Sunday, February 20, 2011

Another new Game of Thrones preview

This one includes some new footage we haven't seen before, including some brief glimpses of Daenerys's wedding and a good look at the Dragon Skulls beneath The Red Keep.

Can't wait!

Winter comes in eight weeks!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My favorite things I have been watching

Sorry this is late...real life interrupted in a big way over the last week or so.

So...what's been going on in the magical world of television while I have been gone?

- The return of Justified. Haven't watched last night's episode yet, but sweet tomato on a cracker, it is great to have Raylan Givens on my television again. Love the new "bad guys" (which includes two LOST cast members, most notably Jeremy Davies in a very non-Faraday role), and of course the dialogue and acting were as top notch as ever.

- Last week's episode of Raising Hope. I didn't enjoy this week as much (too much Granny, who is the Pierce F'ing Hawthorne of this show), but last week was certainly a triumphant return. Garret Dillahunt and Martha Plimpton are simply amazing, the rest of the cast holds its own (with the exception noted earlier), and Hope is possibly the cutest baby currently on television.

(included the picture just because I think it's hilarious)

- Last week's Chuck episode. This past week was just a'ight for me, Dawg, but last week know what, I don't remember anything about why I liked it, except for this.

Honestly, I think that is enough. I know Bernie agrees with me.

- The return of the Alt-Universe on Fringe. For the past two plus seasons, the writing staff and showrunner Jeff Pinkner have been conducting a master class on how to compose a serialized sci-fi procedural. A big part of their success is how they have handled the Alt-Universe stories. The amount of time spent swapping episodes back and forth between the "Red" and "Blue" worlds went on just long enough to be intriguing without getting tiresome, and now I think they waited the exact right amount of time before sending us back for an episode. I had not even realized how much I missed the "Other Side" until I saw that gigantic Zeppelin cruising past the Empire State Building. And the case of the week was Fringe at its creepy best. Love this show.

- Shawn Ryan does it again with The Chicago Code. As much as I loved the pilot episode, this past week's was even better. The characters are already getting so much deeper, particularly Jason Clarke's fantastic performance as Jarek Wysocki. I seriously can not wait to see where this show is going, as we are already seeing the shades of grey and line-blurring that Shawn Ryan likes to do and does so well. This show has quickly become a must-watch for me.

-GROUP NIGHT, GROUP NIGHT, GROUP NIIIIGGGHHHHTTTT!!!!!! of my very favorite things in the whole wide's Group Night on American Idol!

Here is how Jacob over at Television Without Pity previewed it (with some editing for family-friendly reading):
"Ridiculous people: Shake out meaninglessly into Popular, Unpopular, Other. Turn on each other in the middle of the night, splitting up and forming new groups halfway through rehearsing that will never be as tight, as strong, as complete. Wander the halls, looking eternally for your group, like a hotel ghost; never find them. Crying jags in stairwells and hallways, frantic calls home in the starry smoggy night.

This is your only shot, your only chance, this is the bigtime. This is your Ambling Alp, your Waterloo, the Clare Quilty that stands between you and superstardom. You don't want it bad enough, you want it too badly, you are not a team player, you are not standing out. Turn in early and get a good night's sleep, while your competitors rage on. Stay up all night watching colors roll down the walls.

Choose absurdity. Work the accompanist's and vocal coaches' last f'ing nerve. Fight about minor details while letting major s**t fall through your hands. Start crying halfway through when you realize you can't do this, live and onstage. Ditch a girl, then ask her at breakfast where she went.

Get pissy about the choreography, discuss the choreography at length, make friends over choreography, lose friends for no real reason, they were never your friends, this is summercamp for borderline hysterics. "

Yeah, that pretty much covers it. Group Night could be nine hours long and I would happily watch every single second. And last night lived up to my expectations for the most part, other than the fact that there weren't any groups where one guy/girl decides to go to bed at like 11 while the rest of the group stays up all night, and then they meet up at that deliciously awkward breakfast. Those are always a highlight.

Oh, what were the highlights? So glad you asked!
- The cherubic 15-year old Jacee being heartlessly booted from his group in the middle of the night, only to be scooped into the arms of the carrot-topped anti-bullying hero Brett Lowenstern, culminating in a tear-filled passage into the next round, at which point poor little Jacee is going to be eaten alive by the pressure and endure years and years of intense psychotherapy.

- I hated the stage mothers of the 15-16 year old group "The Minors" (wonder if the producers forced that name on them to keep Steven Tyler away from them?), but that didn't mean I didn't take joy in how much frustration they were causing everybody around them.

- "I have a GREAT idea...let's all of us attractive females pull Steven Tyler on stage with us and sing and dance around him, and let him pull faces and randomly sing into the mic and have a blast. It will be so much fun that there is no WAY they won't let us through!"

"Lauren - you stay, cause we said after your audition that you were probably going to win. The rest of you? Your journey ends here."


- The absolute joy of watching the horrible Tiffany Rios wander around the auditorium full of people that she completely dissed earlier in the day, begging for someone to take her into her group.
Tiffany: Do you want me in your group?
Random awesome dude, totally straight faced: No.
Tiffany: Are you serious right now? ?
Random awesome dude, still totally straight faced: Yes.

This was followed by some poor attractive blond girl making what she is surely ruing today as the worst mistake of her life and joining up with this no-talent delusional horror show, which meant she was of course eliminated after about two lines of their doomed duet.

Oh, Group Night....I miss you already.

- The season premiere of the Rob-Russell showdown on Survivor. As I have said before, last season of Survivor was the first one that I actually watched from start to finish, and I was completely unimpressed. Watching last night, however, I can see why the show has lasted 22 seasons. It's amazing what having actually compelling people who seem to have an idea as to how to play the game can do.

And, yes...the show confirmed my suspicions. I do in fact hate Russell.

What about you guys? What are your favorite things that you are watching?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

More Game of Thrones goodness

Loved, absolutely loved this post from Tower of the Hand. The little nugget in the story about what is going on with the dog who plays the direwolf Lady in the series was particularly heartwarming, considering her story in the show (which I will not be spoiling ahead of time).

And every time I see pictures like this one of the young actors playing some of the key roles, I get even more excited about the show. They really do seem absolutely perfectly cast, and they seem to have a great chemistry with each other already.

That's Sophie Turner (Sansa), Isaac Hempstead-Wright (Bran), and Maisie Williams (Arya), by the way....along with Zunni (Lady).

Winter is Coming...only 67 more days!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My favorite things I watched last week (including my very late thoughts on Signing Day)

- Crowell and his AWWWWWWWW PUPPY! For any Dawg fan, the absolute best thing on television last week was probably this:

Also, pretty cool story on where that adorable puppy came from in the Ledger-Enquirer.

Obviously, I am thrilled with the way the Dream Team came together. The coaching staff did a tremendous job pulling a class like this coming off the last two years we have had on the field.

I will make one small side note...Richt got pretty lucky in the fact that in a year when he DESPERATELY needed a huge recruiting class, the state of Georgia was loaded with talent even by the state's normally lofty standards.

Even so, all of that talent was being heavily recruited by some of the biggest names in the country, and Richt and his staff was able to fend them off for the most part and put together a class that has the potential to be one that we look back on as the turning point of Richt's tenure as head coach.

The flip side, of course, is that there is TONS of pressure now on these kids...The Dream Team concept was fun, and it certainly worked as a recruiting tool, but the fanbase (myself included) now looks at them as guys who are going to turn the program around. Time will tell if that is the case, or if February 2, 2011 will be the high point.

One of the things I love about this class is how diverse it is from a positional standpoint (and Bubba 'n' Earl beat me to this point by a few days). With only a very slight amount of finagling, I can actually put together an entire starting lineup out of this class.

(Assuming a one back-3WR set on offense, standard 3-4 look on defense)

QB - Lemay
RB - Crowell
WR - Mitchell, Wesley, Conley
TE - Rome
OL - Ward, Dantzler, Andrews, Long, Debell (this one may get a little tricky, as far as tackle/guard combos, but it's conceivable)

DL - Bailey, Jenkins, Mayes
LB - Drew, Turene, Herrera, Wilson
CB - Swann, Marshall
S - Sanders, Moore

Seriously...I could make the argument that our starting lineup in 2013 might be pretty close to this, other than the fact that Jenkins will be gone after 2012. I know Bailey might actually play OLB, but he could also put on about 10 more pounds and fit right in at the 3-4 DE spot.

I also like the fact that we signed six offensive linemen, and none of them necessarily HAVE to play this year. We are really building some quality depth at that position, and that makes me happy.

Overall, fantastic job by the coaching staff, and definitely my favorite thing I watched last week.

- Most of Community. I really enjoyed last week's episode of Community, although like a lot of the really good Community episodes, it wasn't for everybody. I liked the conceit that the story was being told like a sci-fi/fantasy novel, I loved Senor Chang's costume and the entire scene setting up the game. I am in no way a D&D gamer, but I am familiar enough with the concept of RPG's in general that the way Abed was running the game brought plenty of laughs. The story itself was sort of Community at its best, in that it played around with a theme (the whole Dungeons and Dragons thing) while still having a soft gooey center of a heart (the group trying to cheer up and possibly save Fat Neal).

The one thing I didn't like is the one thing I always don't like when it comes to Community...Pierce Freaking Hawthorne. There is absolutely nothing likeable about this character or Chevy Chase's heavy-handed portrayal of him. The wonderful folks over at the Extra Hot Great podcast did a great job this week in talking about the long history of jerks in sitcoms and why they work, and why Pierce in no way works as that character. Bottom line is that I think this show would be tons better if you just took the character out of the show and gave his lines to other characters who could deliver them in a more effective way.

But Pierce is a problem every week...overall, this was one of my favorite Community episodes so far this season.

- Downton Abbey. Not going to go into a whole lot of detail on this aired for four weeks on PBS as part of their Masterpiece Classics series, and the finale was last Sunday. A British period drama set in the time period between the Titanic and the beginning of WWI, it was tremendously acted, well written, beautiful to look at, and just made me feel smart as I watched it. If it's not your thing, you would hate it...but it was one of my favorite things, and I am already looking forward to the second season. It doesn't hurt that the family that make up the main characters is the Grantham family, so I got to pretend it was actually about my ancestors.

Just for of my favorite scenes from the show, including a great line from the fantastic Maggie Smith. This scene pretty much spells out one of the dynamics of the series...the difference between even the upper middle class and the ridiculously rich in early 20th century England:

- Yep...Parks And Recreation. Again. My favorite comedy on television provided another hilarious episode. Being the only male in a house dominated by females who have totally bought into the Vampire craze, I especially loved the whole Twilight plot, especially Tom's excitement at discovering the books. The easy way out would have been to make fun of Twilight as the puffy piece of tween girl nonsense that it is, but the writers took the story in a much fresher direction, and it was ultimately much funnier because of it.

- The Chicago Code. This was technically not "last week" since it premiered last night, but since this post is a couple days late I can throw it in here. This is the latest from Shawn Ryan, the creator of The Shield (the much respected series that is next on my iTunes list, right after I finish Deadwood), and the fantastic and much-lamented Terriers (maybe my favorite series of 2010). I was very impressed with the pilot episode, especially if you apply the grading curve that I normally apply to pilots (due to the level of difficulty involved with introducing entirely new characters in an entirely new show universe, while still telling a compelling story). I am especially excited about Jason Clarke's character (Det. Wysocki (sp?)), who seemed sort of cool, funny, dark, and quirky all at once. The acting in general seems to be top notch, the show makes good use of its on-location shooting in Chicago, and most of all...the American viewing public OWES it to Shawn Ryan to watch this show, after failing miserably at keeping Terriers on the air despite its awesomey goodness.

Pretty slow week overall, for me...some of my favorite shows (like Chuck, Cougar Town, Fringe) fell into the good-not-great category for me.

Looking forward this week to the return of Raising Hope (I know...I'm as shocked as you are that I actually have become a big fan of this show) and, especially, Justified. (Wednesday at 10 on FX...check it out)

What about you? What are your favorite things that you are watching? Am I missing anything good?