It’s been two months since the last TVEye and damn have I missed a lot. There have been a ton of TVEye worthy finale’s that I’ve missed reporting due to the hiatus, including the memorable and shocking season ends to GAME OF THRONES and THE KILLING. Now, summer is here and I’m back to report on the new seasons of TRUE BLOOD and FALLING SKIES, with a wish list for some new and returning favorites including BREAKING BAD, EUREKA, and more.
First, a brief reflection on the controversial Game of Thrones and The Killing finale’s. TV watchers stand by their shows with such devotion and familiarity that from time to time they can be thrown off guard, angered even, by the direction their beloved series has taken. Take Lost for example. Lost existed on a plane of mind-bending storytelling so compelling that it led to one of the most devoted cult bases of any show ever. When the show ended however, it polarized the very cult it created by taking what many (present company included) deemed an easy out. The payoff seemed cheap, and the years of devoted viewing seemed a waste. The Soprano’s finale had an equally polarizing effect as it concluded, quite simply, that life goes on. I found this to be a fitting end. Thrones and Killing just ended their respective seasons, not their actual shows, so cliffhangers should be expected for a season finale. However, both shows managed to end with a controversial jolt, causing even their respective channels to step into the light and defend them.
GAME OF THRONES - They killed off their lead without even making it to the end of their first season. The show’s best and most important character Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) was executed, beheaded at the behest of the pompous boy king Joffrey. I was SHOCKED! Granted, the show follows the popular George R.R. Martin book series, which I’ve not read. As my wife informs me, the first season of the show, including the beheading, follows closely with the first book in Martin’s series. But still, it was shocking, and it actually angered a lot of fans of the show who have not read the books. I found it to be a bold and clever move, as beheaded Eddard can and will stir a lot more drama than living Eddard. The shock and disappointment of some of the shows fans led HBO to release a statement standing by the decision. It was unforeseen sure, but I say get over it, Game of Thrones is one of the greatest new shows to come along in ages. On the week after Eddard’s death, another shock as the show killed off another huge character, the horse king Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa). Then the show ended, with the amazingly strong female lead Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) climbing into the fire with the body of her beloved Khal and her three dragon eggs, her favorite possessions. Panic came over me. They wouldn’t? Then, the final shot of season one began, with Daenerys emerging naked from the fire, a baby dragon breastfeeding off of her as two more climb onto her shoulder. Wow! And so ended the first season of my newest favorite series.
THE KILLING – AMC’s fantastic slow-burner murder mystery was a unique take on the played out cop genre, a class of shows that normally work off of the same old tried and true procedural narrative as all the rest. But The Killing was different, showing every step of every character for the days following the murder of young Rosie Larsen. The show appeared to be a one season mystery, and viewers, including myself expected the mystery to wrap up at seasons end. It didn’t, instead ending with more questions and no definite answer as to who killed Rosie. As a slow-burner, The Killing requires a certain level of patience, which, if not for the great performances of its cast, might have been a lot to ask from its audience. I found the new questions raised on the finale to be intriguing, and while disappointed at first, I’m excited for a second season. Many others were not as forgiving, and AMC like HBO, had to release a letter backing the decision.
Now onto the new stuff…
TRUE BLOOD - Where do I start? Well, the opening was like some sort of bad Syfy network Saturday movie with Sookie in the fairytale facade of a sand covered world of deformed faeries. It’s the opening of a new season, which basically sets the bar really low in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the show, in fact, I still enjoy it for its entertainment value, but I do think its traced way off track from what it started out as. Season one presented a show that was in many ways a reflection of the gay rights movement, using vampires as the “societal outcasts.” It was quite brilliant. Now it’s become a processing plant for mythical creatures. We’ve had faeries, vampires, witches, werewolves, shape shifters, and more. There are fleeting moments of visceral violence and sexy creature on creature action, but the fun of the show just doesn’t make up for the lack of compelling angles. The new twist of the season is that Sookie was off in Faerie land for a year, thou to her it was only a few minutes. Arriving back in Bon Temps, she finds Tara off as an MMA fighting lesbian in another state, Bill the new vampire king of Louisiana, Jason a devoted cop, and Eric as obsessed as ever with Sookie, the girl he claims as his own. There was some interesting stuff involving Lafayette and a witch, and I’ll be interested in seeing how his storyline works out this season. As for everyone else, except maybe the vampires, I hope they can form this season into a more compelling and less ridiculous hour of television. We’ll see.
FALLING SKIES – This new alien invasion series on TNT, is supposedly “co-conceived” by Steven Spielberg, but it just doesn’t hold up to the quality expected with the Spielberg brand attached. Starring Noah Wyle of E.R. fame, the show exists in a kind of current apocalyptic world, not post, in which an alien race has colonized the planet. I am the most finicky person when it comes to the look of an alien in a movie or on a television show. I know, free reign can exist with the look of aliens because for all we know they don’t exist, but still, I have my qualms. My biggest qualm (which seems to be the trend) is the use of all CGI alien creatures, which Falling Skies does plenty of. The look of the aliens is like a cross between the aliens from Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, and the Fly from David Cronenberg’s remake. After two weeks on the air I’m still not sold on the show. It follows a group of survivors and rebels gearing up to fight the alien hordes. For some reason the aliens kidnap young teens to whom they attach a spinal control device which enslaves them to collect scrap metal. Yes, I’m serious, and I’m sure we’ll find out why somewhere down the line. Basically though, Falling Skies is another Jericho or Walking Dead, about a group of infighting survivalists trying to get by in their post-apocalyptic worlds. It’s entertaining enough, but lacks any real originality or depth. The characters are wooden, the plot is overdone, and the aliens look and move like cartoons. But if you like alien attack stories, you might still want to give this one a try for the popcorn value alone.
Other new shows to look forward to this summer TV season include AMC’s greatest show BREAKING BAD, back for its fourth season on July 17th. After last seasons truly cliffhanging finale, I cannot wait to see what hell Walter will unleash when he no longer has anything to lose. Don’t miss BBC America’s re-airing of the great, but short lived Sci-Fi series OUTCASTS. Also returning is a fun Monday night lineup of EUREKA (my favorite Syfy offering), WAREHOUSE-13, and the new superhuman abilities show that actually looks promising, ALPHAS. Keep an eye to the Syfy website as well for the highly original and incredibly well-produced and long awaited web series THE MERCURY MEN premiering July 25th. Also returning on Syfy in July is HAVEN, the series that I loved to hate last summer. Adult Swim on Cartoon Network introduces a new live action parody show about police procedurals called NTSF: SD: SUV on July 21st. On the animation front, FUTURAMA just returned for a new season on Comedy Central, BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD make their triumphant return to MTV later this summer, the Cartoon Network revival of THUNDERCATS airs in July, and G4 is airing the MARVEL ANIME parallel universe versions of Iron Man, X-Men, Blade, and Wolverine as well.
TVEye will return again in a few weeks, and every few weeks there after to keep you up to speed on all the goings-on in the world of television. Stay Tuned!