by pat howard

THE FRIDAY FIVE | Indispensable TV sites

In Elsewhere, The Friday Five on April 10, 2009 at 6:27 pm

I’ve been obsessed with television for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been using the Internet to fuel my obsession for as long as I’ve had access to it (roughly 1997). I’ve learned quite a bit about the business over the years, and I’ve seen a lot of great TV websites come and go, or evolve into something less entertaining/useful (which is a whole different Friday Five).

There are a few, though, that have quietly gone about their business, and established themselves as reliable go-to sources for information about television. They don’t seem as concerned with trends or flashy technology as they are with fulfilling their niches in the online television news realm. These sites are my go-to resources and I thought you should know about them.

TVtattle.com
If I have time to check just one TV site in a day, it’s TVtattle. Billed as “a weblog of TV news and criticism,” TVtattle was in the aggregating business long before it was cool. Since 2000, the site has compiled a daily digest of industry news headlines, reviews, and reactions about every show under the sun. TVtattle is updated almost every weekday, and when it’s not (for example, on holidays), a note at the top of the sidebar informs readers when to expect a new installment. Updates are appended to original items. Each new day’s postings push a previous day’s links into oblivion. There are no official archives, which makes sense given that the stories TVtattle links to at other sites, papers, and magazines, are likely to expire or be moved after a period of time. The site keeps things sweet and simple: there’s no RSS feed, and the site design and logo remain unchanged since my first visit.

The Ausiello Files
Spoiler hound Michael Ausiello knows a sinking ship when he’s aboard one. After honing his craft at TV Guide, Ausiello recently moved to Entertainment Weekly. He likes his blind items, casting rumors, and spoiler hints, all of which seem to rile up his readers. This is easily the newest site on the list, having come together within the last year, since the name on Ausiello’s paychecks changed. If you like your TV experience as pure as possible, you’ll want to avoid this site; but insider dish abounds for those seeking such things.

The Futon Critic
This site is a living encyclopaedia of television. It features a broadcast calendar of almost every show on almost every network. Network press releases have their own section and RSS feed. You can track any show individually to find out about casting, scheduling, and such. Prime time schedules at a glance are available by season (spring and summer are currently posted). Wanna know when Weeds returns or how many episodes are left in this season of Grey’s Anatomy? The answers to these and countless other questions lie at The Futon Critic.

epguides.com
Along similar lines as The Futon Critic, but with a much more limited focus, epguides.com is just what its name suggests: episode guides for thousands of series. It provides title and airdate information for current and former shows. Most of the episode titles are links to additional information at TV.com, which despite being a larger and more extensive site is littered with corporate ads, social media strings, and other unnecessary distractions. When you need to count a thirteen-episode order quick and dirty, epguides.com has you covered. (P.S. Know the name of the show you want? Just punch in epguides.com/(show name). Keep in mind that the site drops articles, so the guide for The Mentalist would be found at epguides.com/mentalist.)

TV Shows on DVD
Each week in my DVD Wish List, I link to information about a particular show’s DVD releases at this handy site. Ever wonder what happened to the Boy Meets World DVDs after the first few seasons? If there’s even a nugget of information about subsequent releases, TV Shows on DVD will have it. You can customize the site to your liking, and set up email alerts for shows you want to keep tabs on.

These are my must-read sites. Feel free to share yours in the comments.

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  1. Ill definately be coming back for more…

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