Monday, May 13, 2013

Weekend Reviews!

Another thing that's going to be happening 'round here is me talking about the shows I watch.  There aren't very many of them, even during the "busy" seasons, though it's really slow right now.  In fact, the only two shows I'm regularly following at the moment are Doctor Who and Game of Thrones.

Where's everything else?  Let's see...

Breaking Bad: Still on hiatus until August 11th, 2013.

The Walking Dead: Currently shooting, due to return in the fall.

Sherlock: Who the hell knows?

Community: I have sadly fallen several weeks behind.  I love this show, to quote a great man, "super huggy much," but I just haven't been able to keep up with this season.  On the bright side, there is definitely going to be another season!  Saved from the brink of oblivion once again, this show.

Big Bang Theory: Pretty much ditto, though I'll be honest, I don't love it nearly as much as Community.

King of the Nerds: Oh, hey, I need to send in my submission...

Young Justice: Canceled, along with Green Lantern, because Cartoon Network hates money, good story telling, me, you, and God Himself.

Avatar: The Legend of Korra: Expected to return before the year's end.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Will probably be back in late fall/early winter.  But the Equestria Girls movie will be out on June 15th!  Because Hasbro responded to the legions of fans who wanted to see their beloved cast of interesting, funny, non-objectified heroines turned into knockoff Bratz dolls and shoved into a generic high school "running for prom queen" movie!

... I may be going into this with some prejudiced opinions.

Adventure Time!: Still has a few episodes left in the season, but I'm not actually caught up with the show.  I was really excited to see it on Netflix, but they've only got the first season of it.  (And of The Venture Brothers.  I am disappoint.)

Archer: Gone until next January, most likely.  Though they're definitely getting a fifth season.

And that's about it.  I don't watch a ton of TV, and most of it that I do, I watch with friends.  Ah well.  At least I've got the Big Two to talk about.

So, without further ado...

Doctor Who: "Nightmare in Silver"

This was, in my apparently very strange and unpopular opinion, the best episode the show's had in a long while.  Oh, it had problems, and we'll go into them, but overall I thought it was a tonal return to the Russel T. Davies era of storytelling, and I'm of the opinion that this is a Very Good Thing.  The stakes were epic and universe-threatening, Matt Smith got a chance to cut loose, the bad guys were genuinely pretty threatening, and the Doctor managed to save the day simply by being clever and an extraordinary liar.  Most of all, the episode didn't suffer from the pacing issues that have plagued almost every story this season.  It didn't feel like a two-part episode crammed into a 45-minute "blockbuster;" it flowed well, it introduced characters and concepts with enough time to process them, and it never felt like the director had to cut out huge swaths of the script and replace them with rapidly-spoken exposition.

Plus, we got to see Jenna Louise Coleman flesh out Clara a bit.  Since the writers don't seem particularly intent on making her interesting, Clara's development seems to have fallen entirely on her: on her expressions, on her deliveries, on her body language.  In this episode, we got to see a bit of fierce protectiveness of "her" kids, we got to see her take charge with a mix of confidence, pragmatism, and wry humor, and we got to see how very quickly she's learned how the Doctor works. I'll be honest; I can't imagine the "big mystery" about her is going to be all that interesting, but I could care less as long as she gets to stick around as a companion for as long as possible.  And no, I'm not just saying that because she's gorgeous.

Not just saying that.

Anyway, despite my gushing over the good parts, there were some weak ones.  The blur effect for the Cyberman's super-speed was terrible, though the actual "slowed time" thing was pretty cool.  I've seen people complaining about Cybermen having that ability, but I think it was well-justified within the episode, and it certainly makes sense that they would have adapted to overcome one of their biggest weaknesses.  That said, why didn't any of the other Cybermen use that upgrade?

Anybody?  Come on, I've seen people justify all the ridiculously stupid crap in "The Angels Take Manhattan," surely someone can explain this.

The second big weakness in the episode was the ending.  Warwick Davis is awesome, and I genuinely liked Porridge the character, but... if activating the bomb himself would have summoned his ship, which could teleport everybody off the planet, why the hell did he wait until the very end to do it?  Because he didn't want to go back to being Emperor?  What does that say about his character, if he's willing to let a bunch of people die/be assimilated into the collective just to keep from having to go back to work?  And then, of course, no one even mentions this, let alone scolds him for it.  I mean, I get it, who on Earth could get mad at Warwick Davis, but c'mon.

Finally, and to most people most egregiously, the kids.  People hate these kids.  I don't know what to say, really.  The male kid was inoffensive enough, I thought.  His sister was another story, yeah, and the episode as a whole probably would have been stronger without their inclusion, but... eh.  I didn't really mind either of them.  Considering that I'm working towards becoming a high school English teacher, it's probably good that the sight of an obnoxious teenage girl doesn't send me into a homicidal rage.

Overall, I enjoyed the episode a lot.  It's possibly my favorite of Season 7, not that that's exactly a ringing endorsement, and one of my favorite of Eleven's entire run.

Game of Thrones: "The Bear and the Maiden Fair"

It's hard to talk about Game of Thrones.  I'm a fan of the books, and I've spent hours reading wiki entries and plot discussions to refresh me on the huge cast and scattered events and locales across the series.  I'm no expert on the setting, but even setting aside plot spoilers, I know significantly more about this world than the average viewer.

I'm also very, very sensitive about spoiling things.  Especially knowing how this season will end.  I want everybody I know to go into this pure and untainted by foreknowledge of any kind.  Because shit be about to get real, y'all.

That said, there's still a few things to be said about this episode.  Where to start?  Ah, right.

Arya is scary.

More of interest as a book-reader-person, though, is what's happening with Gendry.  Very minor spoilers ahead: in the books, Melisandre never visited the Brotherhood Without Banners, and Gendry has (so far) been happily playing Robin Hood and making bodkin arrows since he joined up.  However, there was another character, another of Robert's bastards, who Melisandre went to some trouble to acquire.  I don't know if she's got the same plan in mind for Gendry as she did for Edric Storm.  But, if she does, and things go as they did in the books?  Let me just say that I'm very, very excited about the possibilities.

The scene between Joffrey and Tywin was entertaining, and I can't help but wondering if Tywin used this kind of intimidating demeanor with Mad King Aerys, or if he's using it with Joffrey now to try and teach the rabid dog to heel before he starts ripping everyone's throats out.  As always, Charles Dance is completely amazing in the role.  The dude just reeks of authority.

And hey, speaking of Reek!  I... I don't even know what to say about poor Theon.  Hell's bells.  Game of Thrones writers, seriously, you are doing a fantastic job of showing what a freaking psychopath Ramsay Snow is (oh, spoiler--us book people know who the Frodo-looking nutjob is), but we can go a week or two without seeing this stuff.

Man.  Talk about ironic punishment.  Theon was a dick, and now...

Let's see, what else?  Daeny is a terrible diplomat.  Apparently, the Wildlings don't normally do oral anything--history, sex, you name it.  The Tyrells continue to take sledgehammers to any subtlety their characters had in the books, from Loras' possible homosexuality to the question of Margaery's virginity.  Robb continues his fateful march towards the Twins, and also, butts.  Bran and Co. are still walking, and you'd best get used to it, folks, 'cause it's not getting old any time soon.

Oh, and Jaime and Brienne continue to steal the freaking show.  I love both these characters; Brienne, the One True Knight in all of Westeros, and Jaime, the formerly morally apathetic, aimless jerk gradually turning into a genuinely good person.  Jaime's rescue of Brienne was great, and they make a damned good duo.  I sincerely hope that whenever George R.R. Martin gets around to writing Book Six, these two get more screentime together.

Yeah, I ship Jienne.  Er.  Braime?  Eh, whatever.  Jaime and Brienne, OTP.

Overall, well, it's hard for me to judge this show on individual episodes.  I already know the overall story (at least until the end of season six), and mostly I'm looking at the way the writers are moving their chess pieces around to set up future events.  And they are doing that, and they are doing that very well, and I cannot wait to see things play out.

And so he spoke, and so he spoke,
That lord of Castamere,
And now the rains weep o'er his halls,
With not a soul to hear.

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