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TV Wasteland: The Game Is On
Game of Thrones returns for a second season
By Rob Vaux
March 25, 2012
Game of Thrones returns this Friday, generating the kind of intense fanboy frothing usually reserved for the terms “Christopher Nolan” and “Batman Movies.” Not that it’s unwarranted. The HBO series achieved what many genre fans considered impossible: a nuanced, well-developed version of a beloved literary series that did right by existing fans while remaining accessible to new ones.
More importantly, it demonstrated that popular fantasy series could become viable TV properties in the right hands, opening up the possibility for more such series in the future. The Dark Tower has already been batted around like a kitten’s toy, but what genre lover would salivate at least a little at the prospect of, say The Chronicles of Amber or the Mistborn series as an ongoing TV show? Game of Thrones made all that possible, and for that, it deserves our respect.
More importantly, it’s a solid show. While not quite as brilliant as its most ardent fans proclaimed, it delivered reliable and intelligent storytelling week after week: aided by strong turns from the likes of Peter Dinklage and Sean Bean. The new season has a lot of questions to answer (Will the Starks avenge their murdered patriarch? Are Daenerys’s dragons going to get any bigger? Is someone going to slap the taste out of that little punk Joffrey’s mouth?), which might cause problems with other series. But with the George R.R. Martin novels providing a water-tight blueprint, the producers can move forward with confidence… and the fans can avoid fretting about a potential dip in quality. (Which isn’t to say it won’t happen, only that the possibilities are smaller than they might be with other shows.) Said quality gets underway this Sunday, April 1, at 9:00 PM EST on HBO. I probably don’t need to urge you to tune in.
Alcatraz (Fox, 8:00 PM EST)
The clock is ticking on Alcatraz, which looks headed for certain cancellation after struggling for ratings. Tonight’s two-part season finale is likely the last you’ll see of it, so have a look while you can!
Being Human (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
Sally tries to make amends for past sins, while Josh contemplates the whole “Nora vs. Julia” dilemma.
Lost Girl (Syfy, 10:00 PM EST)
Dyson may or may not have murdered Ba’al. He can’t remember… though judging by the blood involved, somebody got themselves good and killed.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (HBO, 9:00 PM EST)
Part II should be along fairly soon, but the set-up is still a thing to behold.
Breaking In (Fox, 9:00 PM EST)
Oz has to bend over backwards to prove a given employee’s identity, even though said employee might not actually exist.
Star Trek (FX, 7:30 PM EST)
The reset button can be a beautiful thing sometimes, can’t it?
Green Lantern (HBO, 6:15 PM EST)
Basic cable actually feels like the place for this mediocre comic book adaptation, but for now, it’s on premium cable. Oh well.
Sucker Punch (HBO, 8:30 PM EST)
Zack Snyder can’t possibly hate women this much, can he?
Ghost Hunters International (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
Our globetrotting team travels to Antwerp and Italy in search of European hauntings.
Monster Man (Syfy, 10:00 PM EST)
The team has to build exploding ants and bi-mechanical horrors for upcoming film projects.
Die Hard (AMC, 8:00 PM EST)
You can’t keep a good lone-cop-vs.-building-full-of-terrorists story down.
The Last Legion (IFC, 8:00 PM EST)
You can make a fun drinking game counting all of the slumming stars in this mess of a historical fantasy story.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Starz, 9:00 PM EST)
This is better than its reputation suggests, gratuitous use of Penelope Cruz nothwithstanding.
The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8:00 PM EST)
New episodes return as Sheldon thinks that Mr. Spock is speaking to him. Leonard Nimoy guest stars; I can’t imagine who they want him to play…
Touch (Fox, 9:00 PM EST)
Martin finds a homeless man with a similar fixation on numbers as Jake, while Teller visits Jake’s home.
The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8:00 PM EST)
Damon and Stefan conspire to kill Klaus, even as Klaus starts putting the squeeze on Bonnie. Just another day on The Vampire Diaries…
The Secret Circle (The CW, 9:00 PM EST)
A witch hunter drops in on Jake with a message for Blackwell, while Faye and Melissa strike a bargain with Adam.
Swordfish (AMC, 8:00 PM EST)
This may be the sleaziest film you’ll ever love. Seriously.
WarGames (AMC, 10:00 PM EST)
A blast from the Cold War past holds up quite well, about a boy who accidentally triggers a nuclear stand-off thanks to a computer game.
The Astronaut’s Wife (FMC, 9:00 PM EST)
If you want to see how bad a Johnny Depp movie can be, FMC has your back this week.
Seven (IFC, 8:05 PM EST)
Yup. Still awesome.
Tory (Syfy, 8:00 PM EST)
This one less so. If you need a Brad Pitt fix, you know where to look.
Fringe (Fox, 9:00 PM EST)
Peter takes on a very familiar case, even though the rest of the team thinks they’ve never seen its like before. Funky…
Grimm (NBC, 9:00 PM EST)
A spice shop owner dies under mysterious circumstances and Nick and Monroe check it out. In other news, I can’t believe I actually wrote the words “a spice shop owner dies under mysterious circumstances.”
Nikita (The CW, 8:00 PM EST)
Nikita remembers her early days with Amanda, even while Amanda finalizes her plan to take over the company.
Supernatural (The CW, 9:00 PM EST)
The Winchesters join Garth in battling one of those freaky Japanese monsters with the living hair and the trailing entrails and the walking at you backwards from the TV screen it just crawled out of. Or something.
Spartacus: Vengeance (Starz, 10:00 PM EST)
Glaber brings the pain, but Spartacus is ready to rally. If history is any judge, it was quite a rally indeed.
Merlin (Syfy, 10:00 PM EST)
Season Four comes to an end as Merlin leads Arthur to Excalibur in an effort to legitimize his rule.
X-Men: First Class (Cinemax, 8:45 PM EST)
Because even the X-Men can use a little swinging 60s now and then.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (FX, 7:30 PM EST)
I’m a supporter of this film, but even I’m going to punt it in favor of First Class.
Being Human (BBC America, 9:00 PM EST)
We are officially using the term “nerdy werewolf chick” in a non-ironic context. Proceed with caution.
Category 7: The End of the World (Syfy, 5:00 PM EST)
There’s nothing more depressing than a rerun of a Syfy Original Movie…
Seattle Superstorm (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
…unless it’s a Syfy Original Movie with a title that sounds like an arena football expansion team.
Iron Man (FX, 8:00 PM EST)
Personally, I prefer Thor to this one, though it’s awfully hard to hate regardless.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (IFC, 8:00 PM EST and 10:00 PM EST)
Not to be snarky, but if you guys were really independent, you’d show us the Tobe Hooper version once in a while.
The Green Hornet (Starz, 7:00 PM EST)
This can go away any time now.
Game of Thrones (HBO, 9:00 PM EST)
Robb Stark is pissed, Joffrey’s still a douche, and that chick with the dragons is ready to kick some ass. See the top of the article for more.
Once Upon a Time (ABC, 8:00 PM EST)
We finally find out why the Evil Queen hates Snow White… besides the fact that she’s an unmitigated bitch.
Reign of Fire (BBC America, 7:00 PM EST)
This fun little bit of popcorn holds up well, despite the fact that the gunships never actually attack the dragons.
Dune (BBC America, 9:00 PM EST)
In retrospect, it’s not half bad… though drinking helps.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (IFC, 10:00 PM EST)
Before it was a TV show, it was a movie… and a pretty good one at that.
Gothika (Syfy, 7:00 PM EST)
The first sign that Halle Berry might not have the best taste when it comes to scripts.
White Noises (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
Michael Keaton may have officially raised the white flag on his career with this dreadful effort.