Email Roundtable #17 – Smorgasbord

This week I thought we’d attempt to discuss three questions that have been on my mind recently.

1.) What are your thoughts on the way Netflix rolled out the first 13 episodes of House of Cards, releasing them all at the same time? Do you think things like this will become the norm? 


Jane: I remember when first hearing about House of Cards, I thought the idea was kind of strange. I guess it makes sense though. Television seems so immediately available now, be it through streaming, PVR or downloading.

Katie: It’s what the people want, right? Getting a new show all at once must be like the first time Charles Dickens published a book all at one time. “Awesome! I don’t have to wait!!!!”

Kerri: A good portion of the joy I get out of a show is in the anticipation of the next episode, especially when I’m watching it “live”. I don’t think it is a great idea because you lose a lot of that. Sure, you will have to wait for the next season or whatever but to my mind some of the fun of a serialized anything is the waiting.

Katie: Some shows (dramas especially) are better when viewed serially. You get the added excitement that comes from anticipation. (Jinx, Kerri.)

Kerri: But, on the other hand, you are right. People want all of the things NOW and I’m pretty sure that House of Cards is doing quite well for Netflix.

Also, you two should watch House of Cards. I would love to discuss it with you.

Jane: I understand wanting things RIGHT NOW. I remember when they started releasing television series on DVD. I would just watch and watch until my eyes hurt. I felt it made me a less discerning viewer. I could always just skip a head during boring parts.

Kerri: You’re right, Jane. I’m sure we have all done that before. We watch way too much of one show until we feel like we are living in that world. It’s like eating too much candy. Usually ends with an upset stomach.

Katie: Even though TV is a commodity that is sold to us, it feels more like a commodity on Netflix. We get it all at once and then discard it for the next thing.

Kerri: Do you think this is where we are headed? Download an entire season at once? I wonder, because often production is still occurring while a season of a show starts. It’s an interesting experiment but I’m not sure what the pay-off is exactly.

Katie: I don’t think so. At a certain point people will buck at paying for TV separately. It seems like so much less $ when you just pay your cable bill. If different networks started charging monthly rates (which they’d have to, following the Netflix model) customers would drop off.

Jane: I wonder how susceptible these series would be to critics if they were being shot and broadcast at the same time? Seems like tricky business. I’m not sure that it would be in the best interests of the writers’ original intentions.

2.) This week I am writing about (sort of) reality shows. Is anything interesting/new happening in the world of reality television or have we hit a plateau? 

Kerri: I’m asking this totally selfishly because I honestly don’t know. These days the only reality shows I watch are Survivor and Top Chef. Is there anything else out there that’s good? Or new and exciting?

Katie: I am so mad at Survivor. Last season was so good! And I HATE this season. I didn’t like watching any of the “favourites” the first time, so now I’m not going to watch at all.

Kerri: As an aside, I feel that way about Community this season, but that’s neither here nor there.

I agree with you, Katie. It hasn’t been a fabulous start. I always give Survivor a bit of time to get into its groove. It usually takes a couple episodes before I am on board with any season. But last season was tremendous.

Katie: Very true. But I’m just not sure I can handle any more TV minutes with Brandon or Philip.

Jane: I only watch two reality shows consistently, now. Project Runway and Top Chef. Although producers are seemingly changing things up (Top Chef is all about Mentoring, Project Runway is all about Team Challenges) in my mind the only major change in these two reality shows is more overt product placement. The worst culprit in my opinion is Project Runway. Using the unconventional challenge to promote Glade 2 in 1 candles? WHAT??

Katie: I’m in the same boat, Kerri. I only watch those two, so I don’t really know. Top Chef has been fairly standard this season.

Kerri: I have a crush on Kristen from Top Chef. Just going to throw that out there.

Katie: Me too.

Jane: I feel that many Top Chef episodes have been stretched out far beyond
their substance.

Katie: Same for Project Runway. Are they still doing 90 minute episodes??

Jane: YES! I have no idea why. The team challenges are identical to the individual challenges. Although I will say I enjoy Zach Posen as a Michael Kors replacement. Zach is way more cool! He also gives a better runway critique. He’s less catty for comedies sake and more informative.

Kerri: I completely agree. Top Chef has such a good formula but often it seems that they don’t bother trying anything different.

I’ll say that is one good thing about Survivor, succeed or fail, they try to shake things up.

Jane: Kristen is amazing. I really wish they could implement more of Last Chance Kitchen into the regular episodes. The certainly have the space for it. I thought it was so strange in last weeks Finale Part 1, to spend so much time going back to the top contestants homes and do what? Chill out for a bit? Wouldn’t this be the perfect opportunity to have their mentors come give them tips or something. Instead it just seemed like filler.

Kerri: I’m going to assign us all a piece of homework. We all have to search out a reality show that is somewhat interesting. I don’t care if we don’t watch it consistently after, but it would be fun to report back on our findings.

Katie: Mission accepted.

Jane: I’m in!

3.) Who is making an impression on you right now in any show that you are watching? 

Katie: Two amazing female characters from Slings and Arrows – Ellen and Anna. I was inspired by Todd Vanderwerff’s current reviews on the AV club to re-watch the series.

Jane: I have two.

1. Walton Goggins on Justified. I’m a little obsessed with his struggle to play the part of the perfect outlaw.

2. Ray on Girls. After the last (close to perfect episode) I’m really loving his struggle with life. He wants to be happy and he has some of the happiness ingredients, but it doesn’t work out the way he thinks it should.

Kerri: I also have two:

1.) Kate Mara on House of Cards – she reminds me of Anna Kendrick but more robotic and relentless (in a good way). Her character is the best/most interesting of the women characters on the show and I love the way that she ambushes people into doing things for her. I can see a lot of people hating her but that’s what’s great about the character/acting.

2.) John Mulaney from Kroll Show – Mulaney is a writer for SNL and a comedian. I feel like he’d have done well in the 80’s, if John Hughes was looking for a nerdy pipsqueak and Anthony Michael Hall wasn’t available. He’s excellent on Kroll Show as one of two old men (the other is Nick Kroll – also amazing) who get into all kinds of mischief. I have a crush on him too.

Katie: Yay for TV crushes!

Kerri: Love those picks both of you!

Jane: I will check those out for sure! I love Slings and Arrows. That is what made me return to Netflix.

One thought on “Email Roundtable #17 – Smorgasbord

  1. Pingback: Email Roundtable #19 – Reality TV Homework Challenge | The Golden Age of Television

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