Some Good Reading About TV Shows & Reviewing
December 8, 2011

I really enjoy Suburgatory, a sitcom about a city teenager who moves to the suburbs with her single dad. I enjoy it even more now that I’ve read this humorous interview with show creator Emily Kapnek about the vision for the show. She even tackles the reaction of some fans seeing a bit too much chemistry between the lead father/daughter actors. I like their off-kilter relationship, but I didn’t take it that far. Anyway, in our house, Suburgatory is a keeper, something to store on the DVR until the DVD sets are available.

Suburgatory cast

Speaking of sitcoms, the always-excellent NPR Monkey See pop culture blog has a wonderful piece by Linda Holmes about what makes How I Met Your Mother so special: “It’s a show that has a specific vision of how life works, and that vision is basically a happy one…. However your life goes, that’s the story of how you ended up where you are, and therefore, every turn your story took, whether sad or happy at the time, is part of how you achieved whatever joy you have.” I have taken a while to learn that your happiness is up to you, and I appreciate seeing that kind of optimism in entertainment.

Linda also covered a reviewer breaking embargo on a very flimsy premise, and she once again gets it right:

… you do not make a stand against bad deals by taking the benefit part (early and free access to a hotly anticipated movie that even most other critics haven’t seen yet) and then reneging on the obligation part (the embargo date). You make a stand against bad deals by deciding not to take them and refusing their advantages.

Meanwhile, in a post I found via Andrew Wheeler, I read about a reviewer getting upset that a publisher sending out free books expects to see reviews written of those books, and more, that they will take into account how many books a particular site has requested without writing about them in determining whether to send more.

He calls agreeing to this “groveling” on the part of reviewers, which I don’t understand at all. Of course publisher X is going to be more eager to work with sites that write about publisher X more often. Of course no one wants to keep sending books to someone who doesn’t ever write about them. (This is why I’m trying a new system to get my review copies under control, because it is an obligation if you have requested a book.) Why is this surprising to a professional writer?

I’ve been participating in a similar request system for DVDs for a while, and I think it’s great to only ask for what you’re interested in covering. Why should a company “waste” a review copy on you if you don’t want to talk about it in the first place? Sure, sometimes you’ll find something a pleasant surprise, but that’s rare, and just as serendipitously discovered through reading other people’s reviews.

2 Responses  
Augie De Blieck Jr. writes:  

The wife and I stumbled across an episode of “Suburgatory” over Thanksgiving break. Had never seen the show before. Didn’t even know the show’s title. (We missed the first minute or so, I guess.) And for the life of us, we couldn’t work out if the leads were father/daughter or boyfriend/girlfriend for most of the episode. I’m glad we weren’t alone in wondering about that chemistry.

As for review books: Yeah, it’s a nice perk, but you have to expect that it can get pulled from you at any moment if you’re not writing about them. I accepted that fact a long time ago and just don’t worry about it. These days, PDFs are replacing physical books, so it’s less stringent from the publishers.

I’m with you on the DVDs, though — I only request the ones I know I have time to review, and that will fit in with the column I’d be reviewing them in. Sure, I’d love free and early copies of a lot of the movies that are offered to me, but they often have nothing to do with comics. I could review them in my personal blog, but that doesn’t seem fair. Nobody reads that. ;-)

vid writes:  

Totally agree. A reviewer should only request what they are actually interested in and want to write a review for and of course if it actually falls under the coverage of their website/magazine.


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