While you fill out your college hoops brackets for March Madness this week, TV expert Alan Sepinwall will still be anxiously poring over your picks from this week’s round of Best in Show, Hulu’s yearly bracket to determine the best show on television. Round 2 had some surprising trounces—”Dexter,” ahem, murdered “Glee”—and the tournament is now fresh out of zombies and vampires. Now there are some painstaking decisions for you to make while you vote—and vote often—this week. “Community” vs. “The Office.” “Mad Men” vs. “House.” Round 3 is tricky, and that’s why we asked Sepinwall, a senior editor at HitFix, some questions to help figure it out.
What do you see as the biggest surprise of Round 2? And will you be mourning the loss of any show you thought was a contender?
I was shocked by how easily “Dexter” took out “Glee.” I figured with the way the brackets were set up, “Glee” was a lock for the Final Four, but it was never even close. Definitely disappointed, but not too surprised, that “Breaking Bad” (which I thought had the most strongest recent season of any show in the field) lost to “House.”
What bounced Round 2 show do you think would’ve lasted much longer with a different opponent?
Given that it had the closest defeat in the round, I guess I would pick “Supernatural.” Contrary to what some of the commenters have suggested, I don’t hate it; I just am too far behind to catch up on it anytime soon, but I’ve always liked it when I’ve seen it, and I was one of the people who wanted it included in the field of 32. When you have two genre-ish shows with hardcore fanbases like “Chuck” and “Supernatural,” things are going to be close, where I suspect Supernatural could have gone much further had it been in, say, the “House”/”Mad Men” bracket.
This “Community” vs. “The Office” matchup is an interesting rookie vs. veteran matchup. If the Greendale crew takes this, does that solidify that “Community” has supplanted “The Office” of the torch bearer of NBC Thursday night comedies going forward?
I would say that “Community” and “Parks and Rec” supplanted “The Office” and “30 Rock” as the standard-bearers last season, although both the veteran shows have bounced back a bit this year (“30 Rock” more than “The Office”). In comedy, newer is often (but not always) better, because we haven’t heard these same jokes about these same characters for year after year.
“Mad Men” vs. “House” is going to be the first hotly contested matchup between a critically acclaimed, cult-following cable show and an uber-popular, remarkably successful network program. How do you think this will play out?
We already had a match-up like that in Round 2, where “House” crushed “Breaking Bad.” On the other hand, while “Mad Men’s” ratings aren’t that much bigger than its AMC stable-mate, it has a much higher profile overall, and a more vocal fanbase. I suspect “House” has the edge, simply because many more people watch it, but people online who watch Mad Men go crazy for “Mad Men.”
Despite a relative abundance from the outset, all of the vampire/zombie/supernatural (Supernatural?) shows have now been eliminated. Does this lend any credence to the idea that these shows are a fad in an era of very high quality TV? Will they be considered a relic in a few years?
No. There’s always going to be an appetite for these kinds of shows, especially since in some cases you have people who love the genre itself so much that they don’t care about quality. (I have a friend who says he thinks “True Blood” is badly written and acted, but watches anyway because he loves vampire stories just that much.) I’m a bit surprised that all those shows got knocked out so quickly, given the way the Internet works, though the way the brackets were set up, a lot of the sci-fi/supernatural shows wound up being pitted against each other, anyway.
Disregard which show you want to win. Based on what you’ve seen from the voting so far, who do you think is taking this thing?
I have a feeling it’s going to come down to “Community” vs. “Dexter.” And though I love “Community” and can see the passion of its fans online, that “Dexter” rout of “Glee” really opened my eyes. I’d say it’s the favorite right now.
OK, now regard which show you want to win. It’s getting late in the tourney, here. Of the shows that are left, who do you think most deserves the title of Best in Show?
“Mad Men,” with “Community” a close second.