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March 20, 2014

New Website Takes All of the Subjectivity Out of Arguing About Stupid TV Shows, Offering Graphs Tracking Shows' Quality Episode-by-Episode

Eh, kind of fun.

All the site does is to take the IMDB ratings for each episode of a show, and plot those ratings on a graph, noting the trendline (increasing, decreasing, or stable viewer ratings) season-by-season.

But it's kind of fun to see a new way of presenting Things You Already Know.*

For example, I already thought Person of Interest did a very good job of building to each season's mid-winter break and end-of-season climax. The usual season has about eight episodes about the building meta-plot of the season (the so-called "Big Bad"), and maybe twelve crime-of-the-week episodes. The crime-of-the-week episodes vary in quality, as you'd guess, but overall, people aren't watching the show for them. At best they're good, but not great. (At worst, they're a big waste of time, but that's true of any tv show.)

People are watching for the Big Developments about the characters and the escalating conflicts with long-running villains on the show.

The graph shows you what you already knew: Yup, the shows get better through each season, getting very good indeed before the winter break and then the end of the whole season.

And the graphs also tell you that Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which, I think, created the "Big Bad" structure of a season) also managed the same escalation, year in, year out.

The graphs tell you other things you already knew, like the fact that Seinfeld peaked in season 3, stayed pretty good for a number of seasons, and then really fell off in quality in the last season and especially that hated last episode.

Like I said, it's fun to learn things you already knew. So much more fun than learning new things.

But sometimes the graphs surprise you. @benk84 notes a show that was cancelled just as it was getting ready to take off into the stratosphere.

* I've long said there should be a specific word for "the somewhat shameful pleasure in 'learning' facts you already knew." Like, take Shark Week. Is there any shark fan out there who doesn't know that the Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) is sometimes called "the white death"?

And yet, we all watch Shark Week every year to hear the same basic things we already know.

There's a little thrill -- it's kind of shameful, but it's real -- in knowing the narrator is going to say "sometimes called 'The White Death'" in the next five minutes, and another shameful thrill in hearing him say it.

digg this
posted by Ace at 03:45 PM

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