Tag: television

Valar Morghulis

Rich kicked off a discussion of Games of Thrones when last year’s season ended. Given the huge ratings, I suspect we have even more people watching it now. This season wrapped up last night with an absolute barn-burner of an episode for a barn-burner of a season.

[Spoilers ahead]

I must say this was my favorite season so far and not just because it was the first I was keeping up with in real time. We are finally seeing the pieces of GRRM’s chess game moving into position, with plot threads being resolved or dramatically changed. We saw the erasure of not one but two Lannisters, a possible resolution of the Wildlings plot and some real movement on Bran’s plot thread. Moreover, I think things are set up for some huge plot developments in the future. I don’t know where we are headed, but it should be a fun ride in seasons 5 and 6.

Some scattered thoughts:

  • One of themes emerging from the series, referenced explicitly in episode three, is what it takes to be a king. It’s not enough to be a good and honorable man, as we saw with the Starks. There is a certain ruthlessness and pragmatism that comes with it. Tyrion showed this in his tenure as Hand. Daenarys is learning this now, after her disastrous start in Season One.
  • Another theme is that there is no black and white in Game of Thrones, only shades of gray. Characters are complex and can do good things one day and bad things the next. Jaime has become the embodiment of this. A lot of people were disappointed with the rape scene, thinking it undid all his character development. But Jaime has always been a mix. He’s both the man who saved King’s Landing and the man who shoved a small boy out of a tower window for discovering he was screwing his sister. Jaime’s character is often highly dependent on who he’s with. Tyrion and Brienne bring out the best in him. Cersei brings out the worst.
  • I think we can inscribe Peter Dinklage’s name on every acting award this year. He had numerous scenes this year that just took my breath away — the trial, the conversation with Oberyn, his final scene with Tywin. Dinklage has taken what I understand to be one of the favorite characters of the books and made him even better.
  • Speaking of Oberyn. I really liked him and Pedro Pascal’s performance was great. Episode eight was like a punch in the gut. But … he accomplished two out of his three objectives. In Game of Thrones, that’s not bad.
  • Now that Cersei is effectively ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, I expect things to go downhill very fast.
  • I hope Jorah finds a way to work himself back into Daenarys’ good graces.
  • Fans of the books who are upset that their favorite scenes weren’t in or things have been changed need to get a grip. GRRM is heavily involved in the series and has no doubt played a role in the changes. Reading interviews, I think one of the reason the books are taking so long is that he wrote himself into a corner (the “Meereenese knot”). Tolkien did this too but Tolkien had the luxury of going back and revising the earlier books before they were published to avoid the corners. I think some of the plot changes to the TV series are designed to avoid the mistakes he made in the earlier books and accelerate the story. We may therefore get an ending in 7 or 8 seasons instead of 14.
  • Anyway, post your thoughts.

    Al Makes Out

    As you may have heard, Current TV — you remember Current TV, right? — was just bought out by Al-Jazeera. That’s of moderate interest. Al-Jazeera is better than their reputation: they are one of the few keeping up with the scary developments in the Middle East. And, really, even in their early days, they were probably less anti-American than damned Current TV.

    What I found interesting was this little tidbit:

    Al Jazeera did not disclose the purchase price, but people with direct knowledge of the deal pegged it at around $500 million, indicating a $100 million payout for Mr. Gore, who owned 20 percent of Current. Mr. Gore and his partners were eager to complete the deal by Dec. 31, lest it be subject to higher tax rates that took effect on Jan. 1, according to several people who insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. But the deal was not signed until Wednesday.

    Are you surprised that the man who has made so much money off the absurdity known as “carbon credits” cashed in on selling out his network and tried to avoid higher taxes in doing so? You are? Do you know that a prime piece of New York real estate spanning the Hudson River could be yours for the low low price of $1 million?

    Right now, half the liberal blogosphere is donning sackcloth and ashes because Obama “sold them out” by raising taxes only on those making $400,000 per year, rather than $250,000. Their assumption, however, is bullshit. They assume this happened because Obama is weak. He might be, but they’re ignoring that the tax changes had to go through a Congress full of Democrats. And, as Al Gore’s actions demonstrated, they don’t want to pay high taxes either.

    Friday Five: TV Ain’t So Bad

    I mentioned this in the TLC post this week, so thought I’d bring it out. I don’t watch a lot of current TV as what little I see is of low quality (and I don’t have HBO). But that probably means I’m missing more than a few good shows out there. With 187,324 channels, something’s gotta be good, right?

    So what are your five favorite current TV shows. It can be a sit-com, a drama, a news hour, Monday Night Football, whatever. It just has to be something that’s been in broadcast relatively recently.

    My five?

    Doctor Who: I’ve made no disguise of my love of the show. The current version, under Stephen Moffat, is excellent.

    Game of Thrones: I’ve just finished Season One on DVD. While I think it revels too much in sex and violence and I have a sinking feeling everyone I like is going to end up dead, it’s still an utterly compelling show.

    Mythbusters: Still good, after all these years.

    South Park: Ditto. They pull no punches.

    Sherlock: Another Stephen Moffat entry, but damn, this show is good. Benedict Cumberbatch is rapidly becoming my favorite Sherlock Holmes.

    To be fair, these are probably the only five shows I watch consistently, apart from when Sal 11000 Beta has My Little Pony on. There are some shows I just haven’t had time to get into that I’d probably like: Parks and Rec, Louie, Big Bang Theory. I figure I can watch them in ten years when the iBrain 5 can beam them straight into my cerebral cortex.

    What are your five?

    Friday Five: TV Is Funny

    The Friday Fun thread went well last week, so let’s try it again!

    This week, we’ll go with something a little narrower: the five best TV comedies you’ve seen. Anything is fair game: network, overseas, subscription. As long it as it appeared on the glowing idiot box, it’s good.

    Black Adder: The first series is good. The last three series are 18 episodes of awesome. Rowan Atkinson can be hilarious — his live stand-up routine is great. But he’s genius in this. Also includes Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie, who are comic geniuses in their own rights.

    Fawlty Towers: Not much to say about Fawlty Towers that has not already been said.

    Night Court: Middle seasons only. Night Court started out OK. But once Markie Post, Harry Anderson, John Larroquette, Richard Moll and Charles Robinson came together, it was pure genius. The only problem was that it had a tendency to get “serious” and that tendency took over the last few seasons and made the show unwatchable.

    The Honeymooners: The supporting cast were great. But what made this show was Jackie Gleason’s all-out zeal.

    The Simpsons: Season 1-6. The Simpsons isn’t what it once was. It occasionally cranks out a gem, but most of the time it’s just “meh”. But the first six seasons were incredible.

    Honorable Mentions to: South Park, Monty Python, Seinfeld. The latter in particular was good because it never compromised. The characters started off as self-centered jerks and ended as self-centered jerks. As noted in my Night Court selection, I hate it when comedies get serious. Seinfeld never did.

    You’ll notice a lack of recent comedies. Two reasons: 1) I tend to discount recent things from these sort of lists; 2) I don’t watch a lot of TV. But I could see myself watching Parks and Rec at some point.

    Gore v. Olby

    Current TV has apparently sacked Keith Olberman after less than a year. This has caused thousand of people to cry, “Wait a minute? Current TV still exists?! Really?!” Really.

    Editorially, Countdown had never been better. But for more than a year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues internally, while I’ve been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal staff. Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract.

    It goes almost without saying that the claims against me implied in Current’s statement are untrue and will be proved so in the legal actions I will be filing against them presently.

    Al Gore v. Keith Olberman? As someone else said on Twitter, whoever loses, America wins.

    What Should I Be Watching?

    From the Nation Of Criminals post some of us got a bit sidetracked and started talking about TV shows. An illustration of how scattered I am at times, I am always complaining that there is never anything on (I got Dish Network Gold, so I get like a gazillion stations) but since I don’t watch that much TV (ESPN and Foxnews mainly, Tennis Channel, TCM, sporting events, but that’s pretty much it) I don’t have the patience to sit through a regular series (with commercials) so there is little I am a fan of. Here is how pitiful I am, I have never watched Friends, The Sopranos, Seinfeld, The Wire, BSG, or any other big time TV show………….I know, what a dufus.

    A few years ago I got hooked on Dexter, so I buy the season DVD’s. I have watched The Office (not as good as the BBC original Ricky Gervais version) and Party Down (A Showtime series that was really good, but they only made 2 seasons worth). I watched the first few episodes of Hawaii 5-0, but got behind and never came back. That’s it, not a fan of anything else.

    So, here is the question, I got Netflix and access to the best Library on the planet, they stock everything, what shows do you like, that think they are superlative and well worth me getting in to? Good writing is key, duh, something that will make me care about the characters. You can rate them in tiers if you like or just list the shows in order of watchabilty. Anything to get me off of this devil computer.