Tuesday, January 17, 2012

TVHounding and Alan Sepinwall

I had dinner last night with friends who are passionate about sussing out cool stuff. Hounds are hounds, really; it doesn't matter if it's chow, movies, music, books, youtube videos, or iphone apps. There's a mindset where you're convinced great stuff is happening and you feel compelled to find it, love it, and evangelize it, and the mindset transcends genre. Pizza fanatics are more likely to go of their way to buy slightly more comfortable socks, movie geeks tend to listen to interesting music, and mountain bike fans often drink quality beer. Passion and knowledgability are more versatile than people imagine.

The field ripest for hounding these days is television. For the past decade, that's been where genius has converged. Like food in the '90's, film in the early '70's, rock 'n roll in the late '60s, abstract expressionism in the early 60's, and jazz in the 50's, TV is where it's presently at.

Which is not to say TV programming is all great (any more than all 1973 films or all 1969 rock bands were great). But when smart, passionate people get together, more often than not, they swap tips for great TV series, both past and present (thanks to Netflix and DVDs, everything's omni-available). So last night I scribbled reminders to check out Justified, Mastermind, The Sandbaggers, and "Spaced", and I evangelized shows like Party Down, State of Play, Men of a Certain Age, Homeland, and Breaking Bad,

I'm too burnt-out on managing online communities to launch TVHound, but the next best thing is Alan Sepinwall, a former newspaper columnist (with the NJ Star Ledger) and longtime amateur blogger who a couple of years ago went full-time as a blogging pro. He has a devoted following, and I'm part of it.

Sepinwall's reporting is helpful in three ways: 1. he's good at ferreting out quality shows and getting you excited about them, 2. his reviews are in-depth (and user comments are strong), so I seek them out after I've viewed a show, to get other perspective, and 3. during summer lulls, he does "Rewinds" of legendary series, going back and writing fresh reviews, episode by episode, for viewers who are catching up (the "Newbies" rewinds) or revisiting (the "Veterans" rewinds). Examples: The Wire (Newbies)/The Wire (Veterans), Deadwood (Newbies)/Deadwood (Veterans), and Band of Brothers

His older stuff is archived on his old blog, "What's Alan Watching?". Check out the list on the right side of the page of all series he was particularly jazzed about as of June 2010, and click for reverse-chronological reviews. He's since moved on to a blog under the same title on HITFIX, where his stuff is poorly organized but still high quality.

Some Sepinwall links to get started:

TV Top 10 of 2011: The best 10 (or 11) overall shows (note: this is a video-only report - which allows him to show video excerpts from the shows as he describes them - but you can see a text list in the comments)

TV Top 10 of 2011: The best 10 returning shows

Rookie watch: the best new TV shows of 2011

Particularly valuable is his Best of the '00s in TV, written in late 2009.

1 comment:

TomMeg said...

Funny I just discovered Sepinwall a couple of weeks ago as I'm working my way through The Wire.

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