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TV Diary | Game Of Thrones – “A Man Without Honor”

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TV Diary | Game Of Thrones – Episode 2.07 – “A Man Without Honor” – Original Airdate: 5/13/12

Episode Grade: B

As much as it pains me to say this, at essentially the three-quarter pole mark of Game Of Thrones’ second season it might be time to face the fact that this sophomore set of episodes has been a bit of a disappointment. After the zeitgeist-grabbing nature of its offseason where it essentially became the face of HBO and was front-and-center with HBO’s efforts to brand its HBO GO service as a Netflix competitor, it probably hasn’t reached my (and I’m sure some other viewers’)  expectations. Sure, it’s still better than most of what’s on television or has been on television in 2012. But unless it pulls out something mind-blowing in its final three episodes of the season, it’s gonna fall short of what I know it’s capable of. And that’s the mark of a disappointment, even if a slight one. The season has been progressing along in fits and starts, something evidenced by its last three episodes. “The Ghost Of Harrenhal,” as I’ve said, was the worst episode in the show’s run yet, but then it bounced back with “The Old Gods And The New.” That’s why it’s disheartening to see it follow up a relatively strong installment like that with “A Man Without Honor.” Let’s dive a little deeper into why this one left me a little cold:

  • Qarth. Probably my number one problem with this second set of ten episodes is whatever the hell is going on in Daenerys’ orbit this season, and this Qarth nonsense is literally the worst. I care about none of it. Zero. It’s officially become pee-break time whenever this crap comes on screen. It makes no sense whatsoever. It’s so far removed from everything else this season that it’s utterly unclear what purpose it serves in the overall narrative of the show. One of Daenerys’ servants is killed. Whatever. The character wasn’t developed at all so I don’t care at all. Daenerys is broken up over leading her people to slaughter, saying, “I led my people out of the red waste and into the slaughterhouse.” Again, I don’t care about any of these people so I don’t care about their fates. She also upbraids Jorah for being “too familiar” but then enlists his help when one (of the many) Qarthian weirdoes kidnaps her dragons. Oh… and there’s some weird lady with a tiled face painting a naked guy [1] who hints at some kind of betrayal by Jorah. Seriously – whatever. I don’t care about any of this in the slightest and it’s a complete drain on the season. Any time spent on this storyline is wasted. It’s really as simple as that.
  • Theon’s gambit at the end of the episode was a little flat. I mean, we’re supposed to feel the impact of Theon’s decision to use Bran and Rickon’s deaths as a warning sign to the rest of Winterfell… only it’s blatantly obvious that it’s not them. We never saw the deaths happen and the bodies are burned beyond recognition, so TV 101 tells us that there’s absolutely no way that those sadly dead kids are the youngest Starks. It’s kind of similar when other shows [2] put one of their lead characters in danger. You know there’s no way that the show’s actually going to off them, so the tension is false. Same applies here. I mean, I dig the work that Alfie Allen is doing as Theon this year because he’s doing a great job of conveying just how over his head Theon is, as well as playing the internal conflict that Theon feels in siding with his biological family over his surrogate one. But this supposed impact of the Starks’ “deaths” just didn’t have the heft that I think the show was hoping for.
  • Talisa’s still hanging around Robb and, while I generally like what both Oona Castilla and Richard Madden are doing with their material here, move things ahead already. We know where this is going. Just get there.
  • No Tyrion on screen until 46 minutes into the episode. Unacceptable.
  • “A Man Without Honor” was also the first time that Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has been used since the season premiere. Almost as unacceptable.

This may seem to be a bit of unfair criticism because – as I’ll address in the Miscellany – there was still plenty to like in “A Man Without Honor.” It’s just that with a show whose potential is as limitless as GoT is, it’s frustrating to see the show coast at times, while also continuing to waste screentime on things that aren’t working. Three episodes left to right things and prove that season two isn’t going to stand as a disappointment.

[1] Really. This is some American Horror Story-level bullshit.
[2] I’m excepting GoT somewhat from this upcoming example because… “Baelor.”

Miscellany:
*As I mentioned, this is the first time we’ve seen Jaime Lannister since the first episode of the season, “The North Remembers.” And Coster-Waldau shows just how underutilized he is with almost every moment he’s on screen. He uses one of his cousins – a man who hero-worships Jaime in no small measure – as a distraction in order to escape from the Stark camp, killing both the cousin and one of Robb’s soldiers in the process. He’s almost immediately recaptured, but still gets some shots in on Catelyn after she accuses him of being “a man without honor,” while seemingly confirming to her his less-than-toward relationship with his sister, Cersei: “You know, I’ve never been with any woman but Cersei so, in my own way, I have more honor than poor old dead Ned.” Seriously, GIVE THIS MAN MORE TO DO ALREADY.
*While I’ve bashed almost anything involving Daenerys almost all season, I’ve been equally as harsh to anything involving Jon Snow and his compatriots in the Night’s Watch. That’s why it’s nice to see the forward movement in that story thread, and a lot of that has to do with the introduction of Rose Leslie as Ygritte, the wildling woman who Jon’s obviously going to be ending up with in short order. She escapes his capture while giving him crap about the fact that he’s never, er… known a woman in the biblical sense, only to lead him directly into a trap where about a dozen of her compatriots are waiting. While still tethered to Jon and prior to the ambush, she seems to be hinting that she’s hoping to turn him against his brothers in the Watch, especially after he mentions that he’s Ned’s son and that the blood of her people runs through him. “So, why are you fighting us?” she questions. The chemistry between Leslie and Kit Harrington is well-played and this potentially flipping of Jon gives the character more shading than we’ve seen at any point this season. Almost gives me hope for the Dany/Qarth thread. Nah… it really doesn’t.
*Any and all scenes between Tywin and Arya continue to be season’s highlights.
*The Hound tells Sansa that he did what he did in “The Old Gods And The New” simply because he likes killing. So… there’s that.
*Some good stuff going on in King’s Landing as well with Sansa experiencing a seminal moment in her path towards womanhood, while simultaneously fearing that this may now mean that producing an heir for the execrable Joffrey could be on the near horizon. Cersei shows the first hint that she understands what a monster her son is by advising Sansa that the way to deal with Joffrey is to just focus all of her love on her children, as Cersei implies she did during her marriage to Robert Baratheon.
*Also? Shae’s a goddamn badass.
*”Oh, well that’s alright then. You let a half-wit escape with a cripple.”
*”Did you pull a knife on me in the night?”
*”I want the wounded men to be treated well. ALL the wounded men.”
*”There are no women of the Night’s Watch.” “So the lads just do it with each other, then?”
*”You’re too smart for your own good. Has anyone told you that?”
*”Brave? A dog doesn’t need courage to scare off rats.”
*”The more people you love, the weaker you are.”
*”Shouldn’t I love Joffrey, Your Grace?” “You can try.”
*”It’s hard to put a leash on a dog, once you put a crown on its head.”
*”Sometimes I wonder if this is the price for what we’ve done, for our sins.”
*”I don’t need trust any longer. I don’t want it and I don’t have any room for it.”
*”Hodor.”

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TV Diary | Game Of Thrones – “The Old Gods And The New”

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TV Diary | Game Of Thrones – Episode 2.06 – “The Old Gods And The New” – Original Airdate: 5/6/12

Episode Grade: A-

That was encouraging. Coming off of “The Ghost Of Harrenhal,” quite possibly Game Of Thrones nadir to this point, “The Old Gods And The New” got things back on track in a big way. Beheadings. Riots. Joffrey being slapped in the face like the little twat that he is. Thank you, Vanessa Taylor (writer of this episode). I really needed this. In the interest of time, let’s just run down the list of all of the good shit bullet-point style:

  • THE RIOT. Finally, the people of King’s Landing start raising arms against King Little Shit by LITERALLY THREW SHIT IN JOFFREY’S FACE. And then Tyrion SLAPPED HIM ACROSS THE FACE. In case the caps weren’t a tip-off, I rather liked this sequence. In more bad-assery, during the riot someone (apologies that I’m unable to remember if it was one of Joffrey’s men or if it was just some random dude) got their arm ripped off. Tyrion’s concern during the melee was fixed not on Joffrey, but on Sansa who he later explained needs to be kept safe in order to prevent the Starks [1] from offing Jaime. His concern was well-placed since, during the melee, Sansa is snatched and taken into an alleyway and almost raped by a gang of scumbags before they are quite literally eviscerated by The Hound who, after Tyrion thanks him for his actions, tells him that he didn’t do it for him. Is he sweet on Sansa himself? Or is he a pragmatist who sees that he’s working for a maniac? Holy mother of God — this was an incredible sequence of events. The riot itself and its aftermath made up such a relatively small part of the episode, but it easily had the strongest impact of anything in “The Old Gods And The New.”
  • Playacting as a hardened soldier, Theon takes Winterfell by force in “The Old Gods And The New’s” opening sequence. He surprises Bran and still seems a bit torn over which side of the conflict he should be on. On the one hand, he was brought up as a de facto member of the Stark family and he’s now being forced to strike at people he still seemingly cares for. On the other hand, he’s power-hungry and has decided to throw his lot in with his actual family while clearly in the throes of a desperate need to be taken seriously by Balon, his father. To that end, he allows himself to be swayed towards ordering the death of Sir Rodrik – one of the Starks’ most loyal men – after Rodrik spits in his face in a public setting. Up until this point, the show had been doing a very good job of portraying the internal conflict that Theon felt by being pulled between his two worlds, making me wonder if perhaps Theon would end up ultimately spurning his Iron Islands family… but then Theon himself chopped Rodrik’s head off and that was that. “The Old Gods And The New” returned to Winterfell by episode’s end, when Osha one-upped Theon by seducing her way into his bed [2] in order to gain access to spirit Bran and Rickon (along with Hodor) away from the quagmire created by Theon’s coup. Saying that I doubt that Lord Balon is going to take kindly to that is probably a bit of an understatement. In all, the time at Winterfell in “The Old Gods And The New” was definitely well-spent.
  • Tywin seems to be taking a shine to Arya [3], which is easy to do with how precociously smart she is, making one wonder whether or not he’s going to start… I hate to use the phrase “using her council” but it definitely seems like he’s taken with her intelligence. However, lest we forget how tight of a rope Arya is walking by concealing her identity in the face of one of her family’s biggest enemies really is, “The Old Gods And The New” stages an incredibly tense scene when Littlefinger arrives in King’s Landing to debrief Tywin on the goings-on at Renly’s camp. Since we’re well aware that Littlefinger knows exactly who Arya is, it seems that it’s only a matter of time until he blows her cover during his discussion with Tywin. Every little look and every glance towards one another leads the viewer to wonder, “Is this it? Is she in trouble now?” It’s to the episode’s credit that it’s actually left ambiguous [4], opening up a whole host of other possibilities. However, one of Tywin’s soldiers does uncover her ulterior motives after he finds her reading a note she clandestinely snuck away from Tywin’s quarters, and makes a point of letting her know that he intends to blow up her spot. Her response? Engage Jaqen to kill the second of his promised victims, leading to a great scene where Tywin’s soldier makes it to Tywin’s door… only to fall flat on his face, dead, as soon as the door is opened.
  • Even the time spent with the Night’s Watch has a nice bit of forward movement. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I haven’t particularly enjoyed anything that’s been going on with Jon Snow and his fellow members of the Night’s Watch this season, so as soon as that storyline thread came up on screen I was less than enthused. However, they end up meeting Ygritte (Rose Leslie), a Wildling woman who informs them about the bounty that is on the head of one of its members. She’s ordered to be put to death by Jon’s hand and, in a nice contrast to the scene of Theon beheading Sir Rodrik earlier in the episode, Jon is unable to go through with the act, delineating yet another difference between the surrogate son and the bastard son of Ned Stark. As a result of his inability to kill her, Jon and Ygritte are separated from the rest of the Night’s Watch and she spends much of the rest of the episode taunting him and trying to get under his skin [5]. Anyone who’s watched television before can see that these two are developing some chemistry that’s going to lead to a union of some sort in short order, but I’m glad that we’re finally seeing some progress with this storyline after much fits and starts to this point.

You know that (admittedly crude) theory that states that every attractive girl is friends with an ugly one so that she looks better in comparison? “The Old Gods And The New” is the hot girl and “The Ghost Of Harrenhal” is the ugly chick. And Game Of Thrones? Only hot girls for the rest of the season, please.

[1] Namely Robb.
[2] And by displaying a better body than perhaps anyone had thought she actually had.
[3] Not in some kind of gross way, you perv.
[4] Though my money is on Littlefinger knowing. He’s too smart and devious to not hold that in his pocket to be used for exactly the right occasion.
[5] Not to mention grinding against his junk while they sleep.

Miscellany
*Even as I ran down the various positives of “The Old Gods And The New,” I must note that the Qarth crap continues to be awful. I really just don’t care at all and I’m afraid that this storyline is beyond saving. Something about the dandy saying that he realizes that Daenerys is there to steal his ship, but he makes her an offer anyway. She responds indignantly. Lather, rinse, repeat. I don’t care. This is a waste of time. Cut your losses, GoT.
*As expected, Robb runs into the battlefield nurse again, who this time is given a name (Lady Talisa). There’s no question she’s being set up to be his love interest. But what, if any, impact will this have on the war that’s on the horizon?
*Speaking of telegraphing, I’d wager that Cersei’s line to Tyrion about wanting him to love someone so that she can take her from him (spoken as Myrcella is being sent off) can only mean that she’s eventually going to find out about Shae and strike through her, yes?
*”Theon… did you hate us the whole time?”
*”Gods help you Theon Greyjoy. Now you are truly lost.”
*”We’ve had vicious kings and we’ve had idiot kings, but I don’t know that we’ve ever been cursed with a vicious idiot king.”
*”I’m just trying to get comfortable.”
*”Strike true and hard, Jon Snow. Or I’ll come back and haunt you.”
*”How can I call myself king if I can’t hold my own castle?”
*”What killed him?” “Loyalty.”
*”I always wondered what you had under there.”

TV Diary | Girls: “All Adventurous Women Do”

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Grade: A

This is the episode. This is the one that completely sold me on Girls and made me realize that I’m in for the long haul with the show. Like a lot of comedies, I’ve found that Girls is even better upon repeat viewings so after I watched “All Adventurous Women Do” for the second time, I came to realize just how truly excellent Lena Dunham’s HBO vehicle really is. She so clearly has a gift for this sort of thing, and “All Adventurous Women Do” displayed her talent in spades. Girls is obviously developing a talented ensemble among its four central characters, but this is Dunham’s show so it’s likely that Hannah is going to be front and center more often than not, as was the case in “All Adventurous Women Do.” Following up on her health scare from “Vagina Panic,” Hannah learns that she’s tested positive for HPV [1] and immediately sets out to determine who she contracted it from. Since she receives the phone call about her condition immediately after a hookup with Adam, she initially turns her suspicions towards him, only to have him rebuke her after he tells her that he’s already been tested [2]. Hannah, not really being up on the ins and outs of STD testing, takes him at his word and, by process of very little elimination she determines that her ex-boyfriend from college, Elijah, must be the HPV culprit. It’s here where “All Adventurous Women” crosses over into something close to genius. Hannah is initially reluctant to contact Elijah but, after conferring with Shoshanna, she ultimately contacts Elijah [3] and sets up a meeting to let him know/gain peace of mind. The two former lovers meet in a bar in a scene that ends up – in some ways – playing like the infamous Jon Favreau on the phone scene from Swingers, only longer and even more uncomfortable. And FUNNY. Hannah has one ignominy after another foisted upon her during their meeting, so let’s run them down one at a time:

  • Elijah tells her that she was never fat, but… “You were soft and round. Like a dumpling.”
  • When he inquires about her writing and she tells him that her book of essays is currently titled “Midnight Snack,” he responds with, “Well… there’s lots of… titles.”
  • After telling him that she’s not looking to re-establish an emotional connection with him, but is open to a physical one, he confirms that he’s actually now gay, something that he believed she’d heard through the rumor mill, but was in actuality unaware of.
  • He tells her that his exploration was “very much inspired by her.” Which, clearly, is what EVERY woman wants to hear when they find out their ex-lover is now playing for the other team.
  • “Are you asking if I always wanted to have sex with men? Yes. Are you asking did I think about it when we were together? Yes.”
  • When Hanna asks him how he was able to… er… perform with her, he tells her the following: “Well… there’s a… handsomeness to you that I…”
  • Things begin to devolve when she finally accuses him of passing HPV to her and tells him that Adam’s already been tested for it, something that Elijah scoffs off by telling her that there’s no way to test men for the disease: “Your boyfriend would know that if he’s even taken an Intro To Human Sexuality workshop.”
  • His response? To throw out the possibility that her dad is gay.

From there, the tension increases exponentially, with Hannah ending up alternately pissed and broken, and Elijah walking out angrily. Dunham is utterly incredible in this scene, particularly in the moment when Elijah informs her that he’s gay. The lip quiver and the barely-able-to-keep-it-together look on Dunham’s face is masterful. And I wouldn’t be opposed in the slightest to future appearances by Elijah, so strong was Andrew Rannels’ (The Book Of Mormon) performance here. It’s a complete ‘wow’ moment that galvanized my love for the show. I mentioned in my review of the first two episodes that Dunham is showing herself to be a fearless performer who’s devoid of vanity and this scene is further proof of that. Girls is quickly developing into one of television’s best shows and is yet another sign that HBO’s creative renaissance is continuing.

[1] Which she uses, at least once, to her advantage when Marnie gently reminds her that their rent is coming due: “I have pre-cancer!”
[2] “My best dyke friend works for a dick doctor.”
[3] Bad move there because Shoshanna isn’t exactly what you’d call “worldly,” and sums up the need to speak with Elijah thusly: “I just think – in the STD world – that it’s kind of courteous.”

Miscellany:
*Hannah’s dad IS totally gay, right?
*Girls is showing a promising penchant for casting talented people in “All Adventurous Women Do,” between The Lonely Island’s Jorma Taccone as an artist who Marnie encounters at a show at her gallery (and who’s clearly being set up as a post-Charlie thing), and James LeGros and Kathryn Hahn as the couple who hires Jessa as their nanny. I’d also be shocked if there isn’t a future hookup between LeGros’s character and Jessa. However, in regard to the casting of these three, this is a very good sign for future episodes, people.
*Can we talk about the music for a minute? Because “All Adventurous Women Do” featured both LCD Soundsystem’s “I Can Change” and Mayer Hawthorne’s “Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out” at separate points during the episode. I’ll admit to not being familiar with Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” (the track that closed the episode with the final scene of Hannah and Marnie dancing), though I am familiar with Robyn as a performer and should probably check that record out. In any event, kudos to Girls’ music supervisor because those are some excellent choices.
*Shoshanna watches Baggage. Because of course she does.
*Adam’s dickhead behavior for the week: Grabbing onto Hannah’s stomach and making it talk.
*The Hanna/Adam scene post-HPV phone call includes my favorite line in the series to date. After upsetting him by accusing him of being the one to pass the disease to her, Hannah asks him if he’ll still have sex with her and his answer – again, favorite line yet – is: “When it’s appropriate, sure.”
*He’s an asshole for sure, but God help me… I’m starting to like Adam.
*Jorma Taccone is a BOSS: “But I want you to know, the first time I fuck you, I might scare you a little. Because I’m a man, and I know how to do things. See you later.”
*Marnie apparently thinks so, too, because after hearing this she heads back to the gallery, ducks behind a door and… er… double-clicks her mouse.
*”How do I look?” “You look like you’re going to put a hex on some popular girls.” “Oh, OK American History X.”
*”It’s just three or four pounds. If you hate it so much you could lose four pounds.”
*”I know, and she’s always ‘liking’ my Facebook status. It’s such a weird, aggressive move. It’s like, ‘I’m sorry I passed you an STD, but I enjoy your quirky web presence.'”
*”Marnie, I think one of these paintings is up crooked.” “What makes you say that?” “Because I looked at it, and it is.”
*”This fruity little voice that you put on is a new thing.”
*”Is this about the scarf?” “It’s not about the scarf. The scarf is not helping the situation.”
*”In what way does my father read gay to you?” “Well, he has a stud in his ear.” “He got that on a trip he took with some of his male friends.”
*”Do you know what I’m going to do from now on? Ask people if they’re gay before I have sex with them.”
*”It was nice to see you. Your dad is gay.”
*”I should have suspected it because he only ejaculated 30% of the time. And he seemed gay.”

Review: Veep

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Grade: A

Comedies don’t often arrive as fully formed as HBO’s new Veep. They just don’t. They usually take a handful of episodes to find their voice and their style, but damn it if Veep doesn’t hit it out of the park in its first appearance at the plate [1]. After watching Veep’s first episode, “Fundraiser,” three – THREE – times, I’m left struggling to think of the last comedy pilot I liked as much as this one. Community back in 2009 is the only one that comes immediately to mind. I wasn’t a huge fan of Louie’s pilot in 2010, such was the jarring tonal shift of the show. Parks And Recreation’s was pretty close to bad in 2009. Hell… even the vaunted Arrested Development took a handful of episodes – give or take – to get itself off the ground. But Veep was note perfect throughout its entire first installment, immediately throwing down the gauntlet and announcing its candidacy for the best comedy on television. Coming from the mind of Glaswegian writer Armando Iannucci (In The Loop), Veep is a workplace comedy set in a rather unique setting – the office of the Vice President of the United States. Seinfeld vet Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays Selina Meyer, the Vice President who is shown to be someone with lofty ambitions but who is marginalized in her job even as she’s a breath away from becoming the leader of the free world. Louis-Dreyfus noted during an interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show back in April that part of what drew her to the series was that no one ever really aspires to the Vice Presidency, and the show uses that paradox to its advantage. There’s a nice running gag that develops where Meyer asks her executive assistant whether the President has called each time she enters the office, and the answer is always no. The show is also very wise not to alienate one political party or the other by never specifying which party Meyer belongs to, so everyone trying to paint Veep as some kind of Sarah Palin parody can shut their faces right now. Since the office serves as the base for much of Veep’s action, Meyer is surrounded by her staff; Chief of Staff Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky, looking a loooong way from My Girl), personal aide Gary Walsh (Tony Hale, playing a slightly more self-aware version of Buster Bluth from Arrested Development), hapless press secretary Mike McLintock (Matt Walsh, Upright Citizens Brigade), smarmy and ambitious Dan Egan (Reid Scott, The Big C), and executive assistant Sue Wilson (Sufe Bradshaw). It’s clear after the show’s first 30 minutes that there are no weak links in this cast. Every character is well-defined – another rarity in pilots – and each of the actors are capable at worst and exceptional at best. Iannucci has a gift for creative profanity [2] and the cast delivers his delicious lines perfectly. “Fundraiser” portrays the myriad fires that the office of the VPOTUS must put out on a daily basis, from currying favor with an egotistical senator after running afoul of the oil industry, to dealing with the overzealous liaison from the President’s office (Timothy Simons), to managing the controversy when Meyer jokingly (and in very un-PC fashion) refers to a fired staffer as a “retard” during an event. Granted, it’s just one episode but Veep has the potential to become a show for the ages. Iannucci is an incredibly talented writer who’s assembled a crack cast unencumbered by the shackles of over-the-air television, taking full advantage of the freedoms that premium cable affords [3]. Again, if Veep can sustain the momentum generated by “Fundraiser”… watch out. People like myself won’t be able to recommend it highly enough because it’ll be television’s next great comedy. It really is that good.

[1] Us writers love our hoary sports metaphors.
[2] Selina, after realizing that much of the speech she’s due to give minutes later has been censored by the President’s office: “This has been pencil-fucked?” “Front and back. Very little romance.”
[3] Witness this monologue from Amy after Selina solicits her opinion of the slimy Dan – Amy: “Oh, Dan is a shit.” Selina: “You want to expand on that?” Amy: “Sure. He’s a massive and total shit. When you first meet him you think, ‘Surely to God this man can’t be as big a shit as he seems, but he is. Like if there were a book with covers made of shit you’d think, ‘That’s intriguing. I wonder what’s in this book that they saw fit to give it covers made of pure shit. And then you open it, and… shit.” Or this one, from the senator that Meyer meets with to perform a little damage control after the snafu with Big Oil: “You piss off plastics, you piss off oil and you don’t want to fuck with those guys because they fuck in a very unpleasant fashion.”

Miscellany:
*Louis-Dreyfus also noted in that same Daily Show interview that we will never see the President himself, which is another smart move on Iannucci’s part. It’s also a nod to the history of sitcoms like Cheers and Frasier, both of which had characters that played a large role in the goings-on but were never actually seen.
*Matt Walsh is a very talented comedian and has always been great when he’s shown up in spot roles here and there, so I love seeing him finally get a showcase here.
*Another sign that Veep is on to something: its attention to the little details. There’s a great scene where Gary wants to put down a super-hot cup of coffee only to have Selina tell him that she needs to tell him something, but she can’t remember what it is, so he just ends up standing there with the coffee burning his hands. The expressions on Tony Hale’s face throughout are incredible.
*I like how, much like how I’d imagine that offices in Washington work, the show moves seamlessly from crisis to crisis. In the first 30 minutes alone, Meyer pisses of oil with her clean jobs initiative, needs to ingratiate herself with a senator for help, puts her foot in her mouth by making a retard joke, hires a new aide, all while the office manages a hilariously clandestine op to retrieve a condolence card for a senator that Amy mistakenly signed her own name to while trying to forge Meyer’s signature. Veep uses every one of its 30 minutes, and it uses them efficiently.
*”Glasses make me look weak. It’s like a wheelchair for the eye.”
*”Mike, talk to me. I’m in a room with three people and a fuckload of quiche.”
*”She’s mediocre. Really. Of all the ‘ocres’ she’s the ‘medi-est.'”
*”Next time pack an espresso machine in your big fuckin’ bitch bag.”
*”Rapey Reeves.” “He was the first senator to welcome me to the Capitol. You know… he was old – even then.” “Was he full of wisdom?” “He was full of bourbon. And he grabbed my left tit. Remember that?” “And God rest his soul.”
*”Did you fire your tweet monkey yet? Because that guy is a weapons-grade retard. I think you might have been hoist by your own retard there.”
*”You know my motto: I don’t want to know. Anyways, what motto? I don’t have a motto.”
*”That address makes me hard. Kiss you, miss you.”
*”I’ll redact your fuckin’ face.”
*”What if Tom Hanks dies?” “How did you get your job? You want to base your strategy around whether Tom Hanks dies?”
*”Hey, good lookin’. What you got cookin’? Dickwad pie?”
*”When a sexual harasser dies, we sign his wife’s card. That’s how Washington works.”
*”Is this going to become like Moonlighting where we fall in love and start fucking?”
*”Well… good luck, Gary. I’m convinced that you can probably do this.”
*”Amy… here we go. Shrimp linguine and a porno. I’m just kidding — it’s chicken linguine.”
*”Amy… I NEED a shit!”
*”Touch me and you lose a finger. And a ball.”

TV Diary | Game Of Thrones – “The Ghost Of Harrenhal”

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TV Diary | Game Of Thrones – Episode 2.05 – “The Ghost Of Harrenhal” – Original Airdate: 4/29/12

Episode Grade: B

100% honesty – this may have been my least favorite episode of either of Game Of Thrones’ two seasons to date. Other than the (BIG GIANT SPOILER ALERT) [1] very surprising death of Renly via Melisandre’s newly-birthed smoke monster [2], there really wasn’t much here that I cared about. Granted, the opening scene that saw Catelyn reassuring Renly that Robb has no interest in the Iron Throne and Renly proposing an arrangement with Robb that was much like the one his brother Robert had with Robb’s father Ned was well-constructed and Renly’s death literally came out of nowhere. It was a shot fired that made it seem like “The Ghost Of Harrenhal” was gonna be a balls-out crazy installment of GoT but, instead, it pretty much petered out from there. Daenerys being proposed to by one of the fucking weirdoes in Qarth? Don’t really care. More nonsense with the greatly-removed Night Watch storyline? Don’t really care. Brienne and Catelyn forging an alliance of sorts? Slightly more interesting, but not very. Coming on the heels of the season’s two strongest episodes, “The Ghost Of Harrenhal” was more than a little bit of a letdown even as the material with Tyrion [3] and Arya continues to be very strong. As I’ve mentioned in previous entries on GoT, I have immense faith in the abilities of showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to tie together the (for now) less essential elements of the show by season’s end but to this point the second season has been a bit of a grab bag where the Tyrion/Robb/Arya/Renly/Theon material is working well, but everything involving Stannis/Dany/Jon is either coming off limply or not at all. Specifically, the Dany and Night Watch storylines are so far removed from the overall story of the season that they’re a slog to get through at this stage. “The Ghost Of Harrenhal” marks the season’s halfway point so there are only five episodes left to bring the season’s narrative to a satisfying conclusion, but episodes like “The Ghost Of Harrenhal” are going to have to be few and far between in order for that to happen.

[1] And, really, if you haven’t seen the episode you probably shouldn’t be reading this in the first place. You know how this works by now.
[2] Who Brienne interestingly mentioned looked a lot like Stannis himself.
[3] Peter Dinklage (rightfully) won an Emmy for his work in season one but good lord… the guy’s on another level this year and will have a strong, strong case for Best Actor in a Drama if HBO chooses to enter him into consideration for a lead role.

Miscellany:
*And even as I spent much of the above paragraph talking about how much I disliked the episode, there were still definitely some high points. We’ve already touched on Renly’s death, which was shocking and effective. In my surprise over his death, I hadn’t considered that not only would his death remove one of Stannis’s key rivals for the throne from the equation, but it also exponentially increased his manpower as the vast majority of Renly’s troops defected to Stannis’s side. I like how the show paints collecting troops as an arms race in the coming war and Renly’s death and subsequent movement of his troops to his brother’s employ certainly qualifies as this. Ultimately, I’m sticking with a “B” grade mainly on the strength of the impact of Renly’s demise, but I don’t feel particularly great about that grade.
*The intent of the conversation between Stannis and Davos where Stannis puts Davos in charge of their offensive, despite Davos’s protests that he’s not as qualified as others, probably could have been presented a little more clearly. Was there a subtext there that Davos has convinced Stannis that Melisandre is dangerous? Because, if so, that’s kind of odd coming after she essentially delivered Renly’s troops to him. And, if they are turning against her and cutting her out, is this the type of woman you want to mess around with? This could end with yet another dead Baratheon.
*Yet more lack of clarity: Theon meets his crew and, in trying to assert his authority, runs afoul of a crew member who basically tells him that he could do Theon’s job very easily and that Theon should watch his back. Left essentially holding his junk in his hand on the docks after the crew departs, Theon is joined by his first mate who’s a bit more sympathetic to his cause and who suggests that Theon needs to prove himself to the crew before they’ll respect him. To that end, he offers up a plan to… do something. Again, not entirely clear but I think that was the jist of the exchange. I’d assume that it has something to do with striking at Robb ahead of time but this probably could have been presented a little more strongly.
*Tyrion’s surprised dismay at being labeled a “demon monkey” by a deranged ranter on the street was the height of hilarity.
*Maisie Williams continues to turn in incredibly strong work as Arya, sparring both with Tywin over her identity and with one of the prisoners who she freed in “What Is Dead May Never Die.” The development with the prisoner is particularly interesting because he informs her that he is in her debt for releasing him and his repayment plan involves killing any three people of her choosing. She starts off by suggesting the torturer from “Garden Of Bones,” and by episode’s end, the torturer is dead, raising the question: What does this do long-term for Arya and her mental state now that she knows she has the power to take life away?
*What’s with the references to wildfire? This must be significant, yes?
*Yo… those people in Qarth (Qarthians?) are fucking weirdoes.
*”Negotiate with Stannis? I’d have better luck debating the wind.”
*”Calling yourself a king doesn’t make you one and if Renly wasn’t a king, I wasn’t a queen.” “Do you want to be a queen, my grace?” “I don’t want to be a queen. I want to be THE queen.”
*”Aren’t you always so clever with your schemes and your plots.” “Schemes and plots are the same thing.”
*”Enough. Even torturing you is boring.”
*”Are we surprised when the fruit of their incest is rotten? A rotten king!” “It’s hard to argue with him.”
*”I remember an old proverb: Piss on wildfire, and your cock burns off.”

TV Diary | Game Of Thrones – “Garden Of Bones”

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TV Diary | Game Of Thrones – Episode 2.04 – “Garden Of Bones” – Original Airdate: 4/22/12

Episode Grade: A-

Alright… I have to start things off at the end and ask what in the actual fuck was that whatever that Melisandre birthed at the end of “Garden Of Bones?” I mean, shit… was it the Smoke Monster from Lost or something? Talk about your jarring (and disturbing) images to end an episode. Good God. OK… sorry. Just had to get that out of my system. To my mind, the theme of “Garden Of Bones” was ugliness. Ugliness in the quest for the throne. Ugliness in keeping the throne. Ugliness in the way people deal with one another. “Garden Of Bones” was just… ugly. And also very good. Let’s start with the most ugly [1] and work our way down from there. Not that there’s ever really been one, but there’s absolutely no question anymore – Joffrey NEEDS to die. His latest display of epic douchebaggery includes humiliating Sansa in front of the entire court by making her strip then, after Tyrion steps in to put a stop to it [2] and determines with Bronn that perhaps Joffrey just needs to get laid to vent some of his frustrations, Joffrey decides to make examples of the whores that Tyrion provides him with by making Ros (one of his “gifts”) beat the other whore nearly half to death while he watches. He also threatens Ros with the same beating if she doesn’t proceed and then deliver the “message” to his uncle. It’s clear that Joffrey, to this point, is the closest thing to the embodiment of pure evil on GoT and that whenever the day comes – and it will come – that he’s definitively dealt with, it’ll likely be my favorite point of the series. In other happenings at King’s Landing, Tyrion continues to teach a master class on political chess-playing and his adversary here is his own cousin, Lancel, who’s been sleeping with Cersei on the DL[3]. Tyrion is well aware of this stomach-turning fact [4] and uses it to his advantage in making Lancel his latest stooge, blackmailing him by threatening to reveal his indiscretions to not only Jaime but to Tywin as well [5]. Without question, one of my favorite developments of this new season is the increased importance placed on Tyrion’s character via his prominent position as an antagonist in Joffrey’s court. It’s been incredibly entertaining watching him work and, although he himself has pointed out that he’s not Ned Stark, he’s slid seamlessly into the lead position as the show’s (somewhat) moral center. How he reconciles those morals is sometimes within question – things sometimes get ugly – but they’re never not entertaining. Meanwhile, the ugliness of “Garden Of Bones” also permeates to the battlefield as brothers Stannis and Renly Baratheon have placed themselves into direct conflict with one another as each has plans to lay claim to their deceased brother Robert’s throne. After an unwelcome visit from Littlefinger [6] on behalf of Tyrion [7], Renly meets with his older brother feeling fairly confident in telling Stannis that he – not Stannis – will be the next Baratheon to ascend to the throne. Stannis attempts to strike an accord in which he offers the younger Baratheon a night to reconsider their conflict, saying that if Renly swears loyalty to him, he’ll grant Renly a place on his council and will name him his heir. Renly, unsurprisingly, is not enamored of Stannis’s proposal and roundly rejects it. Methinks we’re losing another Baratheon at some point this season. Renly’s rejection of Stannis’s terms later leads Stannis to confer with Davos and ultimately instruct him to spirit Melisandre away for an unknown purpose – unknown, that is, until she brings Smokey into the world. But we’ve already gone over that, haven’t we? Ugly all around, to be sure, but “Garden Of Bones” was ugly in all the right ways.

[1] Granted, we’ve already mentioned Smoke Monster Baby.
[2] While also attempting to provide Sansa with an out that she refuses to take.
[3] Gross.
[4] “Did Cersei have you knighted before or after she took you into her bed?”
[5] “Your father, when I was taken to be a squire, told me to obey her every command.” “Did he tell you to fuck her?”
[6] “I don’t like you, Lord Baelish. I don’t like your face. I don’t like the words that come oozing out of your mouth.”
[7] Who’s attempting to gather dirt on Renly, while also attempting to broker a deal with Catelyn – more on that in the Miscellany.

Miscellany:
*Seriously… what the FUCK was that smoke thing? I mean, really?
*The reasons for Littlefinger’s appearance at Renly’s camp are twofold: First, being Littlefinger, he’s working an angle for personal gain by trying to gather dirt on Renly’s predilections by hinting to Margaery that he’s well aware that their marriage is not entirely… traditional. He’s also there to act as an emissary for Tyrion, informing Catelyn that the Lannisters are willing to strike a deal – the return of Sansa and Arya in exchange for Jaime. He also morbidly brings a box containing Ned’s bones to her as a show of Tyrion’s good faith. She responds that she’s not going to be taking the deal to Robb, even as Littlefinger responds about the girls, “I fear for their longevity if they remain in the capital.” Tyrion is proving to be quite the political player this season as I’d mentioned earlier, but the fact remains that he’s still surrounded in King’s Landing by vipers like Cersei and Littlefinger. He has his work cut out for him.
*The set piece when Arya and Gendry arrive in King’s Landing after being captured is quite literally breathtaking.
*Also? The method of torture used among prisoners in King’s Landing (of which Arya and Gendry are now two, despite Tywin showing up and taking an interest in Arya) is terrifying – interrogators place rats in a bucket, tie the bucket to the chest of those being interrogated, and heat the bucket so that the rats tear into captives’ chests. Inventive, and quite scary.
*Robb and that nurse on the battlefield are totally gonna meet again, right? Rob also seems to posses much of his father’s principals, forbidding his men to torture Lannister troops for fear of reprisal against Arya and Sansa.
*On the downside, I’m still nowhere near invested in anything going on with Daenerys this season. The dragons are only cool for so long. Eventually, there needs to be some interesting forward movement in the storyline. Being forbidden from entry into Qarth, apparently “the greatest city that ever was or will be” by some annoying dandy, only to then have some other mysterious man vouch for her ain’t really it.
*After supposedly lowbrow fart humor was used on the season premiere of the critically adored Mad Men, it makes its, er… presence known early on in “Garden Of Bones.” And yes, as someone who LOVES a good fart joke, I laughed a hearty laugh. As the brilliant Louis CK said during an interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show a few months back, “You don’t have to be smart to laugh at a fart joke, but you have to be stupid not to.”
*”He’s been stabbing Renly Baratheon for years and he ain’t dead.”
*”You’re fighting to overthrow a king and you have no plan for what comes after?”
*”That was a threat. See the difference?”
*”You think dipping his wick will cure what ails him?” “There’s no cure for being a cunt.”
*”Born amongst salt and smoke? Are you a ham?”
*”A man without friends is a man without power.”
*”Did Cersei have you knighted before or after she took you into her bed?”
*”Your father, when I was taken to be a squire, told me to obey her every command.” “Did he tell you to fuck her?”
*”I could swear that I didn’t harm a single hair on his head but, strictly speaking, that would not be true.”
*”A man without friends is a man without power.”
*”Born amongst salt and smoke? Are you a ham?”

The CW Renews Some Shows You Probably Don’t Watch

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Two for two. Take note, TV producers. Earlier this week, I wrote about HBO’s Girls. The next day it got renewed. The last review I wrote and posted was a TV Diary entry on The CW’s The Vampire Diaries. What happens next? The CW announces its renewal. Granted, as the network’s highest-rated show its renewal was a foregone conclusion but I’m still going to interpret this news as THE ALL-CONSUMING POWER OF THIS SITE. OK… maybe not. TVD is definitely one of television’s more entertaining shows, even as it’s beginning to show a little wear around the edges – breakneck plotting will do that to you – but I’m glad it’s still going to be around because I think there’s still a lot of story left to be told. The CW also announced the renewal of two other series, Supernatural and 90210. I used to be a huge Supernatural fan but haven’t checked in on the show in about a year and a half so I can’t speak to its current quality but it’s always been a solid performer for the network and is doing yeoman’s work on Friday nights, so this renewal makes sense. 90210, however? Honestly… does anyone even watch this show? The only thing I can think of is that, going into its fifth season, it’s getting close to syndication because, otherwise, why bring back a show that has literally no buzz nor audience support? That one’s a head-scratcher. Two out of three isn’t bad, though.

Written by jeremylikestv

May 5, 2012 at 10:53 am