Television

Game of Thrones cast at Comic-Con 2014

Yesterday we brought you news from the big Game of Thrones panel that took Comic-Con by storm — the new casting for season 5 and season 4 blooper reel. Today the Lord of Light hath gifted us the opportunity to share the entire panel featuring cast and creators. Over 6,000 fans packed into the San Diego Convention Center’s monstrous Hall H for what has been called the most entertaining and epic panel of the weekend thus far. Fortunately for those of us who didn’t make the trip this year, we can relive the magic via Internet streaming video.

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Game of Thrones

As they’ve done in years past, the folks at HBO and show runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss used the annual Game of Thrones panel at Comic-Con to make a number of casting announcements. As we’ve talked about over the past few weeks, season five of Game of Thrones will spend a lot more time in the kingdom of Dorne, where the late Prince Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) was from. And a lot of the storyline will revolve around the fallout from his death, including the reactions of his older, calmer brother Doran and his significantly less calm and far more aggressive daughters, known as The Sand Snakes. With casting rumors swirling all summer alongside reports of new shooting locations in Spain, information was bound to be released sooner or later. Today was that day, with the panel showing a video of new cast members. We’ve got the breakdown after the jump, along with a wonderful season 4 gag reel.

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Sons of Anarchy

Spin-offs have been a part of television since the very beginning. These include not just those series that branched off from popular shows focusing on a favorite supporting character but also those that continued following the leads. The latter could be thought of as TV show sequels, like Archie Bunker’s Place. Prequels, however, have not been as big a part of television tradition. There were Saturday morning cartoons offering origins of live-action TV characters like Alf and the Muppets, as well as some jumping onto the “__ Babies” concept for classic animated series like Scooby-Doo and The Flintstones. Around the same time, ’80s drama Dallas got a legitimate prequel, but it was in the form of a TV movie. Outside of shows that were prequels to movies — a current trend in and of itself that has its roots in series like Freddy’s Nightmares (some of its episodes, anyway) and Young Indiana Jones Chronicles — the earliest American live-action spin-off of a live-action series to go backward in focus was probably Young Hercules, in which none other than Ryan Gosling portrayed the teenage version of Kevin Sorbo’s legendary hero for 50 episodes between 1998 and 1999. Unsurprisingly,  the Star Trek franchise eventually got into prequel territory with Enterprise. Later, another sci-fi series, Battlestar Galactica, tried it with the unsuccessful Caprica. 

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Fargo

Aw jeez, we didn’t think that FX’s hit series Fargo was really going to run for just one single season, don’t cha know, but it sure is exciting to hear that we’re getting more of the good stuff, you betcha! (End bad slang usage.) Hot on the heels of some major Emmy nominations — 18 total, the most for any FX series ever — the cable channel has renewed their beloved series, based on the Coen Brothers’ film of the same name, for ten all new episodes. And they really will be all new, thanks to a new setting, a new cast of characters, a new actual cast, and a new crime to follow. But, rest assured, this Fargo promises to still feel like both of its predecessors. So what does the second season of the series hold for us? Well, probably plenty more winter jackets. But this time, they will be vintage winter jackets.

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Game of Thrones: 409

HBO’s mega-hit Game of Thrones isn’t even currently on the air (we miss you so), but that doesn’t mean that there’s not plenty of information and buzz and chatter about George R.R. Martin‘s heartbreaking baby to share until the show returns for its fifth season sometime next year. Today, however, has brought us a pair of perfectly timed news items that center on the very same (hotly contested and debated) subject: just who Jon Snow’s parents really are. Wait, are you already shocked because you didn’t even think that was a thing? Oh, you’re not ready. So, what do you think you know about Jon Snow’s parentage? Hey, you might know something, but you’ll definitely know more than nothing after the break. [Possible spoilers ahead.]

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SNL Logo

Well, so much for my theory that the Saturday Night Live blood-letting (read: staff-letting) was over after Monday’s news that newbie featured player Brooks Wheelan had been fired after just one season on the sketch comedy series. Deadline reports that fellow featured players Noël Wells and John Milhiser will also not be returning for the show’s fortieth season come this fall, bringing the current axing total up to three. As Deadline reminds us, “the first year on SNL is considered a boot camp, in which new cast members have a season to make a mark. This past year was particularly tough.” The thirty-ninth season saw the addition of seven new featured players, bloating the cast and kind of making it seem like a real sink or swim situation for the new kids. Apparently, about half of them sank. The outlet also confirms news we’ve known for weeks, that star Nasim Pedrad will not be back on the show after five strong seasons, as the comedienne is dedicating her full talents to former SNL writer John Mulaney‘s new Fox show, Mulaney, which will debut this fall. (Fun fact: did you know that Mulaney’s little sister, Claire Mulaney, joined SNL‘s writing staff last year?) So we’re down four now. Will it ever end? 

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Ronia the Robbers Daughter Studio Ghibli

Because this is not a Japanese film site, Japanese film news tends to slip under the radar. So while Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter was announced in February as something new and sparkly and unique – a Studio Ghibli TV series, headed up by Goro Miyazaki (son of Hayao), to be done entirely in CGI – it was mostly forgotten about in the post-February world. Only now, several months later, has Ronia has peeked its head above the Tokyo skyline, and it’s here to show us what traditional Ghibli animation looks like when hauled screaming into the third dimension. The results? They’re OK, I guess.

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Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live is slimming down. With the show’s fortieth season set to kick off in September, NBC’s venerable sketch comedy show has apparently set about culling its cast, and single-season featured player Brooks Wheelan appears to be the first to go. Wheelan tweeted the news (which he seems to have a pretty good attitude about) last night: Had a blast and loved every second of it. I’m totally honored to be able to make this next joke… FIRED FROM NEW YORK IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT! — Brooks Wheelan (@brookswheelan) July 14, 2014 Perhaps Wheelan can get a pep talk from another one-season SNL star like Jenny Slate, who didn’t let her short-lived run on the series sink her career in the slightest. Sure, getting fired always sounds (and feels) bad, but it’s by no means a death sentence (also, Wheelan is just twenty-seven-years-old, he’s got lots of merrymaking to get to.)

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Obara Sand by Erik Wilkerson

I need my fix. Periodically throughout the Game of Thrones offseason, should you be interested in indulging me, I’m going to check in with a spoiler-intense look at some of the goings on behind the scenes of the show. Between casting, new locations added to the shoots and all kinds of rumors about what future books will contain (and heaven forbid another book get released), there seems to be plenty to talk about. Consider it a chance for all of us to keep the conversation going while I use it as therapy to help quell the sadness of not being on a weekly GoT podcast with Joanna and Dave. It’s something for everyone. Well, not exactly everyone. If you’re not a reader of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series, you may want to stop here. Passing beyond the next seal (a fortress held by Walter White Walker: Lord of Spoilers) puts you in grave danger of being spoiled. Everything is on the table: book spoilers, insider info, wild speculation and crackpot conspiracy theories. Consider yourself thoroughly warned.

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Catfish

MTV’s Catfish doesn’t always save the big catches for its season finales – the first season finale centered on a tale so classic that it seemed as if it should be served with a side of fries and some coleslaw, a genuine romance marred by one half of the couple sending pictures of someone else and lying about her life (they eventually worked it out, at least for a bit), while the second season ended with a somewhat similar storyline (though this one was elevated by the revelation that the Catfisher had already run this same game on the Catfishee before) – so while we’ve come to expect blockbuster season finales from most other shows, the reality program seems disinterested in delivering that kind of television. Unless, of course, there’s a supermodel available to assist hosts Nev Schulman and Max Joseph as they go about their searching (read: stalking, Googling, making that Spokeo money). For last night’s third season finale, Schulman and Joseph were joined on the road (and in their investigation) by supermodel Selita Ebanks, who apparently tagged along because she’s a big fan. No, really. Catfish, a show that has never really tried to deliver a truly shocking season finale, appeared to randomly do just that – but not because of the actual story at the show’s heart, but because an (obviously very nice) supermodel wanted to come to North Carolina and Iowa and watch two people be humiliated on camera. Let’s never do this again, okay?

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Sharp Objects

By the time 2014 closes out, fans of Gillian Flynn‘s uniquely thrilling (and, typically, totally dark) novels will be doubly treated to a pair of new films based on her works. For an author who has so far only penned three books, that’s pretty handy work, but for awhile there, Flynn was going to be three for three in the feature adaptation department. Last summer, all of Flynn’s novels were in various states of cinematic production, with David Fincher‘s Gone Girl enjoying the bulk of the hype (it’s certainly the most star-studded production of the trio), Gilles Paquet-Brenner‘s Dark Places secure in a very respectable second place position and Sharp Objects just sort of hanging out in vague pre-production land. Gone Girl will now hit theaters on October 3 (though the possibility that it will bow at TIFF in September seems like a safe enough bet), just a month after Dark Places releases (with a September 1 release date, it sure would be nice to see a trailer or something soon, cough cough), but what about that Sharp Objects movie? Turns out, there’s not going to be one — because it’s going to be a Sharp Objects television show. This is fantastic news.

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Game of Thrones

Editor’s Note: The following guest blog comes from Patrick Sponaugle, who blogs extensively about Game of Thrones on his own site, PatrickSponaugle.com. As we’re a big fan of his work, we asked him to share some thoughts about the recently concluded fourth season. Beware that this article includes spoilers for all of season four, but is also safe for those who have not read the books. Season Four of HBO’s Game of Thrones just ended, more or less wrapping up the adaptation of the first three books in George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga. I’ve been waiting a long time for this season to be presented because there were things that I really wanted to talk about. Not being able to do so was killing me.

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Community

  Granting the wishes of millions of fans who still believed in the power of the “six seasons and a movie” mantra, Community is indeed getting a sixth season (the movie is still, of course, a dream), though not in the way most viewers were probably expecting. When NBC canceled the series in May, outraged fans demanded answers, which came in increasingly more positive waves, thanks to the news that a number of on-demand services (from Hulu to Netflix) could pick up the series. And although neither of those names (or even Amazon and Crackle, which were also suggested) took the tantalizing TV bait, someone else did. According to an official press release and the gleeful howls of Human Beings everywhere, Yahoo! Screen will now revive the beloved television series (which, based on this news, is still a former television series, it’s all online now, baby!), news that probably requires the question: wait, what’s Yahoo! Screen?

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The Leftovers

There shouldn’t be any question that HBO’s latest much-watch series, the Damon Lindelof- and Tom Perrotta-created The Leftovers, is a feel-good affair, but let’s clarify things, just for good measure: this is not a feel-good affair. Based on Perrotta’s novel of the same name, the series (which premiered last night on the cable channel) picks up three years after two percent of the world’s population went – poof – up in totally metaphorical smoke. Two percent of the world, just gone, vanished, vamoosed, missing, possibly raptured (though the first episode of the series does, quite memorably, include a talking head news program that features a host that refuses to acknowledge the possibility that this was “the Rapture” or in any way a religious act), leaving behind the vast majority of the human population, all damaged in their own way. No, really damaged. The whole thing is black as night – The Leftovers isn’t witty like Election or biting like Little Children, Perrotta’s best known big screen adaptions – but it’s moving and unnerving in its own way. The show is mostly without levity or humor, and is often so self-serious as to feel a smidge too heavy-handed (mainly thanks to an overwrought and occasionally awkward score and a series of smash cuts that grate), but it’s still entertaining and very watchable – though binge watching seems particularly ill-advised. In fact, The Leftovers is a show that’s designed to not appeal to the binging masses, if only because it’s too damn […]

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Doctor Who Series 8

We knew Doctor Who Series 8 was fast approaching, but until now we hadn’t been officially briefed on just when it would land. Was it intentional for BBC to hold that confirmation until we were an appropriate number of weeks away? It seems too perfect. According to a new teaser via BBC America, the show will premiere with the first full episode to star Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor on August 23rd at 8pm ET. Titled “Deep Breath,” the episode will be written by Steven Moffat and directed by Ben Wheatley, best known for the films Kill List and Sightseers. The only other things we know are Jenna Coleman is back as companion Clara Oswald and Samuel Anderson is joining the show as another teacher at the school where she works. You won’t even get that much from the 15-second teaser, though. Have a watch after the jump.

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BBC America

The concern with Orphan Black – as with any series built on an ongoing mystery-based narrative — has always been that it’s a television show operating on the hope of continued renewal. They’re in no hurry to actually answer the mystery because the creators and network want the show to continue. Think Lost, Flash Forward or Prison Break. Unlike series like The X-Files or Fringe there’s no episodic structure to fall back on throughout the season as every episode has to deal with that main mystery in some direct fashion. Each step closer to the solution is paired with another two steps back worth of new questions, characters and story turns. That fear came to fruition with last night’s rushed, poorly written and frequently ridiculous season two finale.

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Better Call Saul

You might feel some apprehension about the Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul, but you know you’re going to watch it. When it finally arrives, that is. The show, which is to star Bob Odenkirk reprising his role as lawyer Saul Goodman, was supposed to debut on AMC this November. The bad news is that it’s been pushed back until early next year. The good news, though, is that the cable network is excited about what they’ve seen so far and have already renewed the series for a second season. The first will be 10 episodes, and the second, arriving early 2016, will add another 13. Vince Gilligan is directing the pilot and will share showrunning duties with Peter Gould, who created Goodman as a Breaking Bad writer in season 2 (the character’s debut episode was also called “Better Caul Saul”). Michael McKean, who was so great recently on HBO’s canceled Family Tree is also in the cast as another lawyer, and Jonathan Banks is reprising his role as Mike Ehrmantraut. Yes, it’s a prequel series.

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Chelsea Handler

Looks like Chelsea Handler is getting out of the late night talk show game — well, sort of. The current host of E!’s Chelsea Lately hasn’t made it any secret that she’s unhappy at the network she just so happens to be leaving soon or that she’s looking for another steady gig in the late night realm, but the comedienne has now signed up for a new show that, by its very design, is not a late night talk show. In reality, it’s an anytime talk show, because Handler is now moving over to Netflix for the next stage of her career.The streaming service (and DVD rental giant, but who ever thinks about that anymore) announced the pairing today via a press release, the kind peppered with fawning language and lots of Handler’s trademark humor (which, cough cough, doesn’t work for everyone).

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Hannibal Face Eating

At the PGA-sponsored Produced By Conference, Hannibal show runner Bryan Fuller offered some straightforward advice to aspiring filmmakers: make what you’d want to see. That’s something a lot of filmmakers say, and for good reason. At a panel focused on genre television, Fuller discussed how Hannibal, Pushing Daisies and his more unconventional shows aren’t the most mainstream pieces of entertainment. What’s hip and cool and now at any given moment is never what should dictate the creative process, and Fuller won’t let it. If what’s trending puts him to work, though, there’s nothing wrong with that. “Nobody wanted to do horror,” Fuller told a packed theater on the Warner Bros. lot. “I had been trying to do a horror show for the last ten years. Everyone says it doesn’t work on television, because people do not want to be exposed to that for a prolonged period of time.” That all changed when The Walking Dead came along. When AMC’s comic book adaptation became a hit, that’s when NBC and a lot of other networks came calling for horror.

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Fargo Series Finale

There were few surprises in tonight’s series finale of Fargo. Maybe the biggest one was how Agent Budge (Keegan-Michael Key) repeated the riddle of the previous episode’s title, “A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage,” rather than moving on to address the meaning behind “Morton’s Fork,” as this installment was called. But maybe that served its own purpose. Morton’s Fork is a matter of choice in a situation where you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. For instance, if the show had Budge go over the meaning of the episode’s title, I probably would have criticized its consistency, yet with the discrepancy I question the reason. On a larger scale, the fork applies to a number of outcomes that a show might have where fans will be disappointed. Most television series these days have to deal with the dilemma when finishing up. Audiences are so hard to please at the end of a long-term investment, and at 10 episodes Fargo might have been just long-term enough to face that kind of scrutiny. Plot-wise, what might have satisfied the majority of viewers? Deaths of certain characters? Answers to questions about a particular character’s mortality? Do we ever have expectations for heroic outcomes anymore? The conclusion of this series is more interested in resolving the arcs of its good guys, and those resolutions are only satisfying on paper.

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