Every week, the Criticwire Survey asks film and TV critics two questions and publishes the results on Monday morning. (The answer to the second, “What is the best film in theaters right now?” can be found at the end of this post.) Send suggestions for future questions to sam at indiewire dot com.
Q: The networks have made their calls on which shows to keep and which to get rid for the fall 2015 season, but that doesn’t mean we have to go along with them. What shows are you canceling from your own personal lineup, and why?
Richard Brody, New Yorker
T fucking V. The way to stop watching is after watching an episode that television critics call a radical innovation in the medium or a mark of singular genius that turns out to be just more TV, a grim script or a chirpy one or both together, with its intentions performed and delivered blatantly in images that are either invisibly neutral or stiffly determined, and that reveals its insignificant oversignificance in five minutes (or five shots) but you watch the whole episode anyway. There are always a few happy exceptions—and the guideline for when to stop watching is when the directing gets delegated. Impatient for the second season of “The Knick.”
Dan Fienberg, HitFix
This spring has been a nightmare for me and the procedurals building up on my DVR. I’m caught up on nearly every serialized show that I fear Twitter will spoil for me if I let them pile up, but the stand-alone shows that I watch while cleaning, folding laundry or tinkering with my fantasy baseball teams have fallen by the wayside and I have between seven and 10 episodes piled up for things like “Castle,” “Person of Interest” and “The Blacklist.” By canceling “Forever,” ABC allowed me to liberate a block of DVR memory, but I fear that with the other shows, I’ll have to be my own editor. I’m actually looking forward to watching the “Person of Interest” episodes and “Castle” is painless and requires only 3 percent brain capacity to watch. But the dread with which I’m approaching “Blacklist” (but also the more serialized and more awful and more likely to be canceled by its network) “The Following” suggest those are a couple things I may not have time for next year.
Justine Smith, Sound on Sight
Usually by the time I decide I want to invest time in watching a show I will give it a lot of chances. I am a very passive viewer, and have so few shows I make sure I’m always caught up on that I try to stick to it. For me to already invest in a show with the idea that I will stay up to date means that it has already drawn me in, sometimes that’s based on a fantastic pilot or a promise… I usually know pretty quickly if a show will live up to it’s pilot or not, if I give up on a show within five episodes it didn’t. Those shows aren’t particularly interesting most of the time, I don’t even know if they’re worth discussing. It’s the episodes that ride on the promise of what they could be that hold onto me a little longer. I think of all shows I’m currently watching, “Gotham” has been riding on the promise of some strong characters and a decent aesthetic universe. However week after week it’s let me down, for every gain there are many five losses. The problem I’ve realized that the show’s weak point centre on the young Bruce, who unfortunately is not going away anytime soon… this is one of the problems with prequels, you know who is going to live and who is going to die. Sometimes the journey can be interesting enough to justify that, but at this point I just don’t see myself tuning in for another season of “Gotham.”
Piers Marchant, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, phillymag.com
It’s been a while since I’ve dumped a show, mostly because I vet them so carefully now, I likely won’t stick around past a couple of episodes if it doesn’t appear to be working. That said, the decision to stop watching is pretty easy: If I find myself despising all the characters, it’s a pretty solid sign I should let it go. In this way, “True Blood” lost me after about a season-and-a-half. Things got bad enough that I would sit there in front of the screen yelling at the stupid characters not to be so stupid until my wife called down from upstairs to remind me I didn’t have to watch them at all, which was a wonderful piece of advice. I reserve a special ire for a show that starts out promisingly and then ends up falling to absolute pieces after you’ve already been hooked. With “The Killing” and at least the first season of “The Bridge,” FX seems to have cornered that particular market pretty well.
Tomris Laffly, Movie Mezzanine, Film Journal International
I constantly feel the anxiety of being behind on TV, even though I spend a considerable chunk of my free time in front of it, trying to catch up with the hot shows that seem to get my Twitter feed excited. Go figure. I still haven’t touched “Game of Thrones” or “The Good Wife” for instance, although I certainly hope to one day. You know, as soon as I can free up 100+ hours in my schedule. Considering how big a time-suck and emotional investment getting into a new show is, knowing when to stop watching is essential and extremely tricky. For me (and I suspect for many others), it all comes down to a couple of basic questions: Do I care about the characters enough to spend another zillion hours with them? And do I find the show’s universe believable/intriguing/exciting — at least within its own parameters? The two in most cases go hand in hand. I gave up on “Lost” towards the end of Season 3, after realizing that I couldn’t stand anyone in it (I am not referring to “likability”, by the way — I just found the main characters to be haphazardly conceived) and that the show’s sole intrigue was based on a constant string of cliffhangers that never added up to anything. I still regret the hours I invested in that show. Currently, I am not watching anything religiously other than “Mad Men” (which ended being the best time investment I’ve ever made towards TV). I have watched most of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” / Season 1, though I am not sure if I’ll start Season 2 or even finish watching Season 1. I love the premise and the humor, though it started feeling a little repetitive to me and lost my interest.
Greg Cwik, Vulture, Indiewire
Sunday Night Football. Cause I don’t like football.
Glenn Kenny, RogerEbert.com, Some Came Running
I haven’t watched a network series with any regularity since they yanked D’Onofrio off of “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” so I’m the wrong guy for this question. Although I am clued in enough (watched all of “Daredevil” — for D’Onofrio, of course!) to notice that in less than a decade streaming is going to make concepts such as “come back in the fall” completely obsolete.
Joey Magidson, The Awards Circuit
As someone who rarely dives into new television shows, the closest I can say is that I stopped in the middle of “Daredevil” on Netflix. Even with the option to just watch whenever I want, I got about a third of the way through, took a break, and just never returned. My TV habits are so sporadic that I almost never start something I’m not pretty sure I’ll want to commit to. With 300+ movies a year to see, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Luke Y. Thompson, Topless Robot
I stop watching when the screeners or the free trial of HBO runs out. So it isn’t exactly my decision, except for the part where I choose not to pay extra for cable.
Mike McGranaghan, The Aisle Seat, Film Racket
My rules are pretty simple. If it’s a new show, I’ll give up if it doesn’t grab me within the first two episodes. If it’s something I’ve been watching for a while, I’ll stop when I become bored enough that I regularly start fiddling with my phone or laptop whenever it’s on instead of paying full attention. I used to be a big TV watcher, but lately I feel like it’s a waste of time to watch anything I don’t absolutely love.
Peter Keough, Boston Globe
The Family Guy. Either it became more puerile, or I became less so.
John Keefer, 51 Deep
I confess, I do not watch TV shows. Everyone I know tells me, “You must watch this,” or “How have you not seen that?!” and I say, “How have you not seen Ugetsu?” or “How do you not get Pickpocket.” quietly, to myself, so as not to arouse their indignation. There was a time when I watched TV shows. I watched the Breaking Bads, and I watched the Boardwalk Fries Empires. But now that my beloved Mad Mens is ending I have decided to walk away from must watch TV. They claim to get more in depth with character, to tell a larger story, to have that oh so precious time to really dig deep. But they don’t. It’s the same situations repeated over and over with an occasional death or twist to make it seem to the viewer that it isn’t just perpetual stasis they find themselves in. But it is. And so what? If it entertains you then love it, in moderation. I don’t have to watch it or love it. I don’t have to do anything. But Mad Men is gone, the only show that actually achieved what the pretenders-to-the-golden-age-of-TV claim they did. So I’m done with TV and any movie made after 2005. Only old movies. Only reruns of I Love Lucy. Only Daredevil season 2 and Louie season 5 and that’s it! I swear! Serious this time!
Gary Kramer, Gay City News, Philadelphia Gay News
I generally don’t watch TV series, but this year I got caught up in “Secrets and Lies,” mostly because it promised a juicy role for Ryan Phillippe, whom I’ve always felt was underrated as an actor. I was regularly frustrated by the 10-episode series as the characters made dumb decisions, and the story took uninteresting digressions. But I stuck with it, and the show hooked me in the last three episodes. When I learned that “Secrets and Lies” would be renewed for another season, it was a commitment I was unprepared to make. (I prefer limited run series, which was why I decided to watch the series in the first place.) Then, Ryan Phillippe claimed he would not be returning for next season, it validated my decision to stop watching.
Charles Bramesco, Random Nerds, The Dissolve
All of my shows served me pretty well over the past year-or-so, I don’t think I’ll be driving any of them out into the desert and chucking them by the side of the road with no water or map. (I liked “Last Man on Earth” a lot.) But I have quit plenty of other shows in the past, and I’ve found that the most consistent motivator for abandonment has been boredom. I latch onto characters fairly easily, so it doesn’t take much to bring me back from week to week. But the instant that I blink the glaze off of my eyes and realize that I’m no longer stimulated by the program, there are no second chances. I have no patience to wait for a show to pick back up again. In my mind, where the world is a kind and safe place, “Dexter” ended after season four.
John DeCarli, FilmCapsule
I tend to be a completist, so it takes a lot for me to stop watching a show once I’ve started; it seems the only appropriate way to evaluate it. That’s one reason why I prefer films. It may seem easier to watch one episode of TV than a full feature, but sitting through a whole season or series of a mediocre show takes far more time. There’s not a lot of dead weight in my TV lineup, but I’ve been contemplating ditching “The Walking Dead” for awhile…
Farran Nehme, The New York Post, Self-Styled Siren
I canceled everything except Turner Classic Movies a long time ago.