One of my freelance assignments is "weecapping" the SyFy show Helix for Television Without Pity (TWoP). The weecap is basically the missing link between a 250-word recaplet (i.e. the email you send you mom explaining what happened the night before) and a recap (i.e. what you would probably try to submit as a term paper in a class on "Media Studies 401: Narative Parallels Between the Dickensian Novel and Serial Cable Dramas").
Here's how the sausage is made for any TWoP writing I do: I set up a season pass for the show on my TiFaux (tm Kim Reed) and make sure I pick the standard-def broadcast; for reasons I am too lazy to Google right now, I don't get closed captioning on any program I view in high definition. I watch an episode once all the way through. If I need to write a recaplet, I'll do it right after that first watch, while the show is still eating up 85% of my short-term brain.
Because I believe all technology is fickle and redundancy is vital, I also set up an iTunes season pass for any show I recap, and check to see if it's on Hulu.
At this point in my recapping career, I think of the TiFaux as the technology of last resort, a stance that the me of 2000 would have found cuckoobananapants. When I began recapping in 2000, I had to rely on a VCR, and the constant rewind-pause-write-rewind-pause-write-fast-forward-crap!-rewind-pause-write was the number one reason it took six to seven hours to recap 48 minutes of actual television.
When I got my TiVo, I was able to cut my recap time down to about four to five hours per episode -- maybe three, if I didn't end up going down an Internet rabbit hole to fact-check a joke or hyperlink a reference. The TiVo sounds of rewinding and fast-forwarding are buried so deep in my memories at this point, I am sure that when I have descended into senescence, the only things that will rouse me from my taciturn drooling will be the bloop-de-bloop, and I'll cry, "Lincoln, smash!"
These days, I work on one screen: I have the episode running in an iTunes window and I have my Word doc to the left of that window, and I can smoothly switch my attention between windows as I write. Pausing and rewinding take a flick of the finger on the track pad.
I don't much enjoy watching Helix. This makes the weecapping a bit more of a chore, because having to watch a dull or disappointing TV show once is one thing, but having to watch it multiple times and pay attention is the cognitive equivalent to putting on a pair of shoes, discovering they blister, then deciding to run a 5K in them.
In my recapping career, I've been lucky to like most of the shows I've been assigned to do. Swingtown was a delight for Lana Perilla and Grant Show's performances; I loved the relationships between the women on Big Love; the speedy pace and utter gameness of the actors on Prison Break made that show better than it deserved to be; I lobbied to weecap Dracula just because I love how Jonathan Rhys Myers commits to "batshit insane" in any role he plays. And we all know how much I love Sons of Anarchy.
But -- real talk time -- I haaaaaaaaaated the season I spent on FlashForward. There were a lot of fine actors on that show, there were many great ideas ... it was just that the execution was off. It had the feeling of a show done by committee. And, most fatally, it lacked any sense of fun.
Helix has the same problems: Decent actors, intriguing ideas, and poorly implemented ideas.
Right now, the only thing getting me through it is knowing that all I have to do is spend two hours whipping through the episode and writing the jokes as they come to me. (One character is basically what happens when you breed a mogwai with a supermodel, so you can imagine the raw material there.)
But tonight ... the latest episode is not on Hulu. My iTunes is not showing that the latest episode is available in the cloud. And I fear that I may be forced to watch this thing on TiFaux like a technopeasant from the Aughties or something.
The blisters! I can already feel them forming.