Sunday, May 29, 2011

History Channel's Civil War Week Begins with "Gettysburg"

Starting tomorrow (May 30th--Memorial Day) and continuing all week, the History Channel will be commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War with related programming. The first special (Gettysburg) promises to be a "don't-miss-it" event. Airing at 9pm eastern on History, this two hour special will depict the battle of Gettysburg like it has never been seen before, utilizing the gut wrenching visuals of CGI.

I must admit that I am not a Civil War fanatic, although I certainly understand how it can be a magnificent and horrifying backdrop for many cinema masterpieces from old (Gone with the Wind) to new (Glory). What really caught my attention when I first saw the promos for this event was that it was executive produced by British film directors extraordinaire Ridley and Tony Scott. Ridley is best known for two of the best sci-fi movies ever made (Bladerunner and Alien) while his younger brother Tony is the action film auteur, with Top Gun, The Crimson Tide and Unstoppable in his repertoire. The Scott endorsement sealed the deal for me...my DVR is already set to record "Gettysburg" tomorrow. Take a look at the promo below to see if you'll be there too. That haunting music in the background (by the way) is a cover of the old Kate Bush song, "Running up that Hill".

Friday, May 27, 2011

Too Big to Fail on HBO

Did your 401K dry up and blow away sometime after 2008? Is your house in foreclosure? Have you recently been down-sized by a large corporation? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you might want to give "Too Big To Fail" on HBO a wide berth. Or, you can take a few swigs of Pepto Bismol, put a clothes pin over your nose, and follow me. "Too Big" is based on the best selling book by Andrew Ross Sorkin and it tells the tale of the big banks and financial institutions that were behind the U.S. financial melt down in 2008.

I'm not going to attempt to re-cap the plot here. It's not an easy story to tell. For one thing, it's pretty difficult to make a gaggle of millionaire middle aged white dudes (mostly bald) who do nothing but sigh and stare at spread sheets in a dark conference room seem compelling. But HBO has a knack for bringing sizzle to made-for-television movies about big bad business decisions. They did it with TV talk shows in The Late Shift and with the machinations of tech giants Apple and Microsoft in Pirates of Silicon Valley. They manage to do it here too, although it's quite humorless and doesn't have a happy ending. If you like revenge and comeuppance, this one's not for you. Nobody ever gets punished for tanking the U.S. economy, and sadly it's doubtful that anyone ever will.

Hunt for "Too Big to Fail" On Demand, if you did not catch the premier on HBO this past week. It has a stellar cast including William Hurt, Ed Asner, Paul Giamatti, Topher Grace, Matt Modine, Tony Shalhoub, James Woods and Cynthia Nixon as the token corporate PR girl. Watching this movie is not a walk in the park, but do it anyway. It's like taking your vitamins, you'll be stronger afterward if you do.

Happy 100th Birthday, Vincent Price!

I'm currently composing a longer tribute to Vincent Price, one of my most treasured actors, on filmicability. I'm choosing to focus in on my favorite Vincent Price film performance, in 1973's Theater of Blood. However, in doing my research, I've been reminded of Price's warm, clever, and intelligent personality, often on display in guest shots on a variety of TV productions. So I thought I'd do a shorter twin tribute to the Price centennial by highlighting some of these appearances here on the Flaming Nose.

When I think of Vincent Price's TV appearances, one thing comes to mind: his tremendous sense of fun in spoofing his own fame as a horror movie icon. In many of his guest shots on narrative shows like The Brady Bunch, F Troop, and Love American Style, he traded upon this, but also showed he could play comedy just as well as the established pros. For instance, he has a memorable run-in with Lucille Ball on a 1970 episode of Here's Lucy, where Ball's Lucy Carter is visiting Price to have an art piece appraised, but is instead mistaken by Price as an actress auditioning for a role in a new horror film. Good stuff here!



But in earlier TV appearances, he was known less as a horror personality and more as a erudite character actor famed for largely villainous roles. In a 1953 appearance on The Jack Benny Program, he shares the screen with the master of the slow burn and also with the lovely Irene Dunne. Benny and Price find themselves as acting rivals for the lead in a production with Miss Dunne, and their interplay is extraordinarily hilarious (every time Benny stares into the camera, I can't help but lose it):



There were a lot of dramatic roles for Price on TV as well, on shows as varied as Lights Out, Climax!, Playhouse 90, Daniel Boone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Have Gun Will Travel, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. It's particularly fun to see him as a typically evil Russian THRUSH agent in an episode of The Man From UNCLE, called "The Fox and Hounds Affair." Here, Price shares the small screen with another crowning character actor, Leo G. Carroll, who played UNCLE's wisened head officer:



And, though I find the show irritating, it would just simply be wrong to ignore Vincent's bald-pated appearance as the villainous Egghead in the 1960's smash hit show Batman. If I were going to watch an episode of this show again, it'd probably one of Price's episodes, even IF the egg-related puns get eggs-cruciating.



Even games shows and variety shows were far from off-limits for Price. For instance, you can see Price's wit and facility with both music and languages here on his 1956 appearance as the mystery guest on What's My Line?



As a stunt to promote his then current 1972 film The Abominable Dr. Phibes (still one of his greatest performances, if you ask me), Price made an unlikely appearance on The Dating Game. It's bizarre, having Price act as proxy to the dating girl in questioning her three prospects. It's clear that none of the guys are equal to Vincent's inestimable sophistication, but he takes it all in stride and barrels through like the pro he was. Dare I say that the girl would have been better off going out to dinner with Vincent himself?



In 1973, Price was invited to fete his friend Bette Davis on an "Celebrity Roast"episode of The Dean Martin Comedy Hour. Here, again, we get to enjoy Vincent's charm as he plays slightly (and appropriately) blue. You don't get to hear Price use the word "knockers" very often!



A totally charming clip here, from Price's 1976 appearance on The Muppet Show. The only thing that can rival my love for Vincent Price is my love for Jim Henson, particularly in the guise of Kermit the Frog. To have these two stars sharing the stage is pure joy to me, especially in the hilarious final moment here!



Vincent even did many smart commercials, for products as widely varied as Milton-Bradley games, Tilex, Time-Life Books, and Century 21! Here's an excellent 1985 spot for Polaroid VHS tapes:



Here's another 80s spot, this one more lovingly low-rent, for Easter Seals:



And, finally, another for Sun Country Wine Coolers. This one's REALLY unusual!



In 1984, Vincent acted as host to PBS' anthology show Mystery! Here, the actor gets to expound on one of his favorite subjects--the Victorian era--in introducing the first episode of Grenada TV's Sherlock Holmes series. I have to wonder how much Price contributed to the writing of this intro, as he was certainly an expert on the subject matter and could have easily penned the piece. It seems to have been written in his unmistakable voice:



The interesting thing about Price is that, though he was most famous as a horror movie icon, it was always clear that he was so much more than just this. For instance, his art history expertise was unsurpassed. He had an extensive personal collection of works with which he often toured, and was an outspoken advocate of Native-American art in particular. Even though this rare 1962 instructional film wasn't shot for television (it's basically an industrial film used to educate art auctioneers on the value of their pieces, made by Sears and Roebuck), I think it's a fascinating peer into this very personal, revealing side of Vincent Price. The man knows so much; he never ceases to astound me.



Even more revealing is his 1982 interview on British TV with Terry Wogan. Here the actor's charm and smarts are again center stage, and we get to hear more about his love of art, his puzzlement over the American and British ways of life, and a wonderful story about his playing pranks on unsuspecting fans (something that I understand was, for him, a favorite by-product of being famous). By the way: isn't it interesting that Price and Christopher Lee share the same birth date?



I think my very favorite Vincent Price TV moment, though, is his appearance on an obscure 1952 show called What in the World? In this game show/educational show mash-up, a crew of art experts get together and are presented with a series of unfamiliar art objects. Their task is to determine the age and the origin of these ancient pieces. Produced for WCAU-TV (the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia), the fourth episode of this rather strange but delightful series has Vincent on as a very knowledgeable expert, and his accuracy is quite impressive. This is a real interesting bit of TV history here--an artifact in its own right:



Well, I guess that about does it for my TV-based tribute! All that's left to say, once again, is Happy 100th, Vincent! Wish you were here!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Save "America's Most Wanted" on Fox!


This is one bandwagon we're happy to jump on.  It was revealed this week that Fox will be effectively cancelling its long-running Saturday night series America's Most Wanted as of September, in favor of various show repeats and eventually four two-hour AMW specials over the 2011-2012 TV season.  The news of what is essentially the cancellation of the show has disappointed and outraged loyal viewers and motivated Florida resident Jim Sitton to start a campaign to keep the show alive.  Sitton has a personal reason for being an advocate of the show:  the killer of his six-year old daughter was caught with the help of AMW.  You can read all about Sitton's story in this story from The Palm Beach Post, here.

I'm sure many of us remember the traumatic story behind the creation of America's Most Wanted -- the horrendous murder of host John Walsh's little boy Adam in Florida almost thirty years ago.  Bringing criminals to justice has been Walsh's mission since that time, and he's worked tirelessly with government and law enforcement officials to keep victim rights at the forefront, especially through the America's Most Wanted series.  AMW has enlisted the help of viewers in tracking down the unfortunately endless supply of dangerous criminals and murderers since first going on the air in 1988, and with much success.

Fox is citing "cost of production" as the reason for cancellation, but we all know that budgets and production values can be adjusted, and that ratings have been more than acceptable for the show.  Even though The Flaming Nose realizes that TV is after all just a business, there are more than enough business reasons to keep this popular and important show on the air, and other even more important reasons to keep it going.  America's Most Wanted is the right thing to do, and if a huge media corporation like Fox can't find the coin to keep this one going, then Fox doesn't deserve your eyeballs.  I am also sure that many of the audience for Fox News probably also watches America's Most Wanted, and if you're one of them, get involved and leverage your loyalty to Fox to advocate for AMW

The success of Fox's other popular and incredibly lucrative franchises -- American Idol, anyone? -- make it possible for the network to carry America's Most Wanted.  It's an important TV show, and you can't say that about basically anything else out there.  Like it or not, accept it or not, Fox signed on for the long term when it started America's Most Wanted.  This is about more than ratings or the bottom line -- both of which are just doing fine over at Fox.  Keeping America's Most Wanted alive takes what amounts to chump change for Fox. 

We recommend that you get involved in the campaign to keep AMW on the air as a regularly scheduled series.  Jim Sitton has created a Facebook page here -- Save AMW! (America's Most Wanted) -- and you can go there to find addresses and links to online petitions and other suggestions to help in this quest.  There's another Facebook group here -- Save "America's Most Wanted" -- and you should join them both and encourage your friends to join, too. 

We'll keep you informed on any developments in this situation.  Check back here for updates, and please visit the embedded links in this post for more information.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Oprah Show: Are You Watching the Countdown to the End?

In recent years, I've been much more of an "Ellen" than "Oprah" person, when I record or view daytime television at all. But no matter what talk show team you belong to, it's impossible to ignore the big "O". Even Ellen Degeneres herself has an Oprah tribute on her web domain homepage. Oprah is a television force of nature, and the month long countdown to the end of her 25 year old series has become a genuine TV event. Every celebrity in the whole wide world wanted to be on her final, final show which was taped this past Tuesday in Chicago with an audience of over 15,000 adoring fans. It will feature such luminaries as Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Maria Shriver, Tyler Perry, Michael Jordan, Madonna and Tom Hanks. Writer Maya Angelou even wrote a poem for Oprah. The final program, marking the end of a TV era, will air on May 25th, next Wednesday....so get those DVR machines ready folks. I have a huge "gotta be there" desire for this event, having regrettably missed the final episode of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show many years ago. Everybody wants to be a part of O's farewell tour. David Letterman even fake cried that he wasn't invited on his own talk show last night.

I was just starting my career in television 25 years ago when the Oprah show first aired, so this series has a nostalgic glow for me personally. Most people have favorite Oprah show moments that they can point to, but I like Oprah best for the roads she paved for women who want (and wanted) to work in the television business. The empire she built (television, movies, print, website....and now cable network: OWN), made it possible for women everywhere to believe that they too could be "the boss". I don't have a favorite TV Oprah moment but I do have a treasured Oprah story. I love what she did to the publishing business. Oprah's endorsement of books, both current and classic literature, have had a solid gold effect on book sales and reading (including e-books). How cool that one of the biggest TV personalities of the past two decades is responsible for getting more people to read.

Not everybody loves Oprah. She has a hand full of haters (mostly men...boooo!) and maybe the assorted Tea Partier because of all the Obama endorsements. But hey...Tina Fey loves her and even featured her in an adorable guest shot on 30 Rock.

Final episodes of any long time series are "must see" events, as the promo below wonderfully illustrates. It just might make you cry, and that's where Oprah has always been the master. She has given us Emotional Television at its very best.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

OLYMPIA!


I was just trolling through Facebook today and someone reminded me of one of my cherished childhood TV memories. On many Sunday mornings, I would wake up early at my late grandmother's house, and greet her as she was drinking coffee. Then I would pad my way into the den, turn on her big, fancy console TV, and watch one of my favorite block of cartoons. Locally broadcast on Atlanta's NBC affiliate, WSB, this show sported toons mostly from the 60s--Davey and Goliath and Deputy Dawg, I remember. But also: The Mighty Hercules! And so I would fix myself a glass of YaYa's incomparable sweet tea, and she would get to making me two equally incomparable grilled ham-and-cheese sandwiches, and I would settle down. I always looked forward to Hercules episodes because they were as close to superhero comics as I could stand. Plus, I liked (most) singing along with the theme, performed with gusto by Johnny Nash (who'd have a #1 hit in the early 70s with "I Can See Clearly Now"):


Hercules, hero of song and story.
Hercules, winner of ancient glory.
Fighting for the right,
Fighting with his might,
With the strength of ten, ordinary men.

Hercules, people are safe when near him.
Hercules, only the evil fear him.
Softness in his eyes,
Iron in his thighs,
(hahahahaha!)
Virtue in his heart,
Fire in every part,
Of the Mighty Hercules.


And always, at the end:

Join us at his side,
Standing there with pride,
Victory is here,
Raise a mighty cheer,
At the sight of Hercules.


Best theme ever. When I saw this today, on YouTube, it was like Proust biting into his madeleines, I flashed back so hard. And I even remember watching this particular episode, with Hercules battling the evil Daedalus and his Medusa-on-a-stick (which emits that great 60s-flavored electronic-ray sound). I always thought Helena was hot, if dumb, and that pre-teen centaur Newt was likably silly. And strangely, my feelings about Hercules were rather neutral. Truth be told, I found Daedalus more appealing--something in me felt sorry for this poor soul as he would inevitably get bashed up by Hercules before the closing credits. But the episodes were over before they began, so I had little time to ponder this as a kid. All I knew was that I loved this chintzy but somehow stirring cartoon. Anyway, I thought I'd share this little episode with you Nosers. I know we like us some Medusa over in this neck of the Web.

Neil Gaiman-penned "Doctor Who" Premieres Tonight on BBC America!



Fans of Doctor Who and especially fans of author Neil Gaiman (Coraline, Stardust, Neverwhere and so much else) will be delighted with tonight's new episode of DW, entitled "The Doctor's Wife" and written by Mr. Gaiman!

Here's a trailer for the episode:



Here's a little behind-the-scenes:



And here's Neil Gaiman introducing his episode:



We hope you've been enjoying this new season of Doctor Who; Matt Smith continues to impress as the Doctor, and great work is also always put in by Karen Gillan as Amy and Arthur Darvill (doesn't that name sound like a character in an English story?) as Rory, plus the semi-regular Alex Kingston as River Song.  All good, all exciting, all must-watch!

"The Doctor's Wife" on Doctor Who premieres tonight on BBC America at 9pm. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday the 13th Real Life Fright Tonight: Heads-Up for the Creepy "The Pig Farm" on ID Investigation Discovery Channel


If your heart flutters at names like John Wayne Gacy or Ted Bundy, you'll want to get a gander at Investigation Discovery Channel's new documentary The Pig Farm premiering tonight at 9pm.  It's the story of Canadian -- Vancouver, to be exact -- serial killer Robert Pickton, a rural pig farmer who managed to combine lady-killing -- he's credited with at least 20 murders -- with hog-raising.  He's a first class freak, and lest you think our normally sane and sweet neighbors to the North never turn wacko, this will clear that up!

Networks Starting to Unveil Fall Pick-ups for Upfront Week!


The Flaming Nose is busy sniffing out the latest news coming out as the broadcast network announce their plans for next TV season! 

Although the Upfront is officially next week, tidbits of tantalizing info are trickling in -- Wonder Woman evidently won't be swinging her lariat, at least not on NBC...Ashton Kutcher (above) is in for Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men (not a bad choice at all but I hate the series nonetheless, however he's a guy after my own heart, read his take on the possible coming end of the world! ) -- and we await all the official announcements coming out after the weekend.

NBC and Fox are up on Monday, ABC on Tuesday, CBS on Wednesday, and CW on Thursday, with other smaller nets sprinkled in-between.  Are you rooting for anything in particular?  Glee-ful viewers may enjoy Smash on NBC (already announced pick-up) from Steven Spielberg, about the making of a Broadway musical.  Considering the Tony Awards are about the lowest-rated award show around, we're not so sure that America is panting for a Great White Way-set musical drama, but who thought Glee would work, either? 

Tons of fun on the way and we hope you'll be here with us for it all!  Expect our NBC and Fox early assessments on Monday!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Happy Twilight Zone Day Today!

"The Invaders"

Though nobody seems know exactly why, today is known in some parts as Twilight Zone Day, and who are we to dispute a holiday which honors one of our favorite TV shows?  It's a show we've been watching since we were little, and even today more than fifty years later, Twilight Zone retains its class and its ability to entertain with a unique twist.  Rather than write something that you probably already know about the show, we thought we'd just offer up a selection of images from some of our favorite episodes.  With 159 to choose from that's a lot of great material, and even more tremendous performances to enjoy. 

Rod Serling intro for "Nick of Time"

"Time Enough at Last"

"The Dummy"


"The Long Morrow"

"I Sing the Body Electric"
"The Passersby"

"Miniature"


"Walking Distance"

"To Serve Man"

"People Are Alike All Over"
"Nightmare at 20,000 Feet"

"The Howling Man"
"The Odyssey of Flight 33"

"Eye of the Beholder"


"Nothing in the Dark"

"It's a Good Life"

"The Hitch-Hiker"

"Living Doll"


There are several great TZone sites on the web, including The Twilight Zone Archives and My Life in the Shadow of The Twilight Zone, two of the most interesting.

Happy Twilight Zone Day, everybody!

Nose-Talgia: "Tonight Show" with Jack Paar and Blossom Dearie

At a time when singing on TV seems to be mostly endless runs of annoying and pretentious melisma, don't you sometimes long for just a simple and charming rendition of a terrific song, done by a master of the art?  I was surfing around and found this utterly wonderful clip of the late, great singer Blossom Dearie, introduced by the erudite and witty Jack Paar as host of The Tonight Show (which was often referred to as just The Jack Paar Show.)  This is maybe unlike anything you've heard before, but once you get an earful of Blossom Dearie you'll want to seek out her recordings and clips on YouTube.  She is delightful, and I guarantee that nobody's ever sung about that surrey from "Oklahoma" in quite the same way.

Friday, May 6, 2011

"CSI: NEW YORK" - BEST SEASON YET


I admit I had always favored the original recipe version of CSI, but once the character of Gil Grisson left the series I began to find myself fading further and further from viewing the CBS program as must see television.

CSI: Miami has the worst acting of any major show on the air at the moment (outside of the truly awful N.C.I.S), but I enjoy the completely over the top interpretation that David Caruso delivers. The other plus of the Miami show is the color palette. The show is so true to its Miami roots (even though it is shot in Southern California) that it is a pretty show. It's lighter on all levels than the Las Vegas brand.

CSI: New York was always my least favorite, even though Gary Sinise is one of the best actors of the last 25 years. Adding Sela Ward to the cast this year was near genius. Her stunning beauty (though, unfortunately, she clearly caved into cosmetic or plastic surgery) and her strength of character (as an actor) matched beautifully with Sinise and they have genuine chemistry.

The show has had some relatively unique plots this season, but tonight is one of the highlights. Peter Fonda returned for a second straight week to play a former partner of Sinise's. This Fonda was always the weakest link in the acting dynasty, but in recent years his performances have proved his wide range and his great depth. Fonda was so good in this double pump he should get his own show. This is what talent is. Talent will out.

I do hope more work will be coming his way. At 72, he has not only aged well (putting on weight helped here), he has managed to be even more personable and charismatic than ever before.

Networks - listen up - Peter Fonda should get a pilot. A good pilot that gets picked up for series!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Amazing Media Coverage for the Biggest Story of the year



An extraordinary news event broke late Sunday night (11pm eastern) on May 1st in the U.S. Nearly ten years after the terrible attacks on 9-11, a secret Naval Seals mission took place at a large walled compound in Pakistan. In just a few minutes, the mastermind of the worst terrorist attacks (and most hated man in the world since notable 20th Century despots like Hitler and Stalin) was dead.

By now nearly everyone knows the details, and has seen the pictures of Americans gathering in front of the White House, at Times Square, and at Ground Zero, to mark the historic occasion. Even at 2 in the morning on the streets of NYC, the crowds kept growing. Here's one of my favorite pictures from the NY Times. This one is sure to be a Pulitzer prize winner.

The media coverage of this event was absolutely extraordinary. Unlike any other modern news story I can recall, social media played a dominant role in getting the word out. Twitter reported an astounding 5,000+ tweets per second as the story broke and users spread the world. Facebook updates were on fire with the story as well. On BlogHer.com, a special poll asking how people first heard that Osama bin Laden was dead is showing that 35% heard from a Facebook update and 22% heard from Twitter. Only 13% said they heard first on television. This is profoundly different from how we received big news stories on September 11th, 2011, when neither of those social media services even existed.

But television also did a magnificent job covering the story late on Sunday night. Most folks might have heard first from social media but soon relied on TV or the Internet to get a deeper view of the breaking news. I immediately turned to CNN (where I watched the bulk of the 9-11 coverage, come to think of it) and stuck with it for most of the night. Their coverage was #1 in the ratings according to Entertainment Weekly. They peaked at 7.8 million viewers in the U.S. at 11pm eastern, when the President made his speech announcing the successful mission (see video above). Fox News was second with 4.8 million and MSNBC was third with 2.3 million viewers. CNN has struggled in the ratings over the past year, but they have proved time and again that they are the place to be during a big breaking news story, particularly when it has global importance.

On May 1st, 2011, the message that so many had longed to hear for too many years spread like wildfire. Through television.... and the Internet, by text message, tweet and mobile phone. Some even heard from a real live person. No matter what pipeline the news traveled through, the result was an enormous, national sigh of relief. Differences in politics, or color, or religion or gender (just like on 9-11)were forgotten. For a few joyous hours on a Sunday night, we were one people, united in our belief that justice had finally been served.

And please, please let HBO make the movie of the amazing Navy Seal mission some day!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

One more reason to love Jon Hamm!

It'd be difficult to suppress positive vibes for a video that has Mad Men star Jon Hamm stopping his convertible for a teensy, hitch-hiking blue yeti, and then taking him on a cross-country adventure. And, what's more, the song the video supports--Swedish trio Herman D√ľne's simple, poppy "Tell Me Something I Don't Know"--is extremely easy on the ears. Hamm never bores me with whatever he does OUTSIDE of the Mad Men universe; it's always nice to be reminded that he's really a light-hearted guy. I smiled pretty broadly throughout watching this piece, maybe because I'm a sucker for puppets (I like the little cooing sound the yeti makes, and love that shot of the yeti's hand being slapped away from the radio buttons). This clip, charmingly directed by Toben Seymour is also one more reason to like the more-reliable-than-not Funny or Die website. Anyway, just thought you guys might love this...


A Little More Flaming Nose Love for HBO's "Game of Thrones"


There's nothing like sitting down to a mini marathon of a series to either clinch the deal or make you turn it off forever.  I resolved to watch the first two episodes of HBO's fantastical new series Game of Thrones to see if I could swallow this new outing or if it was just too elvish for me.  Those of you who love the genre -- and probably those of you who hate it -- know what I'm talking about.  There's a point where these imaginary worlds can get just too involved and a mite off-putting -- what Jane here accurately termed "beards and bathrobes" as in video games in the same genre -- and I feared I'd be shaking my head more than nodding approvingly.

I'm pleased to report that so far I think my instincts were off; Game of Thrones is plenty exciting, not too weirdly complicated to make you throw your hands up and toss it back, and has a bit of something for everyone.  You might be bored by one storyline and set of characters, but there are so many swirling allegiances that somebody's bound to come along who pushes your particular buttons.  I've found a few of my own.

In addition to Sean Bean in the lead -- we've written about him before -- I'd put Nicolaj Coster-Waldau and Lena Headey as an ambitious brother-and-sister romantic team in the forefront.  Treacherous and good-looking, both of these two dynamic forces from the House of Lannister (see, this is where it gets a little too much, all these Houses of this and that, so I won't even mention that stuff anymore...boring!) are dynamic and watchable.  Definitely dangerous and with a big dose of creepy, too, with that incest thing.  And the woman is wife of the King, so how do you like that!  Takes balls!


Young Jack Gleeson as the sloe-eyed Prince Joffrey, is a right little shit, son to the incestuous Queen described above, and always captures the attention.  He's a snotty royal, a spoiled brat who likes to taunt the peasants and then lie about it.  We're already hoping for a comeuppance, and we're only up to Episode 3!

Peter Dinklage, of course, as the dwarf brother of the treacherous incestuous Lannister duo.  Sometimes in a generation a beyond-amazing small-stature actor is born -- I offer up the unforgettable and brilliant Michael Dunn as Dinklage's acting equal in that category -- and Dinklage dominates every scene he's in and you can't wait for the next one.  Absolutely riveting, amusing, attractive, and he's mesmerizing enough to make intelligence cool again. 

How about the near-albino brother and sister Targaryens, children of the previous murdered king?  Intriguing, also kind of a whiff of incest-y interest on the part of the brother to the sister, who has been married off to a perfectly divine barbarian warrior leader named Khal Drogo.  Jane accurately termed him a "Klingon" and he's wonderful, played by Jason Momoa who is going to be the next Conan in the movies.  Ultra-masculine and sexy, he's obviously going to be falling for his pale missus in a big way -- she introduces him to the modified missionary position, a step up from the doggy-style evidently customary in their world -- and much ado will undoubtedly come from that whole alliance.  Also, Drogo seems to have at least three as-yet-quiescent dragon eggs incubating in his tent, and I sure hope that they get a little to close to the campfire and start cracking open sometime soon...should I put money on that? 

Here's the preview for tonight's episode:



I have to admit I'm really looking forward to tonight's episode.  This is the word from somebody who hasn't read the books, doesn't want to read the books, but I'm glad they spawned a so-far terrific new TV series!  The book series, btw, is by George R.R. Martin, who in addition to the incredible success of the sequence of novels that spawned Game of Thrones, has been a prominent science fiction and fantasy writer for decades, including penning a bunch of episodes of the memorable series Beauty and the Beast back in the 1980s.  Gotta love that!

Check out HBO's Game of Thrones website for more coats-of-arms and background information than you can shake a broadsword at!  Game of Thrones new episodes premiere Sundays at 9pm on HBO.

Also, there's a three-episode marathon of all episode so far coming up this Wednesday, May 4th beginning at 8pm.  It's a great way to get up to speed in one evening, or of course you can get the latest episodes On Demand.  Enjoy!