Game of Thrones is a series driven by story — a giant tapestry of a story encompassing hundreds of characters, a long time span, multiple wars and a huge geographic reach. It’s epic in scope — so huge, in fact, that there’s little time for such trivia as character development, theme, or figuring out where episodes should begin and end.
The vast majority of GoT episodes cut briskly from one character to another, and from one locale to another, sometimes never returning after we spend a few minutes with Jon Snow or Arya Stark. The result is a feeling of constant momentum, but that momentum is an illusion because the plot actually advances glacially. And when a show is so dependent on plot — when that’s all there is — a lack of forward motion is a big issue.
Compounding the problem is that GoT has shown itself capable of greatness in individual episodes, notably with season one’s “Baelor” and season two’s “Blackwater,” the latter of which set a high mark thanks to a narrowed focus and consistent tone (and big budget). Those episodes transcended George R.R. Martin’s source material, while the majority of episodes merely try to keep pace.
Once a show has proven it can be great, it’s hard to accept mediocrity. It would be like if after “The Suitcase,” Mad Men spent most its episodes following Harry Crane and Ken Cosgrove diligently working on ad campaigns, with Don Draper providing the occasional supervisory note of encouragement.
So with season three of GoT premiering last night, let’s check in and see what actually happened in this episode, and whether we saw any notable movement.
Spoilers from S3E01, obviously, coming right up.
Did you guys hear that there’s going to be a Veronica Mars movie? Because fans funded it on Kickstarter?
You did? Not news?
OK, well did you hear that two aging blog proprietors got all worked up about it and had an e-mail debate?
I THOUGHT NOT.
The last episode of 30 Rock ever aired last night, and it was great — particularly if you view last week’s episode (which wrapped up most of the major plotlines) as part one of a two-part finale.
The show pulled off a delicate balancing act by: providing closure, hitting key emotional points with the main characters, being legitimately funny, and feeling like both a typical episode of 30 Rock and something a little more special at the same time. Even more impressively, Tina Fey and pals managed to produce a hilarious, compelling final season overall in this, 30 Rock’s seventh year.
Last night’s Golden Globes were actually fairly watchable, thanks almost entirely to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who turned in one of the best awards-show hosting performances in recent memory. They managed to be funny, charming and even pointed at times, while avoiding Ricky Gervais’s “look at me, aren’t I naughty!” schtick. But there were so, so many terrible people at the Golden Globes! So many awful winners, nominees, presenters and innocent bystanders! Let’s count down the worst among them.
Season two of Homeland may have been divisive, even among the proprietors of this here blog, but one thing remained inarguable: the cranky wonder of Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenger.
We’ve already tackled the year in music… now it’s time for television.
It’s that time of year. Can you feel it? It’s coming on Christmas, PCHA-ers, and it’s time once again to dive into my favorite Christmas special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Today, I’m focused on the Misfit Toys and specifically which is the best one. We’re counting down those sad, abandoned bastards with some fucking power rankings. Let’s do this. Who is the true king or queen of the misfits? (And don’t say King Moonracer because fuck that lion.)
11. Charlie in the Box
Ughhhhh. Charlie in the Box is the worst. The absolute worst. He’s whiny, rude and has no faith in Rudolph. We’re supposed to be happy for him for finding a home but I’d rather he was broken up for parts. His voice is one of the 30 worst recorded sounds in human history. “Halt! Who goes there?” Fuck you, Charlie in the Box. You should be delighted that anybody goes there…you’re on an abandoned island of messed up toys — what’s the worst that can come from a stranger’s presence?
It’s time again for that most beloved of holiday traditions: scrutinizing beloved Christmas specials for hidden messages. In previous years, we’ve put Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman under our microscope. This year, we’re sticking with Rankin-Bass but looking at a somewhat less beloved special: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.
A weird little take on the famous poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas is about as loyal to its original text as Rudolph is to the song lyrics — which is to say, not very. The cartoon aired for 20 years on CBS before leaving the network for the murkier pastures of basic cable in 1994, where it has been forgotten — perhaps rightfully so.
Welcome to Cheers Year, where we’ll be writing about Cheers throughout this television season to commemorate the 30th anniversary of its premiere.
To continue our commemoration of Cheers’s 30th anniversary, we’re going to draft our dream lineups of NBC’s Thursday night Must See TV era, which began with the debut of Cheers in 1982. We’ll each pick 4 half-hour shows and 1 one-hour show and slot them into appropriate time slots.
Which means…which of us will get our grimy hands on Celebrity Apprentice? I can’t wait to find out.
So, remember Cheers Month? Turns out, I may have underestimated the amount of time it would take to rewatch 11 seasons of 22+ episodes each. So we’re turning Cheers Month into Cheers Year, where we’ll be writing about Cheers throughout this television season to commemorate the 30th anniversary of its premiere.
Though Cheers is an all-time great show, it’s not without its flaws. Chief among them is the long-term handling off one Clifford Clavin, who began the series as the mildly annoying loudmouth but gradually became a cartoon on a show filled with three-dimensional characters.
The obstacles that network television dramas face are well-documented: network viewership is declining en masse, cable networks have bigger budgets (sometimes) and allow their showrunners more freedom and control, networks have yet to solve the 52-week viewing schedule as well as cable, and networks are no longer seen as the place for “intelligent” drama by the public or advertisers.
But the landscape for network dramas is even more dire than that.
Two new series that debuted with some potential — ABC’s Last Resort and Nashville — illustrate the difficulties new network dramas face.
This year will forever go down in the history books as the year that the human invention known as love perished. In 1859, Darwin published “The Origin of the Species” and creationism was debunked. In 1865, Mendel introduced the laws of genetics, disproving much of what we believed about human character. Now, in 2012, insurmountable evidence has surfaced to prove that the construct of love is a mere myth.
The announcement that Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman are divorcing is just the final nail in love’s ungainly coffin, the capper on a year in which the very concept of romance has been utterly destroyed.
When Richard Harrow from Boardwalk Empire moved in with us, things went pretty well for a while. But then Richard got kind of depressed.
We thought it would be a good idea to take his mind of things by giving him something to focus on, some additional responsibility. So we decided to make him our manny.
Welcome to Cheers Month, where we’ll be writing about Cheers throughout October to commemorate the 30th anniversary of its premiere.
I wrote on Wednesday that the 1980s, specifically the fact that Cheers was on the air during that decade, plays a large role in Ted Danson being underappreciated for his performance as Sam Malone. But Cheers as a whole had a strange relationship with its era in that, unlike almost every other television show that aired during that decade, Cheers managed to hold itself at a safe, respectable remove from ’80s excesses and markers.
Welcome to Cheers Month, where we’ll be writing about Cheers throughout October to commemorate the 30th anniversary of its premiere.
At first glance, praising Ted Danson for his work on Cheers might seem like heralding the 1927 Yankees or pointing out that Citizen Kane is pretty great. It’s an obvious tack to take given that Cheers is one of the most well-regarded sitcoms ever and that Danson played its lead character. But I would argue that Danson is actually one of the most underrated comedic actors of all time and that his performance on Cheers is the standard-bearer for leads on half-hour television shows.
Cheers, one of the two or three greatest sitcoms ever, and one of the two or three most influential sitcoms ever, premiered 30 years ago on September 30. To mark the anniversary, we’ll be writing about Cheers intermittently throughout October here at Pop Culture Has AIDS.
Unlike a great many TV shows that were beloved, respected and lauded in their day, Cheers has held up remarkably well over the ensuing decades, and it has much to teach us about television as a form and about the series that have arrived in its wake.
The theme from Cheers was the first song I ever learned to play on the piano, so to get this started….
While you’re preparing yourself for the onslaught of Cheers posts to come, make sure you read this GQ oral history of the show, and Ken Levine’s response.
I have some questions for Terence Winter and the creative team of Boardwalk Empire after watching Sunday night’s season three premiere.
Throughout this summer’s half-season of Breaking Bad, I’ve been tracking whether or not Skyler is the worst.
Mostly, I found her to be the worst, although she had an end-of-season rally the last couple episodes that forced me to doubt my continued dislike of the character.
Clearly, I’m not alone. Skyler is about as unpopular a character as you’re going to find in a great show. This year, the Skyler Problem hit the zeitgeist, with complaints about the character increasing exponentially, and the inevitable pro-Skyler backlash gaining traction.
To be more exact, the pro-Skyler contingent is actually more of an anti-anti-Skyler contingent. Critics argue that the hatred for Skyler is rooted in misogyny, that we should sympathetic to a character trapped in a terrible situation, and that rooting for Walter White while resenting Skyler betrays a moral hypocrisy. A select few have also praised the writing of Skyler and Anna Gunn’s acting work, but they’re outnumbered by those inclined to argue that hating Skyler is cause to turn in your NOW card.
As someone who has included a running subsection of Breaking Bad recaps called “Is Skyler Still the Worst?” I feel compelled to weigh in on an issue that’s more complicated than either side is likely willing to admit.
The following discussion will contain spoilers for anyone not up to date on the series.
OK, first of all, screw Donna Bowman at The AV Club for starting her review of “Gliding Over All” with the exact same quote with which I was going to start this one.
Really not cool to pre-steal material, you guys. Also, I was going to change it to “When Heisenberg saw the breadth…” because I’m just that clever and impish. Whatever. I’m not bitter. Anyway, I guess there’s some stuff to talk about?
About halfway through last night’s “Say My Name,” I wrote in my notes, “That’s the biggest mistake Walter White will ever make.”
Turns out I was proven pretty wrong just a half hour later.
Holy shit, has the color palette on season five of Breaking Bad been dark or what? Almost every scene, especially the scenes taking place in the White household, are drenched in shadows. Characters’ faces are dimly lit, or we see only a part of them breaking out of the darkness.
The restraints are tightening on Walter White and the light is beginning to fade.
Well, we’ve officially reached the point where one week feels like an excruciatingly long time to wait between Breaking Bad episodes.
How is it even possible that I didn’t know about the existence of The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang before now? What a cultural blind spot! I only learned of its existence recently while Arriaga Pizzoza and I ventured on an important quest to discover which television series has spawned the most spinoffs and has the largest family tree (answer: Happy Days,which has a stunning nine branches on its tree if you include everything from Love, American Style to this cartoon; All In the Family places a close second.). I once was lost, but now am found.
Now THAT is more like it. Breaking Bad is BACK. Those of us who grew a touch worried by this season’s slow pace and lack of obvious stakes needn’t have fretted. We’ve been proven wrong by “Fifty-One,” one of the strongest episodes of the series to date.
Rian Johnson (Brick) directed this episode, and he turned in one of the finest pieces of direction in television history. More than the writing or even the performances, the direction elevated this episode to sublime status — which is particularly rare given that television is known as a writer’s medium.
Who is going to be the Big Bad?
That’s the question that’s foremost on my mind after “Hazard Pay,” and after the frightening revelation that there are only five episodes of Breaking Bad left in 2012.
So far in its run, Breaking Bad has given Walter and Jesse an escalating series of antagonists, from Crazy Eight to Tuco to the Cousins to Gustavo Fring — each more menacing and powerful than the one that came before.
So who’s next?