Can Film Criticism Survive on TV?

With the proliferation of movie critics online posting reviews on blogs and multiple Web sites, I raised the question a while ago if professional criticism was dying.  The truth of the matter is that film criticism is still alive, both online and in print.  When it comes to television, however, it is definitely on life support.  When At the Movies ended its syndication run, I feared that was the end.  Luckily, Roger Ebert did his best to keep it alive, bringing Ebert Presents At the Movies, produced by his wife Chaz and directed by Don Dupree, to PBS. 

Any televised film criticism show really depends on the personalities and chemistry of its hosts, and the new ones -- Christy Lemire of the Associated Press and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of Mubi.com -- are great.  They're intelligent, funny, and opinionated, and they have good on-screen presence together. 

The show, however, is struggling to raise funds even on public television.  I hope it manages to find a way to stay on the air.  Although film criticism continues to work well through the written word in magazine articles and Web logs, through spoken words on radio and podcasts, and through new visual media like video blogs presented through YouTube and other online channels, television is still the perfect fit to show movie clips and have multiple critics share their analysis with millions of viewers. 

The trick is to find the right critics whom viewers care enough about to tune in and listen to week after week, whether or not they agree or disagree with their value judgements, and then promote the heck out of it so that film buffs know when and where to tune in to watch it. 

I admire Roger Ebert for not giving up on the format and for trying so hard to bring a quality review program to television.  I hope At the Movies continues and other similiar film criticism and analysis shows pop up in the future.

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