Ian Thomas Malone

community Archive



April 2015



Game of Thrones Season 5 Recap: Episode 1

Written by , Posted in Blog, Game of Thrones, Pop Culture

This recap features analysis from a devoted book fan. Spoilers will largely be kept to comparisons between the show and the books within the episodes themselves, but if you hate spoilers you should probably not read these articles. I encourage you to subscribe so you never miss a recap. Thank you for reading. 

For all the talk of how different this season would be from the books, the episode got off to a start that pretty much paid homage to A Feast for Crows. One of AFFC’s strongest attributes is the intimate look it gives the reader into Cersei’s thoughts/backstory, as it’s the first book to feature her as a POV character. The flashback with Maggy the Frog is certainly foretelling of things to come for the Queen Regent.

This episode largely played catch-up, setting up the plots for the season. GOT premieres and finales are tricky as they generally involve the entire cast, which makes screen time problematic. Balance wasn’t much of a problem as the episode allotted a fair amount of time to just about everyone.

I particularly enjoyed the Varys/Tyrion scenes. Varys disappears from the tail end of A Storm of Swords all the way until the epilogue of A Dance With Dragons and it would have been a waste for the show to abandon him for that length of time. My mouth did salivate a bit at the thought of future Varys/Daenerys scenes.

I haven’t written at all about my thoughts on scrapping (f)Aegon from the show, largely because I approve of it. The last thing this show needs is more characters and this season will already introduce Dorne and the rest of House Martell. Condensing Tyrion’s long and problematic voyage to Dany seems to be in the best interest of the show.

The Castle Black plotline also seems to be accelerating rather rapidly. Parts of it aren’t caught up to A Storm of Swords while others are well into A Dance With Dragons. By the time Mance was “burned alive” in the books, Jon had already been elected Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. That plot was hinted at, but played a backseat role to Stannis’ need for more troops. I did find it odd that the idea of legitimizing Jon Snow wasn’t brought up, though I imagine that’s coming fairly soon.

Like many, I’ve criticized the show’s handling of Stannis, who’s affectionately known as Stannis the Mannis to many. Stannis and Jon develop a mutual respect for each other in ADWD that makes the often quite boring Wall chapters far more enjoyable in the books. The potential bromance will undoubtedly be called in question after Jon mercy killed Mance, though it’s unclear whether the show will follow the books with what happens to The King Beyond the Wall.

The Littlefinger scheming is also very interesting and so different from the books that comparing the two almost seems silly. I sort of gathered that they could be heading to Essos, which makes me wonder if Littlefinger will head to the Braavos to consult with the Iron Bank or try to throw in with Dany. I really liked the way that Sansa has grown as a character, treating him like more of an equal than a protector.

Dany’s plotline was mostly like the books, though I detest the show’s love affair with Grey Worm, who isn’t really all that interesting in the books. A certain large eunuch by the name of Strong Belwas would have been useful when the fighting pits were brought up. I can’t be the only book fan who thought of nothing but him during those scenes.

The pacing of the King’s Landing plotline was pretty flawless. The show took its time setting up the inevitable Cersei/Jaime conflict and the reintroduction of Kevan and Lancel Lannister without biting off more than it could chew. I also like that it kept the Mountain/Qyburn stuff for another episode, though I’m sure viewers are wondering what is up with Frakenstrong.

It remains to be seen what Brienne is going to do with herself, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see her involved with Sansa in some way if for any other reason than she doesn’t appear to have anything else to do. This was a strong opening episode that did everything it needed to do to set up the season. The changes were welcomed as they all appear to work toward translating the often uneven plot progressions of AFFC/ADWD to television. As a fairly hardcore fan of the books, I didn’t have a problem with any of it, though I am concerned that the show will try to villainize Stannis, who will soon turn his full attention to the Bolton’s, who are the actual bad guys in the North. Well, them and the White Walkers.



May 2014



Community is Gone and That’s Okay

Written by , Posted in Blog, Pop Culture

The rise in original programming from cable and online providers has stripped May Upfront’s of much of its significance. It’s hard to get excited for fall TV when summer TV has gotten so good. The Upfront’s still serve as a time of mourning for the shows that won’t be returning next season. Cancellations aren’t as noteworthy as they used to be because the bar has been lowered and any show that achieves any amount of buzz typically gets more time to prove itself than it might have just a few years ago.

Looking at it that way, the cancellation of Community really isn’t that sad. This was a show that never belonged on network TV in the first place and yet the fans kept it alive for five seasons. It might have fallen short of the #sixseasonsandamovie campaign that played a big part in NBC’s decision to keep it around, but I don’t see failure in that.

There are a couple important factors working against Community’s favor. The fact that the show is produced by Sony meant that NBC wasn’t getting a big slice on the revenue from other streams. The show was a big hit on Hulu, but that’s something that doesn’t mean all that much since Sony and NBC would have to share the not as important as you’d think earnings brought in by the online service. Once its ratings started to slip, the show was in serious trouble.

The end of season’s three and four brought disaster that also could have sunk the show. Season three saw the departure of creator and showrunner Dan Harmon. While that’s fairly common with older shows as the creators leave to form new shows, the fact that he left on bad terms and the show wasn’t doing very well was more than concerning. Season four saw the departure of Chevy Chase as well as the announcement that Donald Glover would leave just a few episodes into season five. With both ratings and critical acclaim dwindling with a subpar season four, it is somewhat surprising that the show was even renewed at all.

Which is what makes its cancellation sour. Harmon came back for season five and it looked like Community was in the clear to get its six seasons (though the movie was always a tremendous longshot). The show did lose half a point in the 18-49 demo, which might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. This show should never have made it to season five in the first place, which propelled the aspirations to get to season six.

Creatively, it looks like the show made its peace this season. Glover’s farewell should go down as one of the most touching cast departures of all time. The show handled the decimation of the study group admirably and made up for season four. The saving of Greendale was significant because it represented the long shot that was this show to begin with.

An immediate revival on a different network looks very unlikely. People have cited Netflix and USA’s revivals of Arrested Development and Cougar Town without considering the fact that both were saved to bring attention to shifts in programming for both networks, a point that has now been accomplished. This is a point that doomed Happy Endings, which was in a better position having only aired three seasons before ABC gave it the axe. Community is an expensive show produced by a company that doesn’t own any channels of its own. There’s little reason for any network to pick it up.

That doesn’t mean that we’ve seen the last of Community. HBO’s recent revival of The Comeback shows that literally anything in possible. The Comeback had a small cult following and lasted one season nine years ago. All this means for Community is that if it came back, it would not be the most farfetched revival ever. But that day may never come and if it does it might look like Arrested Development’s terrible season four (or Community’s season four for that matter). I for one am not a big fan of revivals.

Community’s story is a beautiful tale of fan devotion, which set some important precedents for network TV. Five seasons is a very good run for a show that faced impeding doom more than once. Whether or not it comes back ten years down the road will do little to change its legacy. #sixseasonsandamovie was an idea. Five seasons is a reality and a pretty good one at that.