'Game of Thrones': When you play, you win or ...
April 30th, 2012
09:35 AM ET

'Game of Thrones': When you play, you win or ...

[This post contains spoilers for the April 29 episode of HBO's "Game of Thrones," as well as the George R.R. Martin "Song of Ice and Fire" novels upon which the series is based.]

You saw the note about spoilers, right? If you haven't seen Sunday's "Game of Thrones" and don't want a big plot point given away, flee to the hills now.

OK ... now that it's just us ...

One of the catchphrases of the series is simple and direct: "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die." Ned Stark learned it last season, and with Sunday's episode we learned (as readers of the novels know) that main characters biting the dust is sometimes the rule, not the exception.

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'Game of Thrones': Melisandre 'delivers' as things get creepy
April 23rd, 2012
09:59 AM ET

'Game of Thrones': Melisandre 'delivers' as things get creepy

[Note: This post contains spoilers for the April 22 episode of HBO's "Game of Thrones," and the George R.R. Martin "Song of Ice and Fire" novels upon which the series is based.]

Forget for a moment that on Sunday's "Game of Thrones," Peter Dinklage provided more Emmy-worthy moments as Tyrion, the black-sheep “imp” coming into his own as a power player in the cutthroat titular game.

Let's also momentarily put aside that poor Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) finally got her rag-tag band of followers out of the desert – albeit landing in the city of Qarth, where the two-legged variety of vipers appeared to be as common as the sort slithering through the sand outside.

No, the scene from Sunday's episode that’s sure to have folks talking is its final one – in which the shadowy (hooray for double entendre!) fire priestess Melisandre gets involved in the game in a big, and creepy, way.

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A nasty boy king brings back 'Game of Thrones'
April 2nd, 2012
10:33 AM ET

A nasty boy king brings back 'Game of Thrones'

Editor's Note: This post contains spoilers for the April 1 episode of HBO's "Game of Thrones," as well as season 1 of the show and the George R.R. Martin novel of the same name.

A little incest, a little bloodshed and a whole bunch of folks scheming to sit on an uncomfortable steel chair - welcome back, "Game of Thrones."

The season 2 premiere, "The North Remembers," starts and finishes by driving home a point most viewers probably were already well aware of: new King Joffrey is a rotten little bastard (literally).

The episode begins with Joffrey celebrating his "name day" (think "birthday in a place where they're not sure babies are going to live") by making his loyal subjects fight to the death for his amusement. After his servant, The Hound, tosses an opponent to his death, Joffrey decides aging, drunken Ser Dontos would be more amusing with a funnel stuffed down his throat, literally drowning in wine.

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Neil Gaiman cranking out 'tween lit'? Only on 'The Simpsons'
November 18th, 2011
06:31 PM ET

Neil Gaiman cranking out 'tween lit'? Only on 'The Simpsons'

Fantasy writer and Geek Out favorite Neil Gaiman's work might be just about as far away from the tween fare of "Twilight" as anything that also bears the "fantasy" genre tag.

But don't expect Gaiman, who will play an animated version of himself Sunday on an episode of "The Simpsons" that sends up the Stephenie Meyer stories, to take any shots at the sparkly vampire series.

In fact, he says they're staples around the Gaiman residence.

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Filed under: Books • television • The Simpsons
August 31st, 2009
12:38 PM ET

'True Blood': Uneven 'Frenzy' sets up big finale

Editor’s Note: This post contains spoilers for the Sunday, Aug. 30, episode of HBO’s “True Blood.”

A mess, hilarious, captivating and confusing.

Sunday night’s “True Blood” episode, “Frenzy,” was all of that.

Maybe it’s because the show was a setup for the season finale. But, wrapped around the typically creepy, hilarious and just plain fun scenes were some real duds.

Bill’s opening sequence with the queen? It dragged. How many times do we need to see Bill offered a tasty morsel and refuse it before we’re supposed to get the point?

The scene between Tara and her mother? Frustrating. OK, I get it. People need to do stupid things in horror movies/shows so they can get into potentially bloody situations. But she’d leave her family and closest friends to go rescue a guy she’s known for a couple of months? And her mother, despite a well-established lifetime of bad decisions, would help? It was just hard to believe, even by “let’s split up so I can go into the dark basement alone and fix the circuit breaker” standards.

And while we’re on Tara – an egg? Really? No … really? I’ll accept vampires, shape-shifters and immortal servants of a Greek god for you, Alan Ball. But that felt weird just for the sake of being weird.

All that said, there was still fun to be had. Take Lafayette and Sookie’s scenes on the front porch. Nelsan Ellis as Lafayette manages to be hilarious, sympathetic and brave. Consistently great character who the show’s creators, thankfully, didn’t kill off like the Charlaine Harris books did.

Eric’s scene with the “teacup humans” also rocked. Drool over the guy all you want – but don’t forget he’s the sort of creature that finds babies delicious.

Also, we find out how Maryanne got to Bon Temps and why she’s so set on catching Sam, are treated to another fun episode of Jason and Andy doing their Rambo impersonation and enjoy the wonderfully creepy sight of Jane carving up a special hors d’oeuvre for “the god who comes.”

I’m holding out hope that this week’s sloppiness was just a minor slip as the “True Blood” creators load up for an amazing finale.

Don’t forget there’s a two-week wait – no bloodsucking on Labor Day weekend.

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Filed under: television • True Blood
July 13th, 2009
10:08 AM ET

'True Blood' shells out tantalizing twists

On HBO’s “True Blood,” flipping away from the bloody goodness a minute too soon can hurt.

true.blood.maryann

Sunday’s episode, “Shake and Fingerpop,” shelled out a pair of tantalizing twists in its final moments - a technique writer Alan Ball and company have used a few times in the past for maximum cliffhanger effect. (Proceed cautiously, fans of the fang. Spoilers ahead).

First we learn that the mysterious and seductively creepy Maryann is the minotaur-like creature that’s been carving up the residents of Bon Temps - which wasn’t terribly hard to see coming but good to finally have out in the open.

It also looks like the hormone-soaked parties that she induces - Now with dirt eating! - have something to do with her ability to make the switch.

And right before the credits roll, Sookie learns that she’s not the only one who can read people’s minds. She and Barry, a bellhop at the Dallas vampire hotel, share an accidental brain chat - setting up all kinds of fun questions about who he is, why he’s there and who, if anyone, sent him.

Also, anyone else think bellhop in a vampire hotel would not be a great job for a mind reader? Hell, the minds of a regular hotel’s patrons would be bad enough to peek at, much less a place where “male, straight, B-positive” is an item on the room-service menu.

The bits with Jason and the Fellowship of the Light dragged on a bit, although we get to see his fantasy - think Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” video meets Padma Lakshi’s Hardee’s commercial - about Sarah Newlin and more hints she’s willing to do more than grill ribs and “whip out her pudding” for him.

Laugh of the Night award goes to Lafayette for his amped-up bump and grind with everything within reach after getting a mouthful of Eric’s blood. Apparently the stuff from 1,000-year-old Viking vampires packs more of a punch than he was used to getting.

Not the most action-packed episode ever. But it set up bunches of salty story lines for the near future.

And ... a look at next week's episode.

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