SIONR: Stop Complaining About How Short Season Seven of Game of Thrones Is

One of the biggest complaints I am seeing all over the Internet is as follows – “why is this season of Game of Thrones so short?!  Everything is so rushed!  Why can’t they take more time and get to know the characters more?  I mean, all Sam does is move the plot forward!  It’s boring!”  That may be a bit longer than I had thought, but I wanted to basically encapsulate all the complaints that I’m hearing in the same space.  Generally speaking, anyway.  And it’s frustrating.  Because it’s like people haven’t really been paying attention.

Here’s the thing – Game of Thrones is the most ambitious television series ever produced.  There isn’t a single comparison to be made, anywhere.  This series has done with no others have even attempted to do.  Because of that, they have had to make a lot of sacrifices.  There are a TON of plotlines from the books that are either distorted or outright gone.  Why?  Because they don’t have the time, or another crucial element that everyone who is bitching seems to forget about – money.  This series’ price tag has gotten astronomically-large.  A lot of critics have wondered if the series has gotten to the point that it’s too expensive to keep making.  A valid question.  So, when the lead writers said that they only have 13 episodes worth of plot, any normal person would wonder – why not have some filler stuff.  Little things where we take a break and get to know the characters more.  That’s smart.  The simple reality is that doing that takes more time and budget to shoot longer.

I understand how some people are a little annoyed.  Yeah, it’s weird how characters are able to traverse great distances in ye olde times with great speed.  But you know what I do?  I do that thing called critical thinking.  It’s a lost art in the age of conservative and liberal hand-wringing that eschews nuance completely.  How many episodes would they have needed to realistically have Greyworm get the Unsullied to Casterly Rock?  At least two or three.  They have to speed things up.  There isn’t enough plot left to fill in that kind of time.  So yes, Jon Snow made it from Winterfell to White Harbor and then to Dragonstone in the span of a single episode.  Hell, not even that.  The series has at least attempted to make the audience understand that there are weeks going between episodes, but that part has been admittedly clumsy.

And sure, there is a ton of stuff that I’d like to see.  Like, why didn’t Ghost go with Jon?  What a way to have them get to know each other.  Him being the father of a dire wolf with the mother of dragons?  That seems like a good way for them to bond.  I’ve missed Ghost.  He has barely been in the series since the very beginning of last season.  But then I remember – dire wolves have to be animated.  And that takes money.  Money that HBO unfortunately can’t spare.  We may never see Ghost again.  That will suck.  I hope he survives until the end.  There’s only one other dire wolf left.  Thankfully we did get to see that Nymeria is okay.  I’m really glad about that.  Not glad that Arya went back to Winterfell.  I thought her deal with seeing Nymeria and saying she doesn’t belong there anymore took it to mean that she doesn’t belong in Winterfell, so she was going to go south and finish her mission.  But nope.  Kinda disappointed with that.  Not gonna lie.

The point of all this rambling nonsense is that HBO has to do the best it can with what they’ve got.  They are out of plot and the budget just keeps growing.  They’re too invested in this to stop now, but the studio can’t let this series bankrupt them.  From a financial standpoint I understand their problems.  For all of us, it means that we get less show to watch.  But if what we see was like last night, with Drogon setting an entire army on fire, then yes, please, more of that.  I love the political stuff in the series the most, but I got a raging nerd hard-on for how cool that is.  Let’s enjoy how great this series is for as long as we can’t.  One more season, and that’s it.

Until next time, a quote,

“You can’t always get what you want.  But if you try sometimes, you get what you need.” – Lyrics by The Rolling Stones

Peace out,

Maverick

Offering $25,000 For a Likeable Atheist Character. Seriously?

I wrote on this topic before, when I pointed out that people wanted an atheist character who everyone thinks is just tops is stupid.  The examples of atheist characters they had were, according to the person who made the meme associated with it, totally unlikeable.  You had the likes of Dr. Gregory House, from House MD.  There was Dexter Morgan from Dexter.  There was Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory.  There was Dr. Cox from Scrubs.  You know what all those characters have in common – they are almost-all fan-favorites from their respective shows.  The fans of the people who watch the series think that they are the most interesting characters.  So, how does that display unlikeability?  I want to know.  Is the idea to appeal to all the little easily-butthurt Christians?  If they see that the character is an atheist, they are going to hate him/her, regardless of how good a character they are.

However, now the person who made that has decided to make a fake contest offering $25,000 for a person to create a likeable atheist character.  As if all of this couldn’t get any dumber, now there has to be money riding on it.  This seriously annoys me, because it ignores some critical elements.  To show this, I am going to enter my own atheist character and show the flaws of this person’s argument once and for all.

My likeable atheist character is Ling.  She’s an Asian-American.  At 30 years old, she works as a coder for a tech company, but lives in Chicago, doing the work long-distance.  They are currently designing a new device that will create holographic technology without the need of something you wear on your head.  Suck on that, Microsoft!  That sure is neat.  The company is young, and she was one of the people who helped start it.  It is looking to go public and she could be worth a lot of money soon.  Good on her!

What are Ling’s religious beliefs?  Well, you wouldn’t know unless you asked her.  Because, really, who just talks about their religious beliefs to casual people at their job?  That’s always been one of those things that you avoid.  For real, it’s an understood part of professionalism that when at work, politics and religion stay home.  The watercooler is for shooting the shit about the football game or the weather or other boring topics that are unlikely to offend anyone.  It’s just polite.  So we don’t know much about Ling’s religious belief.

At home, she doesn’t go to church or anything.  In her private life, she does not believe in God, therefore making her an atheist.  But since most Christians in this country are casual Christians, who believe in God as an idea about being nice to people and all that, liking that there is an entity in the sky that is watching their back, they don’t go to church either.  Unless you live in the Bible Belt, going to church is just not that big thing for the majority of Americans.  However, Ling has never felt the urge to be really public about her atheism, because she’s 30 years old, and at this point – who cares?  Religion has become so commercialized and watered-down in modern culture that nobody else does, so why should she?

She is dating a man who grew up in a semi-religious household, but it was never a huge issue and when he found out that she was not religious herself, his reaction was pretty much – okay.  I’m not super-religious myself, so it isn’t much of an issue.  They care about each other and that is all that matters.  They have had some frank discussions on the matter, but she accepts that he just wants the comfort that comes with believing that all of this mortal stuff is leading up to something.  She may not get it, but she accepts how he is.  Well, they certainly sound like a nice couple.

You notice something about Ling?  She’s not that interesting.  She’s just…normal.  She’s a normal person.  Her personality is compatible with most other people.  She’s polite, doesn’t want to ruffle people’s feathers unnecessarily.  She’s like anyone else.  So here is my question – how is that interesting?  What kind of TV show could you make with her as a character?  Some show about the humdrum of office life?  That could be kinda funny.  It’s been done before, several times, but still.  It could be funny.  The truth is that if you have a character in a TV show, you want them to stand out.  That means that they are going to have to have qualities that make them stand out.

Every single character I listed at the top of this does have those qualities.  Greg House is a brilliant doctor.  Sheldon Cooper is a mega-nerd.  Dr. Cox is an asshole who just happens to have a good guy buried beneath that who wants to do right by his underling who becomes his friend, along with his wife, who is also kind of a bitch.  Character traits that make a character stand out will inevitably be at odds with characters who contrast to that.  That’s how it works.  A guy who thinks that dolphins are the most amazing thing and wants everyone else to know how much he knows about and loves dolphins will clash with normal people who think – how little of a life does that dude have?

So this entire goal – to make an atheist character that everyone would like – is dumb, because the fact is that in real life, someone’s lack of religion isn’t something that they talk about.  Why?  Because they don’t care what you think about it.  Live and let-live.  Because in the real world, people don’t just up and ask, “hey, so how about that God fella?!”

Can I get the $25,000 now?

Until next time, a quote,

“You ever notice how everyone you meet is the same?  It’s odd.  It’s so rare that I meet someone and think, ‘wow, I’ve never met someone like this person before.'”  -Naofumi Tokino, The Sky Crawlers

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONL: Raymond Reddington

A new show that I am just getting hooked on is called “The Blacklist.”  A major reason that I am watching the show is because it has one of my favorite actors in it – James Spader.  In fact, Spader plays the role of the series primary protagonist – Raymond Reddington.  And his role is the fundamental glue that holds a series that is becoming more convoluted than Lost together.  The reason for this is because this is quite possibly one of the best anti-heroes that I’ve ever seen in any series.  Ever.

Raymond ReddingtonReddington, or Red, as most people call him, is a former officer in the American Navy who, seemingly out of nowhere, turns on his country and deserts.  He appears some time later, having become one of the most powerful criminal masterminds on the planet.  He is nearly at the top of the FBI and CIA’s most wanted lists, with a record of being a kind of intermediary between criminals.  He knows who to talk to and can get things done.  This kind of business is what his empire is built on, with Red being viewed as one of the biggest traitors to his country in history.  There is a larger story to what happened with Red, but as of now, you don’t know what it is.  As is typical with him, nothing is as it seems.

Twenty years into building his empire, Reddington comes back to the FBI on a mission that is both complex and confusing.  More than anything else, it is confusing because it has him betraying fellow criminals, some of whom he has personal ties with.  But again, nothing is as it seems.

The reason that I absolutely love this character so much is because of the fact that James Spader is playing him.  For real, I genuinely don’t believe that any other actor could have pulled off this character with the style and grace that Spader does.  Reddington is probably the most hard-to-read character there is.  This series would die in a SECOND if he were ever to leave it.  Indeed, because his character is so central to everything and so pivotal to the plot of each episode, he is given far more development than all the rest.  The only one who comes close to his level of depth is the other primary protagonist, Agent Elizabeth “Lizzie” Keen.  A lot of that is because of how closely she is tied with Reddington, both in their work and outside it.

But back to Spader’s performance, it is as I said.  No other actor could truly pull this off.  It is amazing how difficult it is to gauge this character’s motives and reactions.  He will laugh at the most random of things.  He will have a very serious moment with a character and choose to not treat it seriously in the slightest, only to have a sudden burst of anger at the most jarring moments.  But even his rage is really off-putting.  This character has a facade of nonchalant amusement most of the time, yet when he gets serious, you pay attention.  He will often devolve into a story from his past when a serious moment comes into play, which put both is foes and the audience at a loss because you have no idea what he is going to do next.  The very few times in the series when he loses his repose are almost frightening, because you have to wonder how much rage is in the guy if he is dropping his character.  Though his happiness is also a little off-putting, because it always feels disingenuous.  The only character that I have seen in something that is this unpredictable is the Joker.  With both of them, you never really know what they’re feeling, and each time I hear them laugh during a serious moment, it sends a shiver up my spine.

The series itself is not always completely engaging, but sometimes having a good central character is enough to make up for that.  Think of Death Note after L died.  The series got REALLY terrible for a long time, until the last episode, which was a masterpiece.  You can have a series modeled after a single strong character.  It’s what kept House MD going for eight seasons (yes, I also like that show.  So sue me).  I do very much enjoy this show and look forward to seeing what happens next.

So, what are some main characters who made an entire series work for you?  Let me know down in the comments section.

Until next time, a quote,

“People think it matters who occupies that house. It doesn’t. Multi-national corporations and criminals run the world.” -Raymond Reddington, The Blacklist

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: I HATE Doctor Who

I’m gonna take flak for this.  I just know it.  I just know that the Tumblrites are going to come out of their corners and give me shit for this, because man does this show have a loyal following!  I simply do not understand the loyalty of the fans for this show and how they seem unable to listen to the serious flaws that it has without getting upset.  I swear, it’s like a religion at this point.  These people know all the jokes, all the episodes, all the assistants to the Doctor, all of the outfits.  I have heard people bitching about that, by the way.  The fanbase for this show is more hardcore about their show than most modern Christians are about their Bible.  That’s saying something.  But, let me tell you something that I unequivocally believe – I hate Doctor Who.

My oldest friend, Sara, tried to get me into the show.  I sat down with her and her husband and watched episode after episode on Netflix.  But no matter how hard they tried to get me into it, I just kept thing – this show is REALLY stupid.  It’s really, really stupid.  The most evil creatures in this universe are creatures that look like a blender with a plunger and a whisk attached.  How is that frightening?  How can anybody take it seriously?  How can you, audience at home?  I hear a lot of people talk about how it’s the campy charm.  Okay, fine.  Fine, I’ll give you that.  If you like this series for all the charming little bits about bobs, good for you.  But that’s not enough for me.  I need more.  I love good sci-fi, and I genuinely believe that Doctor Who is bad sci-fi.

There are a lot of little reasons that I don’t like the show, but here is the major reason that I absolutely despise this series – it doesn’t follow its own rules and just shoehorns in whatever it wants, whenever it feels like it.  Good science fiction has established boundaries.  It can play within those boundaries, or bend them every once and a while for the purpose of a good idea, but the core boundaries have to remain intact, or else it can’t be taken seriously.

The best example for this is the Mass Effect trilogy.  Part of the reason that so many people hated the ending to the third game was because it decided to throw out the established rules of the franchise.  I mean, why is the person who controlled all the Reapers living on the Citadel?  If he lived there, then why exactly did they need Sovereign to open the gate to Dark Space in the first game?  How it is it that shooting a tube is able to send out a signal that can disable all Reapers?  How is it that grabbing two do-dads can make Shepard into a machine and let him/her control all the Reapers?  How does jumping into a beam of light merge all organic and synthetic life?  How is that even possible?  Why does the signal to do all of these unbelievably powerful things destroy the Mass Relays?  Better question – if it destroys the Mass Relays, how is everyone not dead?  I destroyed a Mass Relay in the Arrival DLC in Mass Effect 2.  It caused an explosion that destroyed hundreds of lightyears of space.  How is all organic life in the galaxy not totally dead?

In a series that had a vast codex that clearly established the rules behind its premise, when it broke those rules so completely, just to end the series, the fans were naturally pissed.  That’s bad sci-fi.  Just the same, Doctor Who has a bad habit of breaking its own rules whenever it feels like it, just so that they can have a Buddhist monk in Victorian Scotland.  Or when they say that all the evil blenders are dead, until they come back.  In fact, a lot of the villains die, until they come back.  The helpers can make amazing sacrifices, until they come back.  You know what, this is starting to sound like a fucking comic book!  For real, how many heroes die in the comics, just to be brought back later on?  How many villains die, just to be brought back when its convenient?  This show has a terrible habit of doing stuff one week, only to undo it the next, just so they can have a nice premise for another episode.  You know what that feels like, to me – lazy, lazy writing.  For real, the writers of this series don’t have any other ideas to go with, so they just bring back old stuff for sentimental value.

This show fucks continuity like a $3 whore!  And it doesn’t seem to care.  What’s more, the dedicated fanbase doesn’t seem to care.  In fact, they squee like teenage girls when they see an old element brought back for no fucking reason.  It never strikes them as bad writing.  I think that you’re the only series that can get away with it.  For real, if Dexter had ever had a killer just suddenly come back to life after we saw them die, people would think that that was retarded and the show would lose all credibility.  But you adhere to a rule that I see in film all the time – “Oh, didn’t show it!  Time to make a sequel!”  You know where I see that?  Bad sequels to movies!  It’s a trick where Hollywood filmmakers go through a movie that they want to make a sequel to with a fine-toothed comb and find all the little plot holes that they can exploit and then do so, for the purpose of making a cheap buck.  They know that the film is going to suck, so they don’t care if it is lazy.  It’s just cheap money.

Now, with this series, they do this with a wink to the audience, like they know that this is kind of silly, and part of me gets that.  For real, if the idea is not to take it all too seriously, good for them.  But I can’t just accept that wink, because it happens all the fucking time.  It means that I have to now accept that you are self-aware enough to know how dumb this is, but you simply don’t care!  How do you do that and not feel just a little bit of shame?

The worst part of all is that I can see that there are times when the series is willing to try so hard.  There were a couple episodes that I watched with Sara that I was actually getting into it.  I saw some great sacrifice and it felt cool to see, and I was enjoying it.  Only for it to be undone later on and make me think that nobody who wrote that episode that I liked cared that they just ruined it for me.

I genuinely don’t believe that Doctor Who is a good series.  I think that it is a really bad one.  However, after all this ranting, let me say this – don’t let my jaded and over-analytical opinion stop you from liking what you like.  For real, if you like this show and you think that it is just the coolest thing since pizza, then good for you.  Enjoy what you like and don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise.  It’s good that you feel that way, and I’m glad that we can all do that.  But I have never and will never like this series.  It doesn’t care about continuity and it doesn’t even seem to realize that it will have to end, someday.  The entire premise of this series is EXACTLY like a comic book.  It all just never ends.  Which leads me to this question, Whovians – is there any ending to this show that would satisfy you?  For real, let me know.

Until next time, a quote,

“When reading a book, one hopes it doesn’t turn into a painful process. Predictable is bad enough. Laborious is acceptable if the labor produces fruit. But with painfully bad writing, all one can do is grab a hatchet, slice off its head, and bury it.”  -Chila Woychek

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Breaking Bad Episodes

Breaking BadI may someday do a Top 10 TV Shows post, but until then, know that Breaking Bad is high up on that list.  A brilliantly told tragedy about Walter White and his rise as a meth manufacturer and distributor.  It is not a drama, as most believe.  It is a tragedy, in the same vein of Death of a Salesman.  It follows the rise and fall of Heisenberg, showing a story of a man who wanted to be recognized for his genius so much that he was willing to destroy the lives of everyone he touched.  This was an awesome show, that has actually gotten the recognition it deserves.  Who knew?  This is my list of my favorite episodes of this series, and I hope you love it as much as me.  There are going to be a TON of spoilers in here, by the way, so if you haven’t watched this show and want to, I recommend not reading further.

10. Better Call Saul
Season 2
Saul Goodman is one of the most enjoyably horrible people I have ever seen.  In anything.  He is a man without a single scruple.  He will help people with just about any dirty job, if they have his fee.  Walt and Jesse need him to help them get a comrade of their out of trouble without implicating themselves.  This episode is chalk full of the dark humor that the series got less and less of as the seasons went on.  The scene where Jesse and Walt are interrogating Saul is fucking classic.  This episode was the introduction of one of the best bad guys ever.

9. Pilot
Season 1
If we’re going to talk about a great show, how about the episode that began it?  This was the start of Walt’s descent, as he finds out that he has cancer.  He is at first unsure what to do, until his DEA brother-in-law, Hank, tells him about how much money there is in the meth business after a big bust.  Walt goes with Hank on a raid, where he just happens to see a former student of his who is quietly getting away as his partner is busted.  The student is Jesse Pinkman, and after the two make a tenuous deal, their partnership begins.  In addition to getting the ball rolling, you also see the beginnings of Heisenberg.  With his diagnosis of cancer, Walt is now far braver and angrier than normal.  The biggest demonstration is when he attacks a bully who is making fun of his son (who has cerebral palsy) in a department store.  So we have more than one beginning in this episode.  What more could you need?

8. Peekaboo
Season 2
I love this episode for a couple reasons.  The first is that you get a lot of intense insight into Jesse’s character, as he is going to the house of a couple of people who ripped of one of his dealers.  The goal is to get their money and meth back.  However, the junkies are not home, but he finds that they have a toddler boy.  It gives us some insight that we lacked about Jesse when he ends up trying to take care of the kid, while waiting for his targets to get home.  However, there is another plot element that I love.  Walt has two former business partners, Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz.  They started a company called Gray Matter together, using Walt’s research.  However, Walt walked away, taking a meager amount of money with him.  The company later on went to become worth over $2 billion.  He has forever had a deep resentment of the two for their success, while he has toiled away in academic and financial obscurity as a chemistry teacher.  To cover for his payments of their bills with money he has made with his meth distribution, he told his wife that the Schwartz’s were paying his bills.  When his wife thanks Gretchen, she is confused.  She confronts Walt about it, which leads to one of the most intense arguments where Walt makes his hatred of the two very clear.  We get to see that Heisenberg has a much older origin than we think, which is very cool.

7. Crazy Handful of Nothin’
Season 1
This is the episode that gives us the signature look of Heisenberg, along with the name itself.  Following a new dealer that they try and make a deal with, Tuco, brutally beating Jesse, Walt decides to intervene.  He cooks a batch of fulminated mercury, which he takes to Tuco, making him believe it’s meth.  When Tuco threatens to take the supposed meth and kill Heisenberg, Heisenberg takes a small part of it and throws it against a wall.  It causes an explosion, and he takes the rest of it, threatening to blow the entirety of them to kingdom come.  Impressed, Tuco makes a deal with them for money, and their business together begins.  In addition to being totally BADASS, this episode begins to show the competing parts of Walt’s mind as Heisenberg is now making himself more known and more pronounced.  It is the start of the signature battle between these two as they go further and further down the rabbit hole.

6. Crawl Space
Season 4
In the battle between Walt and Heisenberg, you rarely see a lot of desperation.  Walt often appears in control and prepared to do whatever it takes.  This episode has one of the few moments where Walt is now realizing just how out of control things have gotten.  After an incident in Mexico, where Jesse and Gus are involved in murdering the members of a cartel, Jesse is now with Gus, effectively replacing Walt as the cook.  However, he will not allow Gus to kill his former mentor.  Gus confronts Walt, telling him that if Hank does not die (because of how close his investigation is getting), he will kill Walt’s entire family.  Driven by desperation, Walt runs home and goes to get his money.  However, when he finds that it is all gone, it leads to one of the greatest pieces of acting that I have ever seen.  I won’t spoil it for you, but trust me, this entire episode is worth it for that one scene.

5. Face Off
Season 4
The cold war between Gus and Heisenberg comes to a close in this unbelievably-intense episode.  After failing to kill Gus with a car bomb, Heisenberg decides to take a risky gamble that Jesse informs him of.  He makes a deal with a former acquaintance who hates the two of them, but who hates Gus a HELL of a lot more.  It culminates in a confrontation where the tension is so thick that you can cut it with a knife.  It also changes another character’s perspective on Walt, when she realizes just how dark this other side of him can be.  I won’t say too much, because if you haven’t seen it, you REALLY should, but this is an awesome episode with an amazing climax.

4. Buyout
Season 5A
A constant question that comes up is why Walt is doing what he is doing.  We all know the stated reason – to help his family.  However, as the duel between him and his dark persona, Heisenberg, becomes more pronounced, you see that there is are darker reasons to his actions.  In this episode, Mike and Jesse want to leave the meth-making business, and for profit, they decide to take a share of the methylamine with them.  They find a buyer, but he won’t make a deal unless he gets Walt’s part of the deal.  The two inform him that the deal is happening and that they are taking his part of the chemical.  This episode finally shows that Walt has almost left the equation, when Jesse comes over and has dinner with him and his wife.  Jesse sees how Walt is now hated by everybody, and Heisenberg tells him that the meth empire he has built is all he has left, saying that Jesse wants to take that away from him.  He also gets into more detail about his hatred of Gray Matter and how he feels that he was screwed.  It is a surprisingly dark episode where we get to see just how twisted the battle between Walt and Heisenberg has become.

3. 4 Days Out
Season 2
The element of Walt’s mortality becomes less of an issue in the middle of the series, where a radical treatment has gotten him a great deal more time to live.  In this episode, you get to see how Walt was actually getting used to the idea of his mortality and even coming to terms with it.  He goes in for a PET-CT, and he sees a reflection of the image, showing a large bright spot that he feels is a sign of his impending death, as his coughing is getting worse.  He lies to Jesse and tells them that the methylamine is going stale and that they have to cook as much as possible before he dies.  This episode is one of those rare bonding moments that show what could have been between Walt and Pinkman.  I think that, even until the end, it was this episode that kept their bond the way it was.  They both found something in each other when the battery dies and they are stranded in the dessert.  But my favorite part of the episode is right at the end, when Walt gets the results of the scan.  His reaction to having more time, it is fucking crazy!

2. Felina
Season 5B
The final episode of the series.  Something people don’t believe about tragedies is that they can have redemption.  No, there is often some small redemption involved.  It makes the emotional catharsis of the audience more pronounced when we see how it could have been so much better.  Having finally been defeated, Heisenberg has pretty much vanished from Walt’s mind.  With his son and wife virulently hating him, he realizes that there is one last thing he can do – save Jesse (another person who hates him).  However, he also is able to wrap up his hatred for the Schwartz’s by forcing them to take the last of his drug money and put it in a trust for his children.  He then goes to free Jesse from the compound of Jack and his white supremacist friends.  He also makes sure to kill Lydia, so the last remnants of his former life are destroyed.  The final interaction between Walt and his former student is powerful, but quiet.  You really have to watch closely to see how hardcore it is, without a word spoken between them.  It all ends with Walt taking one last nostalgic look at the lab where they were Jesse was forced to cook, having a last bit of nostalgia as he finally perishes, taking the memory of Heisenberg into history – since he was never officially caught.

And my favorite episode of Breaking Bad is…

1. Ozymandias
Season 5B
One of my favorite anime is Death Note.  Something people don’t know is that the series actually got pretty bad for a while there after L died.  However, it all comes back in a final episode that is SO fucking cool!  Light is found out as Kira, and the confrontation is so awesome.  It’s dark and intense, yet cool as hell.  For me, this episode was like that.  Walt has been lured into the desert by Hank, Gomez and Pinkman.  They bust him, with the barrels full of his money.  However, Heisenberg had ordered Jack and his buddies to do a hit on Jesse, not realizing that Hank and Gomez would be with them.  Jack and the rest show up and kill Gomez, taking Hank and Walt and putting guns to them.  Despite his begging, Jack kills Hank, taking the bulk of Walt’s money and leaving him with one barrel.  The confrontations Walt has, with Hank, with his wife and son and with the DEA who are listening in on a call he makes to his family show the last great moments of Heisenberg as he rages and lashes out as all of his world falls apart.  The final moments of the battle between the two, as his other half fades away…

This was an awesome show, and I hope you liked it as much as I did.

Until next time, a quote,

“I don’t know who you are.  I don’t know who I’m talking to”  -Hank
“If that’s true.  If you don’t know who you’re talking to, then maybe your best course would be to tread lightly.”  -Walter White/Heisenberg, Breaking Bad

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Boston Legal Episodes

Boston LegalIn the realm of shows from my younger years that I still remember fondly, there is Boston Legal.  A spin-off of the show The Practice, this one followed the continuing career of the popular character, Alan Shore.  He went to work at the very large firm Crane, Poole and Schmidt.  It was a very funny and very smart show that looked at the various issues of the day in a legal way, while still examining things critically.  Since you can see in the bar above that I have done a character analysis of Alan Shore, you can imagine that the bulk of my favorite episodes are about him primarily, but it was a great show with lots of the characters.  Here’s hoping you enjoyed it too.

10. Smile
Season 2
This was an episode that felt very person to me, given how I am a guarded person, emotionally.  An old friend of Alan’s comes in, asking him to help her very artistically gifted daughter get into a school for exemplary children.  They have denied her because she was injured and suffered nerve damage in her face, making it impossible for her to smile.  The conversations with her, along with her unique perspective made the episode very warm and fuzzy.  Plus, seeing how she shows her appreciation to Alan for his help is just so happy-making.  It’s feel-good and not as funny as other episodes.  It’s all about the fuzzies.

9. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Season 2
I loved the episodes with Betty White in them.  She has a gift at being this warm-hearted but very smarmy smartass who can bring a lot of charm to the role.  This episode had her trying to break a friend of hers out of an old-folk’s home, because her friend’s life was being held hostage by a cruel and evil man who had her as a “ward.”  She goes to Alan, who she had a repore with and gets him to help her stop the man.  In addition to being a fun episode with Betty White in it, there was also a REALLY good demonstration of Alan’s darker side, when he finally is able to stop the man from totally destroying the old woman’s life and selling it.  For real, he was such a boss in how he does it that you can’t help but be impressed.  Oh, and there is this charming sub-plot with Shirley trying to help a man getting a divorce keep his Victorian Erotica collection.  That part is funny.

8. Helping Hands
Season 2
A character who I wished had been a larger one in the series was Daniel Post, played by Michael J. Fox.  In this episode, he second chairs a case with Denise, defending a teacher from malicious parents who are suing her for what they believe was negligence that led to their child’s death.  Daniel’s work as a lawyer showed that he had the chops for this kind of show, and it’s a pity that his role was so brief.  I get why, given what kind of character it was, but still.  Kind of wish he could have been on longer.  There was also the case Alan was doing, defending a colleague and friend, Jerry Espenson, against his own firm.  How that subplot ends is actually pretty interesting, showing a lot about several characters.

7. Legal Deficits
Season 2
One of my favorite adversarial characters in anything was Melvin Palmer, who debuted in this episode.  His unending battle with Alan Shore is so funny, given how Palmer is a man who has a very big display if being down-home and folksy, but it’s all a front.  Underneath it all, he is an amoral man who doesn’t care about anything.  It’s all for show.  And Alan hates his guts.  He makes a comparison between him and one of those clown dolls that you hit and it comes back up.  In this episode, Alan’s assistant, Melissa, is $50,000 in debt.  Palmer is representing to credit card company who is her debtor.  How Alan attacks Palmer is just awesome.  I’m with Melissa in saying that it is one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen.  Plus, it starts off their little war, which is so much fun to watch.

6. Son of the Defender
Season 3
This episode combined some REALLY old footage of a show that William Shatner had almost been in, with him as a lawyer when he was much younger.  It comes back in this episode, when Denny and several other people in the firm are taken hostage by a man who believes that the man who was charged but acquitted for murdering his mother was guilty.  So, they replay the case, with several hostages acting as the jury.  It is an interesting look into Denny’s psyche as he is facing down the demons of his past.  You also learn about the turbulent relationship he had with his father and how that shaped him as a lawyer.  Meanwhile, Alan is in jail after being held in contempt, when defending a prostitute he knows and the senator she was with.  That part is funny.

5. No Brains Left Behind
Season 4
Another character who was woefully under-used in the show was Shirley Schmidt’s grandaughter, Marlena.  Another smary smartass who is fun to watch, the kid gets into trouble when she takes the standardized tests that her classmates were given, shreds them and throws the confetti all over the Principle’s office.  Shirley defends her, and watching the kid beat the hell out of everyone there with her wit and intellect is just great.  Granted, She annoys the hell out of Shirley, but it is so fun to watch.  Later, she is assisting Alan and Denny in their mission to join the military.  I was kind of hoping that the kid would become something of a protegee to Alan, which would have worked, considering his revelation that he only saw women as sexual objects.  It would have given him a new perspective and a new experience.  Still, awesome episode and it was far too brief.

4. Brotherly Love
Season 3
Another character who I thought was so fun and wished there had been more of him was Frankie Cox.  A completely unethical and very chipper lawyer who has been arrested for helping his brother hide evidence after his brother murdered his wife.  He goes to Alan for defense, coming off as a oddball attorney who wasn’t above doing bad stuff to get the job done.  Despite being kind of a scuzzy guy, there was something so likeable.  And seeing the testimony he gave about his brother was just so heart-warming.  Sure, he did a bad thing, but his motives were pure.  It’s a pity we never got to see him again, but he was fun while we could.

3. Trial of the Century
Season 3
As season finales go, this one was great!  Alan and Denny team up to defend a pair of brothers who are accused of killing their father.  This is another episode where Denny’s mental health is called into play, but he is awesome.  The thing that shines in this case is the legal work.  The back-and-forth between these two legal titans and how they play off one-another is just awesome!  And when the case isn’t looking good, the way that they are able to resolve the situation is incredible!  It’s an old trick, but damn it all, in the right hands, it works brilliantly.  It’s both feel-good and compelling to watch.  Everything that it is supposed to be.

2. The Bride Wore Blood
Season 3
An aspect of Alan Shore that this show didn’t go into the same way its predecessor did was his dark side.  There were a few episodes where it was on display in a large way, but rarely do you get to see it in all it’s glory.  In this episode, and old lover of Alan’s comes running to him in a courthouse in a wedding dress, asking for his council.  The catch is – it’s covered in blood.  She’s being arrested for murder, with Alan as her council.  The case starts to unravel a dark story about his client, which has Alan confronting his own darkness in one of the most awesome climaxes in the entire show.  For real, I could watch the scene where he interrogates her about the entire story again and again.  It also confronts Alan’s desire to do the right thing, whatever the cost.  It’s intense and profound.  Something this show had the talent to do in spades, when it wanted to.

And my favorite episode of Boston Legal is…

1. True Love
Season 5
There are few episodes of the show that were genuinely depressing.  This was one of them.  In this episode, a plot about Alan and an old flame of his comes to a close.  The woman’s husband is arrested for murder and she comes to him to defend him.  The husband is clearly a foul human being, which leaves Alan in the position of wanting to lose the case, but being unable to, due to his own sense of integrity.  However, all is not as it seems.  The episode culminates in one of the most dark and painful revelations, when Alan finds out that he was used, in a horrific way.  You can see it hurts him, leaving him to believe that love will never find him again.  I felt for him at the end of this episode.  As brief as the last season was, it had some emotionally deep moments to leave us on, even if we wonder whatever became of the people who left the firm.

This was an underrated show that didn’t get much love, but it was and still is one of my favorites.

Until next time, a quote,

“Here’s the thing about me – I am a hoot.  But I insist on putting adversary back into the system.  And I do it openly and notoriously for all to hear.”  -Alan Shore, Boston Legal

Peace out,

Maverick

ABC Rips Off BBC?

I have said a lot of crap about American television.  Non-existent God knows that they haven’t done much lately to earn my respect, aside from the diamonds in the rough like The Walking Dead or Breaking Bad.  But aside from that, there isn’t a lot of nice things to say about American television.  It really hasn’t done a thing to earn my respect.  However, there was one thing that I have seen recently being advertised all over YouTube that really put my knickers in a twist.

You see, some time ago, I was introduced through Masterpiece Mystery, on PBS, to a new concept.  It was an idea I hadn’t thought of before – take the character of Sherlock Holmes and bring him into the 21st Century.  And make it so that this character never existed before now.  A totally new character.  That’s the premise.  It’s a unique concept.  And the execution was brilliant.  Leave it to the BBC to get this character right.  The man who played Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch, was brilliant.  The best performance of this character that I have ever seen.  Martin Freeman as Watson was also really neat.  I loved it.  With each episode being 90 minutes without commercials, it felt like I was watching a series of movies.  I have loved every minute of it.

But then I came on to YouTube the other day, and I saw adds for a new show on ABC.  It is called “Elementary.”  The premise is…exactly the same as the PBS series, “Sherlock.”  Sherlock Holmes exists in the 21st century, having never existed before.  Oh, and they have Lucy Liu to play as his new Watson.  And it is set in New York City.  But other than that, it cannot be argued that ABC has ripped off this concept from BBC and PBS.  This is…pathetic.  You know what really kills me?  I happen to like both the actor they got to play Holmes, and Lucy Liu.  They are both good actors.  But this is just pathetic!  ABC, what happened?  Did you just not know how to make an original story anymore?  I mean, of all the places to rob from, you stole from the BBC?

This should be telling to American audiences.  Telling of what the medium of television has become, save on cable.  TV has had this bad habit.  You see, whenever a formula for a TV show works, there has to come about a dozen other shows ripping it off.  When CSI came out, there was forensic cop show after forensic cop show, all trying to have their own little spin on it, but all feeling like cheap knock-offs.  When House M.D. came out, there was a plethora of medical shows about a brilliant but quirky doctor.  Just as with the CSI knockoffs, these felt just as phoned-in and crappy.

I am really starting to think that our ability to make quality entertainment is slipping in this country.  I mean, these diamonds in the rough that are being made are being ripped off!  Why?!  It takes away what made them so special.  It is a miracle to me that the shows in AMC aren’t being ripped off.  I think the only reason they aren’t is because they are just so different and so challenging to the conventions of TV that they can’t be ripped off.  Much the same way as shows like The Wire or Dexter can’t be ripped off.  Not by none-cable TV, anyway.

TV is becoming dumber and dumber.  And every time a smart idea is made, the rest of the industry has to come in and make it stupider.

So here, in my mind, is the golden question that needs to be asked – why are we watching this shit?  I mean, really, why do we not demand something better?  And the answer is so sad – because it’s on.  We watch it because it is on the big box, and the people can watch that and be like cattle, chewing their cud.  That’s what we are now, to the media industry.  It can make us dumber and dumber, and nobody does anything because that would require getting up and turning the TV off, or getting up and grabbing the remote to do that.

ABC, you are pathetic.  America, you are more pathetic.  BBC, good for you!  You made an idea so good, it had to be stolen!

Until next time, a quote,

“Television used to be kind of smart, and kind of dumb at the same time…and then, at some point, that just split.  And it said, ‘okay, intelligent television go over here.  Stupid television go over here.'”  -TJ Kincaid, Honey Boo Boo Who? 

Peace out,

Maverick