At the Movies

You already know that I'm at the movies, a lot, but that's not what I'm referring to. Does anyone even remember the TV show "At the Movies"? It's what they started calling the show that was once "Siskel & Ebert At the Movies" and then "At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper". I stopped watching the show when Siskel passed on. I gave Roeper a chance and heck, even watched a few episodes when I stumbled on the show while flipping through channels but I never searched it out.

When Roeper gave up on the show, ABC decided to take it in "a new direction" and hired Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz. I don't know Mankiewicz from a hole in the wall, but I've always thought of Lyons Jr. as a quote whore over exaggerator who can't talk about a movie at anything but surface level. I hadn't been watching the show for a while so these news didn't bother me though I felt sorry for people who actually listened to these two for movie recommendations.

After merely a year of work, the Ben's have received the proverbial boot and been replaced by a duo that may actually bring me back to "At the Movies". The new pairing of A.O. (Tony) Scott of the The New York Times and Michael Phillips of the The Chicago Tribune have years of experience and are writers I read on a regular basis which immediately has me interested. The fact that they'll "battle it out" on TV for 30 minutes once a week is simply a nice bonus.

I was taking a browse over Peter Sciretta's well written article on this new age of "At the Movies" when he made a few comments which made me stop and consider this entire TV review business.
Overall this is good news, but I honestly don’t believe there is a place for a half hour movie review show on television anymore. To me a television movie review show is almost like the movie listings in the Sunday morning newspaper. Who uses the movie listings in the paper anymore?
I fully understand where Peter is coming from and for the most part, agree. It seems that even the most rudimentary internet users have figured out how to navigate movie times at their favourite spot which also, usually, includes links to reviews or a star rating. That said, "At the Movies" may not be serving the same purpose it did 10 years ago (namely a listing of what's coming out and what to watch/avoid) but it is providing something else: a discussion.

I tune into movie podcasts because I love the discussion and even if I can't participate, they usually bring up points which spark other conversations. In the case of websites, you can interact with the podcasters and other listeners directly and I think "At the Movies" can provide a similar service. I'm looking at this new embodiment of the show as an extension of the writer's reviews and a chance to take in differing opinions bounced off each other. True, 30 minutes doesn't give you a whole lot of time for in depth discussion but it's a nice springboard and as a film lover, the opportunity to see Scott and Phillips engaging in discussion is enough of a selling point to tune in. I wonder how many others feel the same way?


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