I am a fan of Tim Goodman’s work at The Hollywood Reporter.
I read with pleasure his review of Killer Women.
It begins, “The ABC drama is killer bad. No, really, it’s shoot-me-now bad. ”
Oh, delicious, I thought. There are few things as nothing quite so satisfying as seeing justice done, especially when the culprit is a cynically bad piece of contemporary culture.
Go, Tim, go.
“It’s also one of those shows where, less than five minutes into it, you wonder what the actors were thinking when they signed on and then, immediately after that (perhaps a millisecond), you wonder if they’ve since fired their managers.”
But there’s a problem here. And that’s that Killer Woman is actually pretty good. Not perfect. Not in the class of the very good work of which TV is now capable. But it is well crafted, interesting, and likable.
Which raises a question: What was Tim Goodman doing?
I leave it to you, reader, to have a look at the show and the review, and see if you find a discrepancy. I think you’ll find one.
The second question: how big is the discrepancy?
If it’s a small discrepancy, we can put this down to pilot error. Even a great critic can have a bad day.
But if the discrepancy is big, more questions arise.
The third question: is this an act of hostility? Did Goodman seek deliberately to inflict harm on the show?
The fourth question: is this an abuse of power?
The fifth question: should THR take a sober look at the review and ask some tough questions? Was this an act of abuse? Is there, in Goodman’s work, a pattern of abuse?
The sixth question: are there grounds for a class action suit?
The costs of a hostile critic are astronomically high. Careers are diminished, sometimes ruined. Investments are lost. Enterprises (networks, production companies for instance) may founder. Value of the tangible and intangible kind disappears from the world. If the critic who causes this loss is acting from genuine motives and the honorable practice of his or her profession, well, some harm but no foul. But if the critic is deliberately inflicting harm, this will not do.
I understand that the come-back here is that reviews are so relative and personal that they cannot be objectively assessed. There is, in short, no way to criticize the critic. This may be true some of the time, but there are cases when the review and the reviewed are unmistakably discrepant. In this case, we can criticize the critic and in this case I think we must.