Category: Television

Casting Crow’s Eye

Warning: The following contains spoilers from the first three seasons of the HBO series Game of Thrones as well as spoilers and speculation regarding George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series that it is based on.

Congratulations to the makers of Game of Thrones for creating a Sunday ritual as obsessive and addicting as the National Football League, but with an even longer offseason. Winter is here, and the offseason is dark and full of terrors. Season Three wrapped up over a month ago but there’s still nine months or so of anticipation and speculation before we get to see Westeros once again.

There are two kinds of Game of Thrones fans: those who have read the books, and those who have not. The two communities have trouble coexisting because one knows more than the other, and yet, like Jon Snow, they both know nothing. We the book readers, still don’t know how it will end, who Jon’s parents are, or even what the name of the series is supposed to mean. As we patiently wait for George R.R. Martin to feed us more knowledge, we also try and figure out who we would like to see playing characters from the later books.

With the recent announcement of Pedro Pascal being cast as Prince Oberyn Martell, also known as The Red Viper of Dorne, we now turn our attention to Euron Greyjoy. Euron, who is often referred to as “Crow’s Eye” is the mysterious uncle of Theon and Asha (renamed Yara on the show) Greyjoy, and younger brother of King Balon Greyjoy, the king of Salt and Rock and Lord of the Iron Islands. He is handsome, clever, brutal, and despised by everyone in his family. It is unclear when he will appear on the show, since the Ironborn timeline on the show has deviated from the books, but it’s never too early to start picking favorites to play the role.

While Theon is being tortured at the Dreadfort, his father Balon is still trying way to hard to be relevant in Westrosi politics. Balon was a distant fifth in the War of Five Kings, but has moved up to third place by virtue of still being alive. I expect in the fourth or fifth season that we will get to see more of the Iron Islands and learn more about their interesting, brain damaged viking religious rituals.

After some thought, the only actor I can see in the role of the Crow’s Eye is Dominic West. I was really bummed out when he said he turned down a Game of Thrones role that was shooting in Iceland last season. Iceland is where they shoot North of the Wall, so most people on the Internet believed he was considered to play Mance Rayder before they cast Ciaran Hinds to play the King Beyond the Wall. West is no stranger to HBO, having brilliantly played the closest thing The Wire had to a protagonist during his five seasons as Baltimore homicide detective Jimmy McNulty. McNulty was one of the great anti-heroes in the history of television, too smart for his own good, a nightmare to supervise, a drunk and a bad father, but also shrewd and charming when he wanted to be. I’ve talked myself into this one. I would love to see Bushy Top trying to rule the Ironborn and get some dragons of his own and whatever else he may have up his sleeve. Why does it take so long for this show to come back!?! I can’t wait.

Obligatory Doctor Who Casting Speculation Post

The eleven incarnations of the Doctor that have appeared on the show so far.

With the announcement a little while ago that Matt Smith would be relinquishing the leading role on the long running BBC series Doctor Who, the Internet has exploded with speculation and suggestions over who should be the next actor to play the Doctor. During that time, I was getting into the swing of things with a new job, and the blogging time in my schedule was occupied by my beloved Boston Bruins making a deep playoff run, then one thing led to another and it’s been over a month and I still haven’t written about Doctor Who. While it’s fun to speculate who will play such an important role on a TV show with an international following, sometimes it’s for the best that fans don’t get to make these decisions. Seriously, football fans in Atlanta wanted to originally name the Falcons the Atlanta Peaches, and fans in Cincinnati (the hardest city in America to remember how to spell) wanted to name the Bengals the Buckeyes before it was vetoed by team owner, president and former Ohio State head coach Paul Brown, but I digress. Here are some thoughts about some of the names I have heard and I’ll add some of my own to the list as well.

Who I would like to see:

Idris Elba has been awesome in every role of his that I have seen. Whether it’s Baltimore drug kingpin Stringer Bell on The Wire or unconventional lawman John Luther on BBC’s Luther, Elba is usually the most compelling performer on the screen in any scene he is in. Elba has expressed an interest in becoming the first black James Bond, and that would be amazing, but he might also be the best candidate to be the first black Doctor. Also it would be amazing if Idris Elba was the Doctor and they cast Dominic West as the Master for a little reunion of the two nemeses from David Simon’s streets of Baltimore who were played quite convincingly by British actors. You disappoint me, Doctor. I had such hopes for us!

Patrick Stewart. I’m hoping the next Doctor is older than Matt Smith. If he gets any younger, the companions won’t want to hang out with him because he’ll be just some annoying kid who talks about the universe a lot.Patrick Stewart has been brilliant as Professor X in the X-Men movies and as Captain Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He’s a Shakespearean actor who would be excellent at portraying the old man of the universe while also making him someone younger people can relate to.

Dermot Crowley on BBC’s Luther.

Dermot Crowley is my top sleeper candidate to play the Doctor. He currently co-stars with Idris Elba on Luther where he brilliantly plays the strict older policeman with a steel trap mind. He was also in Return of the Jedi back in the day and auditioned for the role of the 7th Doctor in the 80s before they ultimately cast Sylvester McCoy. Since he is not already a household name, he might actully be the best candidate for the role. If you cast Patrick Stewart, people will want to see Captain Picard. If you cast Benedict Cumberbatch, people will want to see Sherlock Holmes. If you cast Dermot Crowley, you will get the Doctor.

Maggie Smith. Someday there may very well be a female Doctor. Why not today? And why not Maggie Smith? She was perfectly cast as Professor Minerva McGonagall in eight Harry Potter movies, she holds a lot of wisdom, and i would just be awesome. Of course she is very recognizable, and she probably keeps a busy schedule so this one is a pipe dream more than anything else.

Who I wouldn’t like to see:

Benedict Cumberbatch would be way too much like Matt Smith! Why is everyone on the Internet saying they want him as the Doctor? I don’t get it. Yeah, he’s great and quirky as Sherlock Holmes, but I don’t want to see him play the same character again except this time with a police box shaped spaceship.

Johnny Depp. Seriously, people. He’s not British, he’s too busy and too famous, and he’s not even that good anymore. I’m tired of seeing so many movies with promising premises turn into “The Johnny Depp Show” after he gets cast. Tim Burton’s Alice and Wonderland from a few years ago gave the Mad Hatter way too much screen time because Mr. Burton is obsessed with Mr. Depp.

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Richard Maddon, or any actor under 30. They’re too young. I don’t want to see a Ron Weasley Doctor just yet. That would be more annoying than anything else.

The Hurt Doctor.

The other interesting thing to look out for:

John Hurt was briefly introduced as a past incarnation of the Doctor. There are a lot of theories on the matter, and I’m not going to get into that, but it will be interesting to see what’s up with that in the 50th Anniversary special this November. Every fan has their own ideas on who they would like to see on the show, but I have faith that Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat will choose the next Doctor based on the direction he wants the character to go in and not just who the most famous or most popular available actor is. The great thing about the show is that the main character has evolved and grown over 50 years, but it is still the same character just played by different actors. It allows for the show to outlast any one person, maintain freshness, and continue with its own traditions all at the same time.

All we can do is speculate, but it will certainly give some extra incentive to tune into the show this winter.

This Week in Analogies

Warning: this post contains spoilers from the Game of Thrones Season 3, episode 9, The Rains of Castamere, as well as details from the novel A Storm of Swords that it is based on.

There’s so much on my mind this week that I could probably divide into three or four mediocre posts, but there are enough parallels to combine them into one. As the NBA and NHL playoffs continue, Game of Thrones had a moment book readers have been waiting for years to see.

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are the LeBron James and Dwayne Wade of hockey. Two whining stars as John Tortorella aptly put it. While incredibly talented, Crosby and Malkin really make it difficult for us to like them. They’re arrogant, they get hung up on the things they can’t control, and through two games, as soon as they meet a team that isn’t afraid of them, they melt like the winter snows in Dorne. ESPN is ready to put these guys in a discussion that have no business being in yet, which leads me to my next analogy…

Sidney Crosby will never be Wayne Gretzky for the same reason LeBron will never be Michael Jordan. Seriously! Enough with these stupid discussions. Does the NBA need every superstar to be the next Jordan? I don’t feel comfortable comparing Kobe to Jordan, let alone LeBron. The same goes for Crosby. Since the day the Penguins won the 2005 draft lottery, Crosby has been hyped as the next big thing. Gretzky captained the Oilers to four Stanley Cups before being traded to Los Angeles and making the game exponentially more popular in the NHL’s biggest non-traditional market. Gretzky’s wedding was nationally televised in Canada, getting as much hype as a British Royal wedding. Gretzky had so many assists, that he wouldn’t even need his goals to be counted to still be the NHL’s all time points leader. Even if Crosby wasn’t the arrogant whiner he is, his legacy would never be as important to hockey as The Great One’s.

Heh.

The Bruins are the Walder Frey’s daughters of the NHL. At least according to Jarome Iginla. Look, I’m just as mad at what Lord Frey did to The Young Wolf as the rest of you, but I can see where he’s coming from.The Bruins had been on Iggy’s original list of teams he’d like to be traded to, but then Sidney Crosby gave him a call. Robb Stark swore to marry one of Lord Frey’s daughters to be able to cross the river without Lord Frey blabbing to Tywin Lannister (a steep price I’ll admit, especially considering Robb’s sister Arya would have to marry one of the hundreds of Frey offspring as well), but in the heat of battle, he developed  feelings for Charlie Chaplin’s granddaughter. He chose the prettier girl over the one who would really help him win the war. The Bruins are saying all the right things and being nothing but classy in the media, but they might as well start playing The Rains of Castamere in the Garden when the series goes back to Boston. Iginla, like the rest of his Pittsburgh teammates have done nothing through two games against the bitter but disciplined Bruins. Before all this Iginla, like the King in the North, was all about honor, class, and playing the game the right way. This is why he has to pay for it when he goes back on his word. We sympathize with Robb Stark because he’s fifteen and doesn’t know any better. Iginla is in his mid-30s and decided to go where he thought it would be easier to win the illusive Stanley Cup, the only accolade missing from his Hall of Fame resume, rather than the place where he could help more and where he could have a bigger impact. Peter Chiarelli sends his regards!

Claude Julien is the Bruce Bochy of the NHL. It’s not just because they both have large heads, I swear. Neither one is particularly excitable or charismatic. They approach ever game with the same level head, and they know when to push all the right buttons in big games. Before the fall of 2010, neither one had won a championship, but after Bochy’s Giants rolled over the Detroit Tigers in the World Series, their second in three years, Claude Julien’s Bruins are knocking at the door with another deep run, but you’d never know how successful they’ve become in recent years. They’re still the same guys they were before.

Roose Bolton is the Evil Abed of Westeros. I love the way they’ve protrayed the Lord of the Dreadfort on the show. He’s been played as one of those friends that everyone thinks is a little weird, but nobody really suspects the cruelty that lurks behind his cold eyes. Cold. Cold cold cold. That’s Roose Bolton. I loved the way they had him as Catelyn Stark’s date for her brother’s wedding and how he wanted to be the one who gave the scheme away to her. The look in his eves when she discovered the armor he wore to the wedding was priceless. Lord Bolton was Ned’s bannerman before he was Robb’s and Roose and Cat may very well have met at Cat’s wedding before the Northmen marched south to defeat The Mad King. Roose is detached from it all. He has his morbid quirks, leeches and his love for human flaying, to amuse him as he plays the game of thrones just to see what will happen. While Evil Abed wanted to return to the Lame Timeline to saw off Jeff’s arm, Roose has more than just chain mail up his sleeve going forward.

Is this the End?

It’s weird that after returning to blogging after two year break, and coming up with the name “Lord of Blog’s End,” that My first substantial posts are about things I love (possibly) ending. Earlier this week it was about the Boston Celtics, and the jury is still out on what they will do this summer. Tonight could be the last new episode of Community we will ever see. NBC may still renew the show for a fifth season, Comedy Central, who owns the syndication rights to the show, may pick it up if NBC does not, and renew it like TBS did with Cougartown last year when ABC decided to go in a different direction, or Hulu might order new seasons a few years down the road the way Netflix did with Arrested Development. For now, all we can do is enjoy the fourth season for what it is as the Greendale Seven prepare to graduate from America’s most absurd community college.

This is as good a moment as any to look back at Community‘s body of work and appreciate what the show accomplished in spite of the lack of ratings success, network support, and award recognition through four seasons. Dan Harmon took a premise loosely based on his own experience as a jaded community college student in his thirties and transformed it into a commentary on the human condition bigger than any college curriculum. He had to fight NBC and Sony to keep his original title because a show called Community College had many more limitations that would prevent him from taking the show where he wanted to take it.

In an age where Jersey ShoreTwo and a Half MenAmerican Idol, and The Big Bang Theory ranked among the highest rated shows on TV, Community developed a following with a new demographic of TV viewer: the Internet audience. While shows that appeal to the lowest common denominator gained the favor of the networks for their success in the antiquated Nielsen ratings system, more complex, inventive, and provocative shows sparked the fervor of bloggers, podcasters, and technically inclined viewers around the world. Community will be remembered along with Arrested Development, Mad MenLouie, Breaking Bad, and The Wire as one of the truly great works of art ever to come out of the television industry, but were dwarfed in the ratings by lesser formulaic shows. Of the shows I just mentioned, Community and The Wire make an even smaller category of well done shows with intense Internet followings that never won an Emmy Award. It seemed that the only place the show was winning support was among the legions of Internet savvy fans who made sure the show was trending on Twitter every Thursday night, even if the show was on hiatus to show NBC executives how much they wished they were watching their show, and won nearly every “favorite show” poll from TV Guide to Hulu.

I am proud to say I was a fan of Community from the night it first aired. It’s one of the few pop-culture trends I can honestly say that I was in on before it was cool, and I will be proud of that as long as I live. I first tuned in because I saw and ad (probably during an early September NFL game or a rerun of The Office) for a new pilot featuring SNL original cast member Chevy Chase and The Daily Show‘s John Oliver. Naturally I was intrigued so I tuned in to find out that the show also starred “that guy from The Soup (Joel McHale),” “Pete’s wife from Mad Men (Alison Brie),” and “that guy from Derrick Comedy (Donald Glover).” The pilot episode is not an episode that fans typically rank in their top ten, but having rewatched it several times, I appreciate it a lot more than I did back then. Dean Pelton’s incompetence is available on the surface, but so was his wedding ring in that episode. His character has really changed since then. Danny Pudi’s Abed Nadir showed us the potential the show had from the beginning. He remarked on the parallels between their situation and the movie The Breakfast Club and even channeled his inner John Bender when things got tense. Abed also performed a brilliant impression of Britta before we even heard Britta speak. Joel McHale’s Jeff Winger was the focus of the episode, a jaded ex-lawyer who needed to earn a legitimate bachelor’s degree to avoid getting disbarred. He asks his tenured professor drinking buddy/ex-client Ian Duncan (Oliver) for the answers to every exam in an effort to do what he does best: fake his way through life and get by on good looks and charisma. When that falls through, Jeff is forced to seek help from the fake study group he created in an attempt to seduce Britta, and the stage is set for a group of misfits to join together and brave the storm that is higher education….and it only got better from there.

Community creator Dan Harmon pulling an all-nighter in Study Room F.

Season four has been an interesting one to say the least. NBC and Sony fired Harmon from the show he created after three brilliant seasons, then they cut the number of episodes to 13, then they announced a premiere date of October 19th, then they pushed it back to February a week before October 19th was supposed to happen. The new episodes were shaky at first, but midway through the season, they hit their stride. It’s still the same study group at the same campus with the same Dean, and as long as there are new episodes, I will love it. They are graduating from Greendale, but the show was never really about community college; it was about the community they found while they were there. They have been through so much that they can’t just break up because they don’t have classes anymore.

My prediction about Community‘s future is that whether it goes four seasons, or five, or six and a movie, people will discover it after cancellation, like they did with Arrested Development, and say “why didn’t they make more episodes of this great show?” Whether it ends tonight or this time next year, I’m glad I was there for it. I’m sure I’ll have more to write about it soon. The show is streets ahead. If you have to ask what that means, you’re streets behind. There’s magic in the table. I won’t be able to stay away forever. Thank you, Dan Harmon. Thank you, Greendale.