Monday, August 13, 2007


Sars from Television Without Pity interviewed me for an Ask a TV Critic feature.


Taleena said...

Nice interview Alan, even if I am going to ignore you and pretend that Bionic Woman will be great.

Plus I just can't get jazzed about Pushing Daisies.

Oh and HBO finally added True Blood to their line up. To quote Darth Vader: Yippee!

Anonymous said...

Great interview. I too have high hopes for Chuck, but wow, Josh really has you in his pocket Alan.

I'm kidding, I'm a pretty big Josh fan as well.

Do you happen to know if they've named showrunners for either Chuck or GG, as I doubt Josh will be running either one and I don't think Stephanie Savage is experienced enough to run GG.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I think Josh will be "running" both, in that he'll be making final pass over all the scripts, but day-to-day operations will be handled by the respective co-creators: Stephanie on Gossip Girls, Chris Fedak for Chuck.

"showrunner" can mean different things on different shows, especially when the lead writer has more than one job.

Matt said...

So, not even Rob Thomas taking over as showrunner can save "Big Shots?" Shame, since I like the cast so much. What do you think ABC does with the timeslot?

Jenn said...

Great interview, Alan, even though I thought you kept this blog for us, not for your professional profile. :)

Alan Sepinwall said...

Bit of both, really, Jenn. :)

But I justify the time I spend on it as being for work reasons; I'm certainly more well-known for the last year and a half of blogging than I was for the previous nine years of columnizing. (Though the Sopranos finale stuff helps.) And me being known is good for the paper.

Jenn said...

I can see that. Though, I feel like I've always known you. Read your NYPD Blue reviews religiously, then you got a gig at the Ledger (my local paper). Then you started posting at TWoP way back when. So, you've been in my 'Net consciousness forever. (I swear I'm not really a stalker....)

dark tyler said...

Very interesting and informative interview, Alan.

Btw, I don't recall you being disappointed in Bionic Woman! Did you see more episodes? Because the pilot was very good, in my opinion, and Jason Smilovic as a showrunner can only help improve things further.

Anonymous said...

I actually really liked Bionic Woman. Reaper, on the other hand, left me totally cold. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Sarah didn't ask you the most important question - how'd you get the gig in the first place, and is there any way for other people to get into it that doesn't involve bumping off currently-employed critics?

That wasn't meant to be rude or sound like a threat, btw. I've just noticed that journalists and critics tend to expire rather than retire.

Anonymous said...

You dissed're dead to me. Just kidding. Nice interview. I always like hearing critics' thoughts on tv in a less formal setting than their columns (and/or blog as this particular case may be)

Anonymous said...

"Jesse" is light-years better than any new show NBC has put there since "Friends." The bad news is that the odious "Veronica's Closet" is still around, and " Jesse " still isn't that great.


Jesse's the girl

8:30 p.m. (Channel 4) Former "Married ... with Children" starlet Christina Applegate proves she can do more than look good in tight miniskirts and stiletto heels in the new sitcom "Jesse," providing solid laughs and even some heart as a single mom working as a barmaid. Unfortunately, the uneven supporting ensemble - including a weird brother who never speaks - isn't up to Applegate quite yet.

Alan Sepinwall, "Today's Scanner," The Star-Ledger, September 24, 1998.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Huh. I could have sworn I was a lot more lavish in my praise.

Where'd you find that stuff, anyway? I don't think we were on Lexis-Nexis at the time.

Anonymous said...

If we complain, it's because we care. And sometimes because we're cranky. Again, we watch a hell of a lot of TV all day, every day.

Aww cranky! My favourite emotion. Interesting interview. Also curious about how you got the gig in the first place? Was it just an awful lot of Television to start with? Study? Or something more?
Are you kidding me? 'According to Jim' is champaign comedy! .. Ok, I'm sorry, I can't maintain that.

Eric said...

Funny that your Jesse review sounds perfectly reasonable, especially since Christina Applegate has pretty much backed you up on it, becoming a fun, likable comedic actress.

Much as I enjoyed the interview, I do want to register my feeling that TWoP has gone significantly downhill since their purchase by Bravo (although it started before that.) Between canceling Jacob's brilliant recaps of Doctor Who, and adding a dozen second-tier reality shows and daily "Extras" that just aren't that funny, combined with frequent outages and glitches on the boards, they're just no longer the daily visit they used to be for me.

Anonymous said...

Fun interview -- thanks for posting the link. Great to have two of my favorite internet voices come together!

But I have to agree with Eric about TWoP. The decision to dump Jacob's recaps had my blood boiling. I guess I understand their rationale, but I find it depressing that a site I counted on for smart, alternative viewpoints is being managed with such a clear eye to the bottom line. Yeah, I know, that's capitalism, but if they have the money to cover all these horrific reality shows... And those ads for The Company that cluttered up the home page last week were extremely irritating!

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more about the quality of TWoP right now, although it is summer, so I'm hoping things'll pick up once the fall season starts. It was nice to hear your thoughts, Alan, but they weren't exactly penetrating questions, and since you guys know each other it kind of rings of first-year-j-school-let's-interview-our-friends level of journalism. And that was the most useful "Extra" I think they've posted all summer.

Nicole said...

I'm glad that I'm not the only who is noticing the decline in TWoP recaps. (or complete removal)
They used to be selective with the reality shows and didn't just do any reality show that came out. Now they just seem to weecap everything, whatever that means. There is clearly some directive coming up from above and things like that obnoxious "The Company" ad are more evidence of Bravo taking over.

I always thought that Jacob's DW recaps were popular, and to decide not to recap a well-regarded third series smacks of an economic decision (BBC show not directly linked to NBC) rather than an artistic one. It's too bad because DW had a lot more to offer than Fat March.

As for the Extras, the interviews have been fine, but the Fametracker-esque "comedy" has been really pathetic lately.

Anonymous said...

Re: Your comment in the TWoP interview about Boomtown

I could not agree with you more. I recently rewatched the series through Netflix and was amazed at how average and "eh" it was most of the time. I guess I remembered it more fondly than it deserved. And didn't it win a Peabody Award or something?

Anonymous said...

Nicole said: "to decide not to recap a well-regarded third series smacks of an economic decision (BBC show not directly linked to NBC) rather than an artistic one."

The impression I got from the rather cryptic postings on TWoP at the time was that they were yanking the recap because The Powers That Be (whether TWoP or Bravo or both) believe most people, even in the U.S., have already watched the third series via bit torrent or other methods, so they didn't think the recaps would get many page hits. Which is definitely an economic decision.

Sorry to harp on this, I just miss those recaps so much! I promise to let it go now. Or at least to stop posting here about it.

Matt said...

TWOP regularly drops good stuff due to either lack of stuff to snark about ("Ed") or lack of audience on the site ("Everwood"). I didn't visit the "DW" forums, but if there wasn't traffic there. And just because something's high-rated doesn't mean it generates a TWOP audience (Whedon/Abrams shows do far better at TWOP vis-a-vis regular audience, while "CSI" varieties are the opposite).

They're probably picking up a ridiculous amount of stuff for the fall--Dirty Sexy Money, Chuck, Gossip Girl, Pushing Daisies, Private Practice, Reaper, Bionic Woman, and Moonlight are all almost guaranteed pick ups.

Anonymous said...

The interesting thing about dropping the Doctor Who recaps is that they've kept the Doctor Who forums around, if buried. And even if plenty of people (other than me) already watched this series of the Doctor before it aired on SciFi, losing the TWoP recaps is still a shame, because Jacob does add great insight and analysis into his recaps. But I guess it fits better with the modus operandi of the site to snark at bad reality shows than to seriously discuss a cult show.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Sorry, missed this earlier in the week. In case anyone's still checking:

Btw, I don't recall you being disappointed in Bionic Woman!

I wasn't really effusive in my Pilot Watch praise, I don't think, particularly about the issue of Starbuck upstaging the star. There are also some shows that grow on you the more you think about them (say, Aliens in America), while others seem even less impressive with some distance.

I'm not writing it off by any means; I was just hoping for something more kick-ass than what I got.

Karen said...

Interesting interview, Alan! But I have a question for you: I clicked through to the link about the kerfuffle between the critics and the network exec, and near the end of the piece, someone commented on the numbero f shows featuring the wealthy, and asked if we would ever see another show like "Roseanne."

This was a very timely comment to me. I recently discovered the BBC series "Shameless" (sadly, only the first season is available on DVD, but I recommend Netflixing it PRONTO), which is set on a Manchester council estate. It is utterly unique, despite the existence of "The Royle Family," also a British series about a family living in a Manchester council estate.

And I've found myself wondering--why don't we do shows like this on American television? Is there a perception that people want more escapist fare? Also, these shows don't merely depict these on-the-dole families; they celebrate them. Is America so caught up in its notion of the "undeserving poor" that we would be incapable of creating such a tribute?

I'd be very interested to hear what you have to say.

Anonymous said...

Like you Alan, with Bionic Woman I had high hopes, but was underwhelmed by the pilot. I'm hoping that as they go back and reshoot bits with the replaced sister, they might try and fix a few of the pacing issues as well. And possibly add a little levity.

Re: TWoP - I don't think the quality has gone downhill; their usual fall tactic has been to recap as many different shows as they can and then focus on whatever generates interest/traffic. With the NBCU money behind them now, it seems to me as if they're just doing that on a larger scale, and this being summer, it means a lot of reality shows popping up consistently on the homepage. As far as Jacob's recaps of Doctor Who (and BSG) go, I've seen a lot of praise for them in various online venues, but I can see where they may not be economically sustainable. I enjoy both shows, but personally found his recaps to be overly pretentious and his stream of consciousness writing style aggrivating to the point where I stopped reading them. I don't say this to knock anyone who enjoys them or got a lot out of them (in a perfect world, they'd still be there for whoever wants them), just a possible reason why traffic and revenue may have dropped off if others had the same experience I did.