The devilish little mascot of Television Without Pity, the TV recap site that was the progenitor of so many other recap and review sites, has lain dormant for two years, since owner NBC Universal shuttered it in April 2014. But Tuesday, visitors to televisionwithoutpity.com were greeted with a message from the site’s new owners, Tribune Media Company: "Welcome Back, You Devil."
Given the preponderance of pop-culture publications currently offering recaps and reviews, and given that most of the original writers had long departed, it seemed likely that TWoP would stay dead.
We reached out to Tribune and received the following statement from Josh Cogswell, Tribune Media’s chief product officer:
“Television Without Pity was once one of the best destinations for TV commentary. An overwhelming number of fans — including us — were saddened that it shut down. So we bought it and are now working with some of the industry's favorite talent, influencers and strategic partners on a relaunch. We can’t share anything more at this time, but to all fans past and present: Stay tuned.”
For the uninitiated, TWoP began in 1998 as a repository for “Dawson’s Creek” recaps called “Dawson’s Wrap,” started by Sarah D. Bunting, Tara Ariano and David Cole. The site quickly grew beyond just “Dawson’s Creek,” changing its name to “Mighty Big TV” and then “Television Without Pity.” Its motto remained the same: “Spare the snark, spoil the networks.”
TV lovers did indeed flock to the site, with its (at the time) unique snark-tinged voice and unparalleled depth. Needed to know what outfit Willow wore in a specific scene of the fourth episode of the sixth season of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”? Odds were pretty good the recapper had you covered. The recaps were a valuable resource for TV scholars, journalists and people just looking to catch up on their shows.
But with success came attention and acquisition. Bravo, owned by NBC Universal, purchased the site in 2007. The original recappers began to flee. The site began to go far beyond the scope of just TV recaps, diving into movie coverage and interviews with stars and showrunners.
The model didn’t quite work, and NBC Universal quietly laid off the last few staff writers it had in 2014, then shut down the much-beloved forums and, finally, removed public access to the archive of thousands of recaps.
The archives remain offline, and judging from what Tribune Media says it has planned, the “revived” TWoP doesn’t sound like a return to the site’s roots.