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NPR Arts & Life

What You Might Be Missing On TV

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

You might have some time on your hands over the next few weeks, time to put down all of your screens and reconnect with family and loved ones. And when that's over, you can binge-watch something you've missed. For the first time in years, a lot of critics have complained there's almost too much good stuff to watch and too little time. We thought we'd reach out to a few critics to see what they think too many viewers may have missed this year. First up, Alan Sepinwall. He's TV critic at Hitfix. And he joins us from his home in New Jersey. Alan, thanks for being with us and put the TV on mute, can you?

ALAN SEPINWALL: It's my pleasure.

SIMON: You're recommending a comedy called "Review," which has a pretty difficult premise to explain, so please.

SEPINWALL: All right. So Andy Daly, who you might recognize from half the shows on television - he guest stars everywhere - plays a character named Forrest MacNeil who is a critic like myself, but he fancies himself a reviewer of life. So rather than watch films or television or books, he's actually given by his audience life experiences and has to go and do them and rate them on a scale of five stars.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "REVIEW")

ANDY DALY: (As Forrest MacNeil) Aha, this man just cut me in line for the ATM. Now I have a reason to start a bare-knuckle brawl. Excuse me, I was next for that ATM.

SEPINWALL: So for instance, he's told, you know, what's it like to have a drug addiction? What's it like to steal something? What's it like to have road rage? What's it like to eat 15 pancakes in one sitting? And eventually, at some point, what's it like to get divorced? So his life gradually falls apart due to his commitment to the show.

SIMON: Mercy, and what makes it distinguished in your case?

SEPINWALL: Well, it's basically a series of sketches only they build and build and build. And, you know, if it was just him going through these ridiculous things, it would still be a funny show because Andy Daly is a supremely game performer. But what he does is you see how his life is falling apart as a result of the show. So he does something in the first segment of an episode. It winds up causing him a problem in the third segment of that episode. And then three episodes from now, like, his wife brings up all of these awful things he's been doing lately that she doesn't quite understand. And it goes from there.

SIMON: Do you have any concern, Alan, that people will watch this during the holiday season and run for the nearest bridge?

SEPINWALL: (Laughter) I don't know about that. It's a dark show and it's committed to the darkness, but the holidays can be a very dark time for some people. And I could imagine watching this and finding the humor of it very cathartic.

SIMON: I suppose you can watch a character like that and say to yourself, well, at least I'm not that character.

SEPINWALL: That's exactly right. You know, I - there are days in which being a TV critic is not as easy as it sounds. But then I put on an episode of "Review" and say, at least I chose the right path here.

SIMON: Alan Sepinwall is TV critic at Hitfix and author of "The Revolution Was Televised." And tomorrow on Weekend Edition Sunday, our friend Linda Wertheimer will talk to Maureen Ryan of Variety. Alan, thanks so much. Happy holidays.

SEPINWALL: My pleasure. Thank you, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.