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Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Yesterday, my last recap of Smallville for Television Without Pity was posted. I decided to stop recapping the show around mid-season when it was announced that the show was coming back for a ninth season in the fall. When faced with the thought of writing 7,000-8,000 words each for a batch of 22 more episodes, it became simply too much to bear.
There was a lot more to it than that, of course. With all the other freelance stuff I'm doing, it was becoming harder and harder to find weekend time to write the recaps and give them a decent edit before sending them in. I have a few big projects coming up later this year that would have made it nearly impossible to keep on recapping consistently. This year, I asked for a substitute for the first time during the South by Southwest Interactive festival. It was the only time anyone else had written a Smallville recap for the site except for the two weeks off I took in 2004 for my honeymoon.
At that time, someone e-mailed me asking if I was going to go back and recap those two episodes I missed, for the sake of completism. I wrote back saying no and thought it was a silly idea, but privately I saw their point. There's something to be said about committing to something for that long and seeing it through to the end. For a long time, I wanted to do that.
But I fell into the trap of doing this before -- thinking Season Seven was the last season and feeling sucker-punched when the show went on longer. I could see myself hanging on for two or three more seasons, hoping things would end and being crushed to find out they wouldn't.
It also made a certain kind of sense to me to quit now: I outlasted Lex Luthor, Lana Lang and the show's original executive producers, Al Gough and Miles Millar. If they all left, I thought, why the fuck was I sticking around?
In truth, part of it was that ever since NBC/Bravo/Universal bought the site, the raises recappers got made it financially palatable to keep on chugging. It was good money and even though recapping is long, exhausting work, it's also very fun. For me, it was always stream-of-conscious and I was able to let loose whatever was on my mind at any given moment and get paid for it. Very few writers are ever afforded that luxury, and I convinced myself for years not to take that for granted.
Having a daughter made the decision a lot easier. I found myself in front of the TV trying to make sense of Clark Kent's dumb pseudo-pacifism instead of taking my kid to the park or teaching her the alphabet.
I'm still going to be doing the Trailers Without Pity videos for the site with my brother, and I've let them know I'm open to future assignments (though probably not full recaps), so it's not like I burned the building and the bridge leading to it, I hope.
As for the recap itself, I tried to bring back some things I've enjoyed writing like "Bamboo Heather" (which is probably more of an inside joke at this point; it happened almost 10 years ago when I recapped City of Angels. Remember that show? You shouldn't.), the extremely dirty Al and Miles, and Roger the Rottweiler, who appeared in the recap of "Beast" as a sort of prequel to this final recap. That's what made me emotional last week: Roger's metaphoric death (oh shit, spoiler!) was me preparing to say goodbye to the really great, really supportive people who've been reading the recaps for eight long years. Not to oversell it too much, but there is also a bit in the recap where two grown men take a crap on my laptop. For real.
It was nice to make the decision before the season ended. It gave me time to think about what I wanted to say and to plan it out a little bit. I feel I did what I set out to do and, as I said on Twitter, it marked the completion of the longest writing assignment (both in word count and in time) of my entire life.
So, goodbye, inconsistent, surprisingly violent and formerly very gay show. In a weird way, I'll miss nitpicking you for money.
So Long, and Thanks for All the FAIL! -- Smallville's worst season finale manages to offend all factions of fans alike. A major character dies (and turns out not to be who we thought anyway); Clark is betrayed by his superjerk friends, but trusts them anyway; and the epic battle between Clark and Doomsday ends up shorter and less satisfying than a commercial break. You guys should have packed it in with Season Eight while you had the chance. Just sayin'.
Oh yeah -- this was a sign I was given at a Smallville gathering in Boston I was invited to years ago. I'll treasure it always:
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
This was one of the more fun All Tech Considered segments I've done, probably because it was very straightfoward and because I had time to do some interviews and lots of research before opening my mouth.
It's about passwords: how we choose them, how we remember them and ways to make that easier. I like that it's such a universal topic.
Anyway, I was able to follow up with a blog entry with additional info and so far both the segment page and the blog entry have gotten lots of feedback. Very cool. It feels like the All Tech Considered blog is building some momentum.
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