Tag: south park

Game of Thrones Meltdown- Who’s To Blame, How Upset We Should Be, And One Way (Of Many- Oh So Many) It Could Have Been Better

Game of Thrones Meltdown- Who’s To Blame, How Upset We Should Be, And One Way (Of Many- Oh So Many) It Could Have Been Better

Maybe Drogon destroyed the Iron Throne because he thought it fatally wounded Dani. It IS made out of a thousand swords, after all!

Sometimes, an opinion is so close to unanimous, it’s practically a fact.  Such is the case with Game of Thrones’ disaster of a finale, a series that was so epic, it’s hard to believe it was the same show. The final season had already been panned by many, but also had a fair number of defenders, as well as some genuinely entertaining moments.  Some enjoyed The Long Night, while others seethed that the long winter we had been promised for nearly a decade lasted less than two hours.  (And yet there are STILL people that don’t believe in climate change!)  I already wrote plenty about it all myself, and my initial opinion was mixed.  After the second to last episode, though, I’d given up all hope on a remotely satisfying conclusion to the series.

Nevertheless, I’d spent much of the past month and a half on this thing- reading, analyzing, and writing- so of course I was going to watch the last episode.  But I was watching with very low expectations- low expectations, as it turns out, that would not even be met.  Not only did the writers just mail it in, they forgot to put the postage stamps on!  To use an NFL analogy, it would be like watching the team you root for in week 16, after being eliminated in week 15. “Maybe there will be a great catch, or something else worth salvaging to see,” you think to yourself.  Instead, your team loses 45 to 7, and the only touchdown comes from the star running back, who suffers a career ending knee injury when getting tackled at the endzone.

All those episodes, all those story arcs, so many of which were insufficiently answered at best, completely neglected at worse.  In fact, I can only remember one which ended far more powerfully than it began, and was so minor in the grand scheme of things, most of us didn’t even know it was a story until well into the series.  And it can be described in exactly one word-
hodor

THE BLAME GAME

After each episode (except the finale…hmmmmm), executive producers David Benioff and David Weiss- or D & D, as they’re commonly referenced as- would take a victory lap, in the form of an explanation on what the viewers just saw. As such, they were literally putting their faces on the final product, making sure everyone knew who to thank for what was arguably the greatest show on television. While it was widely known that George RR Martin (GRRM) was the literary genius behind the novels (at least for a while), the TV show was D & D’s creation.

Throughout most of the show’s existence, this worked out well for them.  Things started to turn ever so slightly, when the show started to run past the content of the novels. Unlike Lord of The Rings or Harry Potter, the creators of the onscreen product had to largely come up with their own content, working only from an outline that Martin shared with them.  Many people, not just book snobs, noticed the drop in quality, but for the most part, stuck with it throughout.  Most still thought the show was very good, and were already way too invested in this thing, anyway.

So the years continued on, and GRRM still hasn’t release any new material.  Eight years and counting, and he’s been working on TWO Game of Thrones novels…and other projects, as well!  Weirdly, it kind of makes sense- part of GOT’s greatness was the way one story would divide into a multitude of stories.  Apparently, this is how GRRM operates in real life, as well.  A man with so much on his mind surely can’t concentrate on one thing, much to the detriment of the fans.

Back to the show…fairly recently, D & D apparently declared that they had enough, and wanted to wrap things up.  While a show like Big Bang Theory continued on, years after its glory days, D & D were already thinking about their endgame, with the war of the seven kingdoms nowhere near a conclusion.  (Ironically, The Big Bang Theory, a standalone sitcom with a secondary story arc, apparently had a better conclusion that Game of Thrones, which was BUILT around the conclusion.)

So here we all are, in May of 2019, and it’s undeniable- even for the relatively small group of fans who tried to defend season 8, at least prior to the series finale- that everything felt rushed. And there was a reason for that- because it WAS rushed! No need to go into too many specifics- we all know the deal by now. But if the writers had to have Dani take over Westeros and go mad (in that order), that’s got to be, at a minimum, a half-season, not a half-episode.  Similarly, Jon killing her and having his fate decided by the leaders of Westeros is a multi-episode affair.  The way the action (or lack thereof) went straight from Jon stabbing Dani, to debating what to do with prisoner Jon…
*record scratch*
Wait, wait- Jon is a prisoner?!  How did he get captured?  And even if he DID get captured, how did Grey Worm- not exactly the most laid back character- resist from killing him right then and there? How is Jon alive at all? HE COMMITTED REGICIDE AGAINST A QUEEN WHO HAS A MILITARY THAT SPANS AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE!!! *exhales*  Sorry, I’m getting into specifics.  But seriously- the whole thing reminds me of an episode from the Simpsons heyday, where “Poochie the Dog” unceremoniously gets taken out of the Itchy and Scratchy show, and after his final scene, a quick graph shows up that says…
poochie
…and hey- in this intentionally awful plot explanation, at least the Itchy and Scratchy show had the decency to EXPLAIN what happened to Poochie! (More on this Simpsons episode in a bit.)

Even somehow forgiving all this nonsense, how did BRAN end up ruling Westeros?  I have yet to see one person defend this, let alone in a way that makes sense. (The actor himself thought it was a fake script, setup for a laugh.)  The only explanation that remotely makes sense is that’s the way GRRM has it planned out, and D & D wanted to honor that.  If that’s the case though, he has thousands of pages to set it up, whereas D & D had “Tyrion”- or whomever that morose character that Peter Dinklage was playing at that point- unconvincingly try to explain it in a few sentences.

As of this writing, most people are laying the blame for this debacle at D & D’s feet, with some occasional grumblings about GRRM’s going nearly a decade without releasing a new book.  So does the novelist deserve a bigger piece of the pie in the blame sharing? When the TV writers turned A Song of Fire And Ice into a long running TV series, did they expect him to be done by now?  Did they have any indications to the contrary?  The backlash feels more like something seen in sports, like when a heavily favored team loses in the playoffs, and everyone blames the coach.  But without any background information, we just don’t know how this came to be.  Hopefully, someday we’ll here more about this debacle. Maybe THAT can be GRRM’s next novel!

WHO OWES WHAT TO WHOM

As this is playing out in real time, there’s an interesting existential debate going on, regarding how much the fans are “owed” by the writers, particularly GRRM.  On one hand, this is a universe HE created, HE worked on, and HE took chances with.  The reason we all flocked to Game of Thrones in the first place is because of HIS genius.  So does he “owe” us anything now?

Getting back to the example of Poochie and the Simpsons, that episode came out at a time when the Simpsons had been on TV for a while, and some fans were grumbling that it had lost its edge.  (Oh, if only they knew!)  Word was spreading to the writers via message boards that there was some grumbling going on. Having the public react en masse like that was a fairly new phenomenon, as the internet had only been mainstream at that point for a few years. (Again, if only they knew.) Comic Book Guy, representing disgruntled fans, told Bart that he believed Itchy and Scratchy “owed” him. Bart, representing the writers, complained to Comic Book Guy that cartoons provided entertainment for free, and if anything, Comic Book Guy owed THEM. The response was the now famous, and very applicable to GOT’s series finale…
worst-episode-ever

THIS TIME IT’S DIFFERENT

Bart had a point about the entitled fans, but it’s not entirely applicable to Game of Thrones- and not just because HBO isn’t free. Just like with The Big Bang Theory, the Simpsons is a standalone show, where viewers tune in to be entertained for a short period of time. Any continuity is icing on the cake- not many care a whole lot about the consistency of the storylines, as they’re mainly just designed to keep the jokes going. There have been controversies here and there, such as when Principal Skinner was discovered to be an impostor, but it didn’t take away from the series as a whole, and CERTAINLY didn’t negate all the greatness that preceded it. With Game of Thrones, the main “unwritten rules” are the same ones we apply to series like Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings- from Day One, we’re going on a journey that will lead somewhere. And when we get there, wherever “there” is, we are promised it will all make sense- and in GOT’s case, “it” was a lot!

So, we absorbed all the storylines and characters, along with a lot of emotional wreckage along the way.  Each episode was judged on its merit, but it was always understood that it was just a small point on an arc.  I’m trying to find the words, but I just can’t, and since a picture is worth a thousand of them, here’s something that’s been going around-

horse

Truth be told, the warning signs have been there for years. South Park’s GOT parody is primarily famous for its “Wiener” song and the jokes that go with it, but in hindsight, the part that was best lampooned was right here, way back in 2013-

south_park

I guess the best way of saying it is that if you watched Game of Thrones with a soap opera mentality- just enjoying all the drama and action as it came, not knowing or caring much about the future- it was fantastic, with far more great moments than bad ones. But, if you watched it expecting to walk out of the journey as satisfied as you walked into it, you probably should have listened to Butter’s advice, and gotten out when you had the chance.

“I’d Like To See YOU Do Better, Random Blogger!”

Fair enough, fictional skeptic. Let’s start out by giving D & D the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say they wanted to stay as close to GRRM’s vision, still unknown to the public, as they possibly could. And let’s assume that given that he has thousands of pages to fill in, whereas they only have a few hours, it’s literally impossible for the story to live up to expectations. Fair enough. That STILL does not excuse the atrocity that was the series finale, where characters wandered around for a third of the episode, like a kid starting a 500 word book report with, “I really really really really really really enjoyed it.” On the contrary, they should have been trying to figure out how to fit TOO MUCH into the short span of time, not stretching it out! It felt like they had short timer’s syndrome. It’s way too late now, but just thinking here and there over the past couple of days, I strongly believe this would have made a better series finale. I’m not even saying it’s good- I’m just saying it’s better. You decide.  Here goes…

Everything up until Tyrion getting captured stays the same, minus all of the walking around. (In MY version, the characters have some work to do!)  Arya convinces Jon that they have to rescue Tyrion.  Jon is reluctant, (“She is my queen! And my aunt! And my maybe girlfriend!” etc. etc.) but goes along with it.

Next scene- Jon encounters Greyworm.  Jon tries to reason with Greyworm about Dani’s madness- he used to love her, but he has to kill her.  Greyworm shows the slightest bit of acknowledgement that Jon is right, but ultimately out-Jon’s Jon. (“She is MY queen!”) They battle.

Cut to Tyrion jail cell.  Jon shows up, explains that he killed Greyworm, and that he’s going to free Tyrion.  Along comes Dani, to remind Jon that Tyrion is not just a Lannister sympathizer- tryingto reason with Cersei, costing Missandrei her life, then freeing Jamie- but is an ACTUAL Lannister!  Jon reminds Dani that she burned innocent people.  Dani reminds Jon that this is the place where those innocent people cheered his father’s beheading.  Jon is moved by this.  Dani says they can rule together.  Tyrion looks horrified at what’s unfolding.  Jon and Dani go into kiss, and then…Jon stabs Dani.  Dani screams. Hearing the screams, Greyworm (?!) and Jon (?!!!) come running to the scene.  Everyone is looking at each other in disbelief and/or disgust. The “Jon” who killed Dani reveals himself to be…Arya! The faceless man trick! The real Jon goes running over to Dani.  Dani says, “What have I done? I just wanted the world to be a better place!” Jon says, “I know.” Dani says, “You know NOTHING, Jon Snow,” and dies.

Okay, NOW we cut to the scene with the leaders of Westeros.  In this script, GREYWORM is the prisoner.  The group need to figure out who the next ruler of Westeros is going to be. Bran says that the Lord of Light brought Jon back to rule Westeros.  Sir Davos responds, “Yeah well, the Lord of Light’s been wrong before. Personally, I don’t think much of the (c-word).”  Uncle Tully gives his dorky speech, Sansa dismisses him.  Everyone smirks.  Sam takes a sip of his Aquafina, the audience has their comic relief.  They decide Arya is to be queen, as she slayed the previous queen. Arya doesn’t want it, saying, “That’s not me,” and winks at the camera (or not), gives it Sansa, who has shown her political depth and skill to be worthy of ruling.  Everyone agrees.  Greyworm is pardoned, and to not go to war, he is given rule over King’s Landing.  Greyworm, being Greyworm, sneers and says that the moment he is released he will be going to war with Westeros. THEN Sir Davos gives his “too much war already” speech.  Tyrion reminds Greyworm of Dani’s original goal to be a liberator.  To break the wheel.  The wheel has been broken.  It’s up to Greyworm to build a new one. Greyworm is moved, but reminds everyone that the queen’s death will not be forgotten by the Unsullied, Dothraki, etc. etc..  The group decides that Jon will take the fall for the queen’s death, much as Ned Stark did all those years ago, for a cause greater than himself.  Jon will be banished to the wall as “punishment” for what “he” did. (And yes, he gets to pet ghost.)

Gilly leaves Sam, as she’s been plotting her revenge for the perfect time all these years, for leaving her in that brothel.  Also, because she has options now.  Arya goes west to discover the Game of Thrones version of America.  Jon goes back to The Wall, looks at the gaping hole and says to the Justin Turner lookalike, “Okay- we’ve got work to do!”  Out in the distance, a dragon flies towards the screen, which goes to black.  The words, “GAME OVER” flash.  Roll credits.

 

dark-phoenix-trailer-jpg
Sansa will have her throne, even if she has to go to another franchise to get it

MOVING ON NOW

That’s it. Hopefully we’ll have some other non-narcotic entertainment to get addicted to soon. Until then, enjoy the rest of your lives, everyone!

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Stocks Rally To Record Highs, Because…The President of the United States is a DUCK?

Stocks Rally To Record Highs, Because…The President of the United States is a DUCK?

or whatever, the President is a dog- who cares!

While some might see that as an improvement, this post really has nothing to do with the Presidency.  (To read more about that, Google pretty much any other site on the Internet.)  Instead, we’re going to take a look at the latest stock market rally- a quick one, because like Stan Marsh after turning 10, I’m getting tired of the same old…well, if you haven’t see the episode, check it out sometime.

As of this writing, most American stocks are rallying substantially, with tech, in particular, rocketing to new highs.  The explanation given is that globalist Emmanuel Macron will defeat nationalist gadfly Marine Le Pen, in a country with shores located more than 3,500 miles away from Wall Street, with a GDP of less than 1/5th of the U.S.’s.  What does this have to do with the most expensive stocks in world history, increasing even more in value?  Who cares?  Buy stocks!

A less snarky explanation would be that with a global economy so interconnected, it is in need of its proponents to be in charge at all times.  Macron supposedly keeps that order maintained.  But even with THAT explanation, what does it say about the strength of the global economy, that if one of its leaders is voted out- and one not even in the top five in GDPit puts the whole system at risk?  Just how fragile is this thing?  And how absurd is it that Wall Street puts so much faith in these leaders to begin with?  Do they think its years (decades?) of easy money and endless bubble cycles can be maintained indefinitely, if they just keep people in power who believe in it?

To be fair, they’ve done a very good job with it so far- by their definition of “good job”.  But make no mistake- this whole thing is primed for a popping, regardless of who is in charge, be it a nationalist, a populist, a duck, or a Trump.  But as long as the party keeps going, enjoy your Rob Schneider movie collection, while you still can…

South Park Is Still Great, While Colin Kaepernick Is Not

South Park Is Still Great, While Colin Kaepernick Is Not

(Note- this is A *SPOILER HEAVY* review of the season 20 premiere episode)

It’s impossible to pinpoint a single reason why South Park remains so incredible. For one thing, the height of the show’s popularity came years before the height of the show’s quality.  Think about it- when the feature film “Bigger, Longer, and Uncut” was released at the end of the last century, not a single word had yet been spoken by Butters, Randy was merely known as Stan’s dad, and Cartman was, in hindsight, a somewhat one-dimensional foul-mouthed ignoramus, still a long ways from the double-crossing schemer that we’ve come to know and, for lack of a better word, love.

It’s also refreshing, in a time where most topical comedy seems to be about finding the easiest path to getting a “WOOOOOO!!!” from a sympathetic audience, South Park continues to take shots at targets everywhere. Even longtime fans of the show will find themselves saying, “Heeeey- wait a minute!” at least once or twice an episode. All of its elite peers, such as The Simpsons and Family Guy, peaked years ago. With an ever-growing list of things to offend anyone, combined with the increasing madness of our world, the one which South Park resides in has more than enough reasons to be as compelling as ever.

Recently, though, the most important change to the show has been in the format. With prior seasons more or less relying on each episode as a standalone, last season followed a format usually suited for dramas, with continuous storylines throughout.  If not watched from beginning to end, the viewer could be left very confused.  (I’m speaking from experience.)  Given the renewed praise of the show, which introduced PC Principal as one of the show’s newest main characters, it’s no surprise that Season 20 is sticking with this format.

Also back are the Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s lightning-fast real time responses to current events. The commercial for the opener, featuring the townspeople singing the “new national anthem” in a scene not actually shown in the episode, imply a strong distaste for Colin Kaepernick’s perceived self-aggrandizing.  On the flip side, the opening scene of season 20 gives us South Park’s girl volleyball team, protesting a legitimate grievance during the National Anthem.  In this case, the target is the public’s reaction to the protest, too caught up in turning the National Anthem protest into a sport, to consider what the point of the protest might actually be.  On the show, the cause was misogynistic cyberbullying, serving as a stand-in for real life police brutality.  This is classic South Park- before you can get too comfortable nodding up and down, clapping like a trained seal at your TV set as the host (or hostess) validates your etched-in-stone worldview, you instead find your worldview being challenged.  In other words, those who want more public attention focused on injustices, might wonder if Colin Kaepernick’s divisive tactics are the right way to go about it.  On the other hand, others might wonder if Kaepernick’s cause, if not Kaepernick himself, might at least be worth considering.

south-park-garrisonBut that wasn’t even the biggest target of the night for this episode. Returning to the spotlight, more relevant even now than when the joke was first introduced, was “Giant Douche versus Turd Sandwich.”  This has gotten some criticism from other parts of the Internet, seemingly because some take umbrage at Hillary Clinton being referred to as Turd Sandwich.  Lacking in self-awareness, many of these people scream at South Park’s “false equivalency” of Donald Trump’s awfulness and Hillary Clinton’s (from their point of view) far-less dangerous qualities.  Always ahead of the curve, Parker and Stone seem to have anticipated this in advance, in the form of Randy Marsh, incredulously wondering how anyone can possibly consider voting for a Giant Douche (Trump) over a Turd Sandwich (Clinton).  In fact, those paying attention to the episode in a non-partisan light would see that they did actually spend more time skewering Trump- with Mr. Garrison used as his stand-in, to hilarious effect.  Some pro-Clinton critics also griped that the level of Trump bashing wasn’t enough, which missed yet another point of this plotline- that Trump’s buffoonish behavior (or in this case, Garrison’s) has been a net positive for the guy.  Besides, they had his solution to getting rid of America’s enemies as “f*cking them all to death”!  What else were they supposed to do, exactly, have him shoot someone on 5th Avenue?!  That wouldn’t have mattered, either!

But wait- there was even more to this episode!  It was a long summer, and there were plenty of other topics to address, as well.  Thanks largely to Eric Cartman, we witnessed jabs at-

  • Internet Trolls
  • Amy Schumer’s increasingly tired act
  • Overly sensitive reactions to criticisms of the Ghostbusters reboot
  • An excess of reboots, complete with over-the-top praise for JJ Abrams’ minor tweaking of classic plotlines
  • Gratuitous gender-bending roles, courtesy of a brief mention of Token, playing the role of Little Red Riding Hood’s grandma (“Get over it!”)
  • Hashtag Activism
  • And finally- for those who disdain Parker and Stone’s anti-liberal leanings- deceptively tasty right-wing nostalgia fruit, known as ‘member berries.  (As in, ” ‘member Reagan?”).

The last one- which, in fairness, had nothing to do with Cartman- is of particular interest.  Although it was fairly lonely as the one target solely aimed at conservatives, it also is the one that has the potential for the most mayhem this season.  (It took every ounce of strength for me not to type out, “bare the most fruit.”  Forgive me, dear reader.)  Starting out as relatively harmless nostalgia vehicles, mostly by mentioning great movies of yesteryear, the berries find their way into sinister territory, reminding Randy of a time when there weren’t as many Mexicans in the United States.  Not one to normally figure out when he’s being duped, Randy almost immediately senses that something is horribly wrong.  This was quite out of character, but perhaps the writers thought that having a beloved character like Randy susceptible to racism was a bridge too far for viewers to cross.

The surprise I felt at Randy’s awareness at the situation, however, was nothing compared to the twist ending, though, as we discover that the troll is Kyle’s dad, of all people.  Near everyone in the world, both South Park’s and ours, figured it was Cartman, but the South Park writers have shown themselves to be capable of some pretty jarring twist endings, ever since “Scott Tenorman Must Die”.  Why a mild-mannered lawyer, usually one of the more level-headed characters on the show, would take to the Internet to troll elementary school girls is anyone’s guess.  Finding out why is a good reason to keep tuning in, in case you needed one.  Which you shouldn’t.