Welcome to The TV Critic.org. My name is Robin Pierson and I write critical reviews of U.S. TV shows and analyse what makes them good, bad, irritating and enlightening.
I live and work in London in the UK. I have no specialist background in television (I studied politics at university) beyond watching a lot of it. From about the age of ten onwards I was exposed to American television in vast quantities and fell in love with it.
I enjoy TV shows more than books, movies, sculptures, paintings, plays, operas and ballets. I’m aware that this is unusual! What makes things even stranger is how seriously I take my TV. I’m a natural critic in life. I want to know why everything was done and question whether it could have been done better.
In 2004 I began writing an episode guide for Friends in my spare time. When that was finished in 2007 I realised that this was what I wanted to do all the time.
What I do My aim is to build up an episode guide for all the shows that I enjoy. Ideally this means using a structure where I analyse all that made the episode either “good” or “bad” television. This style has developed over time and is meant to be different from the blog style of most critics and sound more removed and analytical.
I do this because I loved episode guides growing up. They used to come in magazines like SFX (over in the UK) and cover whole seasons of shows, episode by episode. I really enjoyed reading someone else’s thoughts on the episodes I remembered, whether I agreed with them or not. By reading someone’s analysis of whole seasons it became clear what they valued in a TV show. It was fascinating to see that someone else could look at the show and have a completely different philosophy on why the show existed, what it’s “purpose” was or which of its characters were admirable or despised.
Time constraints mean I can’t always provide as thorough an analysis as I would like. Some shows will inevitably receive more of a blog style treatment. The growing popularity of podcasts means I try to cover as many shows as I can in audio format. Again though this has to be limited to shows that can justify the need for a weekly podcast.
What I believe In general my philosophy for what makes “good” television is based around whether it affects me emotionally and if it appears believable. There is so much about TV shows which is obviously manufactured: cliff hangers come at the end of episodes, witty lines are delivered before commercial breaks and plots are restated by characters just for the viewers’ benefit. But it doesn’t take a lot for most people to suspend their disbelief and become absorbed in the world which the show creates. For me, good television is when the writing and acting help you forget that this is a show. When the show can suck you in even for a minute and you become totally absorbed in what you are seeing – that’s good television.
I also know that TV shows are there to serve a master. They exist primarily to make money for the networks that produce them. I will never castigate a show for serving that master, but I will hold them to account for doing it in an implausible way.
I hope you will enjoy agreeing or disagreeing with me and thinking about what you are watching in a different light. It’s a two way process with your feedback doing the same for me.
The big but I firmly believe there is no good or bad art. Art is a subjective creation and there is no acceptable external judgement about what is good and bad. Art will speak to you on a personal level and so what one person likes another may hate. If “Old McDonald had a Farm” is your favourite song, who am I to say another song is better?
My opinion on TV shows is just that: an opinion. It’s no more accurate or important than anyone else’s. All I can try to do is provide you with a consistent, interesting and thought provoking review which will hopefully enhance your enjoyment of the show.
As for you I hope the website can be a space for anyone to come and share their thoughts and feelings on TV shows. Obviously I will always look at shows from my own specific perspective but that’s no reason that the site can’t be a forum for all kinds of different viewpoints to exist. I hope that ultimately it can be a place where people gather to share their excitement and disappointment over this most infuriating of art forms.
Finally I would like to say that I have a huge amount of respect for those who make television shows. I would not hope to suggest through my reviews that in any way I could have done a better job than any of those who participated in them. Though I may slate an episode, I am well aware of the different audiences which shows are trying to please and the myriad of pressures and constraints that are involved in creating something for public consumption. I would like to thank everyone involved in the creation of these shows for giving me so much entertainment to enjoy.
How does your score out of 100 work? Please visit the Scores page for a thorough explanation.
Why do you refer to character names and not the actor’s name? I generally refer to people by their character names. It becomes a real drag trying to talk about both the actor and the character. There is also the problem of who to give credit to. In a review I might say “Chandler is excellent in this scene.” It is cumbersome to switch from writing about Chandler’s character to suddenly praise Matthew Perry for his performance. But more than cumbersome it is inaccurate. Behind his acting is the director who may well have told him what to emphasise or express. Behind him is a team of writers who scripted the line and behind them the producers who structured the overall direction of the show. So I hope you will understand that when I write “Chandler is excellent” you will naturally give first credit to Matthew Perry and then a mental nod to all those who were involved in making that performance so good.
Who is Brando? Illinois native Brandon is a fellow critic and podcaster who found TheTVCritic.org through the Dollhouse podcast. On his podcasts he took the handle Brando Calrissian and it stuck. As his day job overwhelmed his podcasting time he found a home at TheTVCritic as he and I have a scary number of opinions in common. We began recording podcasts in 2010 discussing drama and comedy.
Who is Cordia? Indiana native Cordia is a big fan of TV shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, LOST, and Futurama. This led her to get in touch with me in 2008 when my friend George had to stop co-hosting our podcast about Dollhouse. As a recent convert to Joss Whedon’s work Cordia offered to step in. As Dollhouse headed for cancellation we agreed that a podcast about Buffy the Vampire Slayer was something we were both excited to be a part of. You can now find us hosting the “Buffy Rewatch” every week here. She now has her own blog about nail polish called Seriously Swatched.
Who is Roberto? Roberto Suarez is a fellow podcaster who hosts Trailerclash where he previews upcoming movies and Jupiters Rooster a podcast about STARZ' Spartacus series. I so enjoyed "Jupiter's Rooster" that we got in touch and agreed to join forced to cover Season Two of Game of Thrones. So in 2012 "A Pod of Casts" was born and we hope to keep covering the series each Spring.
Who designed the site and the podcast Images? The Buffy Rewatch image is an adaption of Kristele Pelland's drawing. Roberto put together the 'A Pod of Casts' logo. The original site design was by a friend of mine and was updated by the 7 Dots digital consultancy. The new logo with a black television was designed by kind listener Steven Wixson.