Sunday, March 26, 2017

April's TV Tsunami

Have you heard? Have you heard? April this year is going to see the premieres of countless high profile prestige television shows. In addition to the return of "Better Call Saul," "Veep," The Leftovers," "Silicon Valley," "Fargo," and "Doctor Who," we'll also get our first look at "American Gods," "The Handmaid's Tale," "The Son," and the "Prison Break" update Meanwhile, new seasons of "The Americans" and "The Expanse" are in full swing. And two of the usual major event series are missing this year - "Game of Thrones" and "Orphan Black," which have been pushed back to summer.

As many news outlets have pointed out, the end of May is a cutoff date for Emmy eligibility, so television has developed its own prestige season, similar to the one that the movies have in November and December. Good television premieres all year round now, especially on the streaming services, but there's a noticeable uptick in the good stuff during the spring and summer months, and I'm definitely anticipating at least half a dozen of this year's April premieres. It's fascinating how the traditional schedule of television shows premiering in the fall and ending in the spring has become so inverted now, with the shorter seasons and so many new alternatives to network television.

And the best part of this is, since I don't write this blog for a living and have no obligation to be particularly current with the content, I don't have to watch all of these new episodes at the same time. I don't have access to the shows on premium cable at the moment anyway, because of my current subscriptions (Next round of HBO Now will be after the next season of "Game of Thrones" is finished). Sure, dodging the spoilers is going to be some work, but I have a ton of other shows from last year that I'm still working on, and my current priority is with cutting that massive list of '70s movies for my Top Ten project down to size. Technically I still have a few shows that I consider appointment television, because I'm watching them with other people, but in most cases things can wait. Years, in some cases.

Right now I'm seriously weighing whether I want to continue with the second seasons of "Mr. Robot," "Humans," and "The Expanse." And if I want to start "The Crown," "The Affair," or "Horace and Pete." Limited series like "The People vs. OJ Simpson," "Big Little Lies," and "The Night Of" are more tempting because they aren't open-ended and won't require as much commitment. Then again, I've been meaning to start "The West Wing" and "Parks & Rec" for ages. Or should I go back and pick up "Downton Abbey" or "House of Cards" or another series that I dropped? Surely I should at least finish out a full season of each, right? There are also a couple of cases where I'm waiting for current seasons to finish to see if they live up to highly touted premieres - the new Noah Hawley show "Legion," for instance. Even if all these new episodes weren't premiering in April, I have no shortage of things to watch.

And the bar just keeps getting higher and higher for new shows. If a series doesn't get good buzz and good reviews, I tend to overlook it. Unless they get an unusual amount of attention, I ignore most soaps, procedurals, and comedies nowadays. If a series doesn't hook me within a few episodes, I tend to put it aside for later, until I forget about it and move on to something else. I can't count the number of Netflix or Hulu or pay cable shows I've decided to put off because I didn't have an active subscription for the particular month it premiered, and then never got around to them. I meant to watch "Marco Polo," really I did.

Part of me wonders how long the deluge of content can last. Every time I think we've hit peak TV, suddenly there's some new must-see series, another web service or independent content creator joining the fray, and another beloved movie actor or director has made the leap to the small screen. There's no way to keep up anymore, and I've pretty much just accepted it.


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