I really dislike critics of any kind, subscribing as I do to the theory that they're people who cannot even for a second do the things they are paid to bitchily criticize. But I've watched At the Movies since I was a little kid and over those long years I developed a love for Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel. And, given some time, I even learned to appreciate Richard Roeper when he replaced Siskel after Siskel's tragically untimely death. And I knew that Ebert and Roeper had disowned the Disney-run show and were being replaced by a couple of young nothings from nowhere. But it just hit me really hard when tonight's episode ended with Roeper announcing that it really was his final episode. And that went for Ebert too. Fuck! They really won't be back!

I know that critics of all types are soundly reviled, and I revile most of them myself. But there are, thank God, a rare few who absolutely love the medium they criticize/analyze. A saintly few who aren't jealous or bitter, but are truly in it for the love of the art. Siskel and Ebert were of that class. And, later, I saw that Roeper was too. It didn't even matter when they got stuff wrong-as Siskel did with The Silence of the Lambs-because they weren't getting it wrong out of hate, or envy, or to show off their ability to speak volumes. They were honestly expressing their views about something they truly, deeply cared about. Like I said, I started watching them when I was tiny, and I think they are hugely responsible for the fact that I have such little respect for most critics of anything.

They were never the detached asses that most critics are. They were never the mocking fool that most critics are. They were insanely passionate about movies, that's all. They were fans, like the rest of us, but not gushing bought-and-paid-for instruments like certain shits at certain popular cool websites that used to have cred. They wouldn't even pose holding popcorn buckets.

And now it's all over. Roeper-Ebert has been too ill to speak for months-just said goodbye to the viewers forever. A couple of shiny children will be coming in to take over in the next week or two. I won't be watching.

In the meantime, you can view almost every movie review ever aired on At The Movies at AtTheMoviesTV.com. Go there and type some movie into the search field. It will feel good.