TV Reviews – Game of Thrones, Veep, Silicon Valley

Game of Thrones: Season Six

game of thrones

I almost dropped Game of Thrones during seasons 4 and 5 but kept trucking along. I am incredibly glad I did. This season felt like the well needed payoff for the set up for the previous two years. We saw characters coming together who we had anticipated meeting. There was resolution to a number of plots, not the least of which was the wandering and pointless “Girl With No Name” antics in Davos. That particular story did bring something to the table for Arya but it took way too damn long to get to its point. But overall, I was incredibly satisfied with this season.

This season was about Reclamation. Sersi reclaims King’s Landing from the High Sparrow. Jon and Sansa reclaim Winterfell from Bolton. Daenerys reclaims her dragons and gains a cushy spot leading the Dothraki. There was also the theme of destiny woven throughout, thanks to Bran McFly and Dr. Three Eyed Raven. I am anticipating more time travel antics and I don’t think they would have shown us that Bran can interact with people in the past if they weren’t planning on using that later. The Hodor revelation will likely be small potatoes. An interesting theory is bandying about the internet that Bran will somehow be the one to drive the Mad King mad in the first place which, if written well, could be a very interesting wrinkle in the story.

I am onboard for the last two seasons after this one. Like many others my interest was waning with so many seasons of characters either being brutalized or grieving. There’s still characters being brutalized (Bolton’s final bow was rough) but it feels like the “good guys” are winning. I am most interested in seeing when we have “good guys” meeting who may not agree about what actions are good. Jon and Dany everybody? I also can’t see how Arya Stark’s story ends on a happy note at all. This young lady has gone down such a dark path that, if the show is being honest about its characterizations, would leave her with severe PTSD. No matter how completely she avenges her family, she should be haunted by how much blood she has spilt.

At this point Game of Thrones, like Lost, cannot end in a way that will satisfy most people. I am resigned to just enjoying where things go, getting surprised, not getting too invested in anyone, and looking at this as a popcorn movie rather than some important piece of art. In my opinion, the best moments of the series are where you are shocked or the show delivers fan service. So more of that and I’ll be happy.


Veep: Season Five

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Selina Meyer is the President of the United States. Well it was until the House has their tiebreaker session after the historically rare results of the popular vote. What happens in this fifth season is some of the best comedy I’ve seen on television since Arrested Development. And that is what this show is for me now, a rapid fire, clever comedy that fills every second of the show with jokes. Perpetually rewatchable, you will discover more threads and set up for larger jokes that last a season. I was a little apprehensive when creator Armando Iannucci announced he was leaving the series, but when he announced that Chris Addison (In The Thick Of It) was taking over my confidence was restored.

This season of Veep was all about Selina Meyer reaping the results of four years of being a monster to her staff, colleagues, and family. And it was the most hilarious comeuppance. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has overcome the “Seinfeld curse” in spades and has really shown what a magnificent comedic actress she is. She’s overcome any type casting from her previous work and deserves to win every Emmy for Best Actress as long as this show is on the air. As the President moves from formal situations to back room deals, Dreyfus transitions so smoothly and with such reality. Particularly, in the midst of a presidential election we have such a wonderful display of guile and pathos in one character.

I could totally understand Veep not appealing to a large audience. It definitely knows the beltway and the speed characters speak on topics of the day, from the environment to abortion to China, it can be overwhelming. The first season took me awhile to find my bearings, but this season and the previous one have been amazing. Every single supporting cast member brings very complex characters into these farcical circumstances. This season’s Congressional campaign of Jonah Ryan has provided some of the best comedy. The interactions between Ryan and his cheerfully oblivious campaign manager, Richard Splett are examples of perfect comedy writing and acting.

I have no idea where the show goes at this point. There are two more seasons, at least. But Selina Meyer is in a very tough spot. I have no doubt it will be a lot of fun to watch her squirm her way out of whatever she comes up against next.


Silicon Valley: Season Three

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Season Three found Pied Piper on the upswing, but as we’ve seen before, our protagonists will inevitable face ruin. The series added veteran character actor Stephen Tobolowsky to the cast as Jack Barker, the new CEO of the company. The boys get upgraded to a modern expensive tech-y office where they immediately over indulge while Richard lets his principles get the better of his opportunities. The series has finally figured out that its most interesting to see these characters begin to get what they want only to have it pulled out from underneath them.

I enjoyed this season, but I get a constant feeling that the show is the verge of starting. I can’t pin down why but every season feels like a car idling in the driveway. We’re about to embark on something yet we never do. This is possibly the intent, because Pied Piper still doesn’t feel like it’s a company that is up and operating quite yet. Thomas Middleditch is great as Richard, but I do enjoying seeing him in improv or stand up situations more than here. The best cast member is Zach Woods as Jared. Like Richard in Veep, it’s the mix of genuine positivity and all around incompetence that make them such endearing characters.

I will continue to watch Silicon Valley in the fourth season, but I am beginning to wonder just how long the series has left in it. Thinking about a real world tech company, there comes a point where you make it big and then the show would become very un-relatable, you are a total failure and this gives the show a more down ending, or you sell and get out which could be the route they would need to go here.

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