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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Game of Thrones 5.8: The Power of Frigid Death

An exceptionally good Game of Thrones 5.8 tonight, with a battle scene just as powerful and in some ways more fierce than last season's Jon and the Night's Watch vs. Mance Rayder's Wildings from the North.

We've always known, as Jon knows, that the Wildings including the Giants are ultimately allies in the fight against much more fearsome enemies, and we see that played out brilliantly and savagely tonight.  What could be worse than an enemy already dead?  Well, a dead enemy who turned your own people into his troops by killing them, so that if you retreat without taking your killed with you, they will be raised with the wave of the hand of the Night's King, which will instantly increase his army.

And that's just what we see at the very end of this episode, when the appealing Wilding Chieftainess, after fighting heroically and ferociously, but dying under the overwhelming onslaught of the cold dead, is raised up by the Night's King.  I would have liked to have seen her a little more as Jon's ally among the living, and who knows what terror she'll wreak as part of the army of the dead.

It's hard to see how Jon Snow with whatever army under his command will be able to best this.  (I haven't read more than the first novel in this series.)  It's always been the dragons and their fire that might melt and undo the frozen dead, but Daenerys is still a ways off from King's Landing, let alone the Wall and what's north of that.   But that ultimate battle, whenever it comes, will surely be one worth waiting for.

In the meantime, it's great to see Tyrion at her side - good for Daenerys, Tyrion, and the story, since he, as the best and brightest of the Lannisters, can give her advice more sage than probably anyone else in this story.  And as for battles, I'm glad I saw tonight's on a summer's eve, since it makes the deathly grip of the cold a little less of a real threat - just a little.

See also Game of Thrones 5.1: Unsetting the Table

And see also Games of Thrones Season 4 Premiere: Salient Points ... Game of Thrones 4.2: Whodunnit? ... Game of Thrones 4.3: Who Will Save Tyrion ...Game of Thrones 4.4: Glimpse of the Ultimate Battle ... Game of Thrones 4.6: Tyrion on Trial ... Game of Thrones 4.8: Beetles and Battle ...Game of Thrones 4.9: The Fight for Castle Black ... Games of Thrones Season 4 Finale: Woven Threads

And see also Game of Thrones Back in Play for Season 2 ... Game of Thrones 2.2: Cersei vs. Tyrion

And see also A Game of Thrones: My 1996 Review of the First Novel ... Game of Thrones Begins Greatly on HBO ... Game of Thrones 1.2: Prince, Wolf, Bastard, Dwarf ... Games of Thrones 1.3: Genuine Demons ... Game of Thrones 1.4: Broken Things  ... Game of Thrones 1.5: Ned Under Seige ... Game of Thrones 1.6: Molten Ever After ... Games of Thrones 1.7: Swiveling Pieces ... Game of Thrones 1.8: Star Wars of the Realms ... Game of Thrones 1.9: Is Ned Really Dead? ... Game of Thrones 1.10 Meets True Blood

And here's a Spanish article in Semana, the leading news magazine in Colombia, in which I'm quoted about explicit sex on television, including on Game of Thrones.

And see "'Game of Thrones': Why the Buzz is So Big" article in The Christian Science Monitor, 8 April 2014, with my quotes.

Also: CNN article, "How 'Game of Thrones' Is Like America," with quote from me


"I was here, in Carthage, three months from now." 


Bones 10.20: Intimations of a New Jeffersonian

Well, the most memorable line in Bones 10.20 this past week was that the Internet is "a land of nasty, bitter people," thereby continuing Bones' critique of this very medium - which I love, and use all the time, and I'm definitely not bitter though maybe once in a blue moon nasty - but at least the blow came from one of the suspects, none of our central characters.

As for the Jeffersonian crew, I'm still feeling bad about Hodgins and Angela leaving, which, if the coming attractions are to be believed, is a fait accompli.  It's bad enough to have one great person leave the series - like Sweets - but two?  Well, at least they'll still be alive, so a return is possible.

Aubrey has filled in better than well as Booth's partner, and the new Jeffersonian intern that he's flirting with seems highly intelligent - as do all the interns - but is she bright enough to replace not just Hodgins but Angela, too, in the lab?   Not by an infinitely long shot.

So we're looking forward to be a very different Bones next season.   Let's assume Bones and Booth are back together and functioning at top level.   Who will they rely upon in the lab to come up with the brilliant angles to break cases?

I guess there's a bright side to this - the pressure to come up with new scenarios, not about killers, but about the scientists and how they solve the cases.  This has actually always been one of the great strengths of Bones, the mix of memorable and indelible personalities with the ingenuous use of forensics and all kinds of cutting edge technology, digital and hands on, in the lab.   If done well, we could be treated to a new and nearly as unforgettable Jeffersonian team.

In the meantime, we'll have to see its depletion in the next two episodes, and hope it's at least compensated by Booth back home where he belongs.

See also Bones 10.1: The Fulcrum Changes ... Bones 10.2: J. Edgar and the DNA Confession ... Bones 10.3: Meets Rush and a Dominatrix ... Bones 10.4: Brennan and Angela on a Bench in the Playground ... Bones 10.5: Two Jokes and Three Times ... Bones 10.6: A Thousand Cuts ... Bones 10.7: The A-Word and Quarks ... Bones 10.8: Daisy's Doula ... Bones 10.9: The Milgram Experiment and the Birds ... Bones 200: 10.10: Just like Bogey and Bacall ... Bones 10.11: Life after Death, and Sweets in Wonderland ...Bones 10.12: The Digital Revolution ... Bones 10.13: The Almost-Serial Killer ...Bones 10.14: meets La Parure ... Bones 10.15: Cards in Hand ...Bones 10.16: Hodgins' Money ... Bones 10.17-18: Bullies and Capital Punishment ... Bones 10.19: Do You Buy Booth's Gambling Addiction?

And see also Bones 9.1: The Sweet Misery of Love ... Bones 9.2: Bobcat, Identity Theft, and Sweets ... Bones 9.3 and NCIS 11.2: Sweets and Ziva ... Bones 9.4: Metaphysics of Death in a Television Series ... Bones 9.5: Val and Deep Blue ... Bones 9.6: The Wedding ... Bones 9.7: Watch Out, Buenos Aires ...Bones 9.8: The Bug in the Neck ... Bones 9.9: Friday Night Bones in the Courtroom ... Bones 9.10: Horse Pucky ... Bones 9.11: Angels in Equations ... Bones 9.12: Fingernails ... Bones 9.13: Meets Nashville, and Wendell ... Bones 9.14: "You Cannot Drink Your Glass Away" ... Bones 9.15: Hodgins' Brother and the Ripped Off Toe ... Bones 9.16: Lampreys, Professors, and Insurance Companies ... Bones 9.17: Spartacus in the Kitchen ... Bones 9.18: Meets Day of the Triffids ... Bones 9.19: The Cornucopic Urn ... Bones 9.20: Above the Law ... Bones 9.21: Freezing and Thawing ... Bones 9.22: Promotion ... Bones 9.23: The New Intern ... Bones Season 9 Finale: Upping the Ante

And see also Bones 8.1: Walk Like an Egyptian ... Bones 8.2 of Contention ... Bones 8.3: Not Rotting Behind a Desk  ... Bones 8.4: Slashing Tiger and Donald Trump ... Bones 8.5: Applesauce on Election Eve ... Bones 8.6: Election Day ... Bones 8.7: Dollops in the Sky with Diamonds ...Bones 8.8: The Talking Remains ... Bones 8.9: I Am A Camera ... Bones 8.10-11: Double Bones ...Bones 8.12: Face of Enigmatic Evil ... Bones 8.13: Two for the Price of One ... Bones 8.14: Real Life ... Bones 8.15: The Magic Bullet and the Be-Spontaneous Paradox ... Bones 8.16: Bitter-Sweet Sweets and Honest Finn ... Bones 8.17: "Not Time Share, Time Travel" ... Bones 8.18: Couples ... Bones 8.19: The Head in the Toilet ... Bones 8.20: On Camera ... Bones 8.21: Christine, Hot Sauce, and the Judge ... Bones 8.22: Musical-Chair Parents ... Bones 8.23: The Bluff ... Bones Season 8 Finale: Can't Buy the Last Few Minutes

And see also Bones 7.1: Almost Home Sweet Home ... Bones 7.2: The New Kid and the Fluke ...Bones 7.3: Lance Bond and Prince Charmington ... Bones 7.4: The Tush on the Xerox ... Bones 7.5: Sexy Vehicle ... Bones 7.6: The Reassembler ... Bones 7.7: Baby! ... Bones 7.8: Parents ...Bones 7.9: Tabitha's Salon ... Bones 7.10: Mobile ... Bones 7.11: Truffles and Max ... Bones 7.12: The Corpse is Hanson ... Bones Season 7 Finale: Suspect Bones

And see also Bones 6.1: The Linchpin ... Bones 6.2: Hannah and her Prospects ... Bones 6.3 at the Jersey Shore, Yo, and Plymouth Rock ... Bones 6.4 Sans Hannah ... Bones 6.5: Shot and Pretty ... Bones 6.6: Accidental Relations ... Bones 6.7:  Newman and "Death by Chocolate" ...Bones 6.8: Melted Bones ... Bones 6.9: Adelbert Ames, Jr. ... Bones 6.10: Reflections ... Bones 6.11: The End and the Beginning of a Mystery ... Bones 6.12 Meets Big Love ... Bones 6.13: The Marrying Kind ... Bones 6.14: Bones' Acting Ability ... Bones 6.15: "Lunch for the Palin Family" ...Bones 6.16: Stuck in an Elevator, Stuck in Times ... Bones 6.17: The 8th Pair of Feet ... Bones 6.18: The Wile E. Chupacabra ... Bones 6.19 Test Runs The Finder ... Bones 6.20: This Very Statement is a Lie ... Bones 6.21: Sensitive Bones ... Bones 6.22: Phoenix Love ... Bones Season 6 Finale: Beautiful

And see also Bones: Hilarity and Crime and Bones is Back For Season 5: What Is Love? and 5.2: Anonymous Donors and Pipes and 5.3: Bones in Amish Country and 5.4: Bones Meets Peyton Place and Desperate Housewives and Ancient Bones 5.5 and Bones 5.6: A Chicken in Every Viewer's Pot and Psychological Bones 5.7 and Bones 5.8: Booth's "Pops" and Bones 5.9 Meets Avatar and Videogamers ... Bad Santa, Heart-Warming Bones 5.10 ... Bones 5.11: Of UFOs, Bloggers, and Triangles ... Bones 5.12: A Famous Skeleton and Angela's Baby ... Love with Teeth on Bones 5.13 ... Faith vs. Science vs. Psychology in Bones 5.14 ... Page 187 in Bones 5.15 ...Bones 100: Two Deep Kisses and One Wild Relationship ... Bones 5.17: The Deadly Stars ...Bones Under Water in 5.18 ... Bones 5.19: Ergo Together ...  Bones 5.20: Ergo Together ... Bones 5.21: The Rarity of Happy Endings ... Bones Season 5 Finale: Eye and Evolution


Neanderthal bones

Outlander Season 1 Finale: Let's Change History

I thought most of the previous episode of Outlander, two weeks ago, was unnecessarily violent and unwatchable, and therefore I didn't review it.   A lot of Game of Thrones is like that, too, and life's too short to write about that, also.  Some of tonight's season finale of Outlander continued the brutally graphic story we saw two weeks back, but there was enough about the episode that was redeeming, hence this review.

The best personal part of the episode - love can conquer and heal all - was well played and well motivated.   It was good to see Claire and Jamie together at the end.

Even better was what Claire proposes to Jamie - that she and he can try to change history, by connecting with Prince Charlie in France.  This raises a whole series of intriguing questions, attendant to any time traveler's attempt to change history.   If Claire succeeds, then how is it that she knew to want to change the future in the first place?   The multiple-worlds hypothesis in physics is the answer usually provided:  Claire 1, in World 1, in which the Scots are subsumed by the British, travels back in time, stops that subjugation, which creates World 2, in which the Scot Highlander culture thrives, independent of England.  In this World 2, Claire 2 has no knowledge of a Scotland under English control, but paradox is avoided because the agent of the change is not Claire 2 but Claire 1.  If these multiple worlds sound crazy, they're no more crazy than time travel itself.

Of course, there's another reason why Claire's attempt the change history won't rob her of the knowledge of the history that she wants to change:  Claire and Jamie's attempt to change history fails, and unfolds the way she - and we - know it.

It will be fun to see which of these scenarios plays out next season - or maybe it will be a third, completely different scenario (and, again, I have not yet read the books).   But one thing is certain: Claire is pregnant, and, if that baby comes to term, that will in itself dramatically change history for all concerned.

See also Outlander 1.1-3: The Hope of Time Travel ... Outlander 1.6:  Outstanding ... Outlander 1.7: Tender Intertemporal Polygamy ...Outlander 1.8: The Other Side ... Outlander 1.9: Spanking Good ... Outlander 1.10: A Glimmer of Paradox ... Outlander 1.11: Vaccination and Time Travel ... Outlander 1.12: Black Jack's Progeny ...Outlander 1.13: Mother's Day ... Outlander 1.14: All That Jazz

Sierra Waters series, #1, time travel


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Following Ends

The Following concluded its three-year run on Monday, and I gotta say I was sorry to see it go. Though it started off slowly this season, it ended on one of its most riveting notes, a lot better, in fact, than anything in the second season.

Michael Ealy as Theo was a great sociopathic brilliant villain, in many ways better than Joe, though James Purefoy's performance as Ryan Hardy's signature nemesis was unassailable.  Max really came into her own in the end, with her radiant smile and love for Mike, and it would have good to see them finally together for a while next season.   Kevin Bacon as Hardy was outstanding throughout.

So where did The Following go wrong this final season?   Too little Joe, too late in the story.  Too much Mark, who should either have been killed last season or very early in this.   And too many heads of the unit or whatever they're called in the FBI - just one or two would made for a more appealing character.

The ending of The Following was excellent.  Ryan himself now living in the shadows - to protect his new family - and, for all we know, Theo alive, too.   This seems like more than enough for a new season, and maybe there'll be one, if Netflix or Amazon or some other streaming service come to the rescue.

But with the death of Joe Carroll,  the story won't quite be about a following any more.  Theo is brilliant - but, as far we've seen, has inspired nothing like the following that worked so well under Joe's leadership in the first season.  Still, the Ryan, Max, and Mike characters are different from what we usually see on television, and compelling.   And Theo is clearly one of the most ruthless, ingenious villains we've yet seen on TV, running rings around the psychos of Criminal Minds and even The Blacklist.

Hey, I'll be back here for sure with more reviews if The Following's back somewhere, sometime.

And see also The Following Is Back for Its Second Season ... The Following 2.2: Rediscovering Oneself ... The Following 2.3: Coalescing ... The Following 2.4: Psycho Families and Trains ... The Following 2.5: Turning Tides ... The Following 2.8: Coalescing? ... The Following 2.9: The Book Signing ... The Following 2.11: Lily not Joe ... The Following 2.13: The Downfall of Mike ...The Following 2.14: Twists and Deaths ...  The Following Season 2 Finale: The Living

And see also The Following Begins ... The Following 1.2: Joe, Poe, and the Plan ... The Following 1.3: Bug in the Sun ... The Following 1.4: Off the Leash ... The Following 1.5:  The Lawyer and the Swap ... The Following 1.7: At Large ... The Following 1.9: All in a Name, Or, Metaphor in the Service of Murder ... The Following 1.13: At Last Something of a Day for the Good Guys ... The Following Season 1 Finale: Doing Dead


Like a Neanderthal serial killer in the current world? Try The Silk Code

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mad Men: The End of an Era and the Ultimate Cool

I've been saying lately that we're in the third golden age of television, epitomized by House of Cards streaming all at once on Netflix.  Mad Men was one of the stalwarts of the second golden age - the revolution of cable over network and the first golden age of television in the 1950s.  Mad Men debuted just a month after the conclusion of The Sopranos, which initiated the second golden age.  And tonight Mad Men concluded in its turn, as well.  It was advertised as the end of an era, and it was - the end of cable television as the undisputed creative edge of television drama.

As for the stories themselves in this final episode, there was a lot that was good in them, even satisfying in some cases.  The best of this was Peggy finding happiness and true love at last with Stan.   Pete's ending is happy, too, and so is Roger's.

Joan's is bitter sweet,   In order to pursue her creative, professional self, she has to give up the man she loves.   The lesson there is that in the society of the early 1970s, at least, it was difficult for a woman, in contrast to a man, to have both.  Mad Men has been brilliant in showing the struggles of professional women in that era.  Presumably our world has improved at least a little in that regard since then.

And Don?  His ending is the most frustrating - for the audience as well as him.  He perhaps has finally shed the illusion that he built around himself, but what's left?  I always thought that Don Draper was the most real part of Dick Whitman, and now Don has neither.

Or maybe not.   Who did the Coke commercial we see at the very end?   Peggy and Stan would be the logical people, since we saw Peggy talking to Don on the phone about his doing it, which means it was certainly on her mind.   But could Don have gone back to New York and done it himself?   Or, was Peggy, Don's greatest student, finally putting into best practice what she learned from the master?  Or, in perhaps the happiest ending that went unseen, maybe the three worked on it together.

My wife correctly points out that Don has a motive to go back to New York - to be with his kids - and the Coke commercial could easily have been inspired by that Esalen or whatever hippy therapy group that was.  This would constitute an epic conquering and co-option of the flower-power counter-culture by the brazen commercialism of advertising via the reconstituted Don.  On the other hand, Don sitting there with that beatific smile on his face is a very long distance from Manhattan.

Matthew Weiner, like David Chase before him, is a master of ambiguity. Instead of the sudden cut to black in The Sopranos, we get the Coke commercial - which, in terms of the most important things in life, is itself a blackness or a celebration of nothingness, just a stupid soft drink with caffein.  It's the real unreal thing, the ultimate McLuhanesque medium cool, a canvass that invites us to fill in the story.

But isn't that what Mad Men has always been most about, a celebration of illusions writ large, perpetrated by professionals and self-generated by consumers, in advertising and true life stories alike?  I don't know for sure, but I sure enjoyed the ride.

-> 20-minute interview with Rich Sommer (Harry Crane) in 2007 at Light On Light Through

See also Mad Men 7.1: Vignettes and Playboy ... Mad Men 7.2:  Flowers and the Hung-Up Phone ... Mad Men 7.3: "Lunch with Rod Serling" ... Mad Men 7.4: Computer! ... Mad Men 7.5: Retrofit Paranoia ... Mad Men 7.6: The Dance ...  Mad Men Mid-Season 7 Finale: Telescope vs. Television ... Mad Men 7.8: Don, Rachel, and the Waitress ... Mad Men 7.9: Fast Ride ... Mad Men 7.10: "Fast Girl" ... Mad Men 7.11: The End of Sterling, Cooper, Draper. ... Mad Men 7.12: Poor Betty

And see also Mad Men 6.1-2: The Lighter and the Twist ... Mad Men 6.3: Good Company ... Mad Men 6.4: McLuhan, Heinz, and Don's Imagination ... Mad Men 6.5: MLK ... Mad Men 6.6: Good News Comes in a Chevy ...  Mad Men 6.7: Merger and Margarine ... Mad Men 6.8: Dr. Feelgood and Grandma Ida ... Mad Men 6.9: Don and Betty ... Mad Men 6.10: Medium Cool ... Mad Men 6.11: Hand in the Cookie Jar and Guy de Maupassant ... Mad Men 6.12: Rosemary's Baby, Dick Cheney, and Sunkist ... Mad Men Season 6 Finale: Beyond California

And see also Why "You Only Live Twice" for Mad Men Season 5 Finale ... Mad Men Season Five Finale

And see also Mad Men Season 5 Debut: It's Don's Party  ... Mad Men 5.3: Heinz Is On My Side ... Mad Men 5.4: Volunteer, Dream, Trust ... Mad Men 5.5: Ben Hargrove ... Mad Men 5.6: LSD Orange ... Mad Men 5.7: People of High Degree ... Mad Men 5.8: Mad Man and Gilmore Girl ...Mad Men 5.9: Don's Creativity  ... Mad Men 5.10: "The Negron Complex" ... Mad Men 5.11: Prostitution and Power ... Mad Men 5.12: Exit Lane

And from Season 4: Mad Men 4.1: Chicken Kiev, Lethal Interview, Ham Fight ... 4.2: "Good Time, Bad Time?" "Yes." ... 4.3: Both Coasts ... 4.4: "The following program contains brief nudity ..." 4.5: Fake Out and Neurosis ... 4.6: Emmys, Clio, Blackout, Flashback  ... 4.7: 'No Credits on Commercials' ... 4.8: A Tale of Two Women ... 4.9: "Business of Sadists and Masochists" ...4.10: Grim Tidings ... 4.11: "Look at that Punim" ... 4.12: No Smoking!  ... Mad Men Season 4 Finale: Don and -

And from Season 3Mad Men Back for 3 and 3.2: Carvel, Penn Station, and Diet Soda and 3.3: Gibbon, Blackface, and Eliot and 3.4: Caned Seats and a Multiple Choice about Sal's Patio Furniture and 3.5: Admiral TV, MLK, and a Baby Boy and 3.6: A Saving John Deere and 3.7: Brutal Edges ... August Flights in 3.8 ... Unlucky Strikes and To the Moon Don in 3.9 ... 3.10: The Faintest Ink, The Strongest Television ... Don's Day of Reckoning in Mad Men 3.11 ... Mad Men 3.12: The End of the World in Mad Men ... Mad Men Season 3 Finale: The End of the World

And from Season TwoMad Men Returns with a Xerox and a Call Girl ... 2.2: The Advertising Devil and the Deep Blue Sea ... 2.3 Double-Barreled Power ... 2.4: Betty and Don's Son ... 2.5: Best Montage Since Hitchcock ... 2.6: Jackie, Marilyn, and Liberty Valance ... 2.7: Double Dons... 2.8: Did Don Get What He Deserved? ... 2.9: Don and Roger ... 2.10: Between Ray Bradbury and Telstar ... 2.11: Welcome to the Hotel California ... 2.12 The Day the Earth Stood Still on Mad Men ... 2.13 Saving the Best for Last on Mad Men

And from Season OneMad Men Debuts on AMC: Cigarette Companies and Nixon ... Mad Men 2: Smoke and Television ... Mad Men 3: Hot 1960 Kiss ... Mad Men 4 and 5: Double Mad Men ...Mad Men 6: The Medium is the Message! ... Mad Men 7: Revenge of the Mollusk ... Mad Men 8: Weed, Twist, Hobo ... Mad Man 9: Betty Grace Kelly ... Mad men 10: Life, Death, and Politics ...Mad Men 11: Heat! ... Mad Men 12: Admirable Don ... Mad 13: Double-Endings, Lascaux, and Holes