It has been a completely crazy last month or so and I know I am way behind on my blog so while I have a few days before the onslaught of fall TV, I just wanted to make some comments about the shows that I have been watching during the twilight of summer.
Game of Thrones:
The penultimate season of Game of Thrones gave us a scant 7 episodes but several were packed with amazing special effects and some great battles. I think the show has struggled since it went beyond the books. The world that George R.R. Martin created is so complex and intricate with deep history and substantive characters/dialogue that it gave the HBO creators a writer’s feast from which to create the show. Once that was gone and the showrunners had to create the storylines with little guidance, I have found the character development lacking and the focus on huge battles and dragons. Not that I mind battles and dragons (this season the latter were spectacular) but there is so much more that could have been done.
In my opinion, Season 7 was very rushed. People moved between far locations with lightning speed. Key actions happened without the careful construction of the plot leading up to them. I’m not sure why Weiss and Benioff decided to do only 7 shows this season and 6 in the final season but even with some extended episodes, there was so much missing in terms of background explanations as to why characters acted the way they did. A prime example of this was in the finale when Sansa and Aria executed Littefinger for no obvious reason. Apparently in a discarded scene, Bran informed them of the nefarious things Littlefinger did but the finale didn’t explain it at all. I just feel the showrunners are tired of writing from George R.R. Martin notes and just want it all to be over. It doesn’t give me great hope for next season other than I’m sure there will be some great dragon/battle scenes but the long, wonderful dialog sequences will be something we will need to go back to the first few seasons for.
I love Game of Thrones but I wish we had the books finished so that the showrunners could give us the story we deserve. I hope the novels will someday be completed (although I may not live long enough to see it given Martin’s history) to get the full measure of this amazing world.
Halt and Catch Fire (AMC)
Halt and Catch Fire commenced its fourth and final season last month and so far, it is great. This is a terrific under-the-radar show about the beginnings of Silicon Valley and the computer and internet revolution. It addresses some of the issues women in technology have faced as well as the exciting world of start-up tech companies. This season is focused on the development of internet search engines and is fascinating. The acting is great, the characters terrific and the history pretty accurate from what I can tell.
If you haven’t seen Halt and Catch Fire, the first three seasons are on Netflix. The second and third are fantastic. The first season is somewhat inconsistent (as many first seasons are) as the show tries to find its footing. One critic who I highly respect suggested that if you want to see the show and have limited time, watch the pilot and the last four episodes of Season 1 along with all of Seasons 2&3. Enjoy!
You’re the Worst (FXX)
In last season’s finale, Jimmy asked Gretchen to marry him, she said “yes” and then he panicked and drove off into the sunset. This season begins with Jimmy living in a trailer park with no access to the internet or phone and Gretchen trying to move on. They don’t see each other until the end of the third episode which just aired. I’m not sure where we are going from there but I’m in for the ride. I love this show about four of the most dysfunctional and damaged (along with mentally ill) people you will ever come across. Chris Geere and Aya Cash as Jimmy and Gretchen are so good in their roles and Desmin Borges (Edgar) and Kether Donohue (Lindsay) are equally up to the task as their sidekicks.
The show went to a dark place with Gretchen’s bi-polar disorder and I’m hoping it lightens up a bit this year, as it is supposed to be a comedy. The first three episodes seem to be headed back toward its comedic roots and I like that Edgar and Kether are getting more screen time. The four leads are the soul of the show and Jimmy and Gretchen is just too intense without some comedic relief by other characters. I’m so glad this show is back!
Top of the Lake China Girl (Sundance)
I watched the first Top of the Lake miniseries in 2013 and thought it to be one of the finest shows of the year so I was excited that Jane Campion has brought it back. Unfortunately, four years later, I remember very little about the first series and when I launched into this new season, it became clear very quickly that I needed to recall what happened to make Elisabeth Moss’s character (Robin Griffin) so damaged. I know she was raped but some of the other psychological issues need reading up on. One thing that is clear from the two episodes I have seen is that the misogyny is non-stop and after the last two years of listening to it spewing from the Republican candidate now President, it is pretty hard to take for my entertainment.
This season adds Nicole Kidman who has had such a banner year in both film and TV and who I think is one of our finest actresses out there. However, her introduction in Episode 1 resulted in a performance I found to be stiff and unbelievable – it was slightly improved in the second Episode. Gwendoline Christie is another new character although I think she is better in Game of Thrones. I am going to stick with this as I think that any show created by Jane Campion and starring Nicole Kidman and Elizabeth Moss deserves my attention but I do have concerns that this may turn out to be more like Season 2 of True Detective than Season 2 of the Americans.