Game of Thrones – the good, the sad, and the frustrating

It’s a great time to be a nerd. There are so many cool sci-fi and fantasy films and TV shows going right now. Maybe it’s because reality is so disturbing lately that more and more people are seeking out alternative realities. Whatever the reason, I’m glad that stories like George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” are getting the big-budget treatment they deserve.

(Warning: This post contains Game of Thrones SPOILERS.)

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I’m really enjoying GoT right now. I love Sam and Gilly’s scenes, and I’m intrigued by Bran’s story too. Now that the HBO series has caught up to the books, every episode is a surprise.

Possibly the most anxiously awaited story line was the question of “Is Jon Snow really dead?” Readers have been wondering what will become of Snow since “A Dance With Dragons” (the fifth book in the ASOIAF series), and we finally got our answer this season.

I’ve also been wondering what will become of Arya and Daenerys since I finished the books. I admit I found the end of the Faceless Men plot less satisfying than I had hoped, and Daenerys’ speeches are starting to get a little stale.

Some of the most frustrating scenes are those that depart from the direction Martin was heading. When Jamie spouts his “the things we do for love” shtick, Edmure doesn’t want to hear it – and neither do we. I’m sure I’m not the only one who was thinking “Oh shut it, Jamie.” (I also yelled at my TV screen when Jaqen said, “Finally a girl has become no one.”)

Even though the series has now gone further than the books, it’s relatively easy to figure out which story ideas are Martin’s. The heartbreaking revelation in”Hold the Door” was very clever – and clearly a twist of which only Martin could have conceived.

I’m so excited for next week’s “The Battle of the Bastards.” It’s hard to believe there are only two episodes left in this season. It’s going by much too quickly.

WonderCon

I attended WonderCon in March and was very excited about the Image Comics panel, since I am a fan of “Saga” and “Rat Queens.” Queens writer Kurtis Wiebe and artist Tess Fowler discussed the creative process behind the comic.

The “Orphan Black” panel was fun too. Tatiana Maslany (who plays the female clones) was absent, but the show’s creators Graeme Manson and John Fawcett participated, as did Kevin Hanchard (Art Bell), Kristian Bruun (Donnie Hendrix), and Jordan Gavaris (Felix Dawkins).

“Orphan Black” is one of my favorite shows. I am disappointed to learn that the show’s fifth season will be its last. I’ll miss the sestras.

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“Game of Thrones” photos, HBO; WonderCon photos EarthToShawna. 

Check out these binge-worthy sci-fi, fantasy TV series

  1. “Battlestar Galactica.” There are four seasons, but you have to start with the miniseries. My favorite TV show of all time, it stars Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, and so many other great actors. It is epic, dramatic, suspenseful, and just plain awesome. So say we all!
  2. “Star Trek.” Any and all. I came in at “Deep Space Nine,” so I’m more a fan of the later series. I sometimes think if I had watched Star Trek when I was younger, I would have set my sights on science, rather than journalism.
  3. “Game of Thrones” is the first science fiction-fantasy series ever to win an Emmy for best drama, so you know it’s something special. GoT has knights, dragons, wolves, witches, giants, and ice zombies, and the special effects are amazing. But the real magic is the plotting and political intrigue, and the stellar performances of the ensemble cast. My one complaint is that HBO goes too far sometimes, adding violent scenes that weren’t in the books.
  4. “Orphan Black.” If you haven’t seen this BBC show yet, you’re in for a treat. Tatiana Maslany stars as a young mother and con woman who has just discovered she’s a clone – one of many. And then the plot thickens. Stick with it; it keeps getting better.
  5. “Heroes.” With the “Heroes Reborn” premiere this week, what better time to re-watch the original series, about ordinary people discovering they have random superpowers? The series has a huge cast of great actors playing interesting characters, and Zachary Quinto (who plays Spock in the new Star Trek films) is amazing as psychotic supervillain Sylar.
  6. “The 4400.” This series drew a lot of comparisons to “Heroes” but actually came first. In the pilot episode, 4,400 people suddenly appear near Mount Rainier. All of them have disappeared at some point during the past 50 years, but no one knows where they have been all this time, or how they got back, and some of them have returned with special abilities.
  7. “Life on Mars.” Jason O’Mara plays a New York City cop who is hit by a car in 2008 and wakes up in 1973. I’m a sucker for a good time travel tale. It was canceled after one season, and some say it wasn’t good as the BBC version, but I ask of you, did the BBC version have Harvey Keitel?
  8. “Caprica.” I didn’t love this prequel series as much as the series from which it was spun, but it satisfied my craving for more “Battlestar Galactica.” Starring Eric Stoltz, Esai Morales, Paula Malcomson, Alessandra Torresani and Polly Walker, “Caprica” tells the story of how the Cylons were created.
  9. “Defying Gravity.” Another good show that was canceled after one season, “Defying Gravity” starred Ron Livingston as one of eight astronauts on a mysterious six-year mission. This was pitched as “Grey’s Anatomy in outer space,” which may have sold the series, but was maybe also its downfall.
  10. “Dr. Who.” I confess I have only seen one season of this goofy time-travel series, but I’m planning to go back and watch more. It’s on my list.

(Photo: “Battlestar Galactica,” Syfy)

Will Tatiana Maslany win Emmy for ‘Orphan Black’?

If you are a fan of “Orphan Black,” you may have thought, “Wow, that actress really deserves an Emmy.” 
Well, Tatiana Maslany has finally been nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. 
Maslany plays Sarah, a British punk rock mom who discovers she’s a clone – one of many, and she plays all of them. You know she’s doing an amazing job when you forget they are all the same person in real life. It’s an addictive series –  gritty and suspenseful, but with plenty of comic relief. I don’t want to give anything away, but I highly recommend putting it on your short list for what to binge watch next.
Another one of my favorite shows, Game of Thrones, was nominated for 24 awards this year. Among the nominations are Outstanding Drama Series, a Best Supporting Actor nod for the incomparable Peter Dinklage, who won an Emmy for his role as Tyrion Lannister in 2011, and nods for Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, and Diana Rigg.
Game of Thrones has also been nominated for cinematography, production design, writing (D.B. Weiss and David Benioff) and direction (David Nutter) awards.
The HBO series swept the Creative Arts Emmys on Saturday. Will they sweep the Primetime Emmys? Tune in to the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards on FOX, Sunday, Sept. 20, to find out.
 
New TV series
 
Here are a few of the new shows I will be checking out this fall. I use the term “new” loosely, as all of the following are adaptations of other TV shows and movies – but they are great stories, so let’s hope the TV shows will be too.
  
Monday, Sept. 21
“Minority Report” (FOX) is a sequel adaptation of the 1956 Philip K. Dick story and the 2002 film (Steven Spielberg). In the movie, Tom Cruise starred as the Chief of PreCrime, a police force that aimed to stop crimes before they were committed, through the use of “precogs,” mutant siblings who can see the future.  The TV series, set 11 years after the events in the movie, focuses on a precog named Dash, played by Stark Sands.  
 
Tuesday, Sept. 22

“Limitless” (CBS) is a sequel based on the 2011 film of the same name. The story revolves around a drug called NZT-48 which increases the user’s IQ and gives him a photographic memory. The main character in the series is Brian Finch, played by Jake McDorman. Bradley Cooper, who starred in the movie, will have a recurring role.  

Thursday, Sept. 24
“Heroes Reborn” (NBC), a 13-episode miniseries, is a continuation of the show “Heroes” (2006-2010). Some of the original actors will reprise their roles, including Jack Coleman as Noah Bennet, Masi Oka as Hiro Nakamura, Jimmy Jean-Louis as The Haitian, Greg Grunberg as Matt Parkman, Noah Gray-Cabey as Micah Sanders, and Sendhil Ramamurthy as Mohinder Suresh. 
 
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Saturday, Sept. 26
“Guardians of the Galaxy” (Disney XD) is an animated spinoff of the comic book and film of the same name. Stephen Wacker, Marvel’s vice president for current animation, has said the series would strive to replicate the film’s offbeat sense of humor, and would pick up where the movie left off.
(Photos: BBC America; Disney XD)