Every Thursday, Post TV critic Hank Stuever hosts an online chat to talk all things TV. On the minds of readers this week: “Game of Thrones” and its deviation from its book source material, confusion surrounding both the “The Big Bang Theory” and “Turn,” and the idea of a la carte cable.
“Game of Thrones”: “GoT” is veering away from the books. I don’t have an opinion as to whether this is good or bad, just different. But my question is — why? Is it purely because the TV producers/writers think the story would be better this way on TV, or is it because of fear George R.R. Martin will never finish the books, so they’ve come up with an alternate ending?
Stuever: As someone who never read (and never will have the time to read) the “GoT” books, I’m all for the TV showrunners doing what they have to do to maintain the standard of excellence they’ve achieved. I trust them to streamline, edit and, if it comes to it, leave Martin in the dust. I really do.
Re: “Game of Thrones”: Now that the TV show has decided to completely ignore the books, do we need to worry about “spoiling” those whiney TV only watchers?
Stuever: Boy, I asked for that with my last response, didn’t I?
No, please! One of my favorite things about people who’ve read all of the Martin books is how polite they’ve show themselves to be while the rest of the world catches up. In this day and age, that is truly remarkable.
“The Big Bang Theory”: I’m not saying it’s dumb TV or people are dumb. I’m just shocked that it outstrips so many other things that are also popular and targeted at the same general demo. And surprised that I was unaware. I mean, when “Friends” was popular, it was everywhere. I don’t feel like I’m hearing about “BBT” everywhere and yet it apparently is watched by pretty much everyone.
Stuever: There was a piece on the Atlantic this week, by one of those writers who thinks data is every last important and relevant thing, trying to figure out why more TV critics and writers aren’t writing constantly about “BBT,” because that’s where the numbers clearly are.
To which I just sigh.
“Turn”: I still find “Turn” confusing, though I want to like it. How come Abe’s father and wife speak using their American accents? I find that distracting while everyone else in 1777 uses the British accent.
Stuever: The cast is from everywhere (Australia, England, Scotland). The creators/actors all say it’s because America was still working out its own melting-pot accent, therefore the American characters lean toward different accents. And “Turn” still is confusing, yes. They should have worked that out by now.
A la carte cable: Do you think that there will ever be a time when we can order the cable stations we actually watch rather having to buy packages of stations the majority of which we don’t want and won’t watch?
Stuever: I don’t know, but I just read this morning somewhere that ESPN gets something like five dollars a month from each of us (I think that’s right?), far and away more than the share of my cable bill that other non-premium channels get, and all I could think about was how many people I know (women, gay men, sometimes even straight men) who never, ever, ever watch any ESPN, and if we had a choice not to pay for it . . . well, what would happen then?
Craig Ferguson: We missed this one last week. Who’s going to replace him?
Stuever: You know who I want to do it? You’re gonna hate this answer, but: KATHY GRIFFIN.
Airing out of order: Hi Hank! Love your chats and I’m hoping you can answer a question I’ve been wondering about for a while. When “Almost Human” was canceled last week, a couple of articles mentioned that its episodes were aired out of order. I know that happens often. What’s the network rationale for doing that? It seems like it’s only ever mentioned as a negative factor for a show, and is usually cited as a reason for cancellation. Has there ever been a case where that worked?
Stuever: As I recall, that happened early on in the show, which pretty much indicated that the show was more of a procedural than a developing story; the showrunner tried to quell fan worries that reordering the early episodes’ air dates was of any dire consequence. (As I also recall, I disliked the pilot so much that I never watched it again or gave it much thought, so I might not be the expert witness here.)
But today is a day (actually, this week is a week) of sharing our grief over canceled shows that we liked, even if we knew they were doomed and/or mediocre. What’s yours from the 2013-14 season? (Mine’s probably “Enlisted.” I’m also pre-grieving “Trophy Wife” a little bit, even though it’s not technically dead yet.)
“Fargo”: I’m actually enjoying it a lot. I wasn’t a big Billy Bob Thornton fan, but he’s amazing in the show. I also like Colin Hanks and the female deputy (sorry, I forget her name), and I’m rooting for them to eventually get together. I also love Bilbo/Dr. Watson (I forget his name, too), who is amazing. I think the only one I’m not crazy about is Oliver Platt.
Stuever: Allison Tolman! (as Deputy Molly Solverson)
I have been loving “Fargo” too, for the reasons you state, but I’ve seen episode 5 and found myself really drumming my fingers and wondering whether they were already out of juice. Maybe it was because I was watching it on my computer screen at work. The mood is sometimes wrong for patient, relaxed TV watching.
Blaming the time slot: How much of a difference does it make, in your opinion? Can a great show fail just because it’s in the wrong slot or a really mediocre show succeed in the right one? Or is that really just something we tell ourselves when shows really succeed or fail on their merits?
Stuever: Well, we seem to only complain about time slots when shows that we (very particularly) like don’t succeed there. It’s all in perception. Of course there are bad time slots on television. But I still think that if a show is really good and has the right sort of broad appeal it stands a good chance anywhere. But a show that’s objectively (or subjectively, as the case may be in my line of work) a C or C-plus (or worse) is going to struggle no matter what. Even if it has your favorite new actor in it. Even if the guy who wrote it also wrote your favorite show from 1998.
“24: Live Another Day”: You know, if I worked in an office and they told me that Jack Bauer was coming in, I’d find some way to leave very quickly. My niece in New York has a toothache, or my car is on fire, or I accidentally ate some four-day-old tuna or something to get out of there. I could just see Admiral Ackbar yelling “It’s a trap!”