Shireen! Oh My God! Shireen!

STANDARD WARNING: Spoilers ahead. Reader beware.
(Game of Thrones 5.09 "Dance of the Dragons")

I am in total shock. Never, in all my more than a half-century of television viewing, have I seen a child sacrificed in the name of a weird religious cult.
How could they? How in hell could they?
How could they burn a sweet, wonderful girl like Shireen at the stake? WTF!!!
Game of Thrones may have set a new mark for audience agitation. Were they trying to make a point? Is religious extremism the ultimate evil? Who didn't know that?
I could not believe this sacrifice was really going to happen. No! No! No! Father! Father! Father!
Yes! Yes! Yes! King Stannis was, for the second time, going to put his love for his daughter ahead of his stupid, superstitious desire for victory; charge in and save her.
No. Her previously spineless mother was the only one to take action – to no avail.
The screams! The horrible, horrible screams of agony! At least HBO had the decency to put her death off-camera. Even so, I may still have nightmares.
I had been building a respect for Stannis this season. Gone! Completely gone! I hope he fails miserably in his attempt to regain Winterfell. I also hope that he and the Boltons excruciatingly annihilate each other when he gets there.
As for Melisandre, I can't imagine an appropriately agonizing death scene for that bitch. Sorry, I could not think of a more applicable label.
Obviously, she needs to depart the series via her favorite route – a flames-rising-to-heaven bonfire. Before she gets tied to the stake, however, I would very much like to see her beaten with clubs, dipped in hydrochloric acid, and partially drawn and quartered.
My apologies to Carice van Houten. I am sure that, off-sceen, she is nothing like the character she plays – just like Jack Gleeson's Joffrey. Or so they say.

Drogon, Drogon, Drogon!
I have a soft spot for dragons. When Drogon came to Dany's rescue, it actually gave me goosebumps. I felt every arrow and spear that the loyal Drogon suffered.
Hokey as it may have been, Dany riding Drogon out of the arena (did HBO repair and rent the Colosseum for this epic scene?) was a Death Star exploding moment for me. I hope Drogon doesn't make a Dragonheart exit in the season finale.
I am assuming that Jorah and the others Dany left behind were able prevail against the Sons of the Harpy. The sheer number of these masked creeps, not to mention the sharp respect they gave her intended groom, should convince Dany to abandon her efforts to tame Meereen. Maybe Daario's wholesale slaughter of the masters was not such a bad idea.

The Eyes Have It!
The Calisi's fearful looks as Jorah fought clearly showed she retains strong feelings for him. I'm fairly certain that any love felt on her part is more along the lines of a daughter for a father. The lovestruck look on Jorah's face is a different matter entirely.

Welcome Back to Castle Black
First Ranger Alliser Thorne took his sweet time before giving the order to open the tunnel gate and let the Wildlings enter. I was not at all sure he would go against his instincts, and apparently neither was Jon. Thorne summed up the situation nicely when he told Jon he has a good heart which will get everyone killed. I'm guessing Thorne hasn't had any field experience against the White Walkers and their army of the dead. That might make him just a wee bit more welcoming toward the Wildling recruits.

Mission Not Accomplished
Arya's quick abandonment of her assassination assignment to stalk the far more tempting personal target of Ser Meryn does not bode well for staying in the good graces of the Many-Faced God. Didn't Arya read the fine print in her training contract? She must have missed the “no substitutions” clause.
The Thin Man wasn't hungry? Jaqen didn't buy that for an instant.

Dorne Departure
How about that sudden display of fangs by the previously benign and peaceful Prince Doran Martell? He certainly knocked the spunk out of Ellaria. I don't recall Siddig El Tahir El Fadil El Siddig Abderrahman Mohammed Ahmed Abdel Karim El Mahdi ever being quite that scary as Dr. Bashir.
With Jaime, Bronn, Myrcella and her fiance cleared to leave Dorne, I am expecting the focus of the season finale to shift to King's Landing. Jaime has no idea that Cersei is rotting in a dungeon cell. It's my understanding that it takes at least two to commit an act of incest. The High Sparrow would probably like to have few words with Jaime upon his arrival.

Different Strokes for Married Folks

The time has come, indeed, the time is long overdue, to address the issue that has been tearing married couples apart for decades. I am referencing, of course, irreconcilable differences in television program preferences.

My wife, Mary, gravitates toward “reality” (and I use that word very, very loosely) and drama shows. Drama I can take or leave, depending on how far it strays into soap opera territory. I liked L.A. Law. I liked Hill Street Blues. Hell, I even liked Desperate Housewives, until the people behind the show seemed to forget that it was a spoof of soap operas and let it devolve into the real thing.

Reality shows I hate. How can viewers ignore the fact the people in the show are surrounded by cameras recording everything they do and say? The Hawthorne Effect kicks in immediately as show participants react to the camera presence. Beyond that, raw footage is intensely edited to move events in whatever direction the producers want it to go. Reality. Hah!

I am at the complete opposite end of the television spectrum, deeply immersed in science fiction, liberally seasoned by comedy and fantasy offerings. I am more than willing to suspend my disbelief for 20 to 40 minutes.

Of course, television is an escapist medium for most of us. Mary says she just wants to watch something that doesn’t require a lot of thought.

I think all day,” she said. “I don’t want to have to think when I get home.”

Luckily for me, my job doesn’t put a lot of strain on my brain. For me, it makes no difference whether a show amuses or amazes me, as long as I am entertained. If the subject matter sticks in my mind for a bit after the program ends, so much the better. If anything, I probably think too much.

I once made the mistake of criticizing my wife’s choice of the Home and Garden Channel as a top choice for her viewing options. I mean, how many different damn ways can HGC find to choose or remodel a house? And why have I never seen a program on gardening? The answers to those questions are: “a number too large to be expressed by a non-mathematician” and “gardening is your job.”

Then came the day she came home and found me watching an episode of Doctor Who in which a hospital was staffed by nurses who happened to have cat heads. Seemed perfectly acceptable to me, as one who has been watching the Doctor for decades. Mary didn’t think so.

Don’t you ever say anything about what I watch again,” she warned me.

I think I already knew that.

Dissecting our DVR “series manager” shows the diversity of our TV tastes.

Hers – Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, The Biggest Loser, Project Runway, Big Brother, Nurse Jackie, So You Think You Can Dance, Top Chef Masters, American Idol, Brother vs. Brother, Flipping the Block, Downton Abbey, Project Runway All-Stars, The Voice, Property Brothers, Fixer Upper, Master Chef and Curvy Brides.

Mine – The Librarians, Falling Skies, Extant, The Last Man on Earth, Outlander, Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Man Seeking Woman, Black Sails, Vikings, Banshee, Person of Interest, The Big Bang Theory, Hell on Wheels, The 100, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Doctor Who, Marvel’s Agent Carter, Strike Back, Da Vinci’s Demons, The Last Ship, Sherlock, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and iZombie.

Ours – Mike and Molly, Madam Secretary, The Amazing Race and Survivor.

Yeah, yeah. The Amazing Race and Survivor do, in fact, qualify as reality shows. My explanation for watching The Amazing Race is getting a peek at other cultures around the world. For Survivor, which is basically Big Brother staged in some godforsaken wilderness, I have no excuse, other than I’ve been watching it since the second season after Mary introduced it to me not long after we started dating. Tradition? Inertia?

So, a whopping four of 47 regularly recorded shows in our house are watched by both of us. Not a lot of common ground there. One might even think these widely divergent viewing habits might lead to conflict.

One would be correct. Believe it or not, many of these programs share time slots. What was an otherwise compatible couple to do?

The easiest solution to sidestep this dilemma was to own more than one television set. We did, but then, who was to be banished from the comfy living room couch to the bedroom to watch a lesser TV set from an angle not really intended for long-term viewing?

I decided that I would make the supreme sacrifice and watch my programs in the basement. There, I feverishly devoted every moment of my spare time to constructing a home theater – complete with surround sound, a 1080p projector, 96-inch screen and reclining, stadium seating. The projector is connected to a satellite box, Blu-ray player and computer. A refrigerator well-stocked with craft brews is only a few steps from the door, and salty snacks always seem to be within reach.

I owe it all to reality television.

Zombies, Zombies, Zombies!

Standard Warning: Spoilers ahead. Reader beware.
(Game of Thrones 5.08 “Hardhome” May 31, 2015)

Holy fast-as-hell, swarming, World War Z-style, White Walker-directed, unstoppable even with an arrow through the skull, can take a fall and come back for more, but apparently afraid of water zombies!

This is the kind of action I’ve been waiting to see all season; no, make that all series! Winter is no longer coming. It’s freakin’ here, and a huge number of Wildlings have now become new zombie army recruits. Good thing they were already wearing what appeared to be camouflage uniforms.

I thought I detected some sparks between Jon and the Wildling Warrior Princess. I was bummed when she fell to the zombie kids. Couldn’t tell if she hesitated because they were her own, or just because she was a mother. Pretty blue eyes, though, when she was raised from the dead. I hope Jon notices the difference when they meet again.

What was up with Jon’s clearly non-dragonglass sword destroying a White Walker? I believe I heard his sword striking a tuning forkish type tone just as he turned the White Walker into ice fragments. Does he possess the Singing Sword of Prince Valiant?

How about that giant? Grumpy and badly in need of dental work as he was, he did a commendable job of protecting the rear with his uprooted utility pole as Jon and the surviving Night’s Watchmen beat a hasty retreat to the boats.

I was afraid that Mr. Giant was going to try to hop into one of those seriously undersized rowboats himself, but he seemed more than vertically able to wade to the main transports. I’m thinking, though, that he would pretty much need one of the big boats all to himself, not that he didn’t earn it.

On to the less spectacular stuff.

TYRION
Tyrion seems to have successfully talked his way into becoming Dany’s advisor, as one wise in the ways of the rich. Didn’t I predict that? Insider information! Yeah!

The Imp may have been instrumental in saving Jorah’s life, which Dany had promised to take if he ever darkened her doorstep again, but she does relent and boot Jorah from Meereen. His decision to return to the fighting pits was no doubt influenced by his belief that his days are numbered by greyscale. Man, that ailment takes a lot longer to turn a guy to stone than those crystals the Inhumans like to use on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

CERSEI
Cersei is going through tough times in her dungeon cell. She’s dehydrated. King Tommen doesn’t call; he doesn’t write. Brother Jaime is out of town and out of touch. Her curly do has gone all frizzy.

She’s got one ultra-tough dungeon matron who won’t even let her complete her repetitious “last face you’ll see” death threat before she gets the words slapped right out of her mouth. Cersei is too proud to grovel before the High Sparrow, but not too proud to suck up the water dumped on the cell floor after she continues refusing to confess.

Oh, well.

SANSA
Tonight’s Sansa was the toughest Sansa I’ve ever seen. She confronts Theon/Reek about his treachery and forces him to reveal that she is not the sole surviving Stark. I did wonder about how those two expendable farm boys felt about standing in for that burning beyond recognition gig.

ARYA
Is Arya ready for her first assassination mission? Target, the Thin Man. Method, apparently poison applied to his fresh oysters. Naturally, should she be caught or killed in this mission, the Many-Faced God will disavow all knowledge of her action.

iZombie Breathes New Life into Standard Stumbling Dead

Warning: Spoilers and/or “spoilerish” words below. Series newcomers are advised to cease reading after the second paragraph. Seriously. It’s a great show. Don’t risk ruining the experience by learning too much.

Everybody knows what to expect from George Romero-style zombies – aimlessly doing the living dead shuffle, moaning their mindless zombie songs, failing to open a simple door, having the single purpose of feasting on live creatures. The only way to stop them permanently is to destroy their brains, which does call into question their need to feed, as starvation will not put them down.

Enter Liv Moore (note the name), played by Rose McIver. The lead character of the CW freshman show iZombie is new kind of zombie – not quite living, not quite dead – a paler, ash blonde version of her former self. She walks, she talks, she eats. The big difference is that unless her diet includes fresh human brain tissue on a regular basis, she will go “full zombie.” Instead of seeing her as “living dead,” I see her as “dead living.”

Liv made the transformation to zombie by attending the wrong party. Things got rough, and she was scratched by a zombie guest. She awoke in a body bag, much to the discomfort of the EMT gathering bodies in the party aftermath.

Liv is understandably unhappy about her new half-dead status, but she begins to make adjustments for her half-living side. She breaks her engagement with the love of her life, Major Lilywhite (yeah, really), played by Robert Buckley, for his protection.

She capitalizes on her medical background to land an examiner’s slot in the Seattle morgue, which provides convenient access to fresh brains. Her boss, Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti (Rahul Kohli), apparently keeping close tabs on the morgue brain inventory, soon discovers her secret and becomes a confidant. He believes that he could possibly find a cure for her “condition.”

I was drawn to this series by a promotional trailer, and I thought it looked promising enough to try. I expected something akin to Buffy, the Vampire Slayer in its heyday – a “dramedy” loaded with lots of snappy, humorous dialogue. After watching the first episode, my finger was hovering over the delete button as I reviewed my DVR “to-do” list. Then came the second episode, and I was hooked.

The element that kept me watching was learning the rules, right along with Liv, which govern the “lives” of these neo-zombies.

  1. Munching grey matter has a side-effect: the eater acquires some of the victim’s memories and personality traits — both good and bad. (This comes in handy when Liv’s first meal provider is a murder victim, and she “sees” clues surrounding the victim’s death. She presents herself as a psychic to investigating detective Clive Babineaux [Malcolm Goodwin], who is initially skeptical. Liv’s “visions” solve the case, which doesn’t exactly hurt Clive’s career; and a partnership is born.)

  2. The side-effects wear off, but can be renewed as needed with an additional helping of brains from the victim under investigation. (Or, if the recipient happens to like a trait and wants to keep it for a bit longer.)

  3. Whenever a zombie is wounded or gets overly angry, she or he goes temporarily “full-zombie” – signaled by red, apparently glow-in-the-dark eyes. In this mode, a zombie acquires superhuman strength (Don’t make Liv angry. You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.)

  4. Zombiehood can be experimentally induced in a rat (Behold, Zombie Rat!)

  5. Zombie brains are of no use to hungry zombies (Zombie Rat shows no interest in snacking on Liv.)

  6. Zombiehood cannot be transferred from species to species (Zombie Rat bites through Ravi’s chain-mail protective glove, yet Ravi remains Ravi.)

  7. Rats can be restored to non-zombiehood (Behold, Zombie Rat – albino no more! Does this raise hopes for Liv? Well, certainly not until the series finale, which I am projecting for the year 2050. I mean, no zombies, no show, right?)

  8. Neo-zombies can be killed by the traditional brain-destroying methods (Watch The Walking Dead for graphic details)

  9. Zombiehood can be be contracted by consuming zombie blood (just a fingertip smudge will do the trick)

I’ve probably missed some of the rules, and others are likely to surface as the series completes the final three episodes of its first season. The gradual presentation of these rules in iZombie reminds me of another series I loved – Pushing Daisies. Unfortunately, that series was put in a premature grave. Not even the magic touch of Ned, the Pie Man, could bring it back.

Beyond the more cerebral exercise of discovering the rules, iZombie has successfully delivered on my early expectations. It’s not a Buffy clone, but it has a Buffy feel. Funny and punny dialogue abounds.

Here some examples from an episode featuring a murder victim who had spent a few extra days “ripening” in front of his computer array before his body was discovered. Naturally, his brain was a little on the, shall we say, “runny” side. Liv found it necessary to ingest her sample through a straw.

Ravi to Clive: “Liv will suck it up and help in any way she can.”

Liv to herself: “Must have doughnuts. Great! I ate Homer Simpson’s brain.”

Liv to Ravi, as she booted the victim’s computer, somewhat apprehensive about what might appear on the opening screen: “Seriously, what are the chances that an agoraphobic in his twenties was not a chronic chicken-choker?”

Liv to Ravi, upon learning that the victim she is impersonating was an online Trollock: “I’m a Polish troll?”

In a later episode, Liv is discussing an apparent change in attitude from her new zombie romantic interest with Ravi: “Things were so great with us last week – like buying new underwear great.”

The concept of adding memories and traits to Liv’s mind with each brain she samples opens an infinite panorama of possibilities. The partial personalities she has consumed and assumed have included those of a passionate artist, a cold-blooded hit man, an alcoholic reporter and a hallucinating mental patient.

Both episode titles and the captioned comic panels that open each segment coming out of commercial breaks (and the CW has a LOT of them) incorporate puns and other word plays. In the episode “Maternity Liv,” the victim is a pregnant teenager. In another episode, “Flight of the Living Dead,” the victim, Holly, ends a skydiving adventure dead in a tree – the first panel after the commercials – “Boughs of Holly.”

Yeah, they’re groaners; but what pun isn’t?

OK, more than enough said. I think I’ve conveyed the fact that I love the show – already greenlighted for a second season. Yay!

Cersei, Cersei, Cersei!

Warning: This blog contains spoilers for anyone who has not yet watched the featured or preceding Game of Thrones episodes. I am writing from the perspective of someone who has not yet read the George R.R. Martin books on which the HBO series is based. If making comments, please refrain from pointing out discrepancies between the novels and the series or revealing anything which might come in the series based on book knowledge.

How great was it to see the ever-scheming Cersei get her due May 24 in Game of Thrones “The Gift”?

Who didn’t see that comeuppance coming? It was a delight to see Cersei’s customary smug look evaporate as she realized her puppet was no longer attached to his strings. It was an especially sweet thing coming immediately after the Queen Mother had just lorded (ladied?) it over real Queen (technically) Margaery. Give Margaery a rousing three cheers for rejecting all of Cersei’s spiel and tossing that leftover venison at the cell wall.

Welcome to the dungeon, Cersei. The High Sparrow is the real deal.

SANSA
Just when you think Theon cannot possibly reek any more than he does, he does. Sansa – kept under lock and key by day, conjugally visited and abused by Ramsay by night – implores Theon to help her by sending the rescue signal. Instead, Theon spills the plan to Ramsay, who proceeds to skin the poor woman watching for the signal, then displays the results of his handiwork to Sansa.
It seems increasingly obvious that the only person who is going to rescue Sansa is Sansa.

DANY
Dany continues to ponder how to best get the upper hand in a city-state built by slavery. She gets some questionable advice during pillow talk with her bed beau Daario, who urges mass slaughter of all city masters. When Dany says she is a ruler, not a butcher, Daario replies:
“All rulers are either butchers or meat.”
Where, oh where, is sage counsel to be found when a wannabe benevolent despot needs it?
Well, Dany is certainly not ready to accept Jorah’s return in that role, as she made abundantly clear when he popped out of his helmet after trouncing the rest of the guys in a seriously lame “great games.”
Did he change her mind by presenting Tyrion Lannister as a “gift”? I’m not sure just how Tyrion, at the top of the Lannisters’ Most Wanted Dead or Alive List, qualifies as anything of value.
Insider information?

MRS. PEEL
Lady Olenna trades jabs with The High Sparrow and pretty much comes away from the match with her nose bloodied.
“We are the many. You are the few,” he tells the lady. “And, when the many stop fearing the few…”
He walks away from Olenna without finishing the sentence. So, how about “…the few become the none.”?
A busy, busy lady in this episode, Olenna also meets with Lord Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish. Both characters previously claimed (privately, of course) credit for the poisoning death of King Joffrey, and their conversation reveals more.
“Together, we murdered a king,” Olenna reminds Littlefinger.
Aha! It was a collaborative effort. Thank you for the service.

BRONN
Looks like Bronn has a new girlfriend in Tyene Sand. Their courtship apparently began in the last episode with their skirmish over custody of Myrcella Baratheon. Thrown into adjacent Dornian prison cells, they engage in a debate over whether she is the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. Tyene employs a pair of unfair tactics, also letting him know that she poisoned him with the knife slash she administered during the fight. If he will admit that she is, in fact, the most beautiful woman in the world, she will give him the antidote.
He does, and she tosses him the the vial containing the antidote. Considering that the poison has blurred his vision and caused him to collapse, Bronn makes an amazing catch and quaffs the antidote. Romance is not dead.

SAM
Samwell’s fortunes keep sliding downhill at Castle Black – Jon leaves on his mission to save the Wildlings; Maester Aemon dies; Sam gets stomped in defending Gilly. Events take an upward turn, however, when a grateful Gilly and Sam do the horizontal hokey-pokey – well, Sam is horizontal, anyway, still recovering from his beating.
Sam’s response to this development?
“Oh, oh my!”

Person of Interest Finale Held Fanatic Fans Hostage

Warning: This blog contains spoilers for anyone who has not up to date on Person of Interest episodes.

There’s nothing like a cliffhanger TV finale to keep fans at a fever pitch, especially when a network hasn’t announced whether the episode ended the season or the series.

Viewers were left hanging when Person of Interest aired “YHWH,” episode 22 of its fourth season, on May 5. Rumors that the series was done ran rampant. CBS kept fans hanging for nearly a week until a 13-episode fifth season was announced.

I was awed by the ending scene of the finale, as main characters, including The Machine, faced death while Pink Floyd’s “Welcome to the Machine” blared in the background. Fears of cancellation overpowered the depth I saw in this episode.

The conversation Finch had with The Machine in this episode was touching and revealing. The Machine addressed Finch as “Father,” not “Admin.” The Machine’s apology for failure, questioning her/his/its life purpose and thanking Finch for creating it showed how much it has evolved beyond hardware circuits, programming code and a Boolean algebraic perception of the world. The Machine has become, as Mr. Spock might have observed, illogical – not unlike the humans it protects.

A whole lot of gray was stirred up in Coldblooded Killer Greer’s assertion that Samaritan is the Good Guy in the AI battle. The current condition of the world makes it hard to deny that Humanity needs an angry, Old Testament-style Yahweh ready, willing and able to smite all who offend it with corrective action, i.e. execution. On the other side is the Machine, allowing Humanity to have free will up the point where it must intervene. This offers plenty of philosophical separation for continuing conflict.

If CBS had definite plans to ax Person of Interest, it had a perfect set-up to end it all in the wall of Samaritan bullets Finch, Reese and Root faced (and would probably not have survived in reality) as the episode ended. The door was left open to what could and now will be an incredible fifth season.

I was overjoyed that the network chose to walk through that door rather than slam it shut.

The fourth season of this superb series had numerous key moments. Heading the list was the apparent shooting death of a regular character, Shaw, by Samaritan agents in early January. The rest of the team became resigned to her death, with even The Machine telling them to give up the search.

Shaw’s status was kept in the dark until late April, when fans got a glimpse of Shaw in a vehicle side-mirror as it sped away from a one-step-behind Root. Root’s frantic search for Shaw in this episode elicited fear that she might have simply been chasing a well-crafted Samaritan illusion fueled by her own renewed hope. Accustomed to having Root ride to the rescue in multiple episodes, I tend to lose sight of the fact that Root entered the series as a villain who kidnaps Finch.

Confirmation of Shaw’s continued existence reinforced my suspicion that The Machine wanted the team to stopping looking for Shaw because it wants an asset inside the Samaritan organization. Perhaps the next season will bring an AI tug-of-war for control of Shaw’s mind. Samaritan would be the underdog in that contest, given Shaw’s loyalties and mental toughness.

Person of Interest is an action-packed, regularly humorous take on the larger issue of human existence and its uneasy relationship with advanced technology. CBS made an excellent decision to give another season. I hope the show tallies enough eyeballs to motivate the network to not only extend its next season but give it numerous additional full-length seasons.

Sansa, Sansa, Sansa!

Warning: This blog contains spoilers for anyone who has not yet watched the featured or preceding Game of Thrones episodes. I am writing from the perspective of someone who has not yet read the George R.R. Martin books on which the HBO series is based. If making comments, please refrain from pointing out discrepancies between the novels and the series or revealing anything which might come in the series based on book knowledge.

The most disturbing development as the Game of Thrones entered the second half of its fifth season May 17 was Sansa Stark actually becoming the bride of the psychopathic sadist Ramsay Bolton.

Watching Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken, I envisioned several ways by which Sansa might have been spared the brutal wedding night deflowering by Ramsay: In descending order of probability – Brienne of Tarth bursting through the door and cutting Ramsay in half with Oathkeeper; Theon “Reek” Greyjoy regaining a microscopic shred of his manhood and slitting Ramsay’s throat from behind; or Sansa producing a well-hidden dagger and doing the deed herself. I have high hopes that Ramsay will still meet the lingering and painful death he so richly deserves sometime in the remaining four episodes of the season.

Meanwhile, still on the road to Meereen, Tyrion Lannister’s perpetually wagging tongue, for once, proved useful. I was surprised that the slavers took the Imp’s word that the body part they thought to be the most marketable was not proportional to his stature. How long before they find out that his severed head would fetch a better price?

Down in Dorne, I was not surprised that Jaime Lannister and Bronn – despite their fiendishly clever, impenetrable disguises as Dorne guards – quickly failed in their attempt to rescue Myrcella Baratheon, Jaime’s “niece” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more). Bronn’s initial reaction to squaring off against the Sand Snakes, Dorne’s elite, all-female fighting force, and his off-handed compliment at the end of the skirmish were both funny.

A major story arc apparently “on hold” this episode was that of aspiring Seven Kingdoms Queen Daenerys Targaryen, who appears to be unwilling to leave Meereen before she has established a permanent, slavemaster-free society. The Unsullied have proven ineffective in urban pacification efforts, and Dany seems to have reconsidered feeding all the Meereen family heads (not to mention all of their attached body parts) to her dragons.

Her latest plan to marry one of the family heads seems to be yet another example of her inability to make effective decisions as a royal ruler. Why, in the Names of the Seven Gods, would she do that?

Has Dany become so bogged down in the Meereen power struggle that she has lost her way? Does she plan to settle down in the Meereen ‘burbs, raise a family and teach her dragons a repertoire of cute parlor tricks to amuse party guests; or does she still plan to take the Iron Throne?

She needs someone who does more than her bidding — leaving her no choice but to take Jorah Mormont back, whether she forgives him or not. Of course, Jorah’s capture by the slavers and his greyscale contraction pose obstacles to Jorah regaining his position as Dany’s advisor.

First Completely Recycled Television Season Planned

(New York, New York, July 10, 2016) – Coming this fall: A television season in which absolutely everything aired will be something you have seen before.

Long-jaded viewers may have anticipated this development over the past few decades, as networks have broadcast fewer new episodes of every series each season. Last year, the networks, ever mindful of their profit margins, committed to only two episodes for each new series. They authorized a mere six for returning hits, saving three of those for “sweeps” periods.

So much for the bad news. The good news is that even though viewers may never again see an entirely new television program, they may not know it.

The new season will be built on continuing exponential advances in computer power and three-dimensional modeling, which have enabled producers to mine the vast raw materials of past hits and re-manufacture them in an infinite variety of ways. Beloved actors and actresses, whether living or dead, can now reappear in digitally rendered “new” scenes, even uttering “new” dialog.

“We can digitally create ten ‘new’ 26-episode programs featuring anyone already ‘in the can’ for roughly what we paid in salaries for one hit show last year,” claimed Juan Morrtyme, television industry spokesman. “I think most viewers are going to be amazed by what we’ve been able to do with some of their old favorites.”

Although none of the networks plan to make previews of their new programs available before they air, complete schedules and synopses for the new season have been released. A sampling of announced offerings created from network pooled video resources follows.

WKRP in Minneapolis (Sundays, 8 p.m., CBS) – The zany adventures of an ensemble cast of misfits struggling to make a success of a mediocre Midwest radio station. Starring Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards, heartwarming but plucky associate news producer; Ed Asner as Lou Grant, crusty but malleable station manager; Gordon Jump as Arthur Carlson, bumbling station owner and aspiring appliance repairman; and Loni Anderson as Jennifer Marlowe, a mind masquerading as a voluptuous blonde secretary. Promised guest stars include Gavin MacLeod as luxury oceanliner captain Murray Stubing; Ted Knight as ineffectual on-air newsman Les Nessman; Jan Smithers as Georgette Franklin, Nessman’s girlfriend; and John Moffitt as the producer.

M*A*S*H*E*R (Mondays, 10 p.m., CBS) – The madcap mishaps of an ensemble cast of misfits struggling to make a success of a mediocre Mobile Army Surgical Hospital Emergency Room. Starring Alan Alda as Captain Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce, wisecracking but skilled surgeon who sets new standards in male sensitivity; Harry Morgan as Col. Sherman Potter, the unit’s gruff but infinitely wise administrator; George Clooney as Dr. Douglas Ross, a gifted but troubled visiting civilian doctor; and Anthony “Goose” Edwards as another, somewhat less troubled, civilian sawbones. Expected cameos will come from Loretta Swit as Nurse Carol Hathaway; Juliana Margulies as Maj. Frances Burns; Jamie Farr as Dr. Anna Del Amico; and DeForest Kelley as Dr. Leonard McCoy.

Mad About Seinfeld (Saturdays, 9 p.m., NBC) – The manic antics of an ensemble cast of misfits struggling to make a success of a mediocre marriage in the Big Apple. Starring Jerry Seinfeld as Paul Seinfeld, the earnest but confused husband; Helen Hunt as Jamie Buchman-Seinfeld, the difficult but lovable wife; Jason Alexander as George Seinfeld, Paul’s conniving but endearing brother; and Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Jamie’s incredibly ditsy but forgivable sister. Recurring roles will go to Michael Richards as Peter Van Nostrand, the Seinfelds’ properly British apartment neighbor; Brian George as Babu Bhatt, a luckless restaurant operator; and Jerry Mathers, as the Beaver.

All 117 internet television networks have fleshed out complete opening new season schedules employing the new technology, and they have a healthy stable of reconstituted mid-season replacements waiting in the wings. Among the more promising titles ready to take the stage are My Mother, Car 54; L.A. McBeal, That 70s Happy Days Show, Married Unhappily Ever After With Children, Charlie’s Angelwatch, My Favorite ALF and Oh Noooo!: the Mr. Bill Impeachment Hearings Show.

“With more than 60 years of television programming in our archives, the possibilities are endless,” Morrtyme concluded.

Taken from “FutureNews”

Truth Is An Amusing Concept

By Richard E. Berg