from the

From the editor’s desk for Feb. 7, 2013

February 7, 2013 

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Kill your TV?

Not since “Lost” went off the air have I found a show that I must watch on a designated night of the week - or I wind up feeling lost. “Friends” was like that for me, “Seinfeld” before it and at the beginning of the reality craze I pretty much watched anything on MTV and VH-1.

And I even know how to work the DVR now, so missing a favorite show in real-time wouldn’t be too much of a problem. That is, if I had one.

How did I get into this sad state? Well, for starters, for more than half the year – 162 games, plus the post-season – I watch baseball, and then some football, and at other times my 5-year-old daughter and my wife hog the TV watching the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. I can tell you all about some “Ant Farm,” “Phineas and Ferb” and “Good Luck Charlie.” (Confession, I actually like “Good Luck Charlie” as I think the writing is very clever and is somewhat geared toward adults, but not in a dirty way.) The rest of the time that would be considered TV time – during the evenings – I’m usually working, especially Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights after everyone else settles into bed. The other factor is that our house has an open floor plan with high ceilings and loft space, and you can hear the freakin’ TV better upstairs where my kids’ rooms are than downstairs where the set is, so rather than wake them with blaring volume, I choose to do other things – read, waste time on Facebook, play guitar, household chores, walk the dog, etc.

But when I’m on Facebook on Sunday nights, there is a constant stream of comments about AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” This show seems to elicit the most emotional responses from my Facebook friends, along with the ABC show “Scandal.”

I feel as though I almost know what’s going on in “The Walking Dead” without ever having seen an episode.

And as the newsfeed on my Facebook account will soon light up, “The Walking Dead” is set to resume the second half of its third season on Sunday.

I’m thinking about trying to watch it and do some catch-up via streaming, video-on-demand, or procuring the first and second seasons on DVD.

You tell me, is it worth it? Should I take the plunge?

Maybe you’re like me and don’t necessarily have the time – or inclination – to wade through the barrage of new programming that network and cable channels are throwing out there as the unofficial TV midseason gets into swing – that time when returning shows return from holiday hiatus, and new shows are rolled out to replace failed ones.

You’re in luck, dear reader/TV junkie.

For this week’s cover story, we lined up noted TV columnist Dean Robbins, who is also editor of the alt-weekly newspaper Isthmus, located in Madison, Wisc., to delve through the hours and hours of programming to suss out what’s worth watching, what to avoid and what will make you laugh unintentionally. And that’s this week’s cover story as Robbins postulates that the 2013 midseason TV is taking things to extremes to attract viewers, and he writes that “instead of garden-variety criminals, we get fanciful serial killers obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe. Instead of garden-variety conspiracies, we get demons threatening to end life on Earth. Even the more realistic dramas have a weakness for behavior that’s beyond the pale.”

How did a guy from the Land of Cheeseheads wind up scribbling for us? Robbins contacted me back in September and asked if Surge would be “interested in a lively alternative to mainstream TV coverage?” I said that I was, but didn’t have the budget to pay for it; and a few months later, I hatched an idea of taking a look at programs set to return after holiday hiatus, inspired by all my “The Walking Dead” acquaintances bemoaning the fact that they had to wait more than a month to find out what happens in the series, and reached out to Robbins to see if he was interested. He initially declined because what he writes is based on screeners - advance copies of shows provided by the networks and producers that he actually views, and he didn’t think he’d get enough screeners in time to do the story I envisioned.

But a few weeks later, he wrote me again and said the screeners were pouring in, so I said, “game on!”

Kent Kimes, Editor

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