PLUGGED IN: I write recaps of television episodes for the Web site Television Without Pity (www.televisionwithoutpity.com). It's sort of a text version of "Mystery Science Theater 3000." I watch a show and then write what happened while cracking jokes about characters, plot holes, lousy dialogue, that kind of thing. I trained by watching a lot of bad television and making fun of it with my friends. I've been writing recaps for about six years -- I started with "Angel" and "The West Wing" and now do "Battlestar Galactica," which started its new season Friday.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX: We get between 7,000 and 9,000 posts a day on the site. If you're the kind of person who watches a show and then has to call a friend to talk about it, we're an outlet for that. And you can get whatever you want out of it. If you just want to say, "That actor is hot. Does anyone have a picture of him?" you can do that, but if you want to analyze the themes and subplots of the season, you can also do that. For some people, I think the kind of analysis we do drains the fun out of TV, but for others it's a neat way to think critically about it.
GREAT GIG: TWoP brings one or two new writers on staff just about every year. There's quite a backlog of people who want to become recappers, but we aren't actively looking for applicants. Recappers get paid, but I also work for Westat, a statistical research company in Rockville. There's also a pretty active social group of TWoP fans in the Washington area who get together to watch movies, go to the zoo, things like that. It's all coordinated through the forums.
MUST-SEE TV: "Battlestar Galactica" is awfully good, and "House" has some very fun dialogue but it gets repetitive. I've also been watching "The Inside" on Fox, and I'm trying to catch up on "Veronica Mars," since I missed the initial run but kept hearing how great it was. Some shows are so bad it's hypnotic -- basically, you want change channels but keep watching because you just can't believe it's happening. For that level of badness, I think the biggies are "Dawson's Creek," the short-lived "Young Americans" and "7th Heaven." The WB has a definite gift for that kind of thing. Also "American Idol." And most daytime soaps fall into that category, but I think "Passions" wins because they've got a monkey in the cast.
REALITY CHECK: Doing this has given me more of an appreciation for how even putting together a terrible show takes a lot of work. At times I'll completely shred something in an episode, but there are others where I'll say, "Well, it's just a TV show. For being on a channel with no money, they're doing the best they can."
As told to Paul J. Williams
Tankersley is no zoned-out couch potato. She watches with focus, authority and zest -- even all those shows on the WB.