Your chance to ask the questions

Last updated 11:03 27/03/2012

Something completely different today: I'm going to be taking part in a panel discussion tonight as part of Script To Screen's The Writers Room series, joining film critics Sarah Watt, Peter Calder and Helene Wong to discuss the place of critics in the film/TV industry, what part reviews play in sales, whether critics have a "duty of care" with local material, and much more. The panel is being moderated by Go Girls/This Is Not My Life co-creator Gavin Strawhan.

20120327It should be a heap of fun - and really, there'll be no better opportunity for you to heckle me in public.

I'll be honest, I don't really think of myself as a "critic" in the traditional sense - yet, I guess this blog does have some things in common with more journalistic criticism. American academic James A. Brown explains that "the critic serves as a guide, offering standards of criteria for judgment along with factual data, so readers can make up their own minds." I guess that is a part of what I try to do here. Sometimes I might even do a good job of it.

In addition to reviewing (and hopefully entertaining), a critic should inform - not just readers at home, but also those in the industry; by providing a voice, a response to the work those creators are doing, the critic gives valuable feedback to those in the industry (of course, whether they take it on board is a different matter altogether).

On a blog, a lot of that falls to you - the readers and commenters. While a critic (or blogger) provides just one voice, the nature of the blog, and its call-and-response format, means that every reader has the opportunity to give feedback. The comments thread becomes a miniature court of public opinion. I'd like to think that those in the industry take some of what we're saying onboard or use the comments thread as a resource. You are their viewers, after all.

Anyway, I don't really have too much more to say today - Monday and Tuesday night TV is just ticking along now, though last night's Homeland was a wonderful showcase of Damien Lewis and Claire Danes' talent. I also enjoyed last night's episodes of CSI and Person Of Interest (which was recently renewed for a second season), though I fear my patience with Revenge is starting to run out. Also, I'll be reviewing the third season finale of Misfits (and its notion of time travel mechanics) in tomorrow's post; it airs tonight at 9.30pm, on Four.

So, in the absence of anything more substantial, I thought I would open myself up to you: since many of you won't be able to make it tonight, I thought you could fire your questions at me now. I'll answer them as best I can. Feel free to ask anything you like - there are no stupid questions, and nothing is too private.

If you are interested in coming along tonight, The Writer's Room is open to the public: it's being held at The Classic Comedy Club on Queen Street, Auckland, starting at 7.30pm. Full details are here - and if you do come along, make sure to say hello!

In the meantime, post your questions in the comments section, and I'll answer them as soon as I get a chance. And while you're here, what are your thoughts on critics - particularly TV critics? What would you like to see more of at OTB?

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kiwicossie   #1   11:19 am Mar 27 2012

Congratulations on this blog CP. Everyday I log onto and check whether you've written something different (it's the only blog I monitor) and see what people think. I'm constantly surprised by everyone's different opinions which I'd probably never see otherwise because a lot of them are quite stupid haha. I think a variety of critics are useful but I'm always particularly careful about who I pay attention to because views are so personal. Generally though I agree with most of what you say and you go out of your way to teach me stuff I might not have discovered ordinarily so thank you. Homeland is brilliant and the twist last night was bloody brilliant and not predicted by anyone that I read a few editions ago. Keep it up and I liked your guest spot the other day too.

bjammin   #2   11:49 am Mar 27 2012

Hi Chris,

Just wondering if you ever had the chance to see episodes of Ray Romano's new series 'Men Of A Certain Age?'

It was a hard show to categorise, having elements of humour, drama, observations on ageing, family, life changes etc. Therefore, of course, TV2 buried it at an 11:30pm slot. A crime. I loved it. Fantastic performances from Romano, Scott Bakula, and especially Andre Braugher. Thank the lord for MySky?

Maybe you could check it out on DVD, if its ever released here. Might take you a few episodes to get into it, but trust me: its a gem.

SMin   #3   12:00 pm Mar 27 2012

oohh yes the twist in Homeland. My regular viewing buddy is away overseas so I couldn't 'debrief' with him....... and tx also for getting me hooked back into CSI - gave up for few season then but really enjoying the Ted Danson character (and I bet those working with him enjoy it too)

bOb   #4   12:23 pm Mar 27 2012

In the 'I can sing a rainbow' song, is it 'orange and purple and blue' or 'purple and orange and blue'?

Jake   #5   12:31 pm Mar 27 2012

Hi Chris, I was wondering if you had come across a show called 'Suits'? I saw a few episodes of it a friend's house and found it engrossing and hilarious, have you seen it or heard of it before? Seemed far too classy to fly under the radar, fingers crossed it we don't miss out on it like a lot of the other good stuff we miss out on New Zealand

Chris Philpott   #6   12:36 pm Mar 27 2012

@bjammin #2: I managed to catch a few episode of the latest season on TV2 late at night, however I gave up after 3 episodes, having decided to try and catch them all on DVD at some point. The show has now been cancelled, so its fallen further down my priority list, sadly.

@bOb #4: "Red and yellow and pink and green, orange and purple and blue" - thus 1) orange, 2) purple, 3) blue. Hope this helps!

Scott   #7   01:00 pm Mar 27 2012

Hmm...captive critics....what would I like to know?

Are there any significant differences in reviewing TV shows compared to films?

Is there still a place for TV reviewers given hundreds of reviews can appear online shortly after something screens (sometimes AS it screens)?

Chris Philpott   #8   01:19 pm Mar 27 2012

@Jake #5: I have heard of Suits, but I haven't seen any episodes - to my knowledge it hasn't aired in NZ, and it isn't scheduled to at this point.

@Scott #7: I think the biggest difference between reviewing film and TV is just that you have to consider the past and future of a serialised TV show - unless its something like MythBusters, a single episode can't be reviewed as its own body of work; you have to think about what has come before, what is likely to come after, in addition to considering production values, performance, writing, and so on.

As far as whether there is room for TV reviewers in a world where everyone can be a reviewer, I think there definitely is - different people have different voices, and audiences end up veering toward the voices they prefer. Though, as I mentioned above, the value of a blog like this is that it provides a forum for the public.

Thanks for the questions :)

FlukeArtist   #9   01:33 pm Mar 27 2012

Hi Chris,

Please pass on my thanks to Peter Calder for his reviews. They are so helpful in determining what films I watch. Basically if PC rates them highly, 9 times out of 10 they are foreign, artsy, w@nk. If he rates it poorly it usually means you can see it in a main stream theatre.

But all sarcasm aside- I enjoy your blog Chris. I may not agree with some of your opinions, but at least you have broad taste (not commonly seen among critics)

Maria   #10   01:39 pm Mar 27 2012

Do TV critics influence TV programmers and programme buyers? Or are they as ignored as the viewer is? I find it odd that NZ TV advertises 'hottest new comedy/drama/show' when the programme has not yet been shown or has already been cancelled overseas. Can critics influence a trend eg praising one reality show only to find, within a few weeks, all TV stations showing similar reality shows at prime time?

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