Something new on TV

First, tonight it’s the Golden Globe Awards

I also noticed this week-end that Vermont PBS started showing daily (at 12:30 am) an half-hour of NHK Newline! I am glad to see that, at a time when many Americans think it’s great to be isolationist again, a TV station dare to show some openness to the world. For years now, PBS has been keeping open a window on Europe by showing an half-hour of BBC World News (otherwise available on the BBC World News and BBC America channels). Now they show that they understand that news from Asia matters more and more as they open this window on the English-language news from Japan’s NHK World, which covers the essential of what’s happening in Asia. Also, the NHK World News channel is itself available more and more on various cable providers in North America (mostly on the west coast). Unfortunately, I doubt it will ever be available on Videotron’s or Bell’s line-up — although it doesn’t really matter since it is anyway streaming on the internet and through apps. However, it’s great that more Americans are exposed to Asian (and Japanese) news through PBS. Kudos to the Public Broadcasting Service!

After watching the Christmas episodes of Doctor Who (a female Doctor, that’s promising!), Murdoch Mysteries (average) and Call The Midwife (a snowy episode quite of circumstance), as well as the first episode of Knightfall (quite interesting) and the mini-series Gunpowder (a different point of view of the Guy Fawkes story with Game of ThronesKit Harrington playing his own ancestor Robert Catesby!), I finished binging on Viking (season four and most of season five) so I am up to date now. I still have a few episodes of the 6th season of Father Brown and the season finale of A Place to Call Home 5th season to finish but I am already looking for something new to watch…

Luckily, Star Trek: Discovery second-half of its first season is starting tonight and there a new season (the 11th !) of X-Files that just started (I am not sure about watching this one…), but I also discovered today that the seventh and last season of Un Village Français (a French TV series about the impact of WW2 and its aftermath on a small village’s daily life) is now available to watch! It’s already available for streaming in French on ici.Tou.tv and will start streaming with English subtitles on MHz Choice on January 30th (the PBS-affiliated MHz Worldview [Mountain View Digital signal 57.2] is already broadcasting the sixth season) which is also available in Canada! (Darn! Another streaming app to subscribe to!)

So many shows to watch… No wonder that I don’t read much lately!

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The Controversial Art of Reviewing

Last September I wrote an essay on the “Subtile art of writing a review/commentary” (in French, but it is also available in a machine-translated English version). It is an essay I wanted to write for a long time, explaining how I was approaching the writing of a book or movie review — which I did for twenty years for a magazine. The funny thing is that I discovered a few weeks ago that I had already written that article in 2009 (in English) and forgot about it! I was checking out some old hard drives looking for something and stumble upon this article that I had written for a special issue (PAX #3) of the magazine I was working for, but we stop publication before it was released. It is based on the guidelines I wrote for our staff writers. My views on how to write a review have not change much since then. I thought it would be interesting to share it with the readers of this blog.

Reviewing a media product (wether it is a book, a manga, an anime series or a live-action movie) might seems an easy task, but in reality it is far from being simple. In fact, we are all doing it when we express an opinion to friends, but it is usually done in an emotional and very imprecise manner: “it was so bad, man” or “it was really cool.” In opposition, a professional reviewer—someone who does it for a living—must do his/her best to remain objective, precise and rigorous.

I admit that, if I always try to be an objective and precise reviewer, I am rarely rigorous. I am lazy and tend to keep my reviews short, introducing the subject and expressing my opinion in the most elementary manner. Today everybody is a critic as they can easily post what they think of this or that on their blog , but what makes the appraisal of a professional reviewer more interesting and valuable is experience. I’ve spent about two decades watching videos or films and reading books related to the subjects I review. I have therefore developped a methodology to assess the subject, an understanding of its workings and a set of criteria that—I hope—better equip me to examine and judge a particular media product.

In this article I have attempted to explain how I approach the writing of a review, what I think a review should be and what aspects of a medium I take in consideration when writing a review. I wanted to talked about this for a long time as I think it can offer interesting insights to both our readers and would-be reviewers.

First, there is two types of reviews: the basic or elementary review (the one I tend to favour) and the exhaustive review.

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