Game of Thrones, Season Four, Episode One

Yes, this is up a bit late. It's not my fault: the Lannisters crashed HBO. (Really. This even ended up on the news.) Anyway, general, partly snarky reactions on the episode:

Spoilery for the episode. )
Everyone else is doing a year end television summary, so why not me? Couple of caveats, though: this is heavily weighted to recent fall shows because, well, they are recent, two, I've undoubtedly left stuff out, especially pre-September stuff, and three, this list does not include anything from Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, or Reign are not on this list because I haven't seen any of them yet. I plan eventually to catch up on the first three. Reign SCARES ME. So don't ask. I've also left Orphan Black off the list since I've only seen the pilot and I'm not sure when I'll be able to watch the rest.

Anyway, the summary, behind a cut because it got incredibly long: 2013 Television shows. Not particularly spoilery except where I go off on a rant about Once Upon a Time. )
Game of Thrones, Season 3, Episode 10

Roofers around, so, communication today will likely be limited. In the meantime, have some quick notes about the last episode of this season of Game of Thrones.

Cut for spoilers for the entire season and minor spoilers for the rest of the books. Also, some discussion of the Great White Hope Bodysurfing Moment. )
I had some minor surgery yesterday morning which has left me pretty wiped. But before that, I took some general notes on the episode, which I forgot to post, so here you go:

Spoilers for Episode 6 and all five books. )
1. As I mentioned, my mother's birthday was Friday. She likes orchids and, greatly unlike me, can actually keep them alive and make new blooms appear on them (orchids take one look at me, consider the situation, and unanimously agree that death is the better option.) So my brother and I stopped by Lowe's on our way to get her an orchid.

And there, on the shelves, was something I'd never seen before: a brilliant, almost glowing blue orchid. Blue is not my mother's favorite color by a long shot, but the orchid was so gorgeous I decided to risk that bit and grab it anyway. I was in a nice mood of self-congratulation until we reached their condo...

...where, while waiting for my brother to untangle the balloons, I read the tag and saw that the color had been created by what the tag called a "magical process" and what I call "dye." Any new blossoms will be white. So, for all of my attempt to get my mother a nice unusual orchid I got her a fake one. Oh well. Hopefully the dye won't ruin the plant's push for more flowers.

2. Alas, her birthday lunch was distinguished by some of the worst service we'd encountered for awhile -- a full half hour passed before anyone came to ask us for drinks (by which point we said we were just going to order everything at once) and then things went downhill from there.

Lesson learned: even an unexpected extra half hour waiting for food is not enough time to explain to my father everything that's going on in Game of Thrones and why a certain character on that show isn't dead yet. ("What's happening? They kill EVERYONE ELSE! Why aren't the dragons burning him up? THIS IS A VERY CONFUSING SHOW." Take note, HBO, take note.)

3. Speaking of Game of Thrones, I had the chance to finally play the Game of Thrones board game, and I am amused at how, just like the dynamics in the books, the board game is almost joyfully unbalanced. This does allow players greater opportunities to screw with each other later which again, much like the book.

4. The bifocals keep making me dizzy and are giving me flashes of green and blue (it's the combination of bifocals/prisms in the lenses) so I am pretty much using them for computer use and reading only and otherwise using my sunglasses until the new non-bifocal glasses arrive. This in turn has left me rather cranky. And, as the cats firmly and painfully pointed out this morning, with a tendency to forget that the cat food bowl is supposed to be replenished on a regular basis otherwise the CATS WILL WASTE AWAY TO NOTHING and HOW CAN I SLEEP THROUGH THAT POSSIBILITY? Your regular reminder that crankiness can be contagious, though right now, the Grey One is curled up into a small ball, the very picture of contentment. She, of course, doesn't have to wear bifocals.
Even post a nap I was pretty out of it yesterday evening, so instead of writing, I decided to give up and just watch some mindless TV. Hulu had been suggesting this little thing called The Booth at the End (link to Hulu for American viewers), which sounded mindless enough, so I clicked on that.

Two and a half riveting hours later, I sat, enthralled and stunned, and realizing that whatever this was, it was not mindless TV.

The Booth at the End has a simple enough premise. A man sits at the booth at the end of the diner (thus the title), eating and drinking and occasionally scribbling in a notebook. As he does, various people come up to him, occasionally making mysterious statements about pastrami sandwiches, and ask for his help with a problem. He listens, and offers a deal. If they do X, they will have what they want.

But they have to tell him about how they did (or didn't) do X. That's also part of the deal.

And so, they come back, again and again, to talk about their progress. Or lack thereof.

The tasks range from simple (help ten old ladies cross the street) to hellish (set off a bomb in a crowded café; the old lady trying to do this to restore her Alzheimer's stricken husband remarks with wonder that Google really can tell you anything). Others turn out to be more complicated than originally thought (bank robbing). And some lead to other tasks.

But, as the man in the booth explains, whether they do the task or not is entirely up to them. All he does is make the deal.

In between deals, a waitress tries to chat him up.

The Booth at the End was filmed on the cheap, and it shows. The show has only one set (the diner) which I'm fairly sure, given the lack of variety of camera angles, was an actual diner, not a set built to look like a diner, along with a couple of (frankly unnecessary) brief exterior shots of the diner. Lights are turned off and on to give us night and daylight shots, and one or two scenes have some technical lighting issues (I think they were filmed either in the morning or the afternoon when the light was wrong). The film editing could occasionally use a little work. People eat food and drink stuff and a glass gets broken, but otherwise, that's about it for set costs.

And, let's face it, the dual premises – dealing with the devil, and just how far will people go for what they want, are not, shall we say, exactly original, and some of the storylines and twists are predictable. (Some.) And some of the storylines - well, they may not be for everyone.

Which doesn't make the show any less compelling and watchable, thanks to an intelligent, taut script with often brilliant dialogue, and brilliant acting, particularly from the guy playing the man in the booth (possibly known to some of you as the guy also playing Percy in the current version of Nikita, although he's much, much better here), who manages a neat blend of reassurance, interest, menace and cynicism. Parts are brutal. Parts are creepy. Parts are funny. Parts put a lump in my throat.

And the ending. I can't really say much without spoilers, except to say it pulled off the rare trick of leaving me both completely satisfied and completely guessing. Yes. Both.

So. I'm enthusiastic.

But I'm also bringing this up because once it was over, I couldn't stop thinking about a certain cable television channel that has loftily told us that it needs to cut back on its original genre programming because of budge concerns. And a certain broadcast television channel that has happily splurged money on a mindless genre show where four episodes in (yes, I'm behind) dinosaurs are still not eating nearly enough people. (And by "people" I mean most of the cast except for the soldier running the compound who is pretty cool but I digress.)

Look, I'm not denying that genre shows can benefit from a decent budget. (See, Game of Thrones, and to a lesser extent, this year's Grimm and Once Upon a Time.) Nor I am denying that sudden budget cuts can harm genre shows (hi, Season Four of Fringe).

But I am saying, enough with the bullshit that you can only make decent genre shows with money. What you need for a decent genre show is thought. And if you don't believe me, well go watch The Booth at the End. You should probably do so anyway.
Note: To be all mysterious for a moment, some of you have asked me to comment publicly on a couple of things that happened over the weekend. I am....mulling over my public response to both things, and let's just leave it there for a moment, ok? Generally speaking, and [profile] anaisis will back me up on this one, it's rarely a good idea for me to blog about stuff that can be emotionally painful until I've slept on it for a bit. I feel certain that she would tell me to sleep on these posts for a bit longer.

With that said, the actual post!

***********

I am – almost – ready for A Dance With Dragons.

Oh, I'm emotionally ready. More than ready to find out what's happened to certain characters not heard from in years. I've read the sample chapters, but that's not enough.

And I want to know about the dragons.

But where I'm not ready is in the details. Specifically, remembering them. So I started rereading the series – and then realized, given that I'd be rereading them anyway, I might as well blog about them here, one post per book. These won't be particularly organized essays, just mostly random thoughts that hit me as I go through each book, especially since I only have a week to get the next three posts written/posted.

Note 2: I have been somewhat spoiled for a couple of plot bits from Dance With Dragons, but I am leaving those spoilers out of these blog posts. Since most readers of this blog have not had the opportunity to read the book yet, I'd ask those that have to keep this a Dance With Dragons spoiler free zone until at least July 13.

Warnings: This post ended up very long, and although I focus on the first book, I also discuss a MAJOR spoiler from Book 3, Storm of Swords.

Warning, my readers, there be spoilers ahead!!! )
Game of Thrones

Go TEAM DANY!

My current plan is to have a general discussion of the entire television series up in a couple of days, followed by individual discussions of the books as we approach the publication date of Dance With Dragons. Of course, this involves following a plan, never one of my strengths. So, a few brief comments about episode ten, with mild spoilers for the books, as a fill-in for the moment.

Fiery spoilers ahoy! )
Game of Thrones, episode 9

Some chatter about X-Men: First Class coming up as I get my thoughts together, but first, my untogether thoughts about Game of Thrones, episode 9, which you could tell was a great episode because we were all shouting at the screen. This was also the first episode that my brother thoroughly enjoyed. (He's enjoyed the others, mind you, but not as much as this one.)

Spoiler warnings. I'm trying very, very hard not to post anything but minor spoilers for stuff after this first book, but you have been warned. Also, these thoughts are really not in any particular order. You have also been warned. People who have read the books, please note that I've been informed that quite a few non-book readers are reading these posts, so let's avoid major spoilers like informing them about the alien invasion and laser gun shootout at King's Landing, ok?*

*(not an actual spoiler.)

Actual spoilers and dead horses. Sniffle about the horses. )
I...actually have very little to snark about either of these episodes; this show is definitely roaring into its very good phase. Which doesn't mean that I don't have a few comments, of course. Also, these comments do have mild spoilers for all four books, including Feast of Crows, book four; you have been warned.

Cut for spoilers for all four books and episodes 7 and 8 )
Game of Thrones

Episode 6! But first, a few words from my father, who would like to complain that what this show is really missing a nice introduction from Alistair Cooke, who would remind you what happened last week and set everything into a nice historical context. Which made me think of the nice polite Masterpiece Theatre version of this, with, of course, Derek Jacobi playing Varys.

But moving on!

Cut for spoilers. )
Yay! Despite the excitement of international conference calls, we did get through this episode!

Warning: mildly spoilery for all of the books, plus a very small spoiler for Dance of Dragons that already appeared on GRRM's blog, plus spoilers for all the episodes so far and sniffly comments about horsies. (SNIFFLE!)

We're all clear: spoilers ahead, right? )

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