Culture Crash 19-16: The End of Game of Thrones

 
Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine what’s new and old in entertainment.

You’ve probably heard some rumblings over the last few weeks that Game of Thrones is back. Last Sunday, the HBO epic kicked off its eighth and final season, airing the first of just six episodes set to conclude the story.

While this may seem like just another final season of a beloved television show, it’s actually something a bit more notable. Author George R.R. Martin published the first novel in the A Song of Ice and Fire series back in 1996. That book titled “A Game of Thrones” is what truly began the saga of Westeros which would be adapted into the HBO series so many of us know and love. After that publication in ‘96, Martin released three more installations in the next decade. Then, the pace slowed as the fifth book in the series took an additional six years to be completed and published back in 2011. Since then, readers of the books have been playing the waiting game. The sixth and penultimate installation, set to be titled “The Winds of Winter” has been delayed multiple times and was once expected to be released in 2016. If “The Winds of Winter” ever is published, then the plan is for it to be followed up by a final installment titled “A Dream of Spring.” There’s just no telling how long that novel may take.

Because of the delays, fans have begun to openly question whether either of those books will ever be completed at all.

And with no definitive proof that the saga Martin began publishing in 1996 will truly resolve itself, fans have turned to HBO’s Game of Thrones adaptation to give them closure. The TV series has jumped ahead of where the books left off, and their stories have grown to vary significantly but the bare bones remain intact.

Many book readers don’t consider this final television season to be “the” ending to the story of the Starks, Lannisters, and Targaryans, but rather “one possible” ending. Still, it is possible it could be the only ending fans ever get, so the hype around this final season comes with an awful lot of baggage. No pressure.

Game of Thrones airs Sundays on HBO and is available to stream on HBO Go and HBO Now.

I’m Evan Rook. 

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Culture Crash 19-15: The Increasing Cost of Cutting the Cord

 

Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine what’s new and old in entertainment.

With Apple’s recent announcement that the company will launch a new streaming service called Apple TV+ this fall, we all have another subscription to consider paying for. Of course, this will be in addition to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, the leading streaming providers already up and running. And joining the fray soon will be Disney’s streaming option, Disney+, which is scheduled to include the company’s library of animated classics. If that wasn’t enough, Criterion recently launched a streaming channel of its own which aims to fill the hole left in the marketplace to watch Indie and foreign films. Sounds like a lot, right?

Well, we haven’t even mentioned CBS All Access which will exclusively air the new Twilight Zone, and none of this includes cable. For that, you’d have to subscribe to a traditional cable provider or an internet provider like Sling, PlayStation Vue, or Hulu + Live TV. Premium channels, like HBO, Showtime, and Starz cost even more.

Of course, this is just streaming movies and TV at home. If you want to see a new movie, you’ll still have to go buy a ticket at your local theater. And if you want to listen to music, well, there are other monthly fees for Spotify and Apple Music.

Sounds expensive, doesn’t it? A few years ago, cutting the cord and eliminating your cable package in favor of Netflix or Hulu was supposed to be a cost-saving move. Now, streaming is getting to be just as expensive as that cable package was in the first place. And if you rely on streaming, then you already know you’re dependent on the ever-evolving libraries these services provide and a reliable internet connection, which, you know, costs even more money.

In our digital world, there are more entertainment options than ever before. But the days where you could just subscribe to everything may be drawing to a close. Now, many of us will be forced to decide if we’re Netflix people or Apple TV+ people. And you’ll have to get used to ignoring all the chatter about the great new show on whichever option you simply can’t afford anymore.

I’m Evan Rook. 

Stay in the loop! Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook! Subscribe and review on iTunes!

Culture Crash 19-02: True Detective

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine what’s new and old in entertainment.

Tonight marks the long-awaited, sometimes excitedly and sometimes with dread, but long-awaited, return of True Detective. The TV phenomenon of 2014 and possibly the biggest letdown of 2015 is back for its third season, and the early reviews suggest this should be more like the incredible first season and not like the dud of a season two.

Still gone is season one directing wonder Cary Fukanaga, but back is writer and creator Nic Pizzolatto, who has been attached to the show all along. This time he’s sharing the directorial duties with Jeremy Saulnier, the acclaimed director of Blue Ruin and Green Room, and Daniel Sackheim, an Emmy nominee with credits on Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul, Ozark, and many other shows and movies. Even in his writing, Pizzolatto has sought some help from Graham Gordy and TV legend David Milch, who both co-write separate episodes of season 3.

Back on season 2, Pizzolatto faced a tough turnaround time, scrambling to make a second season that debuted just over a year after the first season finished. The end product seemed rushed, poorly plotted, and was generally hard to follow, even compared to the labyrinth first season. This time, Pizzolatto and co. have had more than three years to write a new season, that can hopefully recapture the old magic.

This go-around will be headed by Oscar-winner Mahershala Ali and takes place over three time periods in the Ozarks. The details are being mostly withheld, but it appears it will once again delve into a complex investigation of deeply macabre and disturbing crimes.

True Detective was a marquee hit for HBO back in 2014, and despite its stumble in 2015, it still represents a huge name-brand show for a network that will see its biggest hit, Game of Thrones, come to an end this summer. This is a show that matters for a network that still carries weight. For tonight, and the next seven Sunday’s, all eyes will be on HBO and True Detective. Let’s hope it rights this ship and enthralls us once again.

I’m Evan Rook. 

Stay in the loop! Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook! Subscribe and review on iTunes!

Culture Crash 18-16: HBO’s Westworld

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture.  What’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

When Westworld first premiered on HBO in October of 2016, we knew very little about the show. All we knew was that it was somewhat based on the 1973 film of the same name and it was created by Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, the younger brother and frequent collaborator of director Christopher Nolan.

What followed was an intensely analyzed mystery of a show, constantly flipping what audiences think they knew on their head.

Immediately, Westworld proved to be one of the buzziest shows of all time. Each week, fans on Reddit were painstakingly sorting through the clues of the week and predicting the end game. Some theories were wildly off-base, but ultimately, the consensus was proved to be correct… which served as something of a dilemma for plugged-in audiences. Was it better to be constantly unsure of what you were watching, or to read the online analysis and watch it be proven correct week after week?

Regardless, the show was a hit. Deadline Hollywood reported that the show gave HBO its most-watched debut season of all time, and the creators announced a second season was being made… but that the program would take all of 2017 off and not return until 2018.

Well, 2018 is here and tonight marks the premiere of Westworld season 2. Details of what will unfold this year are fuzzy- samurais are coming, maybe? The robots are stronger than ever, maybe?

We’ll just have to tune in to find out. But if you’re confused and tempted to read theories online, just remember, they might just ruin all the fun. Or maybe this year, no one will guess what is coming. That’s just one more mystery Westworld fans will have to solve for themselves.

Season one of Westworld is available on HBO Go and HBO Now. Season two premieres on HBO tonight.

I’m Evan Rook.

Coming Up On Viewpoints 18-16

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Adventures and Explorers

Being an explorer may seem like a childhood fantasy, but it’s a real thing people do. We talk to two experts about some notable explorers of the past and ways you can see the world through fresh eyes yourself.

Tips and Tricks for Cooking at Home

Cooking at home can help you eat on a budget, or keep your diet on track. Chef Alison Roman joins the show to give advice on cooking at home to make sure you can eat deliciously even without spending a night out.

Culture Crash: HBO’s Westworld

Westworld, the show that mystified audience when it stormed onto the scene in 2016, is back tonight. We discuss the show and take a look at the perils of reading fan theories  online.

Culture Crash 17-23: HBO’s The Leftovers: Storytelling on grief

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Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine American culture, what’s new and old in books, film, and entertainment.

In the summer of 2014, HBO put one of its darkest shows ever on the air. The Leftovers, is a serial drama based on Tom Perrotta’s novel of the same name, the show follows the fate of a world where 2% of the world’s population disappeared in a single moment without warning and without explanation.

The novel was written in the aftermath of 9/11 and deals with intense loss. Questions of religion, family, and grief take center stage as characters struggle with where their loved ones went and whether they should move on without them.

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So it’s…heavy. Over three seasons, the show has taken viewers to New York, Texas, Australia, and the afterlife. Twists and turns abound, magical realism makes the occasional appearance, and the writing always leads to a moment of intense introspection.

The show is a constant reminder that our lives can be altered in a single tragic moment. And the intensity has turned off many critics and viewers, but if you can stomach the heartache, the Leftovers is a show with great ambitions, spectacular acting, and a plot worth investing in.

Tonight, the series finale will air. A small but devoted fanbase will run it through the cypher, uncover its meaning, and eventually, find something new to obsess over. But the Leftovers, for all its grief, will live on in HBO’s streaming catalog, ready to devastate and console those willing to give it a chance.

The Leftovers is available to stream on HBOGO and HBONOW.

I’m Evan Rook.