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TV Discussion: Community on Yahoo

But, then again, each Community finale for the past three seasons has been an awkward attempt to craft an episode that could function both as a continuation of the story or as a summation, should the show be cancelled. Add to that difficulty the episodes written to deal with the departure of Chevy Chase and Donald Glover, and it’s no wonder that, even with the return of mad genius Dan Harmon, the series struggled to find a voice last season. It’s hard to focus on the future when all you get to do is say goodbye.

Game of Thrones: The Children by Donald McCarthy

This was without a doubt Game of Thrones’ best season finale yet- certainly much better than last year’s relatively lethargic “Mhysa.” I don’t want to say this soon that it was the show’s best episode, but it was certainly up there. As the episode began to near its conclusion I realized that I was feeling the books’ DNA coming alive more than ever despite some changes. When I saw Arya ride the horse towards the dock I thought to myself, “Yeah, this is A Song of Ice and Fire right here.” The music, the landscape, the atmosphere, it all felt like the books I first read so many years ago.

Game of Thrones: The Watchers on the Wall by Donald McCarthy

Tonight’s episode was directed by Neil Marshall, the same man who directed season two’s battle episode, “Blackwater.” There’s no question for me that “Blackwater” was the better episode, although tonight’s was by no means bad- it was actually quite good in many ways. However, I can’t say I left feeling pumped as I did after “Blackwater” or even as panting as I was after Oberyn’s death last week. There are a few reasons, one of which is spoilery and I’ll make a clear note of it so non-book readers can look away (it’ll be at the very end).

Game of Thrones: The Mountain and the Viper by Donald McCarthy

Well, talk about a pretty literal title, eh? And the episode delivers on the title’s promise even though it keeps us waiting for quite some time (and more on that later). After the last few weeks of setup, we finally arrive at Tyrion’s trial by combat with Oberyn stepping in for him against the Mountain. It is hands down Game of Thrones’ best one-on-one action sequence to date and perhaps comes in third of overall action sequences, trailing just the Red Wedding and the explosion of the ships in Blackwater Bay.

Game of Thrones: Mockingbird by Donald McCarthy

We’ve talked before about changes the show has made that’ve been neutral or positive, but tonight we come to one that’s negative. In the books, Lysa Arryn’s death did not happen with only Sansa, Littlefinger, and her; there was also an additional character, a singer named Marillion. Marillion was interested in Sansa Stark, continuously harassing her, and Sansa rebuffed him again and again. When Lysa tried to kill Sansa, Marillion sang and played his harp so no one could hear Sansa singing. Still, Littlefinger arrived and killed Lysa, just like in the show, but he afterwards screamed, “Guards! The singer just killed my lady wife!” It’s a wonderful reversal and a great moment of instant plotting on Littlefinger’s part. I understand that the show has many characters to begin with and we don’t exactly need another scene of sexual harassment, but Lysa’s death lacked a punch and I think it’s the lack of Marllion that did it (Marillion did appear in the show in the first season, but had his tongue ripped out on the order of King Joffrey).

Game of Thrones: First of His Name by Donald McCarthy

Last week, we took some time to discuss changes from the books with the presence of the White Walker “priests.” Tonight, the episode’s deviations aren’t as huge in terms of plot revelation, but they are nice and give us some great character moments. Bran’s imprisonment by the mutineers is completely made up, but it’s a great way to keep Bran involved in the plot since the timeline is more dragged out than it is in the novels. Bran has long been one of my favorite characters (I’ve never understood fan complaints that he’s boring- I always look forward to his chapters) so I certainly have no objection to him getting some more plot and the show doesn’t deviate from his characterization unlike the change with Jaime made a couple weeks ago. I have no problem with the show creating new scenes and a lot of tonight was made up of them yet at no point did I feel like the episode was out of step with the books. Take, for instance, Tywin’s revelation the Lannisters are running out of gold. It’s not in the novels, but it fits with the books’ exploration of how certain people stay in power solely because they can keep up the appearance that they are useful as opposed to actually being useful. It’s a smart touch. Plus, extra scenes for Charles Dance are always appreciated.

Game of Thrones: Oathkeeper by Donald McCarthy

I first started reading the Game of Thrones novels in ninth grade. I read the opening twenty pages of A Game of Thrones, but didn’t go any further; I can’t recall why, perhaps some sort of mandatory reading got in the way. I do remember telling myself I’d go back to it, especially after the prologue, the prologue that gave us creatures of ice called the Others, creatures that I found to be the stuff of nightmares. I returned to the books six months later, when I was in tenth grade and my interest in the Others only grew, especially since Martin kept them off screen, but hyped them up through tales told by other characters like Old Nan.

Game of Thrones: Breaker of Chains by Donald McCarthy

I’m not happy.

The difference between the show and the novels aren’t many considering how hard it is to adapt Martin’s books into a television show and I’ve been completely fine with the changes the show has so far made. In general, I don’t mind adaptation changes because books and television/film are different mediums so of course there will be differences (there needs to be a whole article on how people complaining about films or TV making adaptation changes is ridiculous).

Game of Thrones: The Lion and the Rose by Donald McCarthy

I talked last season about Game of Thrones’ dislike for weddings, not to mention my own dislike for the rather narcissistic event, but damn, does this show hate weddings or what? I knew Joffrey’s death was coming since I read the books, but my enjoyment wasn’t hindered because every time he took a sip from his cup I expected him to start choking. We really need to get a count going of how many people have died at weddings on this show.

Professional Wrestling as Television: Evaluating Monday Night Raw by Robert Aldrich

When you tune in to watch Monday Night Raw, what are you watching? As World Wrestling Entertainment’s flagship show, Raw frequently pulls in viewers numbering in the millions in the USA, and tens of millions worldwide (according to Nielsen Ratings).  So the program is clearly popular.  But what is actually being watched?  A television show?  A filmed stage production?

Game of Thrones: Two Swords by Donald McCarthy

I believe when we last met around the ol’ throne we were lamenting the loss of the Stark army along with Robb and Catelyn. The tears are not yet gone in the premiere and it’s a smart move as the slaughter that occurred near the end of season three has given the show a new level of preeminence. Game of Thrones rubs it right in our faces with a pre-credits sequence of Tywin Lannister melting down Eddard Stark’s sword and creating two new ones out of it. In a story filled with misery, Tywin is one of the few that seems at least somewhat content. Joffrey, too, but how much of a person is he?

Community: Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons

A surprising amount of this season of Community seems to be designed to re-do episodes that didn’t work during last year’s Dan Harmon-less Fourth Season. That’s given this (very strong) season something of an identity crisis. When you spend all your time looking back, you just aren’t able to move forward. So it’s equally exciting and frustrating to see the show treading familiar ground again by going back to Dungeons & Dragons. The Community that last entered the realms of wizards and goblins and necromancers was a very different series. The episode that resulted was a series highlight, perfectly integrating high concept and character building.

Community: App Development and Condiments

Community’s references to movies and other television shows have become the show’s defining characteristic. Sometimes they’re just peppered over the top of a story that could have been told in several different ways, and sometimes the reference itself is the reason that the episode exists. “App Development and Condiments” is built to be a parody of dystopian tales of future societies separated by arbitrary ranking systems into an elite class and a proletariat class. 

How HBO's True Detective Won the Internet by Donald McCarthy

The early trailers for HBO’s new drama, True Detective, promised great acting thanks to leads Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, but the plot looked like it’d be landing in the well-worn serial killer genre recently mined, some might say to a fault, by DexterCriminal MindsThe Following, and Hannibal. Dead women, a case unlike the detectives had ever seen before, an alcoholic, and a journey into depravity: all of these are overused tropes of the detective genre and while the trailers hinted at a more mature take on the on the subject matter, the show still looked to be a little old hat for HBO.

Community: Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality

When we look back on Community, after all six seasons and that movies are finally finished, which Community will we remember most? The series has reinvented itself many times over, due to studio meddling and behind the scenes drama. Now, with Glover and Chase non-factors, the creative team locked in, and cancellation not likely in the wake of NBC’s horrible year, the series has an opportunity to develop its remaining characters. “Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality” restates some important character beats that have been ignored for a long while, and even more importantly, returns to a tone we’ve not seen on Community in some time.

Inside The Big, Stupid Machine: The First Season of Alpha House

The worst thing you can do with Amazon’s first original series, which is now available in its entirety on the site, is treat Alpha House like some sort of House of Cards clone. Whereas House of Cards is deception and ambition told on a Shakespearean level of extreme drama, Alpha House opts to depict the inner workings of the Washington political machine with a much different perspective. 

Community: “Analysis of Cork-Based Networking”

Comedy is a real pain in the ass to write about, because it’s subjective. A joke either works or it doesn’t, a reference either catches you or it doesn’t, a gag is either perfectly timed or a split-second off. So what we talk about when we talk about Community is usually the story (furthering the myth of Dan Harmon, story guru and mad genius). Then, sometimes, there’s an episode with a story so bizarre that I’m just not sure whatto talk about.

Community: “Geothermal Escapism”

Thanks to the oddly specific bequeathal of Pierce Hawthorne, and the real-life ambitions of the actor who plays him, Troy Barnes is leaving Greendale Community College. While the rest of the study group (which I still feel inclined to call them, as we’ve not yet seen the Save Greendale group meet again) prepares to send Troy off with one last round of make-believe, Britta, as much of a buzzkill as ever, urges the group not to let fantasy overshadow the emotion of Troy’s departure.