Thursday, April 04, 2013

Do you prefer your zombies hot or cold?

Sunday night was a big night for geeks. In fact, it was kind of like the geek Superbowl. Over on AMC you had the third season finale of The Walking Dead and the long-promised show down between Rick and the Governor. And at the same exact time on HBO there was the third season premiere of Game of Thrones.

What's a girl to do?

Luckily I have a DVR so I wasn't forced to make any hard decisions. But I feel bad for those who aren't so lucky. Though let's be honest, if you have HBO you probably have some kind of digital television recording device.

In any event, it was definitely a "Hello, Goodbye" type of situation that unfortunately worked out way better for one show and not so great for the other. Let's start with the good stuff first!

Game of Thrones Season 3 Premiere

I feel like I could actually go back and just cut and paste from my review of the Second Season premiere. In fact....
[Valar Dohaeris] does what any good season premiere should--it establishes where the characters are, what they want, and what they are doing. Since last season, the many (many) characters in the Game of Thrones universe are scattered throughout the Seven Kingdoms, and Dany is still wandering across the sea (and don't expect that to change any time soon).
Hmm...strikingly familiar, eh? Season 3 expands the Game of Throne's character base yet again--though this time it seems like we are seeing more familiar faces that have decided to come back around.  Hey look, it's Salladhor Saan! And Barristan Selmy! These guys were very minor characters in the earlier seasons, so you're forgiven if when you saw them your reaction was more "huh?" rather than "DUN!" As someone who has read the books multiple times their reappearance wasn't a surprise to me, but I am sure that if I was just going by the tv show I would have had to do some interneting to try and remember just who the heck these guys were.

Despite the lack of substantial plot movement, the premiere was a solid episode. There was a lot to establish and a lot of characters to revisit, and once again the writers managed to make it all flow naturally without a "and now let's go check in on X character!" feeling. I won't recap where everyone is right now, but there is definitely a feeling of the more things change, the more they stay the same. Tyrion is still getting shit on by everyone in King's Landing, Tywin is still a total badass/jerkface, Cersei is still a cunthammer, Dany is STILL trying to find an army (side note--how creepy/badass are the Unsullied??), and Robb and his Mom are still wandering around looking for Lannisters to fight. Oh, and Margaery is still proving that she will be a major, if underestimated, player in the game of thrones.

In the book: has nose cut off.
In the show: rakishly handsome scar. Oh, television.

The only real advancement in plot occurred up North, where Jon Snow met with some of the new Season 3 characters, notably Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall. He's played by, "Hey! It's That Guy," CiarĂ¡n Hinds, who seems to have the mix of gravitas and charisma that the role requires. Not just anyone could unite the wildlings or impress Tormund Giantsbane. Or actual giants, for that matter. Did I mention the giants?

Speaking of the North, it was gratifying that Season 3 picked up right where Season 2 left off, with Sam running about in the snow after spotting the White Walker group headed for the camp of the Night's Watch. Seems like he missed the party, er, battle, but at least some of the Crows seem to have come through it ok. Though Lord Commander Mormont certainly gave him a talking to for not sending the messenger crows with word of the fight. Whoops! Sorry Sam, those 3 minutes are all you get this week!

God, I just want to put my hands into those curls....and pull on them REALLY HARD. Just me?

And that's kind of the big problem with Game of Thrones at this point. The subplots have become so numerous and the characters so far geographically from one another, that it feels like in each episode we are only sampling small pieces of a buffet rather than enjoying a full satisfying meal. Don't get me wrong--it's an embarrassment of riches really, since the show is gorgeous and wonderful. But right when you settle into a meaty scene, like between Tyrion and Tywin or Little Finger and Sansa, it's time to whisk away across the continent to visit someone else for 5 minutes. For goodness sake, we didn't even get a chance to see Arrya or Jamie Lannister in this episode.

After going through the Season 2 rewatch last week, it's clear that the best way to think about Game of Thrones is as a 10 hour movie or miniseries, rather than a 10 piece episodic tale. There's just way too much to enjoy in one hour of television.  This of course makes the week break between episodes so maddening. Still, we play the cards we are dealt and if HBO leaves us salivating for each new episode....then I suppose they should consider raising a "Mission Accomplished" banner. Because THAT is the way to run a network.

The Walking Dead Season 3 Finale

Oh, for fuck's sake. Really? That's it?

What is it about this show? The first episodes of the season start so promisingly and then the wheels start spinning....and nothing seems to happen. We've spent the last 4 episodes sitting around talking about this big showdown between Woodbury and our prison folks...and then it lasts like 2 seconds and involves some kind of bait and switch where nothing really occurs.

Truth in advertising.

Sure, Andrea and Milton died. But was ANYONE really invested in Andrea at this point? She has made the most spectacularly poor decisions of anyone in pretty much any zombie apocalypse ever, so excuse me for not caring that she had to die. The ONLY reason her death actually matters to me at all is because of whatever effect is will have on Michonne (who is pretty much the only consistently awesome thing that got added to the show in Season 3).

Alright, so I know I am engaging in a lot of hyperbole here. A shit ton of stuff actually happened in Season 3, including the deaths of many other characters (including Lori who was arguably the second "biggest" character after Rick), but what does it say about the show that it seems like nothing happened? Because it sure feels like this group of people has spent most of the zombie apocalypse sitting around chatting with each other.  Add to that the growing number of inconsistencies (hilariously listed by Buzzfeed here), and the show has become more of a chore than a treat to watch.

I'm not saying I'm going to stop tuning in. There is always the promise that next season they'll get things right (though how many of us felt that way after Season 2)...and the show can still make me want to curl up in a little ball on my couch from tension and scariness. But. BUT. There's only so much a girl can take. Hopefully the writers will focus more on the good stuff from this season--like the evolution of minor characters like Carol and the expansion of the world the characters live in--rather than the bad. Because I'm not sure how much more chit chat I can take, or how much crazier they can make the governor. Stop beating it, that horse is dead.

Let's be honest. I'll keep watching as long as Daryl is alive and kicking. Any self-respecting Boondock Saints fan would do the same.

So, to recap. The season premiere of Game of Thrones left me practically chomping at the bit for the next episodes. But the season finale of The Walking Dead? Eh, I guess I'll continue watching when it comes back. And that pretty much sums it up, doesn't it?


Arsenic Pie said...

I haven't seen either, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. What exactly is a "cunthammer"? Is that a technical term?

Maggie Cats said...

A cunthammer is someone who is so horrible, that they are actually beating you down with their constant barrage of horribleness.

I have to credit the Oatmeal with it though.

Arsenic Pie said...

That's an excellent word. I'm going to use it in a sentence today.

Clovis said...

This kind of breaks my heart, because I gave up on Walking Dead after season 2 failed to do anything, but I keep hearing that "it's gotten better." Then I read actual reactions to it and figure, no. No it hasn't. I want a thoughtful zombie show to exist on television. It just seems clear that this will never be that show.

Maggie Cats said...

For some reason the phrase "thoughtful zombie show" just really tickled me.

Honestly, I don't care if it's thoughtful. I just want it to have lots and lots of action. And right now The Walking Dead is like 2 minutes of zombies and 43 minutes of standing around and chatting about our feelings. LAME.