Are you ready for the summer? (2014 edition)
The broadcast network TV season officially ended a week ago, but there's still a healthy amount of new product on the air, whether things the networks actually care about ("24: Live Another Day") or things they're burning off in the slower summer months ("The Night Shift").
Starting in 2007 on the old blog, I began using summer as an excuse to revisit older series — or older seasons of series I had starting blogging about midway through — including, among others, "Freaks and Geeks," "Band of Brothers" and, more recently, early seasons of "The Wire" (here and here) and "Deadwood."
As the summer season approached, I spent a lot of time wondering what show to rewind this year. "The Sopranos" season 1 seemed an obvious choice, as did "Six Feet Under" season 1, and I briefly pondered doing "Lost" season 1 (since my blog began early in the second season). Ultimately, though, I decided I needed a break from the various shows (and kinds of shows) in "The Revolution Was Televised," and I also realized that between all the upcoming summer shows on cable and the fact that press tour and Comic-Con will be keeping me busy for nearly all of July, I needed to try something different just to make things manageable.
So we're going to have two different experiments this summer, and we'll see how they work out:
1)After Netflix releases all of "Orange Is the New Black" season 2 on June 6, I'm going to attempt to do periodic reviews (maybe weekly, maybe not; it'll all depend on my schedule), going two episodes at a time, then dealing with the finale on its own. Hopefully, I'll have time to have the first of those reviews ready to run sometime on June 6th (the season's first two episodes complement each other nicely), and we'll see how this works. "Orange" is my favorite of the Netflix originals, and it's also premiering in a slower period which makes trying something like this feasible, but I have no idea if the bulk of you are just going to marathon the whole thing the first weekend, then get impatient at the rate of the reviews, start getting into arguments in the comments about what is and isn't a spoiler, etc. But I wanted to try it, just to see what kind of discussion happens when we're all on our own schedules with a show.
2)Borrowing an idea from the podcast, where Dan and I spent last summer revisiting pilot episodes of classic series, I'm going to do periodic revisits of great sitcom episodes, of both relatively recent vintage and going all the way back to at least the '70s, and maybe even into the days of black-and-white TV. We'll be talking about what makes these episodes work, but also about whether they all hold up in the summer of 2014 (I haven't watched "Chuckles Bites the Dust" in forever, for instance; does it still feel like an all-timer?). I'll be sticking to things that are easily streamable, and I'm aware that different people have subscriptions to different services, but I will do the best I can on that front. Some weeks we'll do one episode of a show, some weeks we'll do two if there's either a two-parter or some kind of thematic link, and some weeks we won't do any at all because I'll be deep in the weeds in California. But I'll always tell you what the next homework assignment is and roughly when to expect to discuss it, and we'll start out with a pair of "NewsRadio" episodes that are both available on Hulu (and without requiring a Hulu+ subscription, though you will have to watch them on a computer and not on another device): "The Public Domain" and "Super Karate Monkey Death Car." These aired back to back in the show's fourth season; the latter features the show's single best joke, while the former is maybe my favorite overall episode (it's that or "Arcade," which unfortunately isn't streaming anywhere at the moment). We'll hit some more famous shows later on, but we're starting here because this show's online availability is so erratic and ever-changing that I wanted to discuss Jimmy James' book while it was still possible to do so. In theory, I'll have a post on that up next Wednesday or Thursday morning.
So that's the plan. Maybe next summer I'll do another vintage HBO show, or a British miniseries or something else, but this is what I was feeling right now, on top of whatever other current shows I wind up putting into the rotation for the summer. (I imagine "Masters of Sex" will be back there, for instance, but Sundays will be awfully tough with that, "The Strain," "The Leftovers," etc.)
Go forth and stream things, and we shall try to reconvene with our two summer TV clubs sometime next week.