October 27, 2006

Reading movie and TV recaps instead of watching movies and TV.

How widespread is this trend? In two days, I encountered two individuals who said they derived their movie and TV entertainment from reading recaps and skipping the viewing experience altogether. Both mentioned The Movie Spoiler for movie summaries, which I hadn't heard of before. For TV, the obvious choice is Television Without Pity, which I've been reading for years, but I wasn't reading recaps of shows I didn't watch (and it never occurred to me to just say "twop.")

I like this idea of substituting the recap. I love reading things on line. (I mean, I'm severely addicted to reading things on line. Last night, I curled up in bed at 7:30 to read a book, but along with the book I brought my laptop. I thought I'd click around on the laptop for a few minutes and then get to the book. At 11, I was still on the laptop!) Lately, I haven't felt like watching TV. It's not as though I'm trying to practice some new austerity. I just haven't been enjoying the TV-viewing feeling too much lately. Reading TV recaps might nicely replace the relaxing, easy experience that once was TV. But if everyone only reads about TV and doesn't watch it, why do we even need the shows?

Somebody needs to start a website for smart, funny recaps of TV shows and movies that don't exist.

27 comments:

knoxgirl said...

tvgasm has hilarious recaps and commentary that require no viewing.

Nick said...

Thats like saying that you enjoy reading Cliff Notes more than the actual novel.

I understand doing it of you missed an episode of a series and don't have it recorded for later viewing, so you don't want to lose out on the plot... but to do that on a regular basis?

Come on.

MadisonMan said...

Somebody needs to start a website for smart, funny recaps of TV shows and movies that don't exist.

I just wanted to see that line again, 'cause it's funny. How can you recap what doesn't exist?

Am I stunting my kids by denying them access to TV? I well recall that many a grad school confab centered on TV shows from my days of youth. My kids won't be able to participate in such a discussion in the future. I hope they won't hate me for it.

Ann Althouse said...

Madisonman: If they felt disadvantaged, they're probably just read the recaps. Just like the kids who read the Cliff's Notes when they can't read the novel.

Revenant said...

Thats like saying that you enjoy reading Cliff Notes more than the actual novel

I liked the Cliff Notes of "Crime and Punishment" about a jillion times more than the actual novel. Good lord but it takes Russians a long time to get to the point.

dbp said...

Ann,

You are brilliant! I don't know how one might protect such an idea--maybe a business plan patent? I am not a lawyer, but someday somebody is going to make a mint running a site which does just what you propose.

dbp

Christy said...

I always found TWOP's extremely snarky recaps of Charmed much more interesting than the actual show, which I rarely watched.

Recaps and the first few pages of comments for Lost are required for catching all the clues. Although Lost may have lost me this year.

Mostly I like the recaps for the shows I love that no one in my real life ever watches - Veronica Mars and Battlestar Galactica.

knoxgirl said...

Christy: I adored "Lost" for a good while, but gave up on it when it dawned on me that they weren't going to provide ANY answers. I began to suspect the writers were just making it up as they went.

Nick: read tvgasm's recap of "Riding on the Bus with My Sister" starring Rosie O'Donnell and you'll get it.

Jeremy said...

I love themoviespoiler.com. I use it for movies that *everyone* has seen and talks about but that I have no interest in seeing. Most normal reviews don't give much in the way of details that explain in-jokes or give away the spoilers or if they do, they don't give away the ending. The Movie Spoiler does all of that. Especially good for Horror/Thriller/Suspense movies with intruiging trailers.

Revenant said...

Mostly I like the recaps for the shows I love that no one in my real life ever watches - Veronica Mars and Battlestar Galactica.

I think they've been too critical of seasons 2 and 3 of Veronica Mars, personally. Season one was an impossible act to follow; they should cut the show some slack.

Ann Althouse said...

Revenant: Yeah, I have used TWoP that way. It's a substitute for having a smart, funny friend to watch the show with.

dbp: Believe me, I hesitated before posting and thought about whether this was a valuable idea that I should keep secret. Then, I decided I love the blog more and wanted to say it. Anyway, it's my idea. I'm claiming it right here. But I will sell!

Hugo Black said...

The Cliff Notes comment leads me to think of the obvious (for law students, anyway) next step-- the case briefs on westlaw and lexis! I just had my training today and, like Ann with TV shows, am excited at the prospect of never having to read a real case again!

Brent said...

I collect Cliff Notes, particularly old, out of print Cliff Notes.

When I give a gift of a classic book to someone - I prefer giving those in most cases to the fad book of the hour - I like to enclose a Cliff Notes for that book as well, if there is one available.

I receive more comments (always humorous or favorable)about that than almost any other kind of gift I give. Numerous recipients have told me over the years that they enjoyed the book much more with the supplement.

Joe said...

It's very useful for shows that you no longer enjoy but have a faint curiosity as to what happens. For example, I've completely lost interest in Lost and am tempted to checkout a recap except I don't care enough. (The show has become a [really boring] parody of itself.)

LoafingOaf said...

jeremy: I love themoviespoiler.com. I use it for movies that *everyone* has seen and talks about but that I have no interest in seeing. Most normal reviews don't give much in the way of details that explain in-jokes or give away the spoilers or if they do, they don't give away the ending. The Movie Spoiler does all of that.

So...what? This is so when your friends are taking about a movie you can pretend you saw it? I looked at a couple summaries on that site and was glad I saw the movies instead.

I don't know about all this. I can understand wanting to stay in touch with culture. I read the NY Times Book Review so I can have an idea what all those books I don't feel like reading are on about. But if I have any interest in a movie, I like to see it for myself, completely unspoiled. I only read full-length movie reviews after I've seen the movie so I can preserve as clean a slate as possible.

The only problem with being anal about avoiding information is figuring out what to see and what to skip.

I figure that out through a silly web site called Hollywood Stock Exchance. It's a game where you buy stock in movies with fake money (Howard Stern calls it fantasy baseball for gay people). I've long since stopped playing the game (except now and then I test whether I can predict what will bomb), but I still go on there to look at basic info on movies in various stages of development. I can tell ya what movies will be coming out for like the next 4 years. And, yup, lots of sure-stinkers on the way!

With TV, if I've heard enough good things about a show I rent the DVD. I use TV primarily just for the backround, and usually on mute, while I surf the Web. But I'm really curious what all these CSIs are like. They seem to have completely taken over TV.

Brent said...

I still love to make video copies of TV shows that I like to watch - as time goes on, my family gets a kick at watching them with the commercials of the day.

This year, I anticipated that about half of the New Shows would not make it. We started liking "Kidnapped", then found it was cancelled. they will wrap up the story in 13 episodes, never to be seen again. But I will have videos (eventually transferred to DVD)that will become more valuable as the years go on.

Cool.

Joan said...

For a while I read TWoP's recaps of "ER" just to see how low the show had sunk. Plus, the snark is extra delicious for shows that try to be serious and yet are populated with such stupid characters.

I pretty much gave up on TWoP after I got banned from posting on the forums for wanting to discuss Sayid's character development on Lost -- the moderator considered it "too political." That's when I realized that TWoP is that kind of forum that appears to be free-wheeling until you say something that's Right-ish.

From time to time, I still read there, but Jacob's recaps have become more and more loopy. And since he recaps all the shows I am most interested in, I have a great incentive to stay away.

I do like the idea of recapping non-existant shows, though. It would require a tremendous amount of talent and creativity.

Ron said...

I forget who, but some did Cliff Notes of Cliff Notes, for those who don't have the time to even read the Cliff Notes!

Old Testament: "God creates Man, and everything Man does makes God angry."

David said...

Jacob's Dr. Who recaps have become completely unreadable, even after you factor out the unformatted Tennyson. If he could just keep to recapping what's actually on the screen, rather than his reimagining of the episode, they could be half as long.

The Battlestar Galactica recaps aren't that bad, but they've long since passed "Dude, you're thinking about this too hard."

Maxine Weiss said...

Cliff's notes are not objective.

It's their interpretation of the action.

I like to form my own interpretation first, and then I might reach for the Cliff's Notes to find out if they agree with my first impression.

Peace, Maxine

useless ducks said...

Favorite newish TWoP innovation: The recaps now seem to have all the pages linked on each page so you can go directly to the midpoint (or wherever) of a recap if you don't finish reading something through during the first round.

I think back during last season of Apprentice this had come up here as a foible of the otherwise pretty awesome site.

Joan said...

David: exactly! You might try here for some recappish discussion of Dr. Who and other tv and film criticism.

There's a fine line that's crossed all too easily in recapping: you need to stick to the action, but through your choice of words convey your critique of the action at the same time. It's sometimes OK to make brief excursions into related material, but extended riffs on ephemera are really off-putting.

I just realized that there are already "recappers of unproduced tv shows." They're called screen writers, and they spend most of their non-writing time pitching their ideas to producers to try to get them onscreen somewhere. I'm sure there's a wealth of material out there already. I'm sure someone could up with a snazzy domain name ("unseenTV.com") and give the writers a place to publish the never-made episodes of cancelled or never-ordered series.

Unfortunately, most of these would be bad, demonstrating why they were never made in the first place. But what about only soliciting scripts from shows that were great but died anyway (ala that "brilliant but cancelled" show)? It could work.

Wait a minute -- it just struck me that that is nothing more than fanfic. Aaaauuuuggghhhhh!

Reel Fanatic said...

Whatever happened to experiencing life, rather than having someone tell you about it? This is just sad, sad, sad

Larry in Gibbsville said...

I've been watching "The Young and the Restless" since it started in 1973. Years ago, I found a site that offers a daily recap. I DVR the show everyday, but normally don't have time to watch it. The recap keeps me up to date with the happenings in Genoa City, and the site is pretty darn funny, too.

useless ducks said...

Re: "unseen tv"

A youtube search on the word "pilot" often can pick up shows that were sadly not picked up.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=uEYCN3hVTYI
TV about TV...oh to be able to write fluffy term papers again.

David said...

Cheers to Reel Fanatic for the most meta-ironic blog comment ever.

Jennifer said...

Joan and David -thank you !
I have been a reader/member of TWP for years. Lately it appears that moderators are getting selectively meaner and Jacob as a recapped is a joke ! His recaps of True Blood are self indulgent and border on on the ridiculous.
I am trying to find a way to unsubscribe, in the meantime I just stay away.