Stop With The Aftershows / by Jefferson Geiger

TalkingDead

I have a love-hate relationship with AMC. On one hand, they’re part of the reason there’s so much great television shows on the air today. On the other, they’re part of the reason there’s so many aftershows on the air today.

The success of “The Walking Dead” spawned the Chris Hardwick hosted “The Talking Dead.” Then, because of that show’s success, Chris Hardwick hosted “Talking Bad,” “Talking Saul,” and “Talking Preacher.” Come on, those other titles aren’t even puns!

“Orphan Black” has “After the Black” and “Game of Thrones” has “After the Thrones.” The BBC show “Top Gear” has “Extra Gear.” MTV’s “Teen Wolf” has “Wolf Watch.” Even TV Land’s “The Jim Gaffigan Show” has three minutes spliced onto the end where Gaffigan and his wife talk about the writing process.

And now, last week’s premiere of “Mr. Robot” included “Hacking Robot.” One show isn’t enough so it’ll have tech website The Verge produce it’s own digital-only talk show until “Hacking Robot” returns for the season finale.

I understand why they’re made. Since it’s a live talk show they’re cheap and easy to produce. There’s no script to write and no fancy editing to do. Its just people sitting around a table talking. They’re essentially visual podcasts.

Yet what makes the talk shows good are also what makes them bad. The live aspect allows them to take calls or tweets from fans. But nothing interesting can be said because they can’t spoil the remaining episodes in the season. Conversation always stays on the surface.

So why not just make more aftershow podcasts?

Journalists Laura Hudson and Spencer Akerman talk “Game of Thrones” in The Guardian’s “The Citadel” podcast. There’s also “Nerdette” that recaps the show with Peter Sagal of “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me.”

These are superior formats because of their mobility. You can listen while doing yard work, on the commute to work or while sitting in a waiting room. No television required and they’re just as interactive with segments where the hosts take questions via email.

The only good aftershow worth watching is “Extra Gear.” For one, it’s not a separate scheduled program so my DVR records it automatically. I might as well watch if it’s on my hard drive.

It’s also great because it’s different. The format is not just dudes on a couch. Instead, the hosts Rory Reid and Chris Harris go behind the scenes to reveal how certain segments get made.  When they show off their unique camera rig I wonder if it’s more fun to be a cameraman on “Top Gear” than a presenter. The pair has wonderful chemistry and is better hosts than Matt LeBlanc and Chris Evans. 

Aftershows would be better if they didn’t have to air every week. That way, the creators have more production time to polish and have the freedom to talk without spoiling. Remember watching deleted scenes and listening to audio commentary? Those are still worthwhile ways to satisfy hungry fans that always want more. Please, if you have the urge to copy Chris Hardwick and create an aftershow, leave it for the DVD extras.

This column was originally published in the July 20, 2016 edition of the Valley Courier.