post at the end of each week? Or whatever you think works.

For what it's worth, I'm into the show too. I'd like to read your thoughts on it as it progresses. But it's your call. As you note, things are still pretty busy despite the strike. Boy, I'm not looking forward to late March or April. Only really Lost and BSG to write about then... but then again the strike may be over by then too (here's hoping).

sarac said...

I'm just a lurker, but I love hearing your comments on Cupid. I loved it when it was on tv, and love the opportunity to go back and revisit.

Anonymous said...

I'm eager to see In Treatment and I look forward to reading what you have to say about it. Maybe you could blog the first week's episodes and then once a week thereafter? Actually I'm for you blogging every episode but I can see why that might be a problem.

I'm not much for posting comments, but I do enjoy reading about Cupid. I'm not able to view the episodes, but I do like reading about them. It's great that Rob Thomas is contributing his comments.

I read pretty much everything posted here -- thanks for your articles about Friday Night Lights -- and I'm especially looking forward to boarding the Sepinwall tour bus for the journey back into Sports Night.

Cagey said...

Because it is HBO, it will get an honest go at it. I usually give HBO at least 3-4 episodes, so I am not sure how I will go about this. 3-4 weeks, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Alan,
When you mentioned Cupid and said it was available on YouTube I watched all of them in 3 days. I enjoyed every episode and was surprised that it didn't continue as a series. I check your blog everyday when I have a spare minute though I never read nor make a comment. I love your thoughts on Cupid and the inside look you're providing us. Don't stop now!!! I can't quite picture the series without Jeremy Piven but I really hope the network gives Cupid another shot!

Rob said...

Alan,

Just wanted to chime in with the Cupid lurker love, I'm on vacation this week so I got to watch the ep(on my old VCR tapes because I also don't like watching anything longer than a couple of minutes on my computer) on time, but usually I'm a couple of days off on the schedule and sometimes it helps get me through the week knowing there's a Cupid post waiting for me.
So thank you, I'm really enjoying the posts.

Stef said...

I confess, I'm behind on Cupid... but not out of lack of interest. I've got a really full to do list right now since I'm rewatching all of Lost before next week's premiere. Once I'm through with that, though, you'll have my full attention! :-)

jcpbmg said...

i too have been keeping up with cupid as more of a lurker. it's not that i don't like the show, it's just that i find i don't have much to say about it afterwards.

i love reading your and rob's comments, but the episodes don't provoke much conversation past the anomaly that is piven's hairline.

Matt said...

A question on "In Treatment"--is it possible to watch only one patient and still get a complete story? Personally, what I've read about the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday patient storylines leaves me cold, while Thursday looks interesting (and not just because Josh Charles is great). Or do you really have to commit to every single episode?

And on "Cupid," I, too, hate watching full episodes on YouTube--if "Cupid" were on DVD, especially if reasonably priced, I'd be watching along with you.

Alan Sepinwall said...

A question on "In Treatment"--is it possible to watch only one patient and still get a complete story?

Sort of. The problem, as I'm going to talk about more in the review, is that the series is really about Byrne more than the patients. Stuff that happens in the Tuesday episode might affect how he's behaving in the Thursday episode, and there are snippets of his personal life sprinkled in different episodes. Plus, there comes a point where patients from different days cross paths, and...

The short version is that you'd get most of that specific patient's story, but you'd probably be able to tell that you're missing out on something larger.

Bobman said...

For those who can't stand the YouTube treatment, Cupid is also available as a torrent out there if you're wise to the ways of BitTorrent.

Considering it hasn't been pulled from YouTube, I don't see it being any more shady to just download it. The quality is a bit better and once it's downloaded you don't have to worry about network problems.

Christy said...

Another Cupid lurker, here, who doesn't feel she has anthing to add to your and Rob's comments, but who is watching and reading.

on the dole said...

Alan, I'm still following along with Cupid, out of a mix of curiosity, and respect for your tastes and Rob Thomas' work. But I seem to like it far less than everyone less, so I'm reluctant to post comments and be a killjoy.

In Treatment has me intrigued, but it's an awful big commitment. If HBO reruns the episodes frequently enough to make it feasible to follow along, I'll be on board for a while.

BigTed said...

It's sad fact of life -- or maybe it's actually a positive -- that when things get busy, TV is the first to go. I finally watched the last five episodes of "Life On Mars" yesterday, and I still have eight hours of Tivo'd "Friday Night Lights" to catch up on. In the meantime, "Cupid" has just fallen by the wayside. I still hope to see all the posts and add my own comments eventually -- if anyone's still reading at that point.

olucy said...

I'm enjoying Cupid and appreciated finding out here that it was even accessible.

I think your commentaries (and Rob's)are wonderful and I find myself responding more to what you two have to say than just the ep itself.

I was trying to keep pace but I couldn't keep up twice per week. But I still intend to watch them sooner than later and will read everyone's posts.

jcpbmg said...

I feel like 'In Treatment' might be one of those shows that best to watch in marathon form, just let them pile up on tivo and then watch a few weeks worth over a slow weekend. Is this really one of those types of shows or is it just too heavy for marathon form?

And am I not the only one insanely stoked to see the pairing of Charles and Embeth Davidz aka Nancy Pants and Ms Honey. This relationship is just crawling with awesomeness, please tell me it's every bit as awesome as I hope it will be.

Art Fleming said...

Is this really taking place ALL the time in the therapists office? I always assumed there were flashbacks or something

Alan Sepinwall said...

No flashbacks in the episodes I've seen. Occasionally, you see what the patients are doing immediately before or after they enter the office (i.e., walking to their car or standing outside Byrne's house), but essentially the only two settings are Byrne's office and Wiest's office.

Alan Sepinwall said...

And am I not the only one insanely stoked to see the pairing of Charles and Embeth Davidz aka Nancy Pants and Ms Honey. This relationship is just crawling with awesomeness, please tell me it's every bit as awesome as I hope it will be.

Depends on how you define awesomeness, I suppose. Good performances, but the marriage is pretty messed-up.

Anonymous said...

A couple of years ago it seemed like HBO was oddly focused on the entertainment industry (Entourage, The Comeback, Unscripted, Extras.) Now it seems like they're oddly focused on the mental health industry. I guess Tom Cruise won't be renewing his subscription.

Works Too Much said...

I'm a frequent lurker but not for Cupid. I also have 5 episodes of Chuck on my DVR. I figure I'll get to Cupid some day and will enjoy your posts then. Once a week or twice makes no difference to me.

In Treatment sounds really cool. I have no idea when I will have time to watch it all but I look forward to trying.

jcpbmg said...

Depends on how you define awesomeness, I suppose. Good performances, but the marriage is pretty messed-up.

Yea i just meant it in terms of great performances and working off of each other well. Based on everything I've read about the show so far I knew they were playing the seriously messed up couple.

Jason said...

Hey Alan, I've been watching Cupid too, but I'm a bit slower than your pace - I'm one episode behind now. And I'm basically lurking. But I've enjoyed the tour. I do that a lot with your stuff, time-shifting and using your Labels interface to go back. (I got 6 eps behind at least with Dexter, and was reading the What's Alan Watching pieces as my wife and I burned through the episodes.) I realize that makes active discussion kind of hard. :-)

-jason

Pamela Jaye said...

I've been away - gone for 4 days, then catching up, and my DVR is full, so I'm working on creative watching. Trying to clear as much space as I can while Katherine Heigl is on every talk show known to man and Donny Osmond is covering American Idol for ET. And Suzanne Pleshette's death is being run over by Heath however you spell his last name.
There are reports and pictures from the event I went to last week that I haven't gotten to yet.

My Grey's group is discussing the difference between an intern and an internist (and a resident) - more interesting than it's been in months.

As for Daily Shows - I'm a fan of Donny Osmond. Since I was 14, so that's like 34 years - but when he had the talk show, I just couldn't do it. I ended up having a friend tape Dark Shadows for me, for 2.5 years (1225 eps! but at least it had an end) and gave up on D&M. I got thru DS. At least it had plotlines.

I'm fairly sure the only way you could get me to watch a daily show was if Scott Bakula was in it. And even then I might curse you for doing so (though it would probably work out for him - being so interested in other people). The only time I watched D&M was when they had their family on.

I'll be back as soon as I decide to ditch all my other groups and boards and lists and pages - like the pet duck owners, who I've been ignoring for a week... (and we won't discuss the state of my kitchen)

Kensington said...

I, too, have downloaded Cupid via torrent on at least two occasions. One of the pluses is that the Pilot episode is intact on the torrent, and it also includes two or three scripts that were never able to be filmed.

I hate to advocate something illegal, but it's really hard to see the harm, under the circumstances (no DVD available and most of the individual parts already up on Youtube).

And, Alan, I'm enjoying reading your reviews but not commenting because I'm not actually watching right now, just reading and remembering.

As for In Treatment, I just don't think I've got the commitment in me right now. Maybe somewhere downt the road, but at 5 nights a week, it will be too hard to fall behind, and my DVR is already overflowing with old Chuck.

kensington said...

Also, Alan, I, too timeshift a great deal with your older stuff (Freaks and Geeks, Mad Men, Pushing Daisies, etc.)

So remember that you aren't just writing for the present! Some of us may not comment right away, but many of us are grateful and eventually getting to them much, much later

Mary Ann said...

I learned that Cupid was on Youtube last fall via your blog, and I watched episodes 1-6 in October and November. I have enjoyed reading your poss on those episodes, as well as the comments, but haven't commented myself because it's been too long since I've watched them. I am hoping to get to episode 7 this weekend. Work has been keeping me pretty busy lately, so I guess even with the strike 2 episodes a week will be too much for me to keep up with. But I will get through them all eventually, and I will be coming back here after every episode to see what you, Rob, and everybody else had to say!

Mary Ann said...

Posts, not poss. Sorry about the typo.

Tracey said...

I downloaded the Cupid BitTorrent for the few episodes I didn't catch on tape, and they transferred to DVD remarkably well (for my SD televesion, at least). I'm now downloading the rest of the torrent, though I would miss some of the interstitials I have on my original recordings -- for example, Piven as Cupid standing in front of a chalk outline of an angel with a pitchfork and horns...

I only recently discovered this blog while searching for information about the possible return of Cupid (which a friend told me about in the fall). I am very much enjoying your comments on Cupid ... and other things too, what little new television there is! Also flipped back through older posts to see what you thought about new series like Caveman (ptui!), Reaper and Pushing Daisies. Congratulations, Alan: I think you have developed a new fan. (grin)

stevie said...

I watched the first week of In Treatment episodes in two sessions today -- good stuff. (We had a screener from HBO too.) It is a commitment, but it's a pretty good show and with the strike ... I don't have a whole lot I'm watching now (I'm not into reality TV and am still on season 4 of th ewire) so I can make time for it.

The 22-minute run time of each episode helps, too, I think.

Personally, I hope you blog it.