Noel and I have the enviable job of revisiting old television series, episode by episode, and writing about what made them work or whiff. I only take up this job during the summer, when the current shows I write about regularly (How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family, Breaking Bad) are in reruns. But Noel has extended his TV Club Classic shows -- Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff Angel -- throughout the year.
One of the joys of this particular task is anticipating great episodes to come. When writing about current weekly series, we discover the show along with America, as it airs. (Well, sometimes we get advance screeners and see the episodes a few days ahead of their air date. In the case of our favorite shows that are really on a roll, that peek ahead of the world can be so sweet.) But when we're writing about shows that our readership, in many cases, has already seen, we get the fun of hearing from them about what's coming up -- their favorites and not-so-favorites. In the comments to our reviews, week to week, our readers let us know their opinions ranging over the whole run of the show. They look forward, they look back, they make comparisons within the show's seasons and episodes. In some cases we're familiar with the show before going back to write about it, which means we can participate in the game of what's coming up and how it rates; in other cases, we're going into as a newbies, trying to avoid the spoilers that the commenters might be posting.
I tell students all the time that they are living in a golden age of information and media. More of the history of entertainment and communications is available to them -- easily, often freely, or on the consumer market -- than at any other time that humans have been on the planet. Revisiting part of that history in public, step by step, along with readers who look forward to each installment and play along at home, is quite an experience.
And Noel and I get the added enjoyment of watching the shows the other is recapping. I haven't been able to keep up with two to four hour-long shows each week, but even though the full slate was beyond me, I asked Noel to keep Buffy for our evenings together even if he had to watch Angel during the day. At the end of his recap of the hotly anticipated Buffy musical episode "Once More, With Feeling," Noel mentions how much I was looking forward to it. Finally experiencing an hour of television I've heard about for years ... sharing it with Noel, who was also experiencing it for the first time ... and joining the company of all the commenters who have been anticipating this moment since the recaps started a couple of years ago ... it's the kind of confluence that only the Internet (and TV series on DVD) can bring about.