Critic's Notebook: The Winter Olympics is Here! Yay?

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I love the Olympics. But who is going to watch all of this other TV that hasn’t been watched and is piling up?

My love for the Olympics — winter and summer — knows no bounds. I don’t care if it’s live or not. Tape delayed presentations never bothered me. I love the Opening Ceremonies, no matter how corny. I love the saccharine profiles. I love all (ok, fine, most) of the categories, from curling to badminton; the thrill of victory and agony of defeat, summer or winter, I’m there. I had to stop writing pre-Olympic columns because they were all variations on the same thing: This is going to be fantastic!

I didn’t write one this time. But my mood remains the same: Two weeks of television that I love despite all the haters ranting about how it’s not convenient or they got results spoiled or they have to steam something.  Whatever. I’m all over it. You do you, I’ll do the Winter Olympics my way.

So, we’re clear where I stand, right? Now, the problem: The Winter Olympics is going to seriously destroy the impressive progress I’ve made catching up on the Peak TV backlog.

OK, that part is a lie. Not the part about the damage. The part about the “impressive progress” I’ve made in this too-much-television world. In truth, like most people, I’m drowning in television. And the Winter Olympics is going to pull me under like nobody’s business.

Here’s a short story about trying to play catch-up on what I’ve missed while simultaneously reviewing new series and, of course, keeping up with the ongoing episodes of, oh, dozens and dozens of existing shows:

Not good.

I told you it was a short story.

One example: Battling insomnia this week, I gave up and turned on the TV because, well, you can never spend enough time catching up. I watched the first episode of Britannia on Amazon, a series that neither fellow THR TV critic Dan Fienberg nor I reviewed (not everything should be reviewed and not everything can be reviewed, but we try to do almost all the scripted stuff). Druids in 43 AD? Sure, why not! I watched the first episode. It’s freaky and different and I was totally in. I added it to the ever-growing pile.

While on Amazon I realized how many other series I was behind on. I saw a couple of movies I wanted to watch. I fell asleep.

When I woke up, the Winter Olympics were here. No, that’s not true. When I woke up, I got motivated to binge the final batch of episodes of Altered Carbon over on Netflix, which I had just reviewed. While on Netflix, a thing happened that always happens when I’m looking at the main screen: My anxiety kicked in. I’m so far behind on Peaky Blinders. Just saying. And I totally want to watch Babylon Berlin, a series I didn’t know existed until I was staring at it on Netflix.

I went on to watch a couple of episodes of Travelers for a column I’m writing about sci-fi. Right next to it is a picture of my pal Jason Bateman’s sad face, for his series Ozark, which I didn’t review because we’re friends and so Fienberg reviewed it and since he reviewed it — follow the logic here — I wasn’t obligated to watch it way back when on deadline, so I watched like four or five other things instead, and now it’s February and I haven’t really made a dent in Ozark (sad face), which is kind of embarrassing, and I’m hoping Bateman cuts me some slack on that, because the Winter Olympics is here and I can’t watch it right now. Or maybe I can watch one or two episodes during the ice skating part.

Anyway, back to the anxiety: I’d like to watch more Travelers. But I’m not going to do that before Ozark. I even wrote that down as a promise. There’s, oh, about 20 or so music documentaries I want to watch, primarily XTC: This Is Pop on Showtime, but I digress. While I was on Netflix, I realized how far behind on The Good Place I am, and The Good Place isn’t even a Netflix series. That’s just sad.

While there I watched a couple of episodes of Colony to refresh my memory for that sci-fi column I was writing. I like Colony. I should watch more episodes.

Have I mentioned that the Winter Olympics are on now?

Anyway, I teach a visual studies class at an art college (yes, about television) and one of the series I have my students watching is The End of the F***ing World, which I binged in a minute as soon as it came out — but because I watch TV for a living my brain has kind of melted or warped or fuzzed out in parts, so I go back and watch the episodes again before class so I can remember what happened. Which seems…not ideal. Anyway, you should really watch that series. It’s fantastic.

It doesn’t happen that often anymore, but some outlets still send critics actual DVDs to review instead of links, and it just so happened that I have all of Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams sitting on my DVD player, which in 2018 is so quaint I don’t even keep the HDMI cable plugged in, but I plugged it in to watch another episode.

Nobody said logic was in play here, people.

I was doing that to kind of scrub the memory of Absentia and Here and Now, two series I had to review and, honestly, those are six hours I’m not getting back but it’s just better to forget, or paste over with something else.

I did just that.

I should have been watching Everything Sucks!, which is coming up on Netflix and I’m supposed to review, and Final Space on TBS and McMafia on AMC, which I’m also reviewing, but I was doing neither. By then I was watching the Warriors because I never miss a game and they were getting pounded start to finish by the Thunder, a team I hate, so I was seething and needed to cut my anger by watching something else. There was a box from FX with Atlanta episodes in it. But I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. So I opened something else and it was — true story! — a book, of all things, from Random House, which was a signed copy of Maureen Orth’s “Vulgar Favors: The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” which I don’t need to tell you is a TV series (that I didn’t review because Fienberg did and, honestly, I’m as likely to watch it now as I am to read this book; no offense to Orth but in my world there is not a scenario that exists where I have time to read a book when series are stacking up on the DVR and I’m afraid to see what Netflix has released while I was sleeping).

Exhale. So, yeah, that’s a peek inside the brain pan.

But hey, two weeks of endless television in the form of one of my favorite things — the Winter Olympics — has arrived and I am thrilled. Can you feel it? Am I giving off stress vibes?

No, really, it’s going to be amazing.

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