For the last couple of months, I’ve been reconsidering how I write my reviews for television on this blog. My first two reviews, for episodes nine and ten of Season Three of Game of Thrones, followed a pretty basic format, wherein I briefly examined a few key scenes, and then wrote my thoughts – you know, a typical review. Come September, when I started working on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I initially followed this same format; but things soon changed.
I decided to start taking copious notes of each episode I was reviewing as they aired, beginning with my addition of The Walking Dead to the series I was covering. With this change in approach, my writing also changed. Instead of focusing on a few key moments and then airing my thoughts, I began to write extensive recaps of the entire episode, interspersed with a few thoughts here and there, some interpretations of events, and a couple of paragraphs of actual review at the end. This meant that my reviews, already a hefty 1500-2000 words, quickly grew to over 4000 words. To put this in perspective, back when you were writing essays for school, a typical 1000 word paper would weigh in at about four typed pages. Thus, my reviews were edging up into the twenty page range – and I was trying to get this done the night of the show. Unfortunately, this meant that on occasion reviews got pushed back, sometimes several days, and writing them became more of a chore than a pleasure.
This really came to a head for me recently, when I spent two weeks on a family vacation, only to find myself four shows behind in my reviews (two each of Game of Thrones and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). Faced with at least sixteen hours of viewing and writing in order to catch up, combined with a return to teaching with the new semester, I realized that I was going to have to reconsider how I write my reviews. Then on Monday, one of my students who happens to be reading the blog approached me, and said he liked my reviews, but he’s already watched the show, and doesn’t need a full recap. This confirmed for me the direction I intend to go.
Beginning with last night’s review of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season finale (you can read it here), I’m trying to go back to my old style of review, where I do look at a few key scenes, but focus on commentary and opinion, turning it back into more of a review, and less of a recap. This will enable me to: a) get reviews up faster, and b) provide readers with a more succinct reading experience that won’t take as much of their browsing time away. As you will see if you read the review, I kind of succeeded and I kind of didn’t: the review is still way up over 2000 words, but it’s about half the size of previous outings. I even wrote a separate article summing up issues with the show’s first season that I initially intended to include in the review – you can read that article here.
I’ve added a few sections at the end of the review, sections that I hope to continue to use for future reviews, including questions answered and asked, funniest moment (this might be a slightly different heading when reviewing more serious shows, such as GoT or TWD), best lines, and things learned (focused on backstory as opposed to major plot lines). This gives readers a chance to read about what I thought were some of the cooler moments of the show in a bullet-point format. I’m keeping my Steve’s Grade at the back end of each review, and eventually I intend to make reviews searchable by the grade I assign them.
There is the possibility that, for certain shows, I will continue to also write a full recap, but this won’t come until a couple of days after the air-date. The key will be to get reviews up faster, so that readers can check them out while the episode is still fresh in their minds. One nice aspect to this change is that I feel I’ll be able to add one or two more shows to my coverage; I’ll be doing some research in the near future to determine which I’ll add.
Of course, if you have any suggestions you’d like to make, either for shows you’d like to see me review, or to tell me what you think about the changes I’m making, please feel free to send me a message below. I love feedback, and I’m always open to suggestions – so long as they’re physically possible.