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Tragedy and Game of Thrones, SNL's Potato Chip sketch, and handwringing about broadcast TV's future.

Tuesday May 24th 2016

The Watercooler

“Hold the door.”

Well that was a sad episode of Game of Thrones. But it was also a great episode that spent a lot of time with the remaining Stark kids, and we also got some backstory on a bunch of characters, which true to the show, weren't very happy. On a lighter note, it appears that Tormund is still quite smitten with Brienne.

“What we see unfold is a heroic moment, but it’s one that is undoubtedly framed by tragedy, and complicated by the fact that Hodor didn’t actually want to participate in it at all. I believe that Hodor would have wanted to protect Bran, but I also know that he was a coward, who would never fight of his own volition. And I also know that—however exactly the time travel situation worked—he lived a life of ridicule because of this sacrifice, and because of a situation that Bran created when he brought the White Walkers to their doorstep. It’s messy, no doubt, but it reinforces that what’s unfolding at this moment is not going to be without consequences.” People apparently get annoyed when recappers talk about agency, but that’s kind of a theme this season. This week we saw examples for Sansa, Arya and most of all poor Hodor. I am still not sure how much control Hodor had for his final moments.

The “newbies” recap agreed with the “experts” (above) as both earned an A- this week.

For all of the talk about the show moving past the books, which I guess it has in the book publishing sense, the Hodor backstory comes straight from George R.R. Martin.

This eulogy for Hodor is the only one that’s suggested that we might see him again, which is alarming. Oof, I hadn’t thought of that.

On a lighter note, you said you wanted more male nudity to balance out all of the previous season's female nudity, but you didn’t specify about a lack of warts.

Here’s the 10 key moments from this week, and Vox has this week’s winners and losers.

You probably have a lot of questions, and Vanity Fair has some answers to 10 of the most pressing.

Vulture also went into what we know from the books about the history of the Children of the Forest.

So obviously Bran made a huge mistake, but is it big enough that the White Walkers will move south of the Wall? This article explains how that could happen, and why they haven't done it already.

“Either way, Euron won the popular vote in the Kingsmoot and then got to drown for his troubles. Yup, that's how you get anointed on Pike. You have to literally drown, cough yourself back into existence, and then wear a garbage crown made from stuff found on the beach. What a rotten place. Still, as mentioned, I liked that the story here felt bigger than it ever has.” So glad Yara and Theon got a potential plotline that gets them away from Westeros, and that Theon finally got a shower.

Conan brought on Lena Headey and Dinklage to play Overwatch on the Clueless Gamer segment. 

You’ve already seen the lightsaber version, so now watch the Tower of Joy fight scene with the theme from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

It’s always hard to picture a different actor than the one you are familiar with, so this list of those who were almost cast, or were recast, on the show is kind of fun. Outlander’s Sam Heughan auditioned 7 times, and still didn’t get a role. (Things seem to have worked out OK for his though.)

These posters for each episode this season are pretty great. 

In the age old question of when is it OK to talk about spoilers, I’d say texting them right after the episode airs to your cheater of an ex is completely acceptable.

The Business

It sounds like The Good Wife spin-off is actually happening. It would follow Diane Lockhart and Lucca Quinn, and would be on CBS’s All Access, their digital subscription service. Slate argues that it should be a musical, and with that cast, why not?

I don’t normally post news until it’s final, but the rumor about Cary Fukunaga directing Stanley Kubrick’s uncompleted script for his Napoleon passion project for HBO is too good to wait for all the ink to dry.

Netflix spent probably an absurd amount of money for their exclusive streaming deal with Disney.

Netflix’s new episodes of The Gilmore Girls finally has a title, and it’s kind of dumb. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life is also reportedly close to the end of filming, so expect a release date soon.

Oh dear god, the next season of Survivor will be Generation X vs. Millennials. Can’t wait for the super angry eyeroll filled recaps about this one.

Netflix made a tool so you can check to see how much your ISP is messing with your streaming speeds.

Will, the drama about a young William Shakespeare (the other non time travel theme for next season) got a series order from TNT.

Casting: Ewan McGregor will play two brothers on Fargo season three, which will be set in 2010.

Mitch Hurwitz is still threatening to make more episodes of Arrested Development. If you're new here, you can probably guess that I was not a fan of the fourth season.

Renewals: Comedy Central has renewed Another Period for a third season. Unsurprisingly, ABC has renewed Jimmy Kimmel Live for 3 more seasons.

Cancellations: A&E has cancelled Damien after one season. Showtime has announced that House of Lies will not be returning after the 5th season.

Michael Lombardo is stepping down after 9 years as HBO’s programming president. He’s been with HBO for 33 years, which is kind of amazing. Casey Bloys has been called up from the HBO ranks to take over.

Frank Spotnitz is out as the showrunner for Amazon’s Man in the High Castle, which has temporarily halted production.

Lots of show are moving around, so if you need a list of what night everything is scheduled to be on next season, that list is over here.

People Talking About TV

““If you're Amazon and you're going to launch a David E. Kelley show, that's gonna cost $4 million an episode [to produce], right? That's $40 million. You can have Bradley Whitford starring in it, [who is] gonna cost you $150,000 an episode. That's $1.5 million of your $40 million. Or you could spend another $3.5 million [to get Costner] on what will end up being a $60 million investment by the time you market and promote it. You can either spend $60 [million] and have the Bradley Whitford show, or $63.5 [million] and have the Kevin Costner show. It makes a lot of sense when you look at it that way.”” Vulture had an amazing, really in-depth piece last week on what it’s like to work in the TV industry in the age of “Peak TV.” Highly recommended.

“With NBC and Fox struggling on the half-hour front, the race is on to find the Next Big Network Sitcom. More at-bats allow more of a chance to hit a home run. Of course, because CBS’s mantra in program development this season is “safe at all costs,” the three new sitcoms are pretty generic family or office shows, all fronted by White Guys Over 40 (and, in the case of James and LeBlanc, Pushing Fifty). History suggests one or more will do very well, even if none will be competing for Emmys.” CBS tried something different last season, but this year they decided that trying something different isn’t really what CBS does. Here’s the trailers for all of their fall shows.

Io9 has their take on the new, returning and canceled TV shows you need to know about.

“But there haven't been many hits on broadcast lately. What there has been is an aggressive redefinition of what a "hit" is, up to and including burning or deleting any archives that reveal numbers when the networks were in their heyday. In the place of hits come creative inventions like "programmatic advertising" and "data currencies" and, one would assume, a return to bald-faced lies.” The Hollywood Reporter’s Tim Goodman is not impressed by this year’s upfronts.

On the other hand, the trailer for NBC’s This Is Us is about to get 50 million views. Does Mandy Moore have that many fans? Or is it almost naked Milo Ventimiglia?

If you want more on the upfronts, The New York Times followed an ad buyer around for a day.

“Solomon: That regurgitation of the potato chip is Will. It was one of those things where I think I said, “People are going to gag when they see this.” Meyers: I think probably three or four years into my friendship with Forte, I realized there were certain things it was pointless to argue about. Solomon: Will said, “I don’t care what kind of reaction we get. I just want a reaction. I don’t care if it’s laughs. I just want the audience to react.” And they did! If you listen to people in the background, they are like, “Oh my God.” Meyers: It’s great because it’s 187 groans and two people who couldn’t be happier – and those are Forte’s people.” I am a fan of SNL’s Potato Chip sketch, because it’s weird, and it's such a perfect example of the type of sketch that should air in the slot reserved for the weirdest of the night, “10 to one.”

Sex and the City has an overall rating of 7.0 on a scale from 1 to 10 — the average score of an English-language television series with 1,000 or more ratings is 7.3. So why did a show roundly considered seminal in the now ubiquitous genre of driven-New York-women-make-a-go-of-it programming score so low? Yeah, it’s men.” The Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons is real, and he’s giving low ratings to your favorite shows on IMDB.


What To Watch

I am still traveling, so this is everything you should watch through next Monday.

I’d tell you to watch Preacher, but I haven’t watched it yet. But don't worry, if it’s good I will yell at you about it next week.

Wayward Pines, the show my parents were totally dismissive of until the body disappeared at the end of the pilot, returns to FOX for a second season on Wednesday.

Chef’s Table, which I really enjoyed, returns to Netflix for a second season on Friday. (Here's the trailer.) If you can only watch one episode, and you are a fan of outdoor grilling, watch the Francis Mallman episode. Caution: may make you Google land for sale in Argentina and ponchos.

If you want something different, but you are too lazy to switch over to another service, Bloodline is also back on Friday.

There’s no way the new Roots is going to get the same ratings that the original miniseries did, even if it is playing simultaneously on A&E, History, and Lifetime. It starts on Monday. The trailer looks good. Maureen Ryan's review is positive too.

Top Gear returns on Monday, with a bunch of new hosts, and like the old hosts, a fair amount of scandal. I will be watching (and judging) this one for sure.

The first episode of Robert Kirkman’s Outcast is now available to watch for free online.

Have you got around to watching The Night Manager yet? Now that Daniel Craig has reportedly turned down a huge deal to make a bunch of Bond movies, everyone is even more convinced that it’s Tom Hiddleston’s audition tape. Here's the trailer.

How about Person of Interest? Are you watching the final season? Io9 calls it a “masterclass in building tension” which is causing them anxiety about what is going to happen to everyone on the team.

The BBC released the third season of The Musketeers on Hulu before it aired in the UK, so if you need something light that also has accents and period costumes, this might be the show for you.

I was never that big of a fan of Dead Poets Society, but the spoof SNL did this week is a new classic. I agree with Indiewire’s list of the best sketches from the most recent season. Decider also made a list of the top 10 of the season, and I completely agree about the top two spots. Meet Your Second Wife is amazing.

Somehow it is June already, so here’s the list of everything new on Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, and HBO Now.


Odds and Ends

The Simpsons couch gag this week was in the style of an IKEA instruction manual. Pretty great.

Last Week Tonight tries to explain the extremely confusing primary process, which is so confusing that he thinks Donald Trump actually said something that made sense.

Speaking of John Oliver, he and Jennifer Lawrence were the guests on The Tonight Show’s True Confessions.

Louis C.K. won his episode of Jeopardy last week, which is more than I would have because I couldn’t remember the answer for Final Jeopardy.

A ranking of the 10 most important viral videos in late night TV history. I love that Jon Stewart’s Daily Show rant about regional pizza preferences made the list.

Tom Lenk, who played Andrew on Buffy, has been recreating red carpet looks with stuff around the house. I actually laughed at the Olsen twins one. Nailed it.

Trailers: The third season of Peaky Blinders arrives on Netflix next week, and if you want to know if things have calmed down for the Shelby family, here’s a trailer. TBS’s alien abduction comedy People of Earth looks like something I would watch. This link has all of the fall trailers for ABC’s lineup, but the only one I will watch the pilot of is Designated SurvivorThe CW clearly has my number, because I am adding No Tomorrow and god help me, Frequency to my list. Things

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