How do you react when, upon admitting that you’ve never seen a single episode of Friends, others look at you slack-jawed as if you had forgotten to brush your teeth for six weeks? How many things do you add to your “list” every week as others tell you that something is “can’t-miss” or “must-read” or “integral to your survival”?
Just how long is your backlog of games, movies, books, and TV shows? Ours is endless, and worse: ever-growing. We talk about it all the time.
Welcome to THE UNENDING BACKLOG, where we turn the impossible task of reading, watching, and playing every piece of media into the impetus to write. We hope that you will find our posts and articles informative and helpful as you, like us, struggle to determine how and where to invest your time and money.
The Unending Backlog reflects the fact that in the present day, the volume of things that appeal to those who enjoy imaginative and speculative fiction resembles a mountain that gets taller as you climb it: for every great thing you read, watch, or play, two more emerge that same week, or have already emerged, but have remained further back in your pile of stuff. For those of us with careers, and for whom maintaining human relationships still remains important, it has become increasingly important to be selective about where that disposable time and income go. We launch the Unending Backlog as a commentary on this embarrassment of riches, as well as to offer commentary on the things we’re reading, watching, and playing.
Rather than assign to the content we review a numerical, astrological, or point value as to its quality, our reviews instead submit to you a Priority Rating, a score that we feel reflects how urgent a matter a particular release is for those that will access it, immediately or eventually. This approach seeks to accomplish a few things:
- To acknowledge that every release, however critically or popularly received, will have fans with whom it communicates;
- To examine the elements of a release and offer an approach to how successful or unsuccessful we feel it is;
- To provide a thoughtful, critical perspective to readers, players, and viewers as to how close to the “top” of their personal backlog a particular release should be. Urgency is everything when we deal with content in the volumes we are in the status quo, especially those of us on a budget;
- To stimulate meaningful conversation about these releases, and to help them operate within our culture to the fullest extent they can.
For example, a plot-heavy episode of a television program, such as last season’s The Walking Dead episode entitled “The Grove,” would receive a very high Priority Rating, as it contains: 1) plot-altering events and/or revelations; 2) high-quality writing, pacing, production, or aesthetics; 3) storytelling proficiency (“Look at the flowers…”); 4) immediate repercussions throughout culture (i.e. water cooler conversation, Google News headlines, etc.). Were I writing a full review for “The Grove,” I would assign to it a 9 or a 9.5, as it represents each of these four examples rather dynamically.
A big-budget movie like Noah, while receiving somewhat positive critical and popular reception, would likely receive a lower Priority Rating as it 1) doesn’t offer anything particularly new to the viewer, in terms of story or production value; 2) is not part of a franchise that is time-sensitive; 3) does not differ greatly in terms of quality between the big screen and the home theater. Noah would get a 3.5 or a 4, especially on account of the movie’s final 15 minutes, which were particularly weak (surprising for a Darren Aronofsky movie, especially).
Here’s a sample of what a 10-item backlog might look like to us, according to our priority rating system:
0 – All the things we’ll not plan to watch, read or play, like Leap Year (2010 film) or Suzanne Somers’ Bombshell: Explosive Medical Secrets That Will Redefine Aging (2013 book).
1 – In the Name of the King (2007 film)
2 – Alien: Colonial Marines (2013 video game)
3 – Revolution (2012 television program)
4 – Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009 film)
5 – Divergent (2011 book)
6 – The Amazing Spider-man (2012 film)
7 – A Feast for Crows (2005 book)
8 – Bioshock 2 (2009 video game)
9 – Lost (2005 television program)
10 – The Avengers (2012 film)
We hope we can offer our perspective to assist you in the jolly acquisition of books, movies, comics, games, and hours of television for the betterment of your imagination and bookshelves alike.
– Vandal & Vrin