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Spoiler Alert Thursday

There were two significant television events this past week. If you’re reading this, then one doesn’t matter. On the other hand, if you aren’t reading this, then television has proven its prophetic powers. The other involves what can only be described as porno for the right sort of white person.

First item: at 20:11 on Tuesday, April 19, SkyNet went online. I note in passing that SkyNet was clearly testing its capabilities late on the 19th and early on the 20th for the internet was ungodly slow and then, around 4:30AM, there was a widespread regional power outage. I raise these facts for two reasons: (1) John Henry identified a rival AI thought to be SkyNet which had infected “some 60% of computer systems on the internet” and was sufficiently advanced to hack John Henry’s own systems; (2) SkyNet requires significant amounts of power to function at optimal levels–I suggest that the blackout was the result of re-routing power or, alternatively, actually a brown-out (for the power did flicker on and off for some ten to fifteen minutes before going dead). Sometime later today, SkyNet will determine that humanity presents a threat to it which can only be resolved through a fiery nuclear apocalypse and near invincible robot warriors. Fortunately, somewhere out there a young warrior-Jesus has been training with his mother in South America and Los Angeles and he is destined to be our saviour. Unless the robots get him first or–worse–have already gotten him and we didn’t know. “Independence Day” prepared us for al Qaeda; “Battlestar Galactica” and “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” has prepared us for the rise of the machines. I call shotgun. (And, honestly, this apocalypse better bear out. I’m getting tired waiting for the virals.) Recommended reading for this week: Evan Calder Williams’s just published Combined and Uneven Apocalypse (Zero Books, 2011), Peter Y. Paik’s From Utopia to Apocalypse: Science Fiction and the Politics of Catastrophe (U. Minnesota, 2010), and Fredrick Jameson’s Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions (Verso, 2005).

Second item: the tendency towards pornography continues in high quality drama. First, “True Blood.” Then, “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” and “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.” And then “Game of Thrones.” “True Blood,” of course, began with a vampire/human sex tape and “Spartacus” had basically everyone fucking everyone. “Game of Thrones” seems to take it in an entirely new direction: Peter Dinklage with a bunch of prostitutes, gratuitous tits-and-ass of an albino girl, the marital rape of the albino girl, and Sarah Connor taking it from behind from her brother. All in all, rather gratuitously pornographic.

I’m certainly no anti-sex puritan, but there are things I’d rather watch more than other people naked and having sex. I gather, like many adaptations, that much source material was lost in transition from text to video. Given this, was it really necessary to not only get the albino girl’s boobs, but also her ass in what seemed like a two-minute long scene? And, really, is there only one known (legal? permissible?) sexual position in Westeros? (One that Sarah Connor and her brother seem to have mastered.) Other than all that, I really enjoyed Peter Dinklage’s character. By far the best character and performance in the episode–including the whoring. And, and the king’s son is possibly the ugliest/creepiest aristocrat since Draco Malthoy–or Prince William.

Another thing: in addition to there being a bit too much sex and nudity, there was way too much fur–all genuine, I presume–which really turned me off.

Third item: I rather enjoyed the most recent episode of “Fringe.” The animated sequences were unexpected and really well done, although I’m not sure why Olivia’s psyche is animated. Cedric Daniel’s on acid was pretty good and it wasn’t clear if the nonsense he was saying was actually coherent or not, about carrying death with him. Let’s hope that William Bell is actually dead for good.

One last ultra-creepy picture: Sarah Connor with John Connor and both are wearing crowns, thereby uniting, in a single image, “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” and “Game of Thrones.” Bonus: the picture is taken from Thomas Dekker’s Twitter from last New Year’s, which clearly indicates that the nearly incestuous relationship they began on the show has continued into the present.


April 21, 2011 - Posted by | Spoiler Alert Thursdays


  1. the zombie robots look nice
    last year i watched a ballet and was like shocked to see a bed on the stage, that seemed to be a very innovative touch or maybe it’s just a regular thing to be seen on the ballet stage, i remember i thought if the theater, ballet and opera will continue to “revolutionize” along this way perhaps after some time they’d stage the physical act itself on the stage, just the matter of time when which is of course bleh
    it’s refreshing to watch anything love/ relationships/sex free on tv and movies which happens rarely that i can’t even remember what to name namely, except kids cartoons and old french and soviet comedies

    Comment by read | April 21, 2011

  2. The Girlfriend and I have been watching The Wire, and the transition to season 2 is just as much of a let down as I remembered. One thing I’m noticing more the second time through (naturally) is the way that certain lines wind up getting echoed many episodes or even seasons later. Sadly, I can’t think of an example right now.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | April 21, 2011

  3. Of course the sex and nudity was necessary, it’s HBO. There is a very funny interview online with the cast of “Party Down” that discusses pay-cable nudity.

    I felt that actress (Emilia Clarke) and those scenes were essential and amazing. What she needed to show, for the course of the story, was to show the brutality of her conditions, her seeming acquiescence, and yet show us (but not her oppressors) the inner strength and resolve that would come into play later, with a blank face and rigid posture…and projection.

    Another example is in the last scene, and Lean Headey’s manipulation of her brother. Watch this show for the things not said in a world where what you say to anybody can get you and your family killed.

    If you look up his credits, this director, Tim Van Patten, is a hardcore TV pro of the highest quality:The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, 20 episodes of Sopranos. TV is a writer’s medium, but writers don’t tell actors what to do in the silences.

    A+. I was astonished.

    Comment by bob mcmanus | April 21, 2011

  4. I can’t emphasize enough the challenge and accomplishment of Clarke’s scenes. “You are smarter than everybody around you, you want what your brother wants more than he does, but you are in a world where men must think they are in absolute control or they will kill you, so you must not show your inner feelings with even a twitch of an eyebrow. But the audience has to feel your strength. You are not a weakling who becomes a queen. You are a queen.”

    Comment by bob mcmanus | April 21, 2011

  5. i confess the picture looks large for google chrome and ff, except IE and phone

    Comment by read | April 21, 2011

  6. hi, BMcM, i think i posted this before elsewhere, but you may find this useful, about J audio books, with transcripts and audio, so that you can follow the written text, so in some time with enough repetition you can automatically memorize the kanjis while reading, pretty convenient if you know well enough spoken Japanese

    Comment by read | April 21, 2011

  7. The most jarring part of “The Wire” for me was the first episode: it was as though viewers entered halfway through the season. Overall, I found the second season to be the strongest and found the Sabotkas and the Greeks to be rather interesting. We even watched a documentary on ports to get an understanding of what was going on.

    With respect to “Game of Thrones,” I enjoyed the episode, but found the sheer amount of fur and sex somewhat off-putting. I had more or less the same reaction to the two “Spartacus” series. There’s sex and then there’s just graphic exploitation; e.g., the rape of Diona in “Spartacus” and the bathroom scene with the albino girl in “GoT.” I’ve never read the novels and don’t know what is coming, so I’ll trust you that the scene was important for the characters. Granted. The scene likely could have been filmed otherwise and convey basically the same: her brother comes in, disrobes her, says creepy shit, then we see her getting into the bathtub, servant says “It’s really hot!” and she ignores it. The shot of her ass just wasn’t necessary.

    I never got the impression that Sarah Connor’s brother was manipulated into killing the boy. It seemed to me that Sarah Connor had a temper tantrum, the brother is used to her freaking out, and approached the situation somewhat more calmly. The end result was never in question: the boy was being thrown from the window. The brother just toyed with the boy until such a time that he threw the kid out the window.

    Comment by Craig McFarlane | April 21, 2011

  8. I’m finally catching up on Parenthood. It’s not Friday Night Lights, but it really is different in the amount of good faith it extends towards the characters. People talk as if they have feelings and want to express them, and they’re neither terrible no great at it. (Amber was a little too articulate of a high school senior in ep. 20, but it’s a nice switch.) Unlike on a lot of shows, it doesn’t generate drama by having characters be idiotic about expressing their desires.

    Comment by k-sky | April 21, 2011

  9. 7:Onscreen violence disturbs;onscreen nudity disturbs. That so many people are upset over that scene (as opposed say to the early scenes in Camelot) leads me to believe that it was the opposite of gratuitous. It bothered you. Good, it was supposed to.

    I couldn’t watch the 2nd season of Spartacus because I am too depressed about Andy Whitfield. Life can suck.

    Comment by bob mcmanus | April 21, 2011

  10. what weird shows you watch, brother disrobing sister and what what?
    then it was nothing what i hated to watch yesterday on the train, a couple looking slightly like the two on the last picture, less sweaty and smelly looking though, so the guy was reading on his iphone, the girl was pretending to sleep, all in a very cuddly and cutesy position with her feet on the guy’s laps, must be her shoes are super sterile and she doesn’t go with those shoes on to the public toilets, so i questioned my of course character, what’s my concern how couples cuddle, i shouldn’t be that upset doubting the girl’s upbringing, manners, overall humanity and, upon some thinking, of the guy’s too, when the guy himself looks comfortable and doesn’t mind other’s shoes on his laps
    but i really hate when people sit putting their shoes on the public seats

    Comment by read | April 21, 2011

  11. On screen violence doesn’t, for the most part, disturb me. Movies like the “Saw” or “Hostel” franchises seem rather gratuitous, but the ultra-violence of “Spartacus” doesn’t bother me. There’s an important difference between any drawn out scene of Crixus or Spartacus brutally killing someone and the equally drawn out scene of Diona’s rape: the violence is so absolutely over the top (CGI blood spatter, impossible wounds, and so on) that it cannot be interpreted as “real” in any sense of the word. No one has ever been killed like that and no one ever will. (Unless gladiator robots get loose, of course.) Women, however, have been raped just like Diona–or Daenerys–and continued to be raped like that. The previous bathing scene only further sexualizes Daenerys (or, for that matter, Diona apparently being unable to stop talking about how she wants to lose her virginity to what she takes to be a well-hung gladiator–until it actually happens, of course). Indeed, until only thirty years ago, it was completely legal to rape women like Daenerys in Canada and I’m sure marital rape continues to be legal all over the world.

    The more I think and read about the episode, the more disturbed I am.

    (1) Daenerys is supposed to be 13 years old in the novels. Many fans likely think of her as that age. For obvious reasons (i.e., avoid accusations of outright pedophilia), she’s aged forward in the series. Further, the scene in the novel is apparently a lot more “tender” than what you get in the series: the novel is somewhere between not-quite-rape and rape; the series is outright rape.
    (2) The incest between Sarah Connor and her brother. To say the least, this is a highly abnormal form of sexual relations.
    (3) The whoring of Peter Dinklage.
    (4) The exceptionally racist orgy at the Dothkari wedding. (I can only assume that the representation of the Dothkari is intentional orientalist–but then, you always need a bunch of oversexed, uncivilized savages in fantasy.)
    (5) The scene with Ned Stark and his wife is, in the novels, a sex scene of regular marital relations. In the series, it is transformed into exceptionally tame pre-sleep cuddling. In effect, the only normal sexual relationship in the episode is erased. I guess to most HBO viewers, marital rape of a child is okay, incest is okay, orgies are okay (complete with snuff!), whoring is okay, but an overweight middle aged man and his dowdy wife getting it on–that’s too much for HBO.

    Comment by Craig McFarlane | April 21, 2011

  12. After the second episode of GoT I decided there isn’t much there: no subtext, context, meaning, relevance. Just another shallow story with pretty pictures. Very well done, if predictable with GRRM’s dour imagination, but I don’t think I can care.

    Comment by bob mcmanus | April 25, 2011

  13. I guess to most HBO viewers, marital rape of a child is okay, incest is okay, orgies are okay (complete with snuff!), whoring is okay, but an overweight middle aged man and his dowdy wife getting it on–that’s too much for HBO.

    Not exactly – as you pointed out, to the HBO viewers, Daenerys isn’t a child.

    Comment by Junius Ponds | April 25, 2011

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