1. “Previously On: In Praise of the Television Recap Sequence.” As plots become more and more complex, the humble summation has risen to an art form.
“Some recaps are technical masterpieces. On a complex show, an editor might have to reach back into previous seasons to pluck the narrative buds that the latest episode unfurls. Sharp, quick cuts of dialogue work with expert visual precision (Friday Night Lights did an extraordinary job with this—a character walks into the night with a pissed-off expression, while another character, seen in the previous fragment, describes her perspective on the drama in voice-over). Other recaps play a more expository role, and might not even be chronological, as with The Newsroom or Lost, which kicked off its last few seasons with hour-long recaps. And some shows choose to set a mood rather than offer any kind of chronology, as on Mad Men, whose enigmatic recaps and teasers have proved maddening to some viewers.”