College basketball’s March Madness frenzy doesn’t truly kick off until March 12, but we’re already in the second week of tournament play in Hulu’s Best in Show. The first round saw some contentious battles between quirky comedy favorites, as well as sci-fi series with cult followings. (We know, sometimes it’s impossible to choose favorites.) And like any good competition, there were some upsets along the way: in the matchup between nerd heroes, “Chuck” overcame “The Big Bang Theory,” despite having less than half the weekly viewership. Meanwhile, the race for top sci-fi series came down to the wire, with “Supernatural” fans leading the surge against “Fringe” — despite a five percent handicap thanks to HitFix Sr. Editor Alan Sepinwall’s critic’s vote. As Round 2 begins, we asked Sepinwall for his take on the showdown between the vampires, as well as which eliminated series he’d bring back to the competition. — Rebecca Harper (email@example.com), Editor
Hulu: “Supernatural vs. Fringe” was the closest race in Round 1. What is it about these two sci-fi shows that inspires such passion?
Alan Sepinwall: Sci-fi in general draws the most passion online, and these two shows in particular have figured out how to best use their strengths, minimize their weaknesses and give the fans what they want.
Another close matchup: the vampires. Your vote turned the race in favor of “Vampire Diaries.” Were you surprised that this one was (ahem) neck-and-neck?
AS: I was surprised, but pleasantly so. “True Blood” was soundly thumping “Vampire Diaries” for the first few days, which I pegged to its higher profile as HBO’s flagship. But credit the “Vampire Diaries” fans for rallying and making it close enough for them to get the win (with a little help from me).
You’ve heard back from our users regarding some of your picks. Which of your selections were most contentious?
AS: The main objections seemed to be with the pairings themselves. My philosophy was to pair up as many similar shows as possible in the first round so that we’d have more variety going forward, but some people didn’t want to have to choose between “30 Rock” and “Community,” or between the two Friday sci-fi shows. I think every approach to constructing a bracket is going to have its strengths and weaknesses, and somebody’s favorite show is always going to get hosed in the process.
Some of your picks didn’t make it through Round 1, notably “Cougar Town,” which was eliminated by a large margin. Does that make you rethink your stance on the show, or do you think it was just a victim of being up against a top-rated comedy?
AS: I love “Cougar Town,” but I also recognize that it’s an idiosyncratic show where you’re either on your wavelength or you’re not. (Compare that to the show it was competing against, “Modern Family,” where some people like it more than others, but which isn’t nearly as polarizing.) I know the CT audience is small but passionate, and I was curious to see if that passion translated into numbers opposite its more popular lead-in. Was not to be.
Finally, if you could bring back any one of the eliminated shows, which would it be and why?
AS: “Parks and Recreation.” It’s my favorite comedy on TV right now — maybe even my favorite show that’s currently airing on TV, since the two big AMC dramas are between seasons at the moment. It came close to “The Office,” but couldn’t quite get over the hump. I’m just sorry that Best in Show will have to go Swanson-less from here on out.