Coffee Talk #620: Dumbing Things Down For Movies and TV

Some purists of A Song of Ice and Fire had an issue with Oberyn Martell’s introduction in Game of Thrones s4e1. In the books, it’s implied that he’s bisexual. In the television show, he forcefully grabs a male prostitute’s junk. There’s a huge difference between subtle implication and ham-fisted delivery, but sometimes it’s necessary for the mainstream audience.

The debate over Oberyn Martell reminded me of another argument fans had about Game of Thrones Season 2. In the books, it’s implied that…continued

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, the glory of the Derek Jeter Retirement Tour, Katy Perry’s green hair, or getting amped for the NBA playoffs, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Some purists of A Song of Ice and Fire had an issue with Oberyn Martell’s introduction in Game of Thrones s4e1. In the books, it’s implied that he’s bisexual. In the television show, he forcefully grabs a male prostitute’s junk. There’s a huge difference between subtle implication and ham-fisted delivery, but sometimes it’s necessary for the mainstream audience.

The debate over Oberyn Martell reminded me of another argument fans had about Game of Thrones Season 2. In the books, it’s implied that Stannis Baratheon is sleeping with priestess of R’hllor Melisandre. In the show, he full-on bangs her on his war table. Again, the information is conveyed in drastically different ways, but it’s arguably necessary.

For some reason, the two instances in Game of Thrones didn’t bother me. I didn’t like that subtlety was eschewed for heavy-handed delivery, but I didn’t hate it either. I get that subtlety is lost on some people and understand that the show’s directors wanted these bits of information made clear.

Having said that, I recall one instance where a change bothered the hell out of me. In the Watchmen comics, there’s a great sequence where Silk Spectre figures out that the Comedian is her father. Various memories come back to her and she pieces it all together. In the Watchmen movie, the same thing happens, but it’s punctuated by Dr. Manhattan saying, “The Comedian…is your father.” For whatever reason, that little addition pissed me off. It seemed so unnecessary. Are moviegoers really that dumb?!?

While I understand that book and comics writers can rely on readers’ imaginations, is it necessary for movie and TV directors to be so obvious? I’m not really sure. That’s where you come in! I’d love to hear your opinion on the matter and read some of your examples in the comments section. Does print have to be dumbed down when it’s translated into a movie or television show?

Random Thoughts on Game of Thrones Seasons 4, Episode 1

Now that I’ve watched it thrice, it’s time for some random thoughts on Game of Thrones s4e1. Out of the four season premieres, Game of Thrones s4e1 had the peppiest pacing. The previous three lagged a bit, due to necessary setup, while this episode moved at a brisk pace. Old characters came back, some new ones were established, and a somewhat important character hasbeen recast. Overall, it was a very strong episode that left me thoroughly entertained. It showed me where this season is going, had me wondering how the time flew by so fast, and left me excited for the next episode. Warning: There be spoilers ahead!

Hot Open: Instead of the customary opening credits, Game of Thrones s4e1 starts with a cold open, that was full of fire and blood. The world isn’t done screwing with the dearly departed Ned Stark. Tywin Lannister imported a smith from Volantis to reforge Ned’s sword — the great sword named Ice, made from rare Valyrian steel — into two weapons for the Lannister family. Twyin then throws a wolf pelt into a fire and stares at it with a look of satisfying triumph. Charles Dance has pretty much made Tywin Lannister the coolest cat in Westeros.

Don’t Call Me Lefty: Jaime Lannister is back in King’s Landing, sans right (sword) hand. Papa Tywin wants Jaime to leave the Kingsguard and go home to rule Casterly Rock. Jaime wants to stay in King’s Landing to bone his sister, Queen Regent Cersei Lannister. Tywin delivers one of his patented takedowns and disowns Jaime for refusing his family duties. Yeah, Tywin is getting even cooler with every minute of Game of Thrones s4e1.

My Name is Oberyn Martell…You Killed My Sister…Prepare to Die: At the edge of the city, Tyrion Lannister is waiting for the arrival of the Martells for King Joffrey’s wedding. Ser Bronn is there for excellent comic relief and sexual dynamo Squire Podrick is there to give nerds hope.

Prince Oberyn Martell is introduced in a surprisingly effective way. He’s hanging out a brothel with his paramour and it’s established that he has a voracious (bi)sexual appetite. He messes with some lower Lannisters for having the gaul to sing “The Rains of Castamere” in his presence, establishing him as a bad-ass. Finally, he has a great conversation with Tyrion that establishes his background and motives. Yeah, he’s speaking in plot summaries, but it comes off in a (mostly) natural way that’s dramatic and effective. You’re left knowing a lot more about Oberyn Martell and hoping to see more of this kick-ass character. Normally, I hate when characters in TV, movies, and comics speak in plot summaries, but this was well executed and especially beneficial to viewers that haven’t read the books. Huge credit goes to Pedro Pascal, who owned the screen as the Red Viper of Dorne.

(A lot of people have equated Oberyn with a sexier and nastier version of Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride. I don’t fully agree, but I get it, ergo the title to this section.)

How (Not) to Train Your Dragons: Over in Pentos, Daenerys is tending to her lovely dragons. The scene shows how big and uncontrollable the dragons are getting. It’s also a nice opportunity to show off some incredibly sweet dragon CGI.

Meanwhile, her army is being held up by a childish standoff between Grey Worm and Daario Naharis. A new actor is playing Daario…and I still don’t think he’s handsome or exotic enough. The book version of Daario seems exponentially cooler. Daario does get in a nice jab to Grey Worm about not having balls. Making fun of eunuchs is always a good time and I’m glad it was slipped into Game of Thrones s4e1.

Back to King’s Landing: Sansa Stark isn’t eating, which isn’t surprising. Her brother and mother were killed in a vile act of betrayal in s3e9, so her lack of appetite is understandable. Tyrion is trying his best to console his wife, to no avail. Everyone’s favorite imp is getting stressed out by life in King’s Landing — his wife hates him, his nephew wants to kill him, his father and sister loathe him, and his whore lover wants more attention. While I’ve always been a fan of Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion, I’m surprised by how much Sophie Turner has improved as Sansa. She started as a stupid little girl and has grown into a tortured beauty that you can’t help but feel for.

The Man with the Golden Hand: Book purists are whining about this scene taking place before it should, but whatever. Jaime is getting his stub fitted with a golden hand, courtesy of mad scientist and former Maester of the Citadel, Qyburn. I totally cracked up when Jaime waived goodbye to Qyburn with his fake hand.

Jaime wants to get busy with Cersei, but she isn’t having it. She suggests that she has found new lovers (spoiler: she has) and no longer wants Jaime in that way. Cersei is becoming more depressed, more of an alcoholic, and more unbalanced. Lena Headey has always owned as Cersei Lannister. I’m excited to see her descent into madness.

Where the Wildlings Are: The wildlings south of The Wall are regrouping after Jon Snow’s betrayal. The Thenn Tribe is introduced…and they are scary. The Thenns are a brutal branch of wildlings that enjoy carving scars on their faces and chowing down on a lovely cannibal meal, but they’re also smarter and more aware than they’re scarred visages would suggest. These guys scare the bejeezus out of me. I’m pretty sure one of them mugged me in Queens once…or maybe that was Anthony Mason.

Jon Snow…Acting: Kit Harington pulls off his best acting to date in Game of Thrones s4e1. The Jon Snow he plays in this episode is complex and conflicted, while showing signs of developing strength. He’s mourning for his beheaded brother and dealing with accusations of betrayal. It’s tough being Jon Snow right now. The Night’s Watch leadership has a number of pricks in it since Lord Commander Mormont was killed. Two of them — Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt — would love to see Snow killed. Thankfully, Maester Aemon is there to look out for Jon. Oh yeah, during Jon’s questioning, he manages to deliver a wickedly sharp line to Slynt. That was cool.

Olenna Tyrell Owns: What is it with old people being so cool in Westeros? Fossils Tywin Lannister and Olenna Tyrell seem like the coolest people to hang out with. Lady Tyrell is clearly the sharpest woman on the show right now and probably the second-most cunning person in King’s Landing.

In a transition scene, an awesome statue of King Joffrey is shown. He’s standing triumphantly with a crossbow, with his foot is on a dead wolf. I want one of those statues.

In another part of King’s Landing, Jaime is planning security for the royal wedding. Joffrey is shown being unreasonable and borderline insane. He name drops some famous characters that will delight fans of the books. He also blasts his uncle/secret father, taking a jab at his age and one-handedness.

Daario Loves Dany: Back in Pentos, Daario is trying to educate and seduce Dany at the same time. There’s another Easter egg for fans of the books. Otherwise, this was a throwaway scene (mostly because I don’t yet like the actor playing Daario).

Enter the Fool: Brienne and Jaime are arguing about what to do with Sansa, watching over the Little Dove as she prays. I love the dynamic between these two characters. The actors have fantastic chemistry.

After finishing her prayers, Sansa’s Stark-sense goes off and she feels that she’s being followed. She is…and it’s former knight and current fool Dontos Hollard. He gifts her with a necklace. Fans of the books will know what’s coming and why it was important to establish him in Game of Thrones s4e1. Viewers that haven’t read the books will like seeing Sansa getting a brief moment of happiness in her tortured life.

On the Road Again: “The Hound” Sandor Clegane and Arya Stark are on the road again. This pair is fantastic. Their banter is delightful, with the actors playing off of each other wonderfully. Like many viewers, I would watch an hour of Arya and the Hound on the road. The Hound’s unintentional humor in this scene is brilliant, with him questioning what a “Lommy” is and giving his opinion on people that name their swords. Rory McCann’s deliver is awesome.

The scene is a mashup of happenings from the books. The timing and characters have changed, but the result is effective television. The climax has Arya getting back her sword, Needle, and getting some revenge on Polliver. It leaves you with so many emotions. It’s cool seeing Arya become an effective killer. It’s sweet seeing a Stark finally go on the offensive. And then you realize that she’s still a little girl and the person she’s becoming is completely messed up. Watching Arya’s satisfied smile as she rides off on the road at the end of Game of Thrones s4e1 is a conflicting moment. You’re happy, sad, and afraid for her all at the same time.

Jimmy Fallon’s Game of Desks

Here’s a fun sketch from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon that blends Game of Thrones with the “late shift” hosting politics. As many of you know, Fallon is taking over The Tonight Show from Jay Leno in 2014. While I’m excited for the change and hopeful that Fallon’s crew continues to nerd it up (love the tech and gaming content), there are some that aren’t thrilled with the latest late shift. Some are Conan O’Brien fans that are still angry over the last hosting debacle with Jay Leno. Some are Seth Meyers fans that want him manning The Tonight Show desk. This sketch touches on those issues…and also brilliantly casts The Roots as a pastiche of the Night’s Watch. Check it out and let me know what you think (please!).

Game of Thrones Season 3 Extended Trailer

March is going to be an outstanding nerd month. On the videogame front, there’s a ton going on with titles like Tomb Raider and BioShock Infinite leading the way. On television, millions of people are counting down the days until March 31, 2013. As some of you know, that’s when the season premiere of Game of Thrones hits. The extended trailer below hints that the third season will have as many epic moments as the first two. As a mark for the books and the TV show, I’m so looking forward to another batch of Game of Thrones episodes.

Check out the clip below and let me know what season three happenings you’re looking forward to. While dragons are always fun, for some reason I can’t wait to see the scene with Brienne in the bear pit. That should be cool.

Jason Momoa to Play Drax the Destroyer?

Jason Momoa (best known as Khal Drogo in Game of Thrones) has allegedly been offered the role of Drax the Destroyer in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Latino Review reports that Momoa killed his screen test and was offered the part. The site says that his agents are working on finalizing the terms.

While I loved Momoa in Game of Thrones, a lot of moviegoers thought he was lame in the latest Conan the Barbarian movie. No matter what he brings to the table, I’m certain that Momoa will be exponentially better than former WWE Superstar Dave Batista would have been. Last month it was rumored that Batista was in the running for Drax. Thankfully, comic-book fans will be spared Batista’s acting.

What do you think of Jason Momoa as Drax the Destroyer? Will he bring his Khal Drogo fierceness? Or will he sputter like Conan?

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Coffee Talk #544: Best TV Show of 2012

Kicking off the “Best of 2012” Coffee Talk columns is your favorite television show of the year. It was a tough choice for me and I was very close to giving the nod to Game of Thrones Season Two, but I’m going to go with another HBO show: The Newsroom. A lot of people enjoyed the show for its political commentary and use of real-world events. That stuff was great, but I loved the…more

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, vaping egg nog e-liquid, the Spike TV VGAs, or Jeremy Hoffman’s outstanding pulled pork, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Kicking off the “Best of 2012” Coffee Talk columns is your favorite television show of the year. It was a tough choice for me and I was very close to giving the nod to Game of Thrones Season Two, but I’m going to go with another HBO show: The Newsroom. A lot of people enjoyed the show for its political commentary and use of real-world events. That stuff was great, but I loved the writing and character interaction. Aaron Sorkin himself describes the show as a romantic comedy and I’m an absolute sucker for rom-coms.

The cast is absolutely loaded, with Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, and Sam Waterston leading the older generation. Alison Pill, John Gallagher, and Thomas Sadoski lead the younger cast members. When the guy from Slumdog Millionaire is your seventh lead then you have a pretty stout cast. Oh yeah, Olivia Munn was there too.

The Newsroom was just a fantastic blend of great writing and strong performances infused with a unique dose of reality. I loved the debut season and can’t wait for more.

How about you? What was your favorite TV show of 2012?

Game of Thrones Season 3 Production Diary

Are you excited for Game of Thrones season 3 (starting 3/31/13)? You should be! If, by chance, you’re not, then check out this production diary starring the cast and crew. New locations and new characters are teased, along with updates from old favorites. It looks like it will be another amazing season of Game of Thrones. I can’t wait! For now, check out the production diary and let me know what you think (please). Continue reading “Game of Thrones Season 3 Production Diary”

Steve Love’s One-Man Game of Thrones

Internet impressionist Steve Love posted this video of impressions from Game of Thrones. He does a good job with most of the characters, using their lines from the show. A few of them he completely nails. Love caps off the video with some fun at the expense of Ser Jorah Mormont. The clip makes me want to end every sentence with the honorific “Khaleesi”. Great stuff!