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Happy Birthday To Us! TV WORTH WATCHING Is Four Years Old!
November 4, 2011  | By David Bianculli  | 1 comment

On Nov. 5, 2007, the same day the TV writers in Hollywood decided to go on strike, the website TV WORTH WATCHING was launched. The strike didn't last, but, so far, TVWW has. It's gone from one writer (me) on Day One to more than 15 writers four years later. And we have big plans, which we hope won't exceed our grasp, for 2012...

The picture above captures about half the current TVWW family, gathered together in August 2011 at Trader Vic's poolside restaurant in Beverly Hills. It was during the Television Critics Association press tour, and we gathered for drinks and dinner so I could thank as many as could show up for the work they had done or will do for TV WORTH WATCHING.

Clockwise from bottom left, the revelers visible in this photo are managing editor Diane Werts, Ed Martin, Theresa Corigliano, Ed Bark, me (wearing the loud purple Hawaiian shirt, and not in honor of Trader Vic's), Eric Kohanik (a respected Canadian TV critic who's just about to join our merry band), Bill Brioux -- and, at the far right, Dean Norris, who plays Hank Schrader, Walter White's inquisitive brother-in-law on AMC's Breaking Bad.


Norris doesn't write for us, though he's welcome to, any time. He was meeting and visiting Diane, because they're both alumni of the same local TV satirical sketch show (Beyond Our Control, a long-running production of NBC affiliate WNDU in South Bend, Indiana) -- and was gracious enough to hang around and chat with us critical types.

Another of our writers, Eric Gould, took the photo at the top of this column, but Norris himself took the shot at right of the TVWW writers at poolside.

(In this photo at right, it's Ed Bark on the ground, and, from left, Eric Gould, Ed Martin, Theresa Corigliano, Eric Kohanik, Diane Werts, Bill Brioux, and David Bianculli as the Beaver.)

I wonder: How many times, since making it big on Breaking Bad, has Norris been asked to take a picture rather than be in one? But part of being a critic is playing it cool enough so you don't act like a fan, even though, if you love quality TV, you are. And Dean was a real pleasure to spend time with. We all laughed a lot -- and as laughs go, this is a very tough crowd.


How tough? Well, we all gave our individual drink orders without paying attention to what anyone else was ordering from Trader Vic's ridiculously colorful and varied menu -- and when the drinks arrived, almost half of us had ordered the same drink. Its name? Suffering Bastard.

Which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about TV critics.


But at four years and counting, TV WORTH WATCHING is still a happy place -- well, most days, anyway. Lots of it is due to the writers, including the ones who didn't down drinks at Vic's, and to the behind-the-scenes designers and computer geniuses who have turned our nebulous plans into concrete web pages from the start. (At right is an early pre-launch mockup, by none other than Eric Gould.)

It's hard not to get excited about both the quality and quantity of the writing here, and the packaging. Our next redesign -- threatened often, and now planned for early 2012 -- will showcase both the contributors and you readers even more, so please, as they say, stay tuned.

Our mission, though, remains the same as it did when we first launched. Here's what I wrote in the inaugural blog, the day TV WORTH WATCHING came into existence:

Welcome to the official launch of TV WORTH WATCHING, a website devoted to the discovery, discussion and dissemination of quality television. The fact that it comes into existence at midnight on November 5 - the very moment the writers in Hollywood threatened to strike - is pure, goofy coincidence. TV, it is the firm position of this website, is better when it's written.

Please take a minute or two to press some navigation bar buttons and roam around the site. If you care about good television - watching it, collecting it, reading or hearing about it, even discussing it - chances are you'll find something useful, entertaining, maybe even surprising.

Theodore Sturgeon once posited what he called Sturgeon's Law, which says that "90 percent of everything is crap." (In some citations, the wording is even stronger.) Certainly, that's true of television - but that remaining 10 percent still leaves a lot of room for enjoyment, education and inspiration. That's the focus of this website: Instead of TV's 90 percent problem, we'll be devoting our attentions and energies to the 10 percent solution.

Then and now, that holds true. Thanks for being here -- and thousands of you have been here virtually from the start, which is the greatest compliment you could give us.

They say that everybody's a critic -- but, to paraphrase Animal Farm, some are more critical than others.

And here we are. We writers, you readers... and Dean Norris. Thanks for making it a very happy birthday for TV WORTH WATCHING.


David Bianculli
a.k.a. Suffering Bastard #1




Cathy said:

Happy birthday. Been following you since day one. Keep entertaining me, please.

[Dear Cathy -- Happy to. What's your favorite cocktail?

Just kidding. We don't have an app for that -- yet. But I'll put my team on it. -- DB]

Comment posted on November 4, 2011 4:25 PM

Eileen said:

It's 5:34 pm on Friday, November 4th, and I just booted up my computer so I could wish you a Happy 4th Anniversary! (You beat me to the punch.) It's great to now be able to really associate a name & face, so thanks.

To you, David, and all your cohorts, I have nothing but gratitude for this ambitious undertaking known as TV Worth Watching. I've been a loyal fan/commenter since day one, and have only grown to love this site more & more.

It is, by far, the most intelligent, entertaining and enlightening site on the internet. Every time one wonders if anything more can be said on the topic of television, one of you answer that question definitively -- yes! You've made me laugh and think, and what more could one ask for.

All good wishes on this special day.

[Thanks so much, Eileen. You've been noticed, and appreciated, since day one, and you've been a lot more prolific than some of the writers on this side of the Internet. So thanks, truly, for four years of your own insights, feedback and loyalty. And sorry about the pictures -- watching TV does take its toll on many of us, myself included. - DB]

Comment posted on November 4, 2011 5:33 PM

Oded said:

To all the people who have made TVWW possible over the last four years, I can't thank you enough. I've been coming to the site first thing in the morning since day one. You've provided me with excellent insight into my obsession. Keep up the great work, and here's to many successful years ahead.

[Thanks SO much, from all of us. And especially from me, since you and I were here at day one, before there WAS an all of us... - DB]

Comment posted on November 5, 2011 3:56 AM

jan said:

Happy Birthday a day late! (Gosh, just the way I am with all my friends and relatives.) I just saw the posting this morning, but I still wanted to send my belated wishes -- and wishes for many, many more columns and recommendations to come. I don't think I've been reading you since the beginning, although I'm not sure when I started, but I have been checking your daily recommendations for quite a while now; it's one of my first stops every morning. I always enjoy what you have to say and identify with much of it, like the movie pilgimage on the Paris trip. Keep up the good work.

[Thanks so much -- and don't worry about belated holiday messages. I'm three years behind on my Christmas cards. Honest. - DB]

Comment posted on November 5, 2011 9:57 AM

Mark N said:

Dear David

Congratulations! I really have enjoyed these years and the relationship with you as regards navigating what they sometimes have called "the vast wasteland". I have felt lucky to have had such assistance (going back to the Daily News days). Your site is just the best and I have gladly steered many surfers your way. Also add my televisual kudos to the rest of your chums that have made this gem of a website so entertaining and a daily necessity.Thanks again...geeze.....I love youze guyz
Mark N

[Luvzya right back. Thanks! - DB]

Comment posted on November 5, 2011 10:13 AM

Sarah said:

Happy Birthday! I was so happy when I found TVWW; I mean an entire blog where we get to discuss television who knew it would work? Everyday I go online-check my e-mail, see what's happening with my FB friends and read TVWW. Thank you David and all contributors for the great writing and commentary on our mutual passion that is good TV.

[Thanks so much, Sarah. You've been a long-time reader/poster here, and it's always nice to read what you have to say. - DB]

Comment posted on November 5, 2011 11:29 AM

Ed Q. said:

Has it really been 4 years? So you're graduating? Congratulations.

I may not have been here since day one but I haven't missed too many. Couple that with the fact that I used to read Mr. Bianculli's column in the Daily News long before tvww was born and I have been a longtime fan.

As tv has far too often become a race to the bottom, the joy I get from finding a hidden gem from this site or a notice to watch or re-watch an all time classic (like today's recommendation on East of Eden) can not be measured.

This site came about at nearly the perfect time in my life as my 1st child was born in 2006 making television a far more important diversion and evening entertainment than I ever thought possible (going to a movie or seeing a show with 2 small children at home is a much bigger operation than before 2006)

So thank you Mr. Bianculli and all the writers/columnists/student interns that have joined along the years. You have made my brief evenings home far more enjoyable.

Oh, and on this homecoming weekend... GO GATORS!

[Oh, that's right. Go Gators. But I'm rooting for you even more -- two kids under 5... that's a lot of work. But boy, it's also a lot of fun. Enjoy! And buy the Faerie Tale Theatre DVD set for them, and The Point. My two favorite pieces of underappreciated children's entertainment. Not that your children are underappreciated... - DB]

Comment posted on November 5, 2011 11:37 AM

Phillip R. Crabb said:

Way to go Dave!

As mentioned, have been a reader for years from Daily News to this 'new' medium.

I echo all the accolades already given, but I think at the end of the day, success is something that should be easily measured, and that has certainly been the case here.

Best wishes for ongoing success, I hope you always stay interested enough in what you do to continue to provide it to those of us who follow.

And, between you and I Dave, we will stay on top of the perennial Holiday programming snafus and eventually straighten these people out (like they were back in the '60s!).

Phillip R. Crabb
Franklin (Sussex County), NJ

[Thanks, Phillip! Vey happy to have you here. - DB]

Comment posted on November 5, 2011 12:37 PM

Chris S said:


Congratulations on your fourth year! This website has turned out to be more than I ever imagined. I never miss it. You and your contributors do a fantastic job and so do your readers - I always find the comments interesting and intelligent.

Thanks to all of you for showing that there is TV Worth Watching!

[Chris, it's wonderful that you've stuck with us. Please don't go anywhere. - DB]

Comment posted on November 5, 2011 5:42 PM

Evnader said:

Happy Birthday! Guy Fawkes Day no less.

[Are you telling me to go Fawkes myself? I'll take it as a "Crazy like a Fawkes" compliment instead. Thanks, Evander. - DB]

Comment posted on November 6, 2011 6:04 PM

Angela said:

I'm late to the party, but wanted to add my thank you. I too check this site daily. I remember when I first heard about it on Fresh Air, I think you were talking about The Shield. I figured if anyone could talk about a TV show with as much insight as you did, and by the end of the broadcast have me super-excited about wanting to watch The Shield, then there had to be something really good going on at the TV Worth Watching. What's really cool is that this web-site met my extremely high expectations and I'm a critic of everything.

Oh! Just a couple more things you should know. Your humor is infectious and your puns are very much appreciated.

Happy Birthday to all,

[Oh, my, Angela. You like the site, you get my sense of humor, you're a critical type yourself, and you like puns???? So: Are you single? Thanks for the very kind words. - DB]

Comment posted on November 6, 2011 7:14 PM

Len said:

Mazel tov!! I can definitely relate to the Christmas cards...I just received one from you postmarked 2007!! David, you've been a good friend for over 15 years (has it been that long?), and you deserve all the good things that are being said about you and TV Worth Watching. Just get rid of that purple shirt!!!

[Et tu, Len? Thanks for writing -- and there's one good thing about that shirt. It convinced me to start my diet. Any day now. - DB]

Comment posted on November 7, 2011 1:01 PM

Mike F said:

Congrats and best wishes TVWW on your 4th birthday! It is a wonderful site that I turn to just about every day to enjoy great writing and guidance on where to find the ever elusive "quality programming". Here's to four more successful years and many more after that!

Kind regards,
Mike F

[Thanks, Mike -- but is that "four more years" wish a blessing, or a curse? - DB]

Comment posted on November 7, 2011 4:18 PM

Rich said:

Dam, I remember that. It was literally a few days before the Writers Strike. The Strike that ripped a whole in the 'normal flow' of TV viewing patterns to the point that some shows never recovered and original Cable TV fare soared. The TV Guild would've done things differently if they realized the Online/Streaming revolution was less than a year away and it only takes less than 3 months to change TV habits.

"Heroes" cut short its momentum and never gained its rhythm back. "House" was gaining his new team in one of its most inventive seasons ever. And "True Blood" season 1 was being filmed and "Dexter" was a new breed of 'anti-hero' cutting loose in season 2 on Showtime. NBC hadn't self-destructed and "Mad Men" had just smoked, boozed, & pitched it's way into critics' hearts, redefining the appeal of character-driven period dramas on AMC.

Now we have Online Streaming (FREE!), Rampant file-sharing of shows, the declining ratings of network news, Blockbuster's demise, and critically acclaimed shows about: Glee clubs, Nerd Geniuses, Zombies, Meth Sellers, & Pawn shops. You could not have picked that combination if you tried.

Can you even imagine what we'll be talking about in 1 year??

[The massive success of TV WORTH WATCHING on its 5th anniversary? Or, conversely, my farewell blog? - DB]

Comment posted on November 9, 2011 12:09 AM

Sally W. said:

A belated happy birthday to TVWW! 5 years! It's incredible that time has flown by like this. Then again, so much has changed in the tv landscape, considering how/where we watch television, in addition to what we watch. Long may TVWW continue, in these exciting/weird/crazy/scary times.

[We're just starting Year 5 over here -- but thanks for the optimism, as well as the kind words. - DB]

Comment posted on November 11, 2011 3:36 PM
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Thanks for sharing informative post. It is one of the best site that I have visited. Hope you will share more quality blog posts thank you.
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