GAMES OF THRONES 401: TWO SWORDS

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It’s back!!!!  Season 4 of Game of Thrones premiered last night and it was awesome.  To be fair, I could have just watched Dany walk around with her dragons for the full hour and been perfectly content.  We got even more than that happening in the world of Westeros though.  Like my Walking Dead and Breaking Bad posts, I am going to try and blog weekly about Game of Thrones.  These posts won’t necessarily be recaps, but more my thoughts on particular events that have occurred.  Also, please keep in mind that neither CJ or I read the books, so if you choose to comment, don’t give anything away that we haven’t yet seen in the show.  Spoilers are the worst.  So, let’s get to talking…

1.  In the game of thrones, the Lannisters are kicking butt – In case you forgot last season that the Lannisters pretty much annihilated the Starks, we get a good reminder in the opening scene with Tywin Lannister melting down the House of Stark sword (and throwing a dead wolf into the fire for good measure).  Of course, the ultimate power of the Lannisters hinges on a sociopathic and utterly annoying/spoiled king-child, Joffrey, so I can’t help but think that the Lannisters are just one bad step away from total destruction.  This is especially true given that Joffrey’s actual parents (Cersei, the now alcoholic, and Jamie, the one-armed man) apparently have no control over their son.  (Joffrey obviously has no problem berating his uncle/daddy Jaime about his lack of accomplishments in the Kingsguard White Book).  Let’s hope for the Lannisters sake that Tywin has everything under control.

2.  Poor Jaime – So it appears that Jaime actually loves his sister in more than the appropriate kind of way.  I almost felt bad for him, when she turned him down.  But, then I remembered that they were brother and sister and I don’t want to see that kind of action ever again.  What is clear is that Cersei’s feelings for Jaime may not have been as genuine as Jaime previously believed.  I can’t help but wonder how this will affect Jaime going forward.  But, I am still hoping that Jaime ends up turning into one of the “good” guys and getting rid of his awful sister seems like a good place to start this transition.*

*I am also hoping that Brienne has convinced Jaime to help Sansa out in some possible way because I can’t watch her mope about for an entire season (I will let her have a few episodes though, considering the fact that basically her whole family has been murdered).

3.  There’s a new face in town – And, his name is Oberyn Martell.  At this point, he seems like he is the only viable threat to the Lannisters, especially considering the fact that he is hell bent on revenge and that he is actually in King’s Landing.  I am told that his conversation with Tyrion is an important one and may actually give some clues as to who Jon Snow’s mother (and possible father…say what?!) are.  In case you want to watch the conversation again…

4.  Shae’s time may be coming to a close – I like Shae, I really do.  I think she is good for Sansa and for Tyrion.  But, her being around, is creating lots of problems for Tyrion and also the whole jealously angle is creating some problems for me.  I mean, I get where she is coming from, but I also want her to realize that Tyrion is in an impossible situation.  In any event, Shae’s inability to truly see how sinister the Lannisters actually are may lead to her demise as one of Cersei’s spies has now caught her in an argument with her main man.  Plus, it seems about time for Game of Thrones to kill another person that Sansa cares about, just for good measure.

5.  DRAGONS – It is readily apparent that as Dany’s dragons grow so does her confidence in her abilities.  I am just not so confident in Dany’s ability to control those dragons these days.  I am also not so confident in Dany’s ability to control her heart.  I just hope that the new Daario (same character as last season, just a new actor…who is less pretty and more manly in my opinion) is a good news for the mother of dragons.  I can’t imagine that Jorah is particularly happy that this gentleman is still around though.

In other thoughts related to Dany, I must admit I am ready for Dany to start making her way towards claiming the Iron Throne, but it doesn’t seem like she is quite ready to make that journey yet.**

**Also, fair warning, Dany is my favorite character, so no matter where this season takes her or where she goes, my love for her will never waiver.  And, this blog will probably always be skewed in her favor.

6.  Umm, Sam are you forgetting something? – Does anyone else think that the first words out of Sam’s mouth should have been, “hey Jon, I saw your crippled brother and he was heading north of the wall.”  Why hasn’t Jon been told that Sam met Bran?  This seems like important information.

7.  Arya broke bad – So, I think season 4 is when we can officially say that Arya broke bad.  I’m glad she got her sword back and clearly got some much needed justice for her lost friend, but it is painful to see what such loss, devastation, and violence can do to a young person.  All I know is that from this point on, no one is safe from Arya.***

***I hope this Hound + Arya travel adventure works as well in this season as the Brienne + Jaime road trip did in season 3.

8.  The shadow that killed Renly – Brienne appears to be the only one still focused on the shadow-like monster that killed Renly Baratheon.  I am unclear whether this is because of Brienne’s loyalty to Renly or because she feels a greater need to figure out what certain potential dark forces are at work (and she is now the only person alive that witnessed the event).  It will be interesting to see whether her conversation with Margery Tyrell develops into something more or if it was just a simple way for the show to remind us that all that matters is who the current king is and that there is no need to concern ourselves with what happened to the would-be kings of the past.

There is so much more we could talk about.  But, I think that is a good start for the season.  What did y’all think of the season 4 premiere?

-LJ

PS.  I am ready for the Purple Wedding.

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WHAT TO WATCH: APRIL 2014

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Sorry kids, all the fun and games are over. April is not messing around. I hope you’re not behind on anything, because April is not going to leave you any opportunity to catch up on things. Premieres, finales, specials, reality shows, comedies, dramas…April’s got it all. And, it’s got it all in spades. January to March has been nice and relaxing, and I hope you’ve taken advantage. There are a couple of Sunday nights that I look forward to each year (or have in the past): Breaking Bad and Boardwalk Empire was an amazing Sunday of TV for the last several years, but my favorite Sunday for the last 3 years has been and will remain Game of Thrones and Mad Men (topped off this year with Veep and Silicon Valley). This is what April brings us. And, while last month, I couldn’t even come up with 10 items, this month, there are far more than 10, so let’s get to it:

10. Turn (AMC, April 6) — With Breaking Bad gone, and Mad Men on it’s way out, it’s time for AMC to start restocking on high quality, prestige dramas (I was really looking forward to Low Winter Sun, but that didn’t work out so well). AMC tries it again here with an American Revolutionary War drama about a group of spies lead by Jamie Bell. Most importantly though, the recurring cast includes the one and only Stephen Root (Office Space, Justified, King of the Hill, No Country for Old Men, Boardwalk Empire). Early reviews seem to be mixed, but AMC has bought enough good will with me to at least give it a look.

9. Orphan Black (BBC America, April 19) — So, here’s the thing. I’m just going to be honest with you. I’ve still not watched the first season. I have every intention of doing so, and hope to before the beginning of season 2. But, regardless of whether I’m able to do so or not, the fact remains that Orphan Black belongs on this list. More people (in this case, including myself) need to watch shows like this, and less people need to watch shows like The Following.  Sorry Kevin Bacon.

8. The Writer’s Room (Sundance, April 14) — Hosted by Community’s (and award-winning screenwriter) Jim Rash, The Writer’s Room is an hour long show discussing the writing process for several of your favorite shows on TV. Season 1 saw the writers from Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Parks and Rec, and New Girl come by. Season 2 brings more interesting personalities to the show, including Robert Kirkman (TWD), Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy) and Beau Willimon (House of Cards). The conversations are usually funny, often insightful and always worth your time.

7. Silicon Valley (HBO, April 6) —  Brought to us by Mike Judge and starring (among others) Martin Starr, TJ Miller (Denver, yeah!) and Kumail Nanjiani. If I need to say anything else to make you want to watch this show, I don’t even want to know you.

6. Fargo (FX, April 15) — So, here’s the thing, FX might be the best thing going right now for dramas. Justified, The Bridge, The Americans, Sons of Anarchy, and now Fargo (and soon to come The Strain). FX continues to deliver excellent shows from bright people. The reason they are able to do that is probably directly related to FX’s President, John Landgraf. He sees talent, and he doesn’t try to contain it, or think he knows better. So here we have Fargo, set in the same universe as the classic Coen Brothers film (and they also serve as exec producers), starring Billy Bob Thornton, Dr. Watson himself, Martin Freeman, Colin Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, Kate Walsh, Adam Goldberg, Oliver Platt, Key and Peele. Oh, and it’s been run by Adam Bernstein, who has been studying at the school of Vince Gilligan for the last 5 years while working on Breaking Bad. So, yeah…I’m looking forward to this.

5. The Challenge: Free Agents (MTV, April 10) — The only reality show I still watch. And, I will never stop watching. The Challenge is the fifth major sport in this country, and it is the perfect mix of embarrassing, exhilarating and horrifying moments. My man CT is going to be wheeled out there when he’s 80 years old, still starting trouble…And guess what, I’ll still be watching.

4. Veep (HBO, April 6) — Veep had a historically great second season, and all the early reviews point to season 3 even being an improvement on that ridiculously high bar. There is no better (or funnier) commentary on the current state of American politics than Vice President Selina Kyle, and her ridiculous staff. The show is occasionally sweet, sometimes thoughtful, usually hilarious, and flat out always insulting! Watching these characters berate Jonah, better known as Jolly Green Jizz-Face, will never stop being funny.

3. Justified finale (FX, April 8) — While season 5 has admittedly been an up and down season of Justified (my number 1 show of 2013), the penultimate episode which aired on April 1 was as good as almost any episode of Justified. More so than looking forward to the finale of this season, I’m looking forward to seeing what it sets up for the sixth, and final, season. I’ve been saying since before this season even started that season 5 was likely going to be tough, as it had to hold off on, and set up the stories that will play out in the final season. Specifically, the resolution of the Raylan/Boyd friendship, or whatever it is. I was thrilled with the episode this week, am looking forward to the finale next week, but can hardly contain my excitement for seeing where the story of Raylan, Boyd, Ava and Art ends next year.

2. Game of Thrones (HBO, April 6) — I sometimes think about whether or not Game of Thrones is a “great” show, on the level with shows like The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad or Mad Men…But, then I stop thinking about that, and I realize, “who cares.” I don’t actually need Game of Thrones to be those shows. What I do need out of Game of Thrones, is for it to be one of the most enjoyable experiences I have watching TV all year (like Justified). And, that is EXACTLY what Game of Thrones gives us. Game of Thrones has never been in my top 5 shows of any given year, but it’s always a show I’m looking forward to. It’s just fun to be in this world and with these characters, and I can’t wait to get back to see what hijinks the characters get into this season (side note: does anyone else want to help me Kickstart a spin off show with Arya Stark and The Hound as private detectives in Westeros? Amazing, right? #truedetectiveseason2 is all I am saying).

1. Mad Men (AMC, April 13) — So, look. Those who know me, know that I argue that Mad Men is the greatest TV drama of all time (or, if not, it’s millimeters behind The Sopranos). So, of course, this is going to be the top of my list. I know there are many out there that didn’t love season 6 of Mad Men, and I understand that. But, even if you didn’t love it, you had to love the way it finished. Season 6 was all about the multiple versions of ourselves, mainly, the 2 sides of Don Draper. This comes to a head in the haunting and heart-wrenching meeting with Hershey’s, and then with Don taking Sally to see where he grew up. His two lives are melding into one, and this final season (split into 2 parts, just as Breaking Bad was) will deal with the repercussions of that fact. Add that with the fact that Don was “fired” from his job, and the season is setting up for some truly interesting introspection by Dick Whitman.

So, there you have it. April 2014…Not messing around. Some honorable mentions: Playing House (USA, April 29) and Jim Gaffigan: Obsessed (Comedy Central, April 27).

-CJ

WHAT YOU NEED TO REMEMBER ABOUT GAME OF THRONES

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Game of Thrones season 4 happens in 5 days people. That isn’t a whole lot of time to rewatch all of season 3.  Now, if you are like me, most of what you remember about season 3 is the Red Wedding, dragons, and oh yeah someone gets their hand chopped off.  Let me tell you though, so much more happened.  Luckily, HBO has released a nice recap video.  It’s a little long, but I think it will fully prepare you for Sunday’s episode.

Also, there is a lot more information about season 4 that is out there on the interwebz.  New season 4 photos and episode titles seem to be getting released.  Having not read the books and enjoying the element of surprise, I am trying to stay away from a lot of that stuff, which is why we haven’t posted about such.  Just start googling people though, if you are interested.

-LJ

 

GAME OF THRONES UPDATE: ANOTHER TRAILER

Yesterday, Game of Thrones revealed another new trailer for the upcoming fourth season.  This is purportedly the “final” trailer for the season.

The trailer the song “Devil Inside” performed by London Grammar and includes some new footage.  The Lannisters take centerstage in this trailer, with Tyrion worrying about what Cersei is plotting next and Jaime claiming his love for his sister (yet, he doesn’t seem too happy about it).  I am personally still hoping for a Jaime and Brienne of Tarth love affair, but who can really say what will happen this season (unless you have read the books and in that case, don’t tell me anything!).

Again, Game of Thrones (like almost every show) is premiering in April.  Time to break out the Game of Throne tshirts and your dragons.

-LJ

GAME OF THRONES UPDATE: TRAILER #3

HBO released the third season 4 trailer yesterday, so we thought we would share it.  Because who doesn’t like to look at dragons.  Although it appears that some of the dragons aren’t playing nice.  Nope, that isn’t a goat, that’s a person.  Trust us, we’ve watched this trailer more times than would ever be necessary.

Also, in case you missed the other two trailers previously released, they are both below.

Game of Thrones is premiering on April 6th at 8 p.m. central time.

-LJ & CJ

RIP BREAKING BAD: LJ’S 2013 TV FAVORITES

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CJ has been bugging me to do my own “best of” television list for 2013.  I had been resisting in order to stop inundating y’all with list after list.  But, since CJ has clearly gotten his list so incorrectly organized, I feel that it is my duty to comment.  This isn’t an attempt to tell you what the best shows of 2013 were (although arguably all of these should be included on this list); this is simply my favorite shows of 2013.

*Side Note – While CJ and I do watch a lot of the same TV shows, he undoubtedly watches more.  So, for instance, Luther or Justified aren’t on my list because I simply don’t watch them.  At the bottom I will include a list of shows I considered, but ultimately did not include.

11.  House of Cards (Netflix) – Ok, so this started out as a top 10 list.  But, at the end of the day, I could only get down to my favorite 11 shows.  Sue me.  House of Cards was my first experience at alternative-TV shows (i.e., ones not found on the networks, cable, or HBO, etc.) and it did not disappoint.  I am generally not a huge Kevin Spacey fan, but he was incredible as the power-hungry, crafty, and often times, super creepy Congressman.  The supporting cast was also exceptional, especially Corey Stoll as Russo (and who doesn’t love Kata Mara).  This show was entertaining, suspenseful and simply well-written.  I cannot wait until February 14, 2014 for season 2.

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10.  The Americans (FX) – Keri Russell as a spy.  I really shouldn’t have to say more.  You have Cold War spy tactics intermixed with family and personal drama.  It’s a great recipe for a show.  Keri Russell is as awesome as she ever has been, as are her castmates (Matthew Rhys, Noah Emmerich, Annet Mahendru, etc.), and as much as I hate to say it, she makes me want to support the Russians.

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9.  Rectify (Sundance) – I like prison.  I know what you are thinking, and yes it sounds weird.  But, here is what I mean, I like almost everything that has to do with prison or prisoners, whether it is a book, a movie, or a TV show.  What do I like more than prison? (well a lot of things, but what I mean is…)  Stories about someone that may be wrongly accused of a crime.  And, that is what you have here with Rectify.  You have a story of a man, Daniel, who has been on death row for 19 years when some DNA evidence allows him to be released.  The first season of Rectify showed us what it is like for Daniel to try and reintegrate into a “normal” life as well as how his release from prison is affecting his family, his friends, and everyone in the small town of Georgia.  On top of all that, we get some clues as to who actually committed the murder/rape of the girl, which sent Daniel to prison in the first place (heck, it might even have been him).

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8.  Broadchurch (BBC America) – Not a show about prison, but a show about the murder of a young boy in a small town in Britain and the following investigation that ensues.  The show doesn’t entirely focus on the investigation of Danny’s murder, but also shows the impact that such an event can have on a family, on friends, and on the community as a whole.  I can honestly say that I had no clue who the killer was until the very end–that is how well written the show was.  Apparently there is going to be an American version of this show, but I still believe that the original is a must-see.

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7.  Arrow (CW) – You assumed this would be on my list, didn’t you?  Last winter/spring we got season 1 of Arrow and this fall we have been watching the first half of season 2.  This show is only getting better and better.  Oliver’s crime fighting escapades aren’t what keep me loving this show though.  In between those adventures, the viewer is given glimpses into Oliver’s past on the island, which is what really intrigues me.  Seriously, I have to know what happened there!  Additionally, you can’t help but realize that Oliver’s compadres both on the island and in present day Starling City add depth to this superhero show.

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6.  Veep (HBO) – 2013 was apparently the year of the drama (at least for me), but Veep stood out as the best comedy (I don’t count Orange as the New Black as a comedy) and one of the best shows of the year.  The cast and the story I felt got stronger in season 2 of Veep and I could seriously watch the Veep crew berate Jonah all day.

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5.  Masters of Sex (Showtime) – Masters of Sex was without argument the best new show of the fall and was definitely a saving grace on Sunday nights (after suffering through Homeland).  Lizzie Caplan is captivating, plain and simple.  But, what is also captivating, is the complicated relationships that develop between the characters as the season progresses.  Virginia and Bill are the two main characters, and obviously their relationship takes center stage, but Masters of Sex has proved that it is also capable of showing the struggles and relationships of the supporting characters with just as much depth and intricacy.

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4.  Shameless (Showtime) – Shameless starts each January and is such a perfect way to start of each new year.  Unfortunately though, since it is so early in the year, I feel like it gets overlooked so much of the time.  I am here to tell you that Shameless is one of the best and most underrated shows on TV currently.  Emmy Rossum is simply amazing as Fiona, a girl who is willing to do whatever it takes to provide for and care for her brothers and sister (since their dead-beat-dad is clearly incapable and one of the worst human beings to walk the Earth).  This show is funny, it’s dramatic, and features a fair amount of nudity.  What’s not to love?

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3.  Game of Thrones (HBO) – Big changes happened in season 3 of GoT.  Most obvious is, of course, the massacre of the Stark family.  And, while the Red Wedding was certainly the highlight of the season in a light of people’s minds, I was most happy that season 3 saw a lot more of Dany kicking-ass and pretty much being the coolest chick ever.  I haven’t read the books so I have no clue what is going to happen next, but I hope that season 4 is just as epic.

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2.  Orange is the New Black (Netflix) – As good as I thought House of Cards was, Orange is the New Black turned out to be even better.  Yes, it focused predominately on the life of Piper, but we also got a look at many of her prison roommates as well.  We saw flashbacks to these women’s prior lives, which gave insight into how all these women ended up being locked up.  And, we got to watch everyone trying to do their best and cope with their life in prison.  It will be interesting to see what happens in season 2 since Piper’s girlfriend won’t be appearing in many episodes and also since Piper probably killed someone at the end of season 1.

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1.  Breaking Bad (AMC) – Now, I know you saw this coming.  But, let’s be real, was there anything as good as the final 8 episodes of Breaking Bad on TV this year?  No, there wasn’t.  Period.

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Other shows that could have been considered – Top of the Lake, The Walking Dead, Family Tree, Mad Men, Scandal, The Returned (only 2 episodes in), Bob’s Burgers, Raising Hope, Parks and Rec, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Ground Floor, New Girl, The Goldbergs, Trophy Wife, The Blacklist, Girls, Nashville, The Carrie Diaries, Downton Abbey, Rookie Blue, The Fosters. (I, of course, left off shows that I watch that could never be considered for such a list…like X Factor).

-LJ