Game of Thrones Season 5: The Adaptation Dilemma

For the past five years, HBO’s epic fantasy series, Game of Thrones, and the book series it’s based on, George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, have captured the attention of millions of viewers from around the world. The series is set in the world of Westeros, where seven kingdoms fight for control of the Iron Throne. It’s packed to the gills with political intrigue, violence, secrets, backstabbing, sex, magic, wit, lovable (and not so lovable) characters, just about everything you could ask for in a TV show. What separates it from other big time dramas like Breaking Bad or House of Cards, however, is that it is based on an already existing series, one that has been a work in progress for nearly 25 years and isn’t even finished yet. The fandom is strictly divided into two camps: those who have not read the books, and those who have. Because of this, discussing the series has become a veritable minefield in an age where movie and TV audiences are particularly sensitive when it comes to spoilers. On one hand it’s forced the readers to be tight lipped around certain friends, but on the other hand it’s given them the chance to capitalize on said friends’ reactions to game changing moments like (SPOILERS) the death of Ned Stark, the Red Wedding, and the duel between Oberyn Martell and The Mountain. But now five seasons in, the show has hit a hurdle that readers have seen coming for years now, and we’re not quite sure how the showrunners will handle it.

Allow me to explain.

The Song of Ice and Fire series is incredibly dense, following multiple interconnected plots spanning over a large landscape, with each chapter jumping back and forth between locations and plots told from the point of view from several different characters. The first three books, A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, and A Storm of Swords, were fairly streamlined, but once book 4 rolled around, things got a little more complicated. When George RR Martin began work on the fourth installment, there were so many different plots going on that the final product would’ve been nearly 2,000 pages. Since no publisher in their right mind would publish something of that length, the story was divided, not chronologically, but geographically. In 2005 he released the fourth book, A Feast For Crows, which focused on the political goings-on in King’s Landing and the surrounding areas. 2011 saw the release of the fifth book,A Dance With Dragons, which followed characters in The North, at The Wall, on the continent of Essos, and converged with A Feast For Crows toward the end. It clocks in at 959 pages (not including the index, maps and glossary). Hopes are that it will be streamlined again when The Winds of Winter comes out, but since it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing it any time soon, we’ll have to wait to see how that works out. That’s a problem in of itself, but we’ll get back to that.

The trailer for season 5 was recently released, and the show proper will premiere on April 12th. From the look of it, David Benioff and DB Weiss (the show’s directors) have decided to keep everything streamlined. The events at the beginning of AFFC and ADWD will happen simultaneously. There also seem to be some major changes from the source material, but that’s been happening since the beginning and for the most part the changes have been for the better. Like with any adaptation, a lot of stuff has been left on the cutting room floor. Minor characters have been left out or merged together to keep the cast relatively small, plot points have been slightly altered to accommodate those changes, events that weren’t portrayed in the books are more fleshed out and given screen time, but all in all it is still recognizably the same plot. The decision to keep everything in line and not follow the books devoutly works much better for TV. There’s no real telling where in the books the season will end, although like with A Storm of Swords, they will probably leave it off halfway through and carry on in season 6. But once that happens, they will be faced with a dilemma that fans have been dreading since the beginning: the show getting ahead of the books.

When the first three books were being written in the 90’s, there was a fairly consistent release schedule, with the books coming out within two years of each other despite their length (A Storm of Swords clocking in at a staggering 924 pages). When Martin hit the continuity hurdle, the gaps between books became bigger and bigger. But now the pressure is on to finish the series now that its adaptations has become one of the most successful shows on television, and this has fans yanking their collars since even though Martin is hard at work on The Winds of Winter, it doesn’t look like it’ll come out any time soon. So what will become of the series if Martin doesn’t catch up? Will it branch out and become its own separate entity? Will we get a spin off mini series based on the rise of the Targaeryen dynasty, or Robert’s Rebellion? (Hey, a guy can dream.)

From the looks of things, the showrunners seem to have things under control. From the beginning they have had a 8 season plan for the show, and in the occasion that something happens like the books lagging behind or if he dies, Martin has told a select few people, including Benioff and Weiss, a few crucial plot points that they can work with, including the end. It still seems a little early to start canonizing our theories, but regardless of how it all pans out, the whole world is waiting.

 

Over The Garden Wall: A Magnificent Curiosity Worth Experiencing

Two shows that have been making huge splashes in the world of animation are Adventure Time and Gravity Falls. Both exhibit all of the same obnoxious whimsy you expect to find in kid’s cartoons, but where they excel is in creating layered, multifaceted worlds full of mystery and secrets, writing that doesn’t patronize its audience, and lovable characters that leave lasting impressions. It actually makes me excited for the future of animation, and I anticipate what the generation that grew up watching these shows will end up creating. That’s still a long ways away, but in the meantime it seems that their contemporaries have taken the same lessons to heart and used them to push boundaries and make something wholly unique. That’s how we ended up with Over The Garden Wall, Cartoon Network’s first ever miniseries. Continue reading

Harassment, Sexism, and Shitty Behavior: My Final Say

 

I’ve been trying to keep my nose out of this subject for a while, but since everyone and their grandma has been talking about it and I have heard very few people echo my view on this whole thing, I thought I might as well throw my two cents in as well as get a few things off my chest. I realize that talking about this particular topic, especially on the Internet, and especially on this corner of the Internet is like farting in a crowded elevator, but trying to find a rational, unbiased perspective on this incident has been about as fruitful as looking for diamonds in a septic tank. This is me closing the book on this debacle. After this, I never want to partake in this topic again. But before we go any further, I want to make my stance on a few things clear. Continue reading

Top 10 Great Songs By Bad Artists (in my opinion)

 

I’m a firm believer that every artist has at least one masterpiece in them, even the bad ones. I’ve been listening to music for practically my entire life and have come across many a band and artist that, for lack of a kinder word, sucked. But every once in a while one of them will crawl out of the primordial soup of bad music and surprise me with an unexpected gem. Here are ten of those gems.
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Top 10 YouTube Channels For Gamers

I love video games. I also love watching videos on YouTube. So it only seems natural that a lot of my favorite YouTube channels would be focused on video games. From the bros to the nerds, from the hunters to the theorists, YouTube has a thriving community of gamers who do everything from reviews to tutorials to remixes and everything in between. If it’s game related, it’s on YouTube. There are literally thousands of gaming channels on there, so narrowing it down to the ten best and putting those channels in order of quality was no easy task, but I managed to do it and this is what I came up with. These are the Top 10 YouTube Channels For Gamers (in my opinion) Continue reading

Firefly Episode Review: Jaynestown

Ep jaynestown sc110He robbed from the rich and he gave to the poor, Stood up to the man and gave him what for, Our love for him now ain’t hard to explain, The hero of Canton, the man they call Jayne.”

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Firefly Episode Review: Shindig

Ep shindig sc147Sounds like the finest party I can imagine getting paid to go to.”
“I don’t suppose you’d find it up to standards of your outings. More conversation and somewhat less petty theft and getting hit with pool cues.” Continue reading

Firefly Episode Review: Bushwhacked

Ep bushwhacked sc086They made him watch. He probably tried to turn away, and they wouldn’t let him. You call him a survivor? He’s not. A man comes up against that kind of will, the only way to deal with it, I suspect, is to become it.” Continue reading

How has culture changed in your lifetime?

I’m seeing an unintentional theme in several things I’ve read and heard over the last few days: change.  We all manage it differently, and we certainly all have memories of various changes.

When I was a child, when someone was humiliated (whether intentionally, or by mission of action), that event would eventually fade from memory.  Today, smartphones, social media, and 24/7 access to the worldwide web change all this.  When I came home from school, I felt safe from anyone I perceived as a bully.  Today, they have the ability almost reach through the computer monitor and torment their targets at any time of day.

When I was growing up, Motley Crue, Slayer, Venom, W.A.S.P.,  and Celtic Frost were considered by many to be the devil’s music.  Today, bands like Belphegor, Gorgoroth, Immortal, Dark Funeral, Vital Remains, and Sinister consider themselves to be the instruments of Satan (figuratively, 90% of the time, but, still – big difference).

I remember the Cosby Show as groundbreaking – showing an upscale African-American family on primetime television was, at the time, a big deal.  Today, we have an African-American president.  I honestly did not believe I would live to see that (although I often hoped that I would).  Although racism is alive and more well than I would like today, we’re further along than before.

I recall a 60 Minutes expose’ on Dungeons & Dragons in the early 1980’s – this was the scourge that would tear America’s children apart.  Today, those young RPG players are now passing their storytelling craft and imagination onto their kids (some people find D&D very sexy, apparently).

There are but a few examples.  Our society has been through quite a bit in my lifetime, and I know we have a lot of room to grow.  For better or for worse, what have you seen, and what would you like to see?

Why Anita Sarkeesian Should Make Her Own Video Game (And Why She Won’t)

If you ever want to get the Internet’s blood boiling, there’s no better surefire way than going on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or any gaming message board and uttering these two words: Anita Sarkeesian. Over the past year, Ms. Sarkeesian, founder and producer of the YouTube channel Feminist Frequency, home of the web series “Tropes vs. Women” and Continue reading

BioShock: Rapture. A book review

It just occurred to me that I haven’t really seen any book reviews on this site, so I’m going to fix that right now. Before we talk about books, though, let’s talk about video games. More specifically, let’s talk about BioShock. Continue reading

Adventure Time with Graham, Sam, and Jenny, Episode 1, part 2

In Part 2 of episode one Graham, Sam, and Jenny discuss the origins of Princess Bubblegum, the evilness of Peppermint Butler, Finn’s potential Oedipal complex and So Much More! You won’t regret it.

Adventure Time with Graham, Sam, and Jenny (pt 1)

In the first ever installment of our Adventure Time podcasts, we discuss the Great Mushroom War and some of the important episodes offering clues about the truth behind Ooo and some of the shows major characters. Email us with suggestions for future podcasts at leftofthedial@thatruled.com, or head over to our page on the TR forums. Hope to hear from you soon and thanks for listening. You’re awesome.

Top 10 Episodes of Community (in my opinion)

Even though the current state of TV isn’t perfect by any means, I would consider the mid and late 2000’s to be the dawn of a new golden age. Even though we still have to deal with Two and a Half Men, Glee, Honey Boo Boo, The Real Housewives and other such ilk, this is also the era of some of the best shows in decades. (Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Dexter, The Office, Louie, Mad Men, Sherlock, Downton Abbey, the list goes on.) Thankfully more and more shows are putting a bigger emphasis on better writing than ever before, but while I love serious shows like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad as much as the next guy, sometimes all I want is a show that can make me both think and laugh, preferably at the same time. (Or at least something to tide me over when South Park is between seasons.) In 2009, NBC gave us what the doctor ordered with Community. Continue reading

Left of the Dial: Neutral Milk Hotel

I’ve been writing these music articles sporadically for about a year and a half and have shed some light on some rather interesting artists. I’ve gushed over an obscure 60’s folk singer, a forgotten 80’s relic, and a guy who made a career by mashing pieces of different pop songs together. Some of them have held influence in their own rights, but when you look at today’s musical landscape, specifically in the realms of indie rock, there is one band whose influence is undeniable. That band is Neutral Milk Hotel. Continue reading