Friday, March 30, 2012

Game of Killing

This Sunday brings to us the return of two shows, both entering their sophomore seasons, and both heading in completely opposite directions.

The Killing airs on AMC at 8/7c.

Game of Thrones airs on HBO at 9/8c.

Currently AMC has a 5 minute recap of what happened in season 1 of The Killing, but luckily for all you readers, I can save you 4 minutes and 30 seconds.  Rosie Larson was killed.

That's it.

We don't know who killed her, we don't know why she died, we don't know if she was killed because she was a girl or just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  It all led to an extremely frustrating season, as we followed red herrings, sleight of hand, false leads and seemingly inconsequential police leads.  The acting was good, but it wasn't enough to cover the fact that the story wasn't moving forward.

This was nothing compared to the offseason that "The Killing" had, though.  It was the greatest example of delusion and a poor showrunner ruining any sort of reputation and positive reviews that a show had garnered.

Making the decision to not reveal the killer of Rosie Larson, creator and showrunner Veena Sudd had the gall to compare her show to "The Sopranos" and its controversial decision to end the series on a fade to black.  The problem for Sudd is that "The Sopranos" is considered to be one of the greatest dramas of all time, and certainly the most important.

Her reaction was arrogant and out of touch with reality.  She couldn't understand that the fans were not talking about her show in a good way, but rather in the way that it had screwed them over.  We had sat through 13 episodes of a show in order to find out the central mystery: Who Killed Rosie Larson?  By robbing the audience of this, Sudd did a good job of alienating her entire audience, and also ensured that the season 2 premiere would lose a number of the audience season 1 had built up.

Fans of great television are better off tuning in to HBO and their brilliant fantasy epic "Game of Thrones."  Based on George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire novels, Martin is often called the American Tolkien, and the complexity of his stories merit that moniker.  The tale is sprawling, the characters are numerous and dense, and the writing and acting is superb.

Once a niche subject, fantasy has made its way into mainstream America thanks especially to Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films, which have geekified the entire country.  It's now considered acceptable and even cool to like elves and dragons and wizards.  Lord of the Rings and "Game of Thrones" don't seek out the teenage angst and romance that so many of the vampire stories aim for, and this pleases a lot of people (and also separates them from teenagers).

"Game of Thrones" is set in a fantasy world, but there is no might and magic and no mystical creatures (with the exception of dragons, which let's be honest, make every story better).  Its appeal is not so much the fantasy elements, though, but the very real characters that Martin has created and David Benioff has brought to the small screen.  Their interactions and their troubles, aided by excellent acting (led by Peter Dinklage and Sean Bean, although we live in a world in which every Sean Bean is destined to die an early death, and thus depriving us of a wonderful performance and all around badassery) are what many people can relate to, and what many people are drawn to in a show.

In fact, this is precisely what separates "Game of Thrones" from so many other shows.  The characters are rich and their dialogue is immersive.  But most importantly, there is more at play in the series than what happens in each episode.  There is a deeper philosophical and human emotion at stake; the characters embody and stand for something. 

In the words of Omar Little, man's gotta have a code.

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