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It's 'Ask Mo' Time: Answering Questions on 'Game of Thrones,' 'Parks and Recreation,' 'The Good Guys' and More

by Maureen Ryan, posted Dec 17th 2010 1:30PM
Welcome to the latest edition of Ask Mo! Thanks, as always, for your good questions (by the way, one of them, which was about 'Fringe,' was answered here). Let's get started, shall we?

From Matt Notley: Are you as excited about 'Game of Thrones' next year as I am?

Mo here: Heck yeah! I've been avidly waiting for each behind-the-scenes featurette, photo and blog post from the 'GoT' team. George R.R. Martin, author of the book series on which the HBO show is based, noted on his Not a Blog that production had recently ended on the first season of the show, and he also said there might be some news on the show in early January (though 'GoT' itself reportedly won't premiere until some time in April).

Speaking of early January, that's when I'll be traveling to Los Angeles for the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour, at which the networks present their upcoming shows. At TCA on Jan. 7, there will be a panel discussion for the media featuring members of the show's cast, as well as David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the show's executive producers (I've already interviewed Martin once, that piece is here, and various TV Squad 'GoT' stories are here).

I normally don't go to the winter tour (summer tour is when fall shows are presented, and I always go to that), but this year I'm making an exception, partly due to the fact that HBO is screening footage from the 'GoT' pilot for critics. Is that a long way to go to see part of the pilot? Yes, but I really want to see it. And I'll be doing interviews as well and generally trying to keep 'GoT' fans as up-to-date as possible. (Of course, I'll be doing interviews and features on other shows while I'm in L.A. Anything to justify being away from frosty Chicago for a week.)

UPDATE: I've gotten some updated info about what will be shown at TCA and have slightly reworded the paragraph above as a result. The length of that 'GoT' footage is yet to be determined, but some footage will be shown to critics.

So yes, you could say I'm excited about 'GoT.' The footage that has aired in promos and featurettes is exciting and the cast looks excellent. But truth be told, as I've mentioned on Twitter, the Daenerys scenes give me pause. Let me be clear: They may end being my favorite part of the show, or they may being perfectly acceptable and integrated into the show well. I have no idea. But, in the glimpses I've seen, those scenes, as I said, give me pause. I know the exiled royal Dany and her brother, Viserys, are supposed to have white-blond hair, but the fact that those actors are wearing wigs looks very obvious to me. It's wigging me out a little.

I certainly don't mean to nitpick, but the fact is, before filming on 'GoT' even began, I was a little worried about the Dany segments in general. She's not my favorite character in the books, so I feel that 'GoT has to really nail that storyline with the casting, hair, makeup, costumes and, of course, the writing and acting for me to care about that part of the saga in any meaningful way. Given that Dany's story line takes place far away from the rest of the action, there's a danger that everything about it could seem remote, odd and hard to invest in.

Truly, I'm hoping the hair and the rest of the aesthetic elements in those story lines were executed at the level I expect from HBO shows. I hope that I'll be fully immersed in those scenes without thinking about those details. I want to come to care about the TV version of Dany as much as I care about the rest of the characters in the novel 'Game of Thrones.' We'll just have to see.

From Katie71483: Have you heard any rumors about two of my favorite actors, Enver Gjokaj and Jason Dohring, making a return to TV any time soon?

Mo says: As it happens, Gjokaj was just cast yesterday in a pilot for a USA show called 'Eden.' Given that he'll be playing a con man in the show, my fond hope is that the new show will allow him to show off his tremendous range and his wide variety of comedic and dramatic skills.

I haven't heard anything about Dohring (who had a great guest turn on 'Lie to Me' this year), but here's a bit of happy casting news: Jack Huston has been made a series regular for season 2 of 'Boardwalk Empire.' He was a sensational addition to the terrific cast of that HBO show. I look forward to more Richard Harrow stories next year.

From Craig Ranapia: 'Tis the season and all that, so how do you feel about the fine TV tradition of the very special Christmas episode? Has there ever been one that doesn't make you want to get all Anti-Claws? (Adam in Chicago also asked about this.)

Mo says: I'm sure I'm forgetting dozens of worthy holiday episodes (and I'm intentionally forgetting the hundreds of snoozy ones), but a few good ones that sprang to mind immediately are: 'Supernatural's' 'A Very Supernatural Christmas,' which captured the show's smart, subversive take on genre conventions very well; 'A Benihana Christmas,' a great hourlong 'Office' episode from 2006 (it featured Michael's unforgettable "Bros before Hos" speech); 'The Best Chrismukkah Ever,' the first holiday episode of 'The O.C.,' which featured Seth and Summer kissing while the latter wore a Wonder Woman costume; 'The Big Bang Theory's' 'The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis,' in which Sheldon received some of Leonard Nimoy's DNA and his reaction was priceless.

Those are only a few recent good holiday episodes, I know there are many more I didn't mention. Readers, share your favorite Christmas episodes in the comment area!

From George: I am wondering with the cancellation of 'Terriers.' It seems to me that it [was] the highest quality series that FX has ever produced. Does this mean I should not expect FX to ever produce a adult[-sensibility] show like this ever again?

From Eva: I literally hit the ceiling learning that 'Terriers' is no more! It was such a fine show. The [theme] music was so interesting -- I wanted to download it to my phone. Turns out it is unavailable for the download!

Mo says: To George, I wouldn't be worried. FX has been making risk-taking, intelligent fare for almost a decade, and I have no fears that the network is going to stop now. By the way, a reader named Lyle asked if it's worth watching 'Terriers' even though the show only lasted one season. Absolutely! It doesn't end on a cliffhanger, and as a whole, the season is extremely rich and satisfying. Don't deny yourself the experience of the show just because there won't be a sequel, as it were.

As for the 'Terriers' ringtone, I put "Terriers FX theme ringtone" into Google and got back hits for sites that sell that ringtone. If you're concerned about the legality of that, Rob Duncan's 'Gunfight Epiphany,' the song that the TV show's theme was excerpted from, is available in its entirety on iTunes.

Two last 'Terriers' notes: A script signed by the show's cast and producers is one of the things for sale in the ongoing Swag for Charity auction. If the bidding for that item is already too high for you, check out the dozens of other TV-related items for sale. And if you want Fox to release a 'Terriers' DVD set, call this number, 888-223-4369, or email foxdrop@4icc.com and tell them you want Hank and Britt on DVD!

Lyle also asked: Do you think there will be another 'Stargate' series?

Mo says: Lyle is referring to Thursday's news about the cancellation of 'Stargate Universe,' which means that there will be no 'Stargate' TV shows in production for the first time in 13 years. That's a little sad; I was a fan of the 'Stargate' TV franchise in general, though not a fan of 'SGU.'

I do think that the 'Stargate' shows had one of the sturdiest plot devices out there -- what if space travelers could, via wormholes, arrive instantaneously at far-off destinations across the galaxy? That core concept was a good engine for stories, and when the episodes and ongoing arcs contained a spark of creativity and the spirit of camaraderie, 'Stargate SG-1' and 'Stargate Atlantis' were solidly enjoyable.

But let's face it, over time, the 'Stargate' franchise began cycling through the same set of stories -- the same half-dozen plots kept cropping up again and again, and the execution and characterizations were, at times, rote, predictable and lazy. As I said in this piece about the show's cancellation, I think it's time to give the 'Stargate' franchise a rest, then reinvent it in a few years with new ideas and fresh blood. As a fan of televised science fiction that actually involves space travel, I'd hate to see the 'Stargate' concept go away forever.

From Ellie Murasaki: Are they seriously leaving Adam in Lucifer's cage on 'Supernatural'? After everything they said about how being there screwed Sam up? Sam at least chose to be there.

Mo says: I know what you mean, Ellie. This dangling plot thread bothers me too. I know that in the current season of the show, the definitions of family and the "family business" are going through some revisions, but you'd think the Winchesters would care a bit more about their half-brother. (Speaking of dropped plot threads, I still wonder what the heck is up with that wee anti-Christ the show introduced last year. Is he just wandering around being ... anti-Christ-y?)

UPDATE: My good friend, TV blogger Vlada Gelman, noted that Kripke addressed the wee anti-Christ at Comic-Con in the press room. Vlada's report is here.

By the way, several people asked if I thought there would be a seventh season of 'Supernatural' and if I think there should be one. I have no insider knowledge on that front, but I think the CW would be crazy not to give the show another year. It's doing well, it has a rabid fan base that isn't going anywhere and once 'Smallville' ends in May, the network is going to need a show to hold down the fort on Friday nights. It seems like an easy call to me.

And sure, I'd like another season of the show. If I felt 'Supernatural' had entered a period of decline, I'd be much more hesitant to say that. Despite the occasional wobble, it only got more ambitious and creative during the five seasons that Eric Kripke was showrunner, and in the hands of its new showrunner, Sera Gamble, the show has found renewed energy and shows no signs of resting on its laurels. In my view, it's as creative and crafty as ever. Plus Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki are giving great performances, year after year. If they want to stick around, so do I.

From Daniel: Does next year in TV look more promising than this year? Do you think 'The Event' will be cancelled? Any news on 'The Good Guys' returning for a second season? I know it will be unlikely.

Mo says: 'The Good Guys' has been canceled, sorry. As for 'The Event,' 'FlashForward's' mid-season break last season did nothing good for that show, so I'm not optimistic about the NBC drama, which had lost me as it headed into the final stretch of fall episodes.

As for next year, I am hopeful that we'll have some interesting new fare to chew on and argue about. Every year that I've been a TV critic, some new gems have arrived on the scene, and I hope 2011 will be no different. It's tough when good new (or new-ish) shows are canceled, as happened several times this year. But every year, I have trouble whittling my Best TV of the Year list down to a manageable length.

My fondest hope is that the broadcast networks develop better shows in future. The new programs offered by the broadcast networks in 2010 were, for the most part, safe, derivative and tired. Let's hope the networks start taking more chances, or cable is going to stomp them again when it comes to the quality of freshman shows.

From Diego: I don't like not watching every episode in a series, but in this case, do you think [I should skip the first season of 'Parks and Recreation']? Does season 2 make the relationships and plotlines set up by season 1 [easy to follow] for the new viewer?

Mo says: Skip season 1. The first season of 'Parks and Recreation' is not only pretty bad, but the show also made a number of necessary changes to the characters to make them more appealing. In essence, the Leslie Knope of season 1 doesn't bear a huge resemblance to the Leslie Knope of season 2 and beyond. They're similar, I guess, but the season 1 Leslie is much more annoying. I'd hate for you to watch that season and wonder what all the fuss is about, because the fact is, 'Parks and Recreation' is now a terrific show and that process began very early in season 2. I say plunge straight in to season 2. It's not going to be hard to understand the characters and their relationships -- that's all sketched out quite deftly. I hope you enjoy season 2 (and don't forget, season 3 begins Jan. 20).

From Carl: I would love to know how you got started being a TV critic. Consider it your own 'Lost' flashback episode.

Mo says: Kind of you to ask, Carl! About seven years ago, I was working at the Chicago Tribune as an arts editor, but writing about TV and pop culture on the side. The paper's TV critic went on a one-year leave, and myself and a colleague filled in while he was gone. When the critic returned, he wanted to transfer to a new job, so I kept going in the TV job, which I did solo from that point onward. Eventually I was named the Tribune's TV critic, and the rest, as they say, is history!

If you want to go back further into the dark ages, before I joined the Tribune, I was a staff editor/writer at two different magazine companies, I freelanced a ton (usually writing about music) and I started on the journalism path by getting a Masters degree from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. (Does it make it a certain sort of 'Lost'-y sense that half this career history was told going backward?) In any case, that's how I got here. No time travel involved, unless you count the fact that I managed to stay 22 this entire time (though my meat suit disagrees).

Note to Alison: You asked a great question. I hope to give it the attention it deserves early in 2011.

Previous Ask Mo columns are here, here, here and here (that last one is in podcast form, and it's also available on iTunes)

Follow @MoRyan on Twitter.

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Craig Ranapia

Oh, and pardon my terrible manners but thanks for answering my question! Have a great Christmas and New Year's Eve, and may 2011 be as fabulous as you are!

December 20 2010 at 7:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Craig Ranapia

Mo wrote:
(Speaking of dropped plot threads, I still wonder what the heck is up with that wee anti-Christ the show introduced last year. Is he just wandering around being ... anti-Christ-y?)

I reply:
Well, Kripke's right -- they wrote themselves into the same corner as TV Trek did with The Borg. They're the ultimate leather-clad bad asses of the Trek-i-verse, right? Well, no - because if they assimilate everyone and go on their cheerfully genocidal way you've just committed franchise suicide. So, they keep getting beaten, and watered down until the last season of Voyager where Seven of Nine ends up as den mother to a pack on insanely irritating Borg Babies.

December 20 2010 at 8:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mo Ryan

Thanks, Carl!

Zac - I will!

Hey Kimmer! You will lurv S2 of Parks and Rec, I bet. Let me know how it goes. As for Sparty, you know, I get it, as Dean Winchester would say ;) It's kind of ick until about episodes 4-5. Once you get to eps 6-7-8-9, you will truly be into it. I hope! :)

Stacey, I know, it's like, at least Sam and Dean have each other. To have their lil bro stuck in hell and them not really care? Sort of weird, but then they have bigger fish to fry at the moment.

Adam, we're in total agreement about the GoT aesthetic elements. They may work on the screen, or they may not. I think the jury is out, very much so, on the Dothraki/Dany elements. I always pictured Khal Drogo as of course very strong and a man with great presence, but Momoa mainly looks big and beefy -- which I understand, but it's not how I pictured the character in my mind's eye. I always saw him as very strong and brutal, but more lean and mean, you know? As for the other Dany elements and the whole look of that milieu, I am reserving judgment until I see the finished product, but I really hope doesn't have the look of a more predictable and/or cheeseball fantasy epic. Agreed that everything to do with the other settings in the books looks pretty great.

The danger with GoT is that the production team is not only competing with what the book says, but with what readers of the novels have pictured in their minds. That's a lot to contend with and I'm hoping I can look at their vision with an open mind.

December 18 2010 at 2:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Mo Ryan's comment

I wonder if they plan on fixing Dany's hair and eyes in post-production. It would be weird to see them change her eye color to violet at this point since we've seen so many shots of her with the blonde wig and with her natural eye color. I think she looks much better in the latest trailer where her hair looks more blonde than white. Also, I am rooting for Emilia because she seems so excited and into the role. Dany is one of my long list of favorites. I never though about there being a disconnect with her story, but I see your point.

The only other thing I worry about is the accents. I hope they fix the sound quality because it was kind of difficult to understand what the actors were saying in the Inside GoT feature (I'm talking about the Benjen & Jon scene and Jory & Ned scene).

December 18 2010 at 1:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Mo, I share your concerns over the Targ hair. In some previews they seem to work, in others they seem obviously like wigs. I think this may partially be down to the disconnect of seeing them only in short bursts: once we're seeing them in-situ, I suspect they'll work better. Wigs can be hit or miss in general, although at the moment I'm more concerned about Jason Momoa's guyliner. At the wedding as some sort of ceremonial make-up, fair enough, but he still seems to have it in later scenes as well.

There seems to be a concern that some of the rich detail and clear descriptions of the cultures in the books seems to be being neglected in favour of HBO letting their costume, make-up and props department exercise their own creativity. Laudable, but the results could well be patchy and in the case of the Dothraki make-up situation, rather silly-looking.

In general I'm very happy indeed with the look of the Castle Black/Wall and Winterfell stuff (that material looks like it's come straight out of the books) and mostly encouraged over the King's Landing material, where it looks like the deviations from the books may work a lot better.

December 18 2010 at 9:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thanks for some good and interesting answers!

I agree with you on GoT. It looks absolutely amazing, and they have a wonderful cast and crew (as far as I can tell from what's out there). But I'm worried about Dany too. She is one of my favourite characters, mostly because of the journey she makes as a person. But her story is almost completely cut off from the rest of the action, meaning that Cecilia Clarke will have to absolutely kill in the part for people to be interested in her story. I have no doubts that Harry Lloyd will do an amazing job as Viserys but he's not the main focus there.

I'm not worried about the wigs though. Seriously from the description (shining silver-gold) it could have been much much worse. Platinum blond is a good take on it. I think Cersei's hair looks worse on some pictures, but I'm sure it will look better after post production. I just hope they leave the Targaryens purple eyes out...

December 18 2010 at 8:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Stacey Kade

So glad to hear Dean at least ask about Adam in the most recent SPN episode (and an AWESOME ep, it was!) I sincerely hope Adam will not get lost in the shuffle. Sam and Dean at least have each other (well, sort of. On good days. When everyone is all soul-y and not drinking demon blood or stuck in hell, etc.). Adam doesn't have anybody. :(

December 17 2010 at 11:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hey, Mo! Thanks for answering questions. Just so you know. Parks and Rec is my next holiday/hiatus marathon project. I have the S2 DVDs and hope to start this weekend. I still have Spartacus on my list, but had a hard time getting past ep 2. I know it starts badly, so will try to soldier thru.

I loved your Christmas eps list, especially SPN and Big Bang Theory. Sheldon's squee at having Nimoy's DNA will live forever in my happy memories.

The only Christmas ep that comes to mind would be Buffy's S3 ep Amends. There was much Angel angst and drama (my favorite flavor) and it snowed in Sunnydale. Kinda sappy, but at the time I loved it to bits.

December 17 2010 at 8:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Richard Ott

Hi, Mo! There's a new 11 minute Sesame Street segment
being planned in China called "Big Bird Visits The
World". Is Carol Spinney going to dub his voice for
the english version of that segment on Sesame Street
for its 42'nd season, or are there any plans for a
TV Movie sequel to Big Bird In China & Japan, starring
Big Bird & his furry traveling partner, Barkley? I'm
a huge fan and follower of Sesame Street & The Muppets
since 1976, and I've never missed a single episode!

December 17 2010 at 6:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Crap! No more Good Guys! I enjoyed the show a lot (except for the unrelenting flashbacks) and will miss BW's 'stache and one liners.

December 17 2010 at 3:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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