Today's the last day at these old digs. Tomorrow, I move to HitFix, and with that comes one final blog logo featuring the four shows that largely defined my time here with the Blogger site. I kept trying to find a way to squeeze in Tony reading The Star-Ledger, but since "The Sopranos" was in its final days when the blog began, I decided to give him the big picture here and go with "The Wire," "Chuck," "Lost" and "Mad Men" for the last logo.
Still a full day to go here, including whatever news happened, plus tonight's "Chuck" as the final review of this iteration of the blog. Then we move in the morning to HitFix. But before I go, I wanted to look back over the last 4 and a half years at the blog, as well as looking ahead a bit to the new place...
As I've said before, I started out writing about TV online with the "NYPD Blue" website, and nearly a decade into my time at The Star-Ledger, I missed the immediacy of that interaction, as well as the ability to write about shows after they'd aired (when I could discuss all the juicy stuff) rather than before (when I'd have to be wary of spoiling anything). NJ.com was still experiencing a lot of growing pains at the time, and I wasn't sure I wanted to commit to the idea long-term, so on October 7, 2005, so I started the site here on Blogger as an experiment. I figured I'd try it out, see if I liked the process, and also see if anyone but the friends I'd e-mailed the link to might ever find me and care to keep reading.
If you go back and look at those early posts from 2005, the blog then bore little resemblance to what it became. No pictures, no spoiler protection after the jump (and therefore no "just as soon as"), nearly everything done in a grab-bag format where I talked about multiple shows at once, and very few comments - and all of those from my friends.
The outside world began to discover the place on a fluke: while looking over NBC's schedule for the January 2006 TCA press tour, I noticed Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme were listed as panelists for the "West Wing" farewell session, and I threw up a quick post noting this. It turned out to be an error - someone told me later that no one at NBC had even asked Sorkin or Schlamme about it at that point - but somehow, that story got picked up, the link spread around, and suddenly the blog had a small but growing - and smart - audience.
As you guys began to find me, I in turn began to find my way in blogging, and the site slowly but surely evolved into what you see today. People complained about being spoiled on the main page, and I figured out how to hide the bulk of each post on the jump. I noticed that posts dealing with one show at a time tended to get far more comments than the grab bags, and so I began doing more and more of those. And beyond that, I saw that the deeper I went into discussing episodes - moving past the simple "I liked this"/"I didn't like this" of the blog's early days into discussing not only why I liked things, but what I thought they meant - the deeper in turn your comments got, and I started trying to apply the depth and breadth of my "Sopranos" Rewind columns to lots of other shows. When I got bored with summer TV one year and suggested that instead we all watch and discuss "Freaks and Geeks" on DVD, a lot of you went along with me, paving the way for later summer DVD projects, including the early seasons of "The Wire" (with Season 3 coming up in June on HitFix).
Along the way there have been some great highs (the David Chase interview, Ben Silverman telling me I saved "Chuck") and some weird lows (the "Chuck"pocalypse, overwrought discussion of "SNL" in the fall of 2008 leading to the No Politics rule), but the good has vastly outweighed the bad. This blog rekindled my interest in a job I'd been doing for a very long time, and it taught me how to do it in a new way. And I thank all of you for helping me figure that out.
As I said last week, the goal is for as little to change as possible at HitFix, with shows moving in and out of the rotation based on my level of interest (and time). The blog URL, once again, is http://hitfix.com/whatsalanwatching, while the new RSS feed will be at http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/whats-alan-watching.rss. As before, I'll also be using my Twitter account to tweet links to new posts as they go up.
I know some of you in the last week have expressed concern about the design and functionality of HitFix versus this place. Just know that every issue you've raised is one that I'd already thought of, and in turn most of those were ones that Team HitFix was already aware of and working on when I asked about them. (And a few of them may be addressed/solved by the time I put my first real post up there tomorrow.) Because you guys are so valuable to the experience of both reading and writing What's Alan Watching?, I want the new site to be as user-friendly as this one was. I would just ask for your patience, and if you have a specific concern, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
End of one era today, start of what I hope will be an awesome new one tomorrow. Hope you can come along with me.