Monday, September 22, 2008

Busy season question: What to do with 'Friday Night Lights'?

One topic that didn't occur to me until I opened my mail today and found a copy of the "Friday Night Lights" season 3 premiere (which debuts a week from Wednesday on DirecTV): how do people want me to cover this season? Try to write about each episode not long after it airs on DirecTV, or wait until it's available to the world on NBC starting in February?

I can't promise that I'd even have time to do the show justice during the DirecTV run (not that post-February would necessarily be any slower), and I'm not sure how comfortable I am doing regular, spoiler-laden write-ups for a show that's only available (legally, anyway) to a very small percentage of my readership, but I figured I'd open the floor for debate. Thoughts?

39 comments:

Karl Ruben said...

I'll be watching it this fall. No problem with you waiting until February to write about it, though. Like a sports fan, I have blind faith that the Panthers will make a comeback this season. The new batch of episodes will surely be of such mindbogglingly high quality that I'll be more than willing to re-watch when NBC shows them.

That First Andrew said...

Will NBC have the episodes online? If the network is able to stream them through its site, you are absolved of any moral dilemma.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Will NBC have the episodes online?

Nope. No NBC.com, no Hulu, no way to see it other than on DirecTV. It's an exclusivity deal.

R.A. Porter said...

My opinion is to do them now. They will be spoiler-laden, but anyone who's relegated to waiting until February should know that and avoid reading the recaps.

Then when it rolls around to NBC, you can just bump the recaps to the top of the blog with all the old comments in place and people can join in the conversation.

steve said...

What are the chances that FNL is going to get cancelled or that NBC simply won't air the episodes in February as scheduled?

I don't have DirecTV, so I'd rather wait until February, but it seems to me that we (or, rather, you) might want to consider the possibility in deciding when to publish the writeups.

Bobman said...

Even if YOU don't do the spoiler posts, they will be out there in the ether from other columnists and what have you. It's not like you'd be breaking new ground with regards to spoilers. Might as well just do them. I don't have DirecTV, and haven't decided if I will find other ways of watching before the show is on NBC (probably not), but I know how to avoid spoilers.

My only real concern would be the images you usually use pre-jump :)

R.A. Porter said...

Good point @bobman. I think generic cast photos would probably be the safe way to go.

Dan said...

Just do like you did for The Wire early posts - put up a picture from the episode but one that won't give anything away.

That said, I don't have DirecTV either but I'm fine with early posts as long as you re-link to them in Feb.

Andrew said...

Go ahead and write them up, and just bump them when February rolls around. From what I understand the DirecTV airings will also be longer than the NBC airings, so from a critical perspective you're better off writing about the more definitive cut. Plus, if you feel so inclined you not the differences in the cuts when you bump the write-up.

andythesaint said...

For what it's worth, I'll be completely avoiding everything FNL related other than ratings reports until it debuts on NBC.

Rick said...

Your time is precious enough. I'd rather be getting insightful commentary on the shows you recap, and so I say push them back, away from the crunch of the early part of the season.
Ideally, assuming you're sent the episodes in a format you can hold onto for a few months, I'd vote for you to put together your comments mid-December, when tv slows to a crawl. Then post those comments when FNL is shown on NBC. Just my thoughts.
Again, thanks for all the effort you put into this, Alan. Anything we can do to lighten your load, say the word.

Kiersten said...

I rejoiced when DirecTV got the rights, up until I moved and too many trees forced me to Fios. To learn that the NBC eps won't even be the full eps makes me even more peeved. I'd say wait till February for posts, otherwise it just makes the pain worse for those of us suffering along with only the Peacock until the DVDs arrive.

Unless you feel like forwarding on those advanced copies...

R.A. Porter said...

@rick, the problem with that is that there isn't really that big a dead spot anymore. December might be a little slower, but it'll still have some of the cable shows going, plus the holidays. Then come late winter, the nets will be launching all their mid-season shows to replace the ones they unceremoniously yanked this fall.

marc b. said...

I have no preference as to when you write them up. I do want to hear if the show is good or not. Last season was really disappointing and if the show didn't get better, I don't think there's any reason to continue watching.

That First Andrew said...

I say do the write ups if you want to watch the show. Put a spoiler alert in the pre-jump blurb and people can click at their own risk. Somewhere along the line, people need to take personal responsibility for their own reading of spoilers.

Aaron said...

Alan--

I think you should do the write-ups this fall, as long as you can spend as much time dissecting the episodes as you do for Mad Men. Your Mad Men posts are the first place I go after watching an episode!

And please, when you watch the premiere, please share your general thoughts! I'm absolutely DYING to know what you think! I love the show, and I hope it returns to Season 1 quality this year! Have you watched it yet?! Thoughts!?

pgillan said...

I should be watching them on DirecTV, so I would like you to post them as now, as opposed to waiting for February. That being said, though, I refuse to feel any obligation to the discussion :).

On a slightly different note, I still don't quite understand what's happening here. The ratings were down, to the point where a third season was iffy, so they offset the production costs by granting exclusive first run rights to DirecTV? If I got that right, then what does DirecTV hope to get out of it? Do they really believe they'll get a substantial subscriber boost from the die-hard fans who just can't wait until next year?

That seems unlikely, given that changing from cable to satellite is far more daunting than, say, switching over to the USA Network. And it would have to be switchers they're after- anyone who cares that much about TV probably isn't tweaking their rabbit-ears to boost their reception.

Anyway, yeah. I think you should do the write-ups now and bump them back up in February.

mj said...

Please post in the Fall. Maybe then you'll have some real tv drama to write about, and you won't have to waste your brilliant, creative writing talent on stories and theories in the background of Mad Men that may or may not be there. (Btw, this is actually meant to be a compliment about your writing ability rather than a comment on the smoke and mirrors that is Mad Men, which I watch every single week and not once, not *once*, have I ever been emotionally challenged watching Mad Men like I am regularly with FNL.)

Stormy said...

Selfishly, I want you to write them up as they air on DirecTV.

I had to watch the first two seasons on DVD & retroactively read your write-ups. I was hoping to be reading them in real-time this season.

However, I understand if you do wait to post the reviews.

David said...

I'd just like to point out that, even though I'll be watching it, this is one of the most ridiculous ways of airing this show. I get what they're doing. They assume people who watch the show are more willing to shell out the cash to see it, but come on! Couldn't NBC put it on USA, or another one of their cable affiliates? Or better yet, just show it on NBC.

At any rate, I vote for spoilers after the jump. People could just do what I do, and go back and read the posts after they see them. I may have finished The Wire, but I'm pleased by the knowledge that I have a bunch of posts to sync my teeth into, whether I can respond with comments or not.

Anonymous said...

With the paper closing in January, you'd better not wait til February.

Chris

belinda said...

You should write recaps whenever you feel like, and if you're as excited as I am about FNL, then I have to think it'll be right after you've watched the show... but one favor?
Is it possible to keep all spoiler info (and pics) after the jump, because I'd hate to miss out on your blog because I'm afraid to accidentally see something I shouldn't while looking for the next recap of Mad Men or something.

Jennifer J. said...

This is a tough nut to crack. I'm selfish; I want you to wait until February. Even though I love FNL, I won't pay for it when I know I can wait and see it for free on NBC.

After reading everyone else's opinions, I'm starting to be swayed. Why should the *now* viewers have to wait so long, if you are watching it?

If you decide to go with now, I'd say no spoiler pix and such for those of us addicted to your site. Addicted especially to the Mad Men posts and our fave shows coming back!

However, you seem so overworked currently maybe you should wait?

Anonymous said...

I will be trying to avoid anything FNL until they air on NBC. So if you do write them now, just link to them again every week come February. And perhaps edit them to point out what bits were exclusive to DirecTV.

Randy said...

Season two was so bad, I'm not sure I want to give Season Three another shot in February. If your reviews can help me make the decision, that means the Tivo can be ready in February.

So I vote do them now, or at least cover the first few episodes in real-time.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Still mulling over what to do, but I will say this: the season premiere is good. No mythic, spine-tingling moments like the best of season one, but the characters are consistent, there's a lot of football, and it feels like the "FNL" world again.

Stacie said...

Selfishly, I'd like you to wait until the episodes air on NBC in the new year.

spiderpig said...

PLEASE don't post on the until it airs on NBC. I love FNL but don't have directTV. I can't say whether I will be able to wait for a "legal" way to watch FNL but I can absolutely say I won't be able to wait to read your blog! :(

Anonymous said...

Do it now, it needs the press and promotion.

Anonymous said...

Please post them this fall, Alan, if time permits, of course. I'll be watching them then on Direct TV, and so much look forward to reading your recaps, especially FNL, Mad Men and Dexter.

But in the end, you give us so much with your insights, it has to be whatever works for you.

Thanks for the blog.
Janlew

Mo Ryan said...

Post this fall -- it'll be fresher in your mind and you won't feel like you're rehashing something that FNL superfans have already discussed to death. So my thought would be -- post this fall, use generic photos, and then when it airs in 2009, maybe post a link to the previous discussion after each ep airs?

I am not only saying that cuz I have DirecTV. ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm with my fellow Chicagoan Mo - Do them now - especially if you're going to be watching them now. If you're wathcing them now, then writing them now makes sense since your posts will, as is usually the case, allow you to candidly discuss things about what might happen without fear of accidentally smuggling in knowledge of what does happen.

Plus, selfishlessly, if you don't do them now, then a key part of my entertainment from the episodes will be missing.

Christopher said...

Kinda adding to an already constructed point, but being a non-resident of the U.S. and having to wait a while before American shows get broadcast on my local airwaves, I have found your blog very safe (in comparison to others) in terms of avoiding spoilers. I'd have no problem if you were do your thing soon after the initial airings. People will just have to muster the resistance to not click in on the post

Jennifer said...

I'd vote with "wait," or write up reviews and not post them till February, since 90% of us won't be participating/reading until then (or whatever the percentage is).

Though the paper closing in January uh...is a good point arguing in the other direction.

Anonymous said...

anybody that is commenting on the show online is going to watch the show in the fall. Alan, you should write about the show now and just post them again in February.

Mo Ryan said...

Plus, selfishlessly, if you don't do them now, then a key part of my entertainment from the episodes will be missing.

Word.

the Stanfield Org. said...

I vote for posting in the Fall as time permits, especially if the Directv episodes will be longer "director's cuts" than the subsequent NBC airings. Reading your insightful recaps is a much anticipated follow-up to an episode viewing; however, the recaps are not such staggering works of artistic genius on their own that regular blog viewers without Directv will not possibly be able to keep themselves from reading them in advance of seeing the episodes. Exercise a little self control people.
Getting FNL early does make up a bit for the fact that Directv still has not added AMC/Mad Men in HD.

Chris Littmann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Littmann said...

(Sorry for the double comment)
Alan, I'd love to see your write-ups continue during the DirecTV airing. And I've got to agree with you on the first episode. Was thrilled to open up my DVD today and watch Ep. 1. It delivers. Thank goodness my office has DirecTV so I can catch it all on time this year.