thank you, clarence
what i watched last week

first season finales: the killing and game of thrones

One thing about being a blogger who lives on the West Coast is that by the time I see a television show, most of the critics have already had their say. It’s their job to put material out there, and they see the episodes before me. At times, this means I’ll have formulated some thoughts, only to find that someone else has already said it.

More often than not, that someone else is Alan Sepinwall. Alan’s beaten me again, this time regarding The Killing. I’ll add a couple more of my own thoughts, but first, here’s what Alan thought of the season finale … note that I have no argument with anything he says here:

"Orpheus Descending" itself is a mess, and an insult to the audience who have stuck around for the last three months. …

So this will be the last review I write of "The Killing," because this will be the last time I watch "The Killing." Because I have no interest in going forward with a show that treats its audience this way. …

[T]o pull the rug out from under one last time, in grander fashion than ever before? On a show that many viewers have lost complete and total faith in? On a show where even the supportive reviews and comments have had an undercurrent of, "Let's wait for the finale; I'm sure there's a plan to all of this" to them? That's as colossal and unpleasant a miscalculation in a TV season finale as I can remember.

Actually, I don’t have anything to add, I just have a different way of saying it. A series that began with great promise, an atmospheric setting, and some fine acting ended up being a shaggy-dog story with an atmospheric setting and some fine acting. Fuck it, I’m with Alan. Robin can watch Season Two by herself, if she’s so inclined.

It’s an insult to the greatness of Game of Thrones that I’m writing about both shows in the same post. Game of Thrones could be subtitled, “HBO Does It Again.” I am not the only person who came to Game of Thrones thinking “that’s not the kind of thing I like.” Some people stopped right there, and didn’t bother to watch at all. Me, I figured HBO had earned a little of my time and patience. And it was rewarding indeed. Game of Thrones is filled with great characters and terrific acting, and if the storytelling was a bit hard to follow at times for someone like me who hasn’t read the books, well, I mostly got the drift, and as good as the narratives are, it often didn’t matter if I was confused … individual scenes sparkled. Game of Thrones creates a brand new world, and if I hedged my bets because fantasy isn’t for me, I was proven wrong. In fact, the fantastic element is precisely what allows for a world different from our own, recognizably human but always with the potential for things outside of our real-world experiences. The closest HBO show to Game of Thrones, I think, is Rome. In that series, humans acted in ways that seemed very odd to us, because it took place so long ago, attitudes were different, beliefs were different … in other words, the world of Rome was as fantastic to a modern audience as is the world of Game of Thrones.

So, grades … people seem to like it when I give grades. After the first two episodes of The Killing, I was in the B+/A- range. But I’d give the finale a D, and the season as a whole a C-. I won’t be back. As for Game of Thrones, when it began, I wrote, “It has the potential to be one of the top series of its time. Having said that, at the moment, I’d probably only call it the second-best TV series on Sunday nights, after The Killing.” Boy, did I get that wrong. Grade for Season One: A.

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