I'm a child of the "Siskel & Ebert" generation. Film criticism, in my mind, isn't just words on a piece of paper or a computer screen; it's also a conversation, one that's sometimes conducted in front of television cameras. Since the last version of "At the Movies" went off the air, I've been desperately looking for something like it to fill that void. Generally, it's been very hard to find.
Video content on movies outside the realm of video essays (which are a totally different -- and awesome -- thing) has mostly devolved into cringe-inducing junket interviews and cringe-inducing webcam testimonials on YouTube. Podcasts are great, and there are a handful of decent video shows like "What the Flick?!" dedicated to conversations about movies. But not enough -- and nothing definitive. When I need a fix for hardcore, "Siskel & Ebert"-style movie talk, you know what I watch? Old "Siskel & Ebert" episodes.
The conversation below is about television instead of movies, and it contains no Siskel versus Ebert style throwdowns. No one screams or yells or snarks. It's just an hour of four very eloquent people exchanging ideas. But it's the first thing I've seen in a while that really scratches that "Siskel & Ebert" itch -- because it's also about the pleasure of eavesdropping on smart people in conversation.
Fittingly, it comes from RogerEbert.com, where new editor Matt Zoller Seitz sits down with fellow TV critics Maureen Ryan of The Huffington Post, Ryan McGee of The A.V. Club, and Sarah D. Bunting of previously.tv to discuss the still-controversial ending of "The Sopranos" and the future of television drama. I watched all six parts and enjoyed every single one -- and the ending is fantastic. I hope the next step for the site -- or someone else, if RogerEbert.com isn't interested -- is a similar approach toward film.
Here's the entire roundtable:
For the full transcripts of the entire "CUT TO BLACK" roundtable, go to RogerEbert.com.