Thoughts on TV Guide’s 2014 Fall Preview Issue

It’s not always easy finding TV Guide these days if you’re not a subscriber. Last year I had to go to three stores before I found one that sold TV Guide. This year I knew where to go but not when. TV Guide Magazine tweeted on Tuesday that this year’s Fall Preview issue was out, so I went looking for it Wednesday morning. Last week’s issue was still on sale.

I checked again yesterday, which is when TV Guide’s editorial schedule indicated it would be on sale, but again found only last week’s issue. It was finally on sale this morning. Most people probably aren’t as obsessive about getting their hands on TV Guide Fall Preview issue the way I am. I’m sure I could have waited until this weekend to look for it without it selling out.

I don’t read TV Guide regularly and never have but I buy the Fall Preview issue faithfully every single year. There’s something indescribably special about cracking open the Fall Preview issue, even when I’ve already read about all the new shows and know which ones I plan on watching. For some I’m sure there’s a nostalgia factor involved, having grown up anticipating the Fall Preview issue each year. For me it’s something else. It’s a way of connecting with more than 60 years of television history. For more than six decades, every year millions of television viewers have held the Fall Preview issue of TV Guide in their hands and used it to help decide what to watch. TV Guide may no longer be a must-read each week, or even all that useful, but the Fall Preview issue is special.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that this year, TV Guide decided to go back to listing the new shows night by night rather than presenting its Top 10 new shows and then everything else. Some shows are given an Editors’ Favorite seal, which in the past was sometimes called TV Guide Favorite. Among the shows called favorites this issue are Gotham, Marry Me, NCIS: New Orleans, Red Band Society, and How to Get Away with Murder. In all, there are 10 shows that get the Editors’ Favorite seal.

Some shows are given just a few paragraphs of description, others nearly two pages. A handful receive the Q&A treatment with either creative talent or members of the cast. As always, TV Guide critic Matt Roush offers his brief reviews of all the new shows for fall. He calls NBC’s State of Affairs “the saddest case of Homeland envy” while ABC’s Selfie is slammed as “too inconsequential even to qualify as an epic fail.”

Friday, Saturday and Sunday are lumped together in an eight-page “Weekend” spread, which seems an odd choice given that there are eight pages worth of shows to write about. How hard would it have been to split things up and print Friday and Sunday at the top of a few pages?

Tucked into the pages of the issue is not one, not two, but three subscription cards. That seems both excess and a little desperate but last year’s Fall Preview issue also had three subscription cards, so at least the magazine’s consistent.

(Bonus: You can watch commercials for the 1962 and 1979 fall preview issues here.)


2 Comments

  • writerpatrick says:

    I think I only bought TV Guide once and that was for a fall preview guide. I tended to rely upon the guide that came free with the newspaper. I can even remember picking up free guides from distribution boxes as one would with a newpaper.

    One of the things I would look forward to each year was the fall previews. I sort of drifted away from them as the paper stopped printing TV guides. Now I tend to focus on the televised previews instead.

  • I was impressed by how harsh the TV Guide critic’s unfavorable reviews were. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything that tough in a print publication.

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