Welcome again to We Have Always Lived in the Kraken, a pop culture blog transmitted directly to you from the belly of the beast. Here in the Notes we’ll show you this week’s posting schedule, but first, a little Seafood for Thought.
What is the role of a TV critic now? The way we all watch television has changed so dramatically that it seems like the way people talk about television needs to change as well. I touched on this a bit when I wrote about Chicago Med last week; there is too much to watch, and outside of a couple of shows (Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and maybe Mr. Robot come to mind) the idea of watching a show week-to-week just isn’t how most television viewing works anymore for an increasingly large number of people. So covering television on a week-to-week basis is becoming more and more unnecessary, and worse, unhelpful. People don’t need to know about what’s happening right now on a show, they need to know if a show is worth watching a year or two down the line when it is binged all at once. One downside of this is that the anti-spoiler culture has been even further amplified, because when people may not watch something for years, the idea of an acceptable amount of time after which a show can be safely spoiled may no longer exist. You would think this would make things almost easier for a critic. Instead of covering a wide variety of shows in great depth, a critic now needs to simply watch enough of a given show to offer a recommendation, so that people have an idea if one of the 50+ good shows are worth watching at some point. That is, until you realize that to do that, you need to watch everything, which is simply not possible, even if you’re not also watching some shows for fun.
So what’s the new best way to discuss television? Some people still want week to week coverage, others simply need a spoiler-light primer. Maybe the most effective method is another new medium, the podcast, which allows for a more organic and less analytical conversation than written reviews. It’s hard to say what the right answer is. But is all this change and confusion a good thing? Maybe. TV criticism has somewhat stagnated over the years, so it probably isn’t the worst thing that it’s now forced to change. At the same time, if TV critics simply become recommendation engines, their purpose become a lot less clear–or at least a lot less vital. I would like to say I have some grand answer to all this, but alas, I do not. I can say is, the way I am analyzing television is changing too. What those changes bring about I cannot say, but I am strangely excited to find out.
From the depths of the Kraken, here is what we are bringing you this week.
- No new content today. Construction is going on today in the Kraken’s ears, and union rules require total silence while they work.
- Today Kyu gets into the Oscarathon 2016 action with his look at top Oscar contender Spotlight. Check it out if you want the scoop on whether he thinks it’s underrated or undercooked.
- With 2016 in full swing, it is time to take a look at this year’s The Anticipated. Join David as he introduces this year’s selections of the movies he’s most excited to see and review.
- The Oscarathon 2016 gets a big update with a look at the current state of the Best Picture and Acting Races.
- Nothing new today, as the Kraken wanted to take a spa day. Unfortunately, that spa is in a volcano, so it’s far too hot for us to work. That’s our story, anyway.
- Baturdays continues with Detective Comics #42, another (and this time more satisfying) Batman-y take on the murder mystery genre. Plus now they have titles! This one’s called “The Case of the Prophetic Pictures.”
- Yearning for more Star Wars? TV Roulette has just the thing for you, as David takes a look at Disney XD’s animated Star Wars Rebels.
Also be on the look out for more Awards Predictions for Oscarathon 2016, which will come out at irregular intervals during coming weeks.
Catch of the Week:
Each and every week the residents here in the Kraken will offer one recommendation for the week that we think you all would enjoy. It might be a movie. It might be a book. Who knows? This is your… Catch of the Week.
David: The Best Picture race is in a constant state of musical chairs right now, so I’ll take the time to highlight a film that is good, even if it didn’t quite make my Top 10 for 2015. Adam McKay’s The Big Short is at worst the co-top contender for the big prize right now (more on that in an Oscarathon update), and while we can quibble about whether that is deserved or not, what can’t be quibbled with is the quality of the film. This movie takes a unique approach to its direction, writing, and editing to create an entertaining dark comedy about the 2008 financial crisis. Honestly, this film should not work as well as it does, but the combination of great acting, courtesy of Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carrel, Brad Pitt, and others with the infectious energy McKay injects into the film really makes The Big Short pop. Still, what really makes it shine is that it can make you laugh at all, considering its subject matter, while at the same time still perfectly hitting home the seriousness of the issue.
Keskel: This week I recommend the novel Kizumonogatari, available in translation at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It’s by far the most accessible entry in the Monogatari series, which I cannot recommended highly enough. The novel tells the story of a loner high school boy who ends up encountering a vampire and undergoes “the spring break from hell.” It’s a fun, high octane horror/thriller/action romp, every bit as deep as the rest of the Monogatari series. Also, every copy you buy makes it more likely they will translate and release the rest of the novels in America, so hurry people, people.
That’s it for this week. We hope you continue to find the Kraken to your liking. Now if you excuse us, the Kraken is having an argument with Godzilla, and we better step in before they both destroy Hawaii.