Tuned In

Housekeeping: Summertime, Plans for the Blog, Your Comments on Comments

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Breaking Bad's Walt and Gus return in July. / AMC

Even though TV is a more year-round phenomenon than ever, the end of the regular TV season—with the crush of upfronts news and all the season finales to watch/cover—still feels like finishing a race for me. So Memorial Day is a good time to do what I would do after running a marathon: catch my breath, set my next goals and get drunk. (OK, the last one has little to do with either blogging or marathoning. But, you know, it’s a holiday.)

So while we pause between seasons, I want to talk a little about the direction of the Tuned In blog, and get your feedback on some housekeeping issues:

Summer plans: I’ve started to get copies of pilots (some, not all) of the broadcast networks’ new shows for the fall and midseason. (Fox still does not have a full pilot of Terra Nova to show. But, hey, give ’em another year!) Like past summers, I’m bringing back Test Pilot, my semiregular feature previewing the pilots—not “reviewing” them, because the versions I have may be reshot before air, and subsequent episodes may change my opinions.

I never get around to every pilot and some are just more interesting to write about than others—unfortunately, many of the most interesting this year are midseason shows—but let me know in the comments which shows you’re most interested in seeing Test Piloted.

General blog philosophy and review overload: I’ve been thinking a lot about the general direction and mix of posts on this blog, and the break between seasons is a good time to try some changes. Specifically, I’ve decided—not just for the summer but going ahead into the fall—to do fewer regular weekly “_____ Watch” reviews of series episodes.

It’s not that I want to post less, but that I’d like to write about more different things. There are a lot of TV blogs that do mostly episode reviews (Alan Sepinwall, The AV Club), and I read those blogs and love them. But there are zillions of review/recap sites now, and there comes a point where the world just does not need one more review of a How I Met Your Mother or Community episode.

Ideally, I want Tuned In to be not another review site but a more eclectic look at TV, media and their role in the bigger culture—which can include reviews but more varied kinds of comment, hopefully including shows that aren’t getting dissected by dozens of critics every week. And while weekly reviews have a value, sometimes it’s more effective to visit a show occasionally and take a bigger-picture look at it.

I’m not giving up episode reviews altogether: there are certain shows, like Game of Thrones now, and I assume Breaking Bad this summer, that I have enough to say about that I need to blog about them every week. But while cutting back on the Watches may slight your personal favorite show, I’m hoping it’ll promote quality over quantity. If not, my backup plan is performance-enhancing drugs.

Comments: Finally, you may or may not have noticed, but Tuned In (and TIME’s other blogs) have switched to a new commenting system. (If you’re interested, it’s the Disqus platform.) The new system allows more ways to log in (from Facebook and Twitter, e.g.) and more options for displaying comments, and it gives me more tools for dealing with things like spam.

The flip side is, it’s possible the new system makes it too easy to comment; I’ve noticed that Tuned In has been getting more drive-by comments, sometimes from readers who simply want to respond to a headline or shoot off a quick (often angry) comment about something in the news.

One thing that other bloggers often tell me they envy about Tuned In is the high level of discussion and civility in the comments. (People are amazed that we can have discussions about political media or the Lost finale without it turning into a festival of monkey-crap-slinging.) So I don’t want a flood of extra commenters on the blog if it brings down the overall quality of discussion or chases away thoughtful regular commentators. For now, I’ve asked out Tech Overlords to turn off anonymous “guest” commenting, because I think having to post with a login sets a higher bar for posting a quick, obnoxious cheap shot. (Because those are my job!)

Anyway, this is all a work in progress, but if you’ve noticed any difference in the new commenting system, or have any suggestions/requests to improve it, let me know—in the comments, natch—and I’ll pass along the feedback.