WHAT I'LL BE WATCHING – Spring–Summer 2015

When someone decides to train for a marathon, people often advise them to formally announce their intentions to friends and family. Obviously, the announcement is a plea for patience, support, and understanding during the grueling months ahead. But the announcement itself also becomes a self-motivational tool: saying it out loud makes it real, and the shame of public failure becomes a sword of accountability that dangles precariously over the entire endeavor.

I don't run marathons. (I doubt I'll ever run marathons. A former smoker, I have the approximate lung capacity of one of those plastic squirt-gun rings we used to have as children, good for exactly one squirt.) But the same principle applies to other ambitious undertakings, and I'm employing it here in an attempt to gear up—and psyche myself up—for the next few months.

All year long I've been eyeing April as my personal perfect storm, when all the shows I'm interested in writing about would come back all at once. I knew I'd have to face some choices of Sophie-Zawistowski-proportions, since—as any of my regular readers know—writing about even one or two shows a week, in a timely fashion, has proven to be something of a challenge. (I do have an actual job, to say nothing of the fact that my fiancée and I are getting married this summer.)

Game of Thrones is my bread-and-butter—my most popular posts by far, and the ones I most enjoy writing—so that was a no-brainer.

And Orphan Black is both a blast to write about and a show that doesn't get enough serious critical attention, so I didn't want to let that one go.

(So fine, there were my two shows…)

But could I really resist writing about the final seven episodes of Mad Men? My coverage of the show has been sporadic in the past, but my tremendous respect for Matt Weiner's long-form drama meant I couldn't conceive of sitting out the final act.

(Three shows. Surely I could do three shows if I really applied myself? I'd just have to give up sleeping…)

But here's the thing: I have been dying to write about Louie for several seasons. I have never written about a comedy—I'm not sure I know how to write about a comedy—but I honestly believe Louis C.K. is doing something unique, original, and glorious with that show, and each season has pushed the storytelling possibilities of the art form a little bit further. I love Louie, I want everyone I know to watch Louie, and I'm tired of not writing about Louie.

(Four? Four is really pushing it…)

Bryan Fuller's Hannibal is not a show I love as much as these others, but it's a batshit crazy, visually stunning, ridiculously audacious thriller that promises to get really interesting this season. I recently rewatched the first two seasons, and I found myself itching to dig into it a little deeper. If it, too, came back in April, I wouldn't be able to cover it, but—since its return only overlaps slightly with other shows I'm reviewing—I'm optimistic I can squeeze it in.

So what the hell: I'm officially, formally, foolishly announcing my Spring–Summer 2015 review calendar, in a desperate (and probably doomed) attempt to commit myself to my ambitious schedule. (Some of these date-ranges are guesses: the premieres are locked, but I'm not sure if any or all of these shows will take a week off somewhere along the way.) There are other things I'm hoping to find time to check out and write about—I'm kind of excited for Netflix's Daredevil series (Apr. 10), for example—but these are the shows I'm committing to review:

MAD MEN – Airs Sundays, April 5–May 17. Reviews should post by Wednesday.
LOUIE – Airs Thursdays, April 9–May 28. Reviews should post by Saturday.
GAME OF THRONES – Airs Sundays, April 11–June 14. Reviews should post by Tuesday.
ORPHAN BLACK – Airs Saturdays, April 18–June 20. Reviews should post by Sunday.
HANNIBAL – Airs Thursdays, June 4–August 6. Reviews should post by Saturday.

This has been a Memo from The Department of Self-Delusion, and I ask you to file it away so it may be used to mock, shame, and spur me on as I undertake this marathon.

And I hope some of you will run alongside me, and keep me company, at least for a few miles of the course.

The Unaffiliated Critic

Michael G. McDunnah is a freelance writer, a recovering lit major, a pop-culture junkie, and an unaffiliated critic. He lives in Chicago.

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