Ian Thomas Malone

A Connecticut Yogi in King Joffrey's Court

Monthly Archive: February 2015

Friday

27

February 2015

0

COMMENTS

Kanye West Should Not Be Blamed For Stealing Beck’s Spotlight

Written by , Posted in Blog, Pop Culture, Social Issues

Kanye West apologized to Beck on Twitter last night. Why? Most likely because the story was dying. Maybe he was sincere. I doubt it, but that’s hardly the point.

The point is, he shouldn’t be blamed. Yes, you’re reading that right.

He shouldn’t be blamed, not because he’s a sociopath or suffers from too extreme a case of crippling narcissism to tell right or wrong, but because he did what was expected of him by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. He wasn’t up for any awards since he didn’t have a new album out. He has a length track record of behaving poorly at awards shows.

So why was he there? More importantly, why was he in a position to steal the spotlight away from the most important award of the night? Shouldn’t he have been kept away to ensure the integrity of the night stayed intact?

He was there because no one cares about the Grammys. People do care about Kanye West. Insert him into the equation and then suddenly, people care about the Grammys. Simple, right?

Many people were horrified by his actions, as they were when he cut into Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech back in 2009 at the MTV Video Awards. He also did it back in 2006 at the MTV Europe Music Awards. He loves to behave poorly at these things and people love to watch it.

That’s why the blame shouldn’t fall on Kanye for this latest media circus. Blame the Grammys for orchestrating this publicity stunt. They took no measures to prevent the inevitable.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me a hundred more time, who’s really to blame?

Not Kanye West.

The man is doing his job. He generates buzz. His wife is better at that than most people who have ever walked this earth. Good for them.

If you’re truly angry by this, I suggest a new course of action. Stop caring. The Grammys are stupid. They represent a fraction of the recording industry, a point accurately reflected in the award show’s dismal ratings. If people cared, they wouldn’t need Kanye.

The Grammys got free buzz weeks after the show all whilst allowing Kanye to take the fall. This isn’t right. They let him prance on stage to do his bit knowing exactly what would happen and they’re the ones who should be blamed. Kanye West is a brilliant marketer whose actions demonstrated his complete dominance over mainstream media. Beck was the unfortunate casualty, but I doubt his fans really care. I know I don’t.

 

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Sunday

22

February 2015

1

COMMENTS

Parks and Recreation Surpassed The Office Through The Strength Of Its Supporting Cast

Written by , Posted in Blog, Pop Culture

I’m sure some of you regard the title of my article as blasphemy. There are plenty of reasons to think that. In terms of mainstream popularity, The Office wins. It’s hard to envision Parks and Recreation even existing without The Office. P&R was supposed to be a spinoff of The Office for much of its development. Greg Daniels, who co-created P&R, was the driving force in adapting The Office from its British counterpart. The two share much DNA, which makes comparisons inevitable.

Which isn’t entirely fair. Though both are workplace comedies, The Office was literally about an office, while P&R was afforded the opportunity to explore Pawnee in a way that The Office never really got to do with Scranton. Utilizing the whole city allowed P&R to greatly expand its cast of recurring characters and develop its culture in a way made impossible by focusing on one set. It seems unfair to compare the two on these grounds, as The Office could never really have its own pit or Lil Sebastian.

It wouldn’t be unfair to compare the two shows using Michael Scott and Leslie Knope, but I’m reluctant to do that on the grounds that Steve Carrell and Amy Poehler are both so talented that a stalemate is inevitable. Both leads were incredibly strong and shared some similarities. From a stylistic standpoint, Knope was afforded more room to grow since P&R wasn’t tethered to her shortcomings to the extent The Office was to Scott’s naivety and lack of friends.

Where can we compare them and see some differences? Simple. Parks and Recreation’s supporting cast isn’t just superior to The Office’s. It’s not even close. Now you might think this is unfair to say since The Office had double the regular cast members and that’s certainly something to consider, but The Office also had close to eighty more episodes. Not so unfair.

Parks and Recreation invested in all of its characters. The best example of this is Gary/Jerry/Larry/Terry/Garry Gergich, who matches up reasonably well with Office tertiary characters like Kevin Malone and Toby Flenderson. Jerry is often the butt of the joke, but the show takes extreme caution to make sure Jerry always has victories to call his own. Jerry is the only character with a consistent spouse for the duration of the show (though she doesn’t appear until season five). Gayle is attractive and doesn’t mock Jerry like the Parks department. It’s also hinted that he’s quite well endowed. Donna’s success with both her career and romantic life also go to show how dedicated P&R was to fully developing all of its characters.

The only tertiary character on The Office to get this kind of caring treatment is Phyllis Lapin-Vance. Victories for Kevin and Meredith were few and far between, while other characters like Stanley and Creed rarely factor into the plot at all. There’s rarely an episode of Parks and Recreation that doesn’t give all its characters something to do.

If you look at The Office’s main supporting cast compared to P&R’s, it’s once again not even close. Even if you took out Ron Swanson, quite possibly the greatest character in either series, it’s hard to say that Tom, April, Ann, Ben, Chris, and Andy, and don’t romp Jim, Pam, Dwight, Andy, …and Ryan!

You could take Leslie out of the equation and still have a great episode. The Office tried to do that with Scott’s departure and people hated seasons eight and nine (I actually didn’t, but more on that in another article). I’m not saying P&R could have survived without Leslie, but the show didn’t live or die solely by her shenanigans.

Which isn’t to say that The Office didn’t have a strong supporting cast. I think the Jim/Pam romance is a little overrated to say the least, but Dwight remains one of the best comedic TV characters of all time. Andy was annoying and terrible, which does drag things down a bit, but others like Oscar and Angela did grow to the point where they wouldn’t have been out of place in the opening credits.

I figured I’d mention Mark Brendanawicz now, just to say I did. He wasn’t awful, but P&R didn’t hit its stride until he left. Moving on.

The supporting cast of P&R are endearing because they were allowed to thrive without being constantly overshadowed by the lead character. Ron could have paternal relationships with April, Andy, and to a lesser extent, Tom and Ann. Ben could be flabbergasted by April and Andy’s immaturity. Chris could have a meltdown about his sessions with Dr. Richard Nygard with just about anyone and it would work.

Any combination of P&R characters could result in comedy gold. You might be quick to say the same about The Office and that’s true. The difference is that P&R did take advantage of those opportunities far more than The Office ever cared to (though it cared more about this once Carrell left).

Obviously these are two great shows, but P&R stands above The Office. It might not be far that P&R had a guy like Rob Lowe as one its more minor characters, but that doesn’t change the fact that P&R consistently rewarded its talent with material to work with.

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Tuesday

17

February 2015

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COMMENTS

Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Episode 8

Written by , Posted in Blog, Celebrity Apprentice, Pop Culture

Last night I picked Geraldo Rivera to become the next Celebrity Apprentice.

I was wrong.

I haven’t spent much time fretting over my inaccurate prediction. My recaps have spelled out many of my thoughts on Leeza’s chances. I never thought she couldn’t win, just that there wasn’t a clear logical reason to pick her over Geraldo. It’s one thing to want her to win over Geraldo (who doesn’t), but to say she was a better player is a bit of a stretch.

Before I go into that, I want to point something out. For the past few weeks I’ve talked about Trump’s love of playing kingmaker. I’d cite this as the only real reason Arsenio Hall beat out Clay Aiken. The trouble was that Geraldo is rooted at Fox News and Leeza didn’t appear to want to make a comeback.

Trump snuck in a potential Today Show’s opportunity for Leeza. While I won’t say that played a “deciding factor,” I will say that if he had ever said that before, I would’ve picked Leeza easily. The Today Show’s ratings are bad enough that this seems like a possible option.

Leeza had one thing going for her over Geraldo. She possessed a far better record. How much does this matter?

Less than you’d think.

If record mattered, Trump wouldn’t have canned all of Infinity in the last task before the finale. It was kind of ironic to see Johnny Damon bring up Leeza’s record repeatedly considering he was also part of the team that won five in a row. Trump was never going to have a finale that included the semi-articulate Damon or a Real Housewife.

Let’s explore the five-task win streak. If you looked at the pieces, you don’t really see this powerhouse that should curb stomp the likes of Geraldo and Lorenzo. That’s not to downplay the legitimacy of their wins. They had the better concept more often that not, especially with the Nordstrom task.

How much was Geraldo to blame for those losses? Nordstrom, not at all. Chock full O’Nuts, meh. They lost that one to a bizarre video featuring fake fighting between Brandi and Kenya. I won’t pin that on anyone, even Leeza as project manager, who mostly deferred to Ian.

Then there’s the booze cruise. This is really the task where Leeza’s prowess proved better than Geraldo, though Hooter’s was more of a downfall than his “screw the terrorists” comment. We’ll give credit where credit is due here.

The Trump National Doral was a disjointed mess as a task. Could have gone either way, at least from what we saw on TV. I wouldn’t say either Leeza or Geraldo factored into the decision.

Which brings us to Babies Luv Buns. Another task where Leeza and Gerlado could have sat out the task completely and made no impact on the outcome. You didn’t need a helicopter to beat Babies Luv Buns.

What’s the point of this? Leeza might have had a better track record than Geraldo, but in that five loss streak, she only truly bested him once and that wasn’t the task she was PM on. Was Leeza a better candidate to become Celebrity Apprentice?

No. Don’t believe me? Find a point in the show where Leeza won it for her team. Difficult, right?

The final task worked in her favor as well, even though it was basically an afterthought. She raised more money in the last task, but the emphasis on collective earnings throughout the show during the finale seemed to indicate that wasn’t much of a deciding factor. Tony Orlando seemed to be better than Olivia Newton John (apparently the Josh Grobin mention in the previous episode was a complete afterthought). Who knows?

So why did she win? Despite my analysis, which picks apart her legitimacy as a candidate, she really wasn’t bad either. The 3-0 record as PM matters. It stands up well against Geraldo, who had a 2-0 record prior to the finale. She played safe. Safe won.

The fact that Geraldo won both Lorenzo and Ian over makes his loss all the more puzzling. He raised more money and wasn’t completely hated like Annie Duke. So why did he lose?

As far as finalists go, Geraldo looked like Piers Morgan and Leeza resembled Arsenio Hall. One was dominant. One was not. I don’t think anyone is going to shed a tear that Leeza won. I’m not, but it was the wrong call. Unless Leeza ends up working for the Today Show. I did probably overestimate how much of a factor Trump’s love of Fox News would play, but the man does love his nepotism.

That’s it for Celebrity Apprentice recaps. Thanks for reading them. I’m going to take a break from recaps until Game of Thrones. My new book, A Trip Down Reality Lane, comes out in a week. I encourage you to check it out (what’s a little shameless self promotion).

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Monday

16

February 2015

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COMMENTS

The Ramifications of Jimmy’s Departure from Downton Abbey

Written by , Posted in Blog, Downton Abbey, Pop Culture

Note: I have seen all of series five of Downton Abbey, which has two more episodes to go in America. This article does not contain spoilers for those episodes. I recommend reading my article on the implications of Matthew’s death as there’s some overlap in subject matter.

At its core, Downton Abbey has always been about change. Lord Grantham, Lady Violet, and Mr. Carson fight this at nearly every corner, while many of the show’s other characters welcome it. As we’ve seen from five series that cover a twelve year time span, even the British aristocracy cannot escape change. For the most part, that’s a good thing.

The natural progression of this change is a shrinking servant staff as Earls learn to dress themselves and pour their own tea. Nearly every servant, young and old have explored this change in mentality as they ponder their places in the ever changing dynamic. Despite this, we saw the cast expand in series three with the arrivals of Alfred, Jimmy, and Ivy.

Seeing fresh faces at Downton coupled with the new aged business practices of Matthew and Tom breathed new life into the dynamic and suggested that Downton might be able to survive without sacrificing too much of the old world. Downton was hiring, not cutting back. Lord Grantham even created a new position for Thomas Barrow, creating the underbutler position to ensure that he could continue to be the man everyone loves to hate.

The youth movement was short lived. By the end of episode one of series five, Alfred, Ivy, and Jimmy were all gone. No new footmen were hired as Molesley was left to endure the wrath of Carson alone. The kitchen features the occasional character helping out, but Ivy was certainly not replaced from a storyline perspective.

This kind of makes sense. Alfred left to become a chef, aware that there wasn’t much of a future in the service industry for a footman. Seeing Molesley struggle to find work despite having experience as both a butler and a valet must have reinforced that. Ivy similarly jumped ship for a new adventure, traveling to America to serve Cora’s brother Harold. Jimmy was the only one whose departure wasn’t linked to the changing times, having been dismissed after being caught in bed with Lady Anstruther.

Alfred’s departure can be easily explained. He needed to go in order to make room for Molesley, who was without a position at Downton. Linking his leaving to the changing times was an added bonus. Ivy wasn’t exactly in a position where she needed to go, but it’s pretty clear that her character was expendable and likely a waste of screen time. She was boring.

The only departure that didn’t really have an obvious motive belongs to Jimmy. That’s not to say that there wasn’t one. Ivy and Alfred were the two characters he interacted with the most, but there was still Barrow, Daisy, and to a lesser extent Rose. Problem is, there isn’t a lot that could have been done with them from a storyline perspective.

I suppose Jimmy could have had a relationship with Daisy, but that wouldn’t have made much sense. A relationship with Rose would’ve been too similar to Sybil/Tom (not that Fellowes is against repetitive storylines). There are limitations for how much Jimmy could do with Barrow as well. It’s not really hard to see why he was viewed as expendable.

The implications of their departures seem to matter more than the loss of them as characters. Not hiring a new second footman means that Downton has cast aside formality for practicality. They didn’t need two footmen, but does that mean there shouldn’t be two footmen?

A side effect of their departure was that it removed Downton as a future centerpiece of prosperity. The young people moved on and the old people need to make arrangements for retirement. Daisy’s storyline has been all about this, undoubtedly provoked by the departures of her peers.

This is where I think getting rid of Jimmy was a mistake. Even if there wasn’t a clear storyline for him, he was still worth keeping around for the sake of appearances. He made Downton look like less of a retirement community.

Fellowes has had no trouble going long periods of time without giving characters like Patmore and the Bates anything to do. Instead of doing that with Ivy and Jimmy, he sent them away. In doing so, he cast a rather premature spotlight on the inevitable direction Downton is headed toward. We know what’s coming. We just didn’t need to see it this early.

Series 6 is widely considered to be the last for Downton Abbey. My next DA themed article will talk about why that’s a good idea, but it’s important to understand why losing Alfred, Ivy, and Jimmy made series 7 such an improbability. Killing the youth movement sped everything else up, a problem that will be further exacerbated by Rose’s presumed departure as the actress is filming Cinderella. There isn’t much else left to do but wrap things up. I’m not convinced that had to be the case all along.

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Wednesday

11

February 2015

0

COMMENTS

Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Episode 7

Written by , Posted in Blog, Celebrity Apprentice

Trump did an online Q&A last week that explained the mass exodus of Team Infinity despite their five task winning streak. The motive was obvious. Scheduling. Does this change anything?

Not really. The whole thing was poorly handled. Trump could have fired two of them and brought back the other as part of the final four and still had his Geraldo/Leeza final. Vivica never had a chance.

I’m actually at Universal Studios as I write this, which makes the final task quite bizarre for me. Universal has hosted two infamous tasks. Rod Blagojevich had his communication blunders with the opening of Harry Potter World back in season three and Dee Snider commissioned the redundant cardboard cut outs during All-Stars.

This task seems a little less chaotic, though with some (expected) laziness from Johnny Damon and Brandi Glanville. If anything, their beer drinking, roller coasting riding antics showed the precise reason why they’re not in the finals. I don’t think I’d be too surprised if either one had done that if they’d made it to the end.

The teams for the final task are always awkward. It’s not really a team anymore. It’s a dictatorship. That’s why Lorenzo getting all pissed off about Geraldo changing everything doesn’t make sense. Lorenzo is there to help. That’s it.

We saw Debbie Gibson pull a similar, albeit more extreme stunt, when she wanted Clay Aiken to trust her cousin’s mural painting abilities. It’s not surprising that these D-list celebrities have big egos, but this one of the few times where it’s not exactly justifiable.

Who’s going to win the task and become the next Celebrity Apprentice? Geraldo. He’s got the money and Josh Grobin, who’s significantly more relevant than Olivia Newton John. Leeza might be able to beat his video, but probably not by a wide enough margin for it to matter.

I think Trump likes Leeza better, but the problem is that he doesn’t dislike Geraldo. The past two finals have been largely decided by Trump’s nepotism. Arensio Hall beat Clay Aiken because he was trying to get a new late night show and Trace Adkins beat Penn Jilette because Penn badmouthed Trump in his book (a good book by the way). If it was Leeza vs. basically any other contestant, this would be a no brainer.

The pre-show montages were kind of nice. I would have preferred more episode to them, especially given my embarrassingly thorough knowledge of the show (almost all my throwbacks are from memory, though I usually fact check them to be sure). The problem with the montages was that they reminded us that this season has been rather brief.

Is this a good thing? Maybe. I’m annoyed that they’ve burned through the episodes, but I’m not exactly sad we weren’t treated to more Kenya Moore. #BabiesLuvBuns was enough. Kevin Jonas’ reappearance doesn’t exactly make me wish he’d lasted longer either.

Between Kenya/Brandi, Kenya/Vivica, and the Geraldo/Ian/Kevin/Lorezo battle that never really was, there was plenty of potential for a great season. We didn’t really see any of those evolve into a Piers/Omarosa or a Joan/Annie. Which is a shame, but maybe that’s why they edited the episodes the way they did. It’s not like NBC has much else on the air.

So I’m calling it for Geraldo. Some big screw-up could change everything. Leeza isn’t fierce enough a competitor to stop him. She reminds me of Arsenio, who also coasted his way to the finals. Problem is, Geraldo is no Clay Aiken.

 

 

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Saturday

7

February 2015

1

COMMENTS

Controversies Surrounding Go Set A Watchman Are Much Ado About Nothing

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The literary world received big news earlier this week when the release of Go Set a Watchman, the sequel to Harper Lee’s revered To Kill a Mockingbird was announced for July. Almost immediately, accusations of foul play were directed at HarperCollins for exploiting Lee, who’s advanced age and declining health have lead many to believe the publishing juggernaut is exploiting one of the most treasured authors in American history. A controversy is hardly surprising.

The accusations are not entirely without merit. The forty-four year (almost to the day) wait is suspect. The death of Lee’s sister Alice, who handled her estate, two months ago, is also being suggested as a factor in the book’s release. I don’t doubt that it is, but there are a few things to consider.

If Lee truly does not want this book to be released, she can merely say the words. Sure the release is in motion, at lightning speed for HarperCollins, but the media shitstorm that would ensue if it was public knowledge that a big corporation was taking advantage of an eighty-eight year old American icon living in assisted living, is a far larger iceberg than the one that sank the Titanic. Remember, O.J. Simpson’s lucrative If I Did It was scuttled only a few years ago and he wasn’t a lovely old woman who’s had a lasting impact on America’s understanding of racism.

Is HarperCollins doing this for money? Of course. Are they exploiting Harper Lee in the process? Doubtful.

So why now? People are citing her sister Alice’s death as the primary reason. That seems to make sense. We can safely assume that Alice was against it or else it would have been out years ago.

The media has tried to frame Tonja Carter, the lawyer now in charge of Lee’s estate who also found the manuscript, as guilty of foul play. Some have even pointed to the closure of a family owned restaurant as the real reason behind Go Set a Watchman’s release. This I find hard to believe. It’s likely true that Alice and Tonja had differing opinions regarding the book, but again this does not need to mean anything more than that.

The media wants us to think that Harper Lee is a vegetable being corrupted like King Theoden was in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by Grima Wormtongue. It’s not surprising. News like this always comes with a narrative.

If you think about it, the timing is actually perfect for Lee. She gets to see her book released while she’s still alive, but doesn’t have to deal with anybody nagging her to go on publicity tours. Best of both worlds, right?

The real battle over Go Set a Watchman is not being waged over whether or not Lee actually wants this book out. Those who say she’s not of the capacity to decide are insulting the legacy of a woman who stood up for social justice at a time when too few were championing the cause. People are complaining about this book because they don’t want it to affect the lasting legacy of To Kill a Mockingbird.

It will just by its existence. You know what I say to that? Who cares?

Most of recorded time’s lasting authors have more than one book. Many of them have had posthumous work released. This happened to Lee’s own BFF Truman Capote (Summer Crossing is actually very good). Does The Last Tycoon affect the legacy of The Great Gatsby? Did Northanger Abbey ruin Pride & Prejudice?

No.

Go Set a Watchman will make many people happy. If Lee is not one of them, she can speak up and people will champion her cause. If she truly is unable to speak for herself, this too will surface.

Until then, appreciate the fact that an American icon has a new book. Or don’t. Chances are, you’re too old to have it on any required reading lists Big corporations are guilty of many things, but if HarperCollins truly is exploiting Harper Lee, it’s going to come out. I, for one, am looking forward to the book.

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Tuesday

3

February 2015

0

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Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Episode 6

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Last night’s episode featured quite possibly the two strangest boardrooms in the show’s fourteen season history. First up was the case of the forged menopause tweet that quickly degenerated into a battle between Kenya Moore and Vivica A. Fox to determine who was more ghetto. Couple that with the earlier focus on Shawn Johnson’s period, this season could easily be summed up by its emphasis on the female reproductive system, which Trump seems to love to preside over.

That was quickly trumped (hehe) by the second task, where Trump showed us all, in case we forgot who rules his kangaroo court. Is there anyway we can look at the decision to fire an entire team that won five episodes in a row and not come to the conclusion that this thing is completely rigged? The simple answer is, no.

From a purely competitive standpoint, this makes no sense. That’s never what Celebrity Apprentice has been about. The show is Trump’s circus where if you don’t fight to the death, preferably bringing as much about the inner workings of female private parts into the boardroom as humanly possible, you go home. Ian Ziering deserved the sack, but that left a Real Housewife and Johnny Damon. Which is boring. The solution was simple. Fire them all.

It didn’t matter than Geraldo and Vivica lost week after week. Winning the challenges has always been less important than carnival antics. Performance should not be completely discredited, as we saw with Ian.

I had Ian pegged to be in the finals against Geraldo. I was wrong. Is this surprising? Sort of.

I did also last week say that Leeza was a dark horse who needed another win to become a legitimate contender. That did happen. But more importantly, something else happened.

Ian sunk his own ship with his plagiarized “La Cucaracha.” Let’s get one thing straight. Using the song would not be copyright infringement. It’s a folk song. No one owns it. Apparently that didn’t matter, even with a businessman like Trump in the room (though for all Celebrity Apprentice intents and purposes, he’s the red queen).

The truth is, it didn’t matter. It was stupid. It would’ve lost. Both tasks weren’t even close. That’s why talking about them isn’t interesting. Kenya was sunk with #babiesluvbuns before the menopause and the stolen phone and Ian was sunk for his poor attitude and overall crappy boardroom performance.

The boardroom took a turn when Trump decided that Ian wasn’t enough. The closest thing this mirrored was the Celebrity Apprentice 5 task where Trump wanted Adam Carolla to serve him Michael Andredi on a silver platter. Carolla took the bullet and Trump sent them both packing.

That task was early on in its season. This week was the last one before the final four. Knocking off both Brandi and Johnny doesn’t exactly change as much as you’d think. Trump typically sends two of the final four home anyway in a dated adherence to the show’s original format.

Problem is, it does matter. Trump could’ve fired the whole team by advancing one of them to the final four and sending them packing with Vivica, which is going to happen. This would’ve made the whole thing look less rigged. Why didn’t he? Maybe he doesn’t care.

It’s been a weird season of Celebrity Apprentice. It’s the first season since the original to air the majority of the tasks in one hour blocks, though the first did one a week. This cast hasn’t been all that interesting. Lots of narcissism and plenty of fights, but the competition hasn’t been one for the ages.

Geraldo could have changed this. He looked like the second coming of Piers Morgan (albeit with reversed political views) in the first few tasks. Then he transformed into the reincarnated Aubrey O’Day, who forced her ideas down her teammates’ throats and lost. Rivera will make it to the finals. Will he win?

Seems likely. Leeza Gibbons is the new front-runner. Before you say “oh look Ian was wrong,” consider this. In the show’s condensed format, we haven’t seen a lot of Leeza. She flew under the radar all season. Before this week, there was no reason to suggest she belonged in the finals. Nepotism, yes, but that really only takes you to the final four (now the final three).

I have a feeling this is it for Celebrity Apprentice. The show went off the air for almost two years and when it came back, NBC has burned through the episodes with little fanfare. We’ve been down this road before as NBC cancelled the original version of the show, only to bring it back because its lineup faltered. It seems likely that this could and probably will happen again.

The finals will pit Geraldo against Leeza. No doubt about that. In order to determine who has the upper hand, we can ask a simple question.

Who gains the most from winning?

Trump likes to play king maker. He took all the credit for Piers Morgan’s CNN show (to be fair, he did deserve some of it). He picked Arsenio Hall over Clay Aiken because he knew Hall’s increased exposure would lead to a new late night show which he could also take credit for.

Geraldo and Leeza are both old and established. Leeza has a radio show. Geraldo works for Fox News. Trump can’t really take any credit for Geraldo’s future fortunes. If Leeza says the words, “I want another TV show,” the crown is hers.

If that doesn’t happen, it’s still probably hers to lose. Geraldo will probably go for broke on fundraising and do something bold for the finals. That could win it for him if he fights hard enough. It should be an exciting finale.

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Sunday

1

February 2015

0

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Game of Thrones IMAX Proves Some Free Things Are Worth Paying For

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Last night I went to see Game of Thrones in IMAX. The allure of seeing the Battle of Castle Black on big screen was enough to get me to shell out money to pay for something I could not only watch for free, but have already watched for free. This being the first time that a TV show was shown in theaters also had some appeal as a fan of popular culture.

The biggest surprise of the night didn’t come from the episodes, naturally, but the theatre attendance. The theatre was at around 75% capacity. Granted, it was a Saturday night, but the attendance wasn’t noticeably smaller than the crowd that was at the showing of The Hobbit I attended (coincidentally in the same theatre in that cinema). Game of Thrones is a worldwide phenomenon and clearly more than the die hards showed up. There weren’t many people sporting GOT attire, but I did see one Hodor shirt. I probably would have left if there weren’t any.

The episodes translated beautifully to the big screen. The battle looked like any battle you’d see in any epic fantasy, maybe even better with emphasis on actual people instead of CGI. I spent most of my first viewing of the episode counting the differences between it and the battle shown in A Storm of Swords and found that the IMAX was so aesthetically overpowering that I could just sit back and enjoy the show.

“The Children” fits well as a companion to “The Watchers on the Wall” for the big screen. The decision to start the episode at the Wall when the previous episode was nothing but Wall proved intelligent as movie goers were treated to the complete narrative, briefly interrupted for a “previously on,” and the credits for a second time. The episode is less about battles and more about plot resolution, but there’s enough in here to justify its presence on the big screen.

The trailer at the end was a nice treat. I’m glad I didn’t watch the leaked version before seeing it in theatres as it was beautiful to watch on IMAX (particularly Peter Dinklage’s new goatee). As some characters are completely caught up on the books (though some are not entirely through A Storm of Swords), this coming season will have plenty of fresh material for book and show viewers alike. The days of “that didn’t happen in the books” may not be over, but they might get increasingly standard, as it becomes more the rule than the exception.

Was it worth it? It wasn’t cheap. The ticket was the standard cost of an IMAX film despite not being a film or anything new besides a few minutes of trailer. That doesn’t answer the question.

Yes.

It was fun. That’s the point isn’t it? The battle was beautiful. Brienne fighting the Hound was luscious. Hodor hodoring through crisp sound was marvelous. IMAX makes everything better and that was certainly the case here.

I don’t think this has widespread ramifications for the TV to big screen debate that’s sprouted up as a result of this event. Analysts are quick to judge the viability of TV on the big screen as this is the first time its been done. The fact that many viewers watch the show on a computer or tablet is certainly a relevant point. “It’s not TV, it’s HBO” took on a whole new meaning, but I wouldn’t call this a game changer just yet.

This worked for two reasons. First, Game of Thrones is huge. Big enough to justify the hype. The only other show with the fanbase to make something like this work is Downton Abbey. I’d probably pay to see that in theatres too.

Second, these two episodes worked perfectly in conjunction for something like this. Without the battle centric “The Watchers on the Wall,” it wouldn’t have worked. The narrative jumping around as it does normally would’ve made it feel much more like a TV show than a movie. Having just The Wall made it feel just like a movie.

The only other season of Game of Thrones that could’ve pulled it off was season two with “Blackwater” and “Valar Morghulis.” I don’t doubt that HBO will want to try this again with season five. Whether or not that’s a good idea remains to be seen, but without a battle centric episode, it seems like a bit of a reach.

It was a unique experience. I wouldn’t flock to the theater to see TV in more or less any other instance, but as an ASOIAF fanatic, I felt obliged to indulge. It could’ve used more Stannis, but all in all it’s worth seeing if you’re a big fan of the show.

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