Goodbye HBO Now

HBO Now

I really enjoyed my trial subscription of HBO Now. Yes, that is past tense. We cut the cord a long time ago so it was really nice to finally get an opportunity to watch Game of Thrones, Last Week with John Oliver, and the rest. Here’s the problem: since we have Netflix and Hulu, the only thing we have time for on HBO is Game of Thrones and John Oliver and for that we pay double what we pay for Netflix, which has essentially an unlimited supply of movies.

Last episode (as I write this, not as you read it), Game of Thrones once again used rape as a lazy plot device. /sigh. Controversy generates numbers and free advertising and polarizes viewers.

I may be in my 50s but I am still a teenage boy at heart. I enjoy the gratuitous nudity in Game of Thrones and elsewhere. I also enjoy Game of Thrones gritty realism in terms of violence.

Enjoying those is somewhat titillating but I don’t enjoy rape scenes at all. Rape should never be trivialized. It is not that the subject is taboo or sacrosanct. Murder may seem a much worse crime than rape but that is not the way I see it. Statistically speaking, you are very unlikely to know someone who was murdered. You absolutely know many people who have been sexually assaulted, even if they don’t discuss it with you.

The most misogynistic part of this is that the character was raped so that Theon can get on with his storyline. The rape of a well-known and somewhat main female character was a catalyst, a plot device to spur a male character on.

With Peter Jackson’s Tolkien series over, Game of Thrones had a monopoly on the fantasy genre but just because you are the only game in town does not mean we have to play along.

So Game of Thrones will no longer be served at court. We will catch clips of John Oliver on YouTube. Goodbye HBO Now. While it is not likely to have any impact in this case, always vote with your dollars. Never support, financially or otherwise, a harmful cause.

Woohoo! HBO on Amazon Prime!

Amazon Prime

A long time ago, I said that if Amazon Prime wanted to distinguish itself, it would have to go big or go home. They have had some exclusives but most were just meh. Locking up Dora, SpongeBob, Team UmiZoomi, et al was a big feather in their cap. Netflix was still home for the adults.

A month or so ago, Amazon Prime announced a partnership with HBO. Today it went live. For once, the deal was actually MUCH better than announced. In point of fact, the content is simply amazing (albeit no Game of Thrones).

The Sopranos

* The Sopranos – The ENTIRE series!

Deadwood

* Deadwood – The ENTIRE series!

* The Wire – The ENTIRE series!

* OZ – The ENTIRE series!

* Seasons of True Blood, Treme, Carnivale, Big Love, Eastbound & Down, Six Feet Under, Flight of the Conchords, In Treatment, Extras, Generation Kill, Bored to Death, and Boardwalk Empire

* Full miniseries – Band of Brothers, The Pacific, Rome, John Adams, Mildred Pierce, Angels in America, and many more!

* Family Tree, Parade’s End, When the Levees Broke, You Don’t Know Jack, Hemingway & Gellhorn, Too Big to Fail, Little Britain USA, Twist of Faith, The Special Relationship, The Sunset Limited and still more!

* Comedy specials from Ellen DeGeneris, George Lopez, Lewis Black, Will Ferrell, Jim Jefferies, Bill Maher, Robert Klein, and Will Ferrell

I hope this deal lasts for a long time because I have sooooo much to watch.

HBO for FREE – Amazon Woohoo!

The Sopranos

Well only sort of FREE. Something called the HBO Collection is coming to Amazon Prime on May 21st. If you have Amazon Prime then you get it for FREE. If you don’t, then you can always sign up for a FREE month and spend that month watching classic HBO.

True Blood

Full details are not yet available but it appears as though it will be the full series of The Sopranos and at least the first seasons of True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, Deadwood, and The Wire. I would expect Deadwood and The Wire to be the full runs as they have been off air for quite some time and are only three and five seasons respectively.

Deadwood

No word yet on other series like Rome, Treme, Oz, Six Feet Under, etc. nor miniseries like Band of Brothers, The Pacific, Mildred Pierce, and others.

Cancer, Cable, and Costs

* Cancer is a hot button issue at our house with our having lost my best friend after a grueling three-year battle and my beloved father-in-law after a grueling six-year battle. As a result all you have to do to get me to read an article is use the C word in the headline.

I was sorry to hear that Roger Ebert’s cancer has returned. I enjoy his columns even if I disagree strongly with some of his opinions. I thought it was wonderful that even though cancer robbed him of the ability to speak, he still produced quite a volume of work. This latest setback has him taking “a leave of presence”, a phrase I particularly liked.

Beyond the Valley of the Dollsolls

Update: I wrote this the day before he passed. He will definitely be missed. R.I.P. film critic extraordinaire and writer of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

* We cut the cord here a long time ago. If you haven’t, you should. Barring that, Consumer Reports states that Verizon’s FiOS is the best bundle option although it is not available in our area. We dropped cable TV when the one-year bundling contract ran out and haven’t looked back.

* Both DirecTV and Dish network have some nice bundling plans BUT the plans are good for one year and lock you into a two-year contract. You might have to sell a kidney for what they charge on that second year.

* As if we didn’t have enough streaming services, Intel is working on a streaming service with NBC Universal, Time Warner, Viacom and others. I’m not sure how they think they will do better than Netflix’ $8 a month for all the movies and old TV you could watch or Hulu’s $8 for most current TV. If only Hulu would get CBS on board and/or Netflix get HBO or Showtime.

Game of Thrones

* Speaking of HBO, naturally the third season premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones was the most torrented episode ever. If you won’t allow access to your program legally (by making the price barrier ridiculously high), people will steal it. I’m not on any moral high ground here but I am annoyed that I will have to wait for the box set next year.

Winter is coming, HBO! Winter is coming!

Awesome Game of Thrones – HBO No Go

We just finished the first season box set of A Game of Thrones last night. Unfortunately neither this nor any other HBO series is available on instant Netflix.

Game of Thrones

“Originally airing on HBO, this live-action fantasy series — based on George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels — charts the violent efforts of competing noble families to gain control of the vacant Westeros throne.”

You might think from the cover shot that Sean Bean is the star of the series. If there is a central character then yes Sean Bean’s Eddard Stark is that character but the brilliance of Game of Thrones lies in the depth and breadth of its ensemble cast. Everyone is really good, from veterans like Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister) and Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) to newcomers Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) and Maisie Williams (Arya Stark).

The standout here is Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister. He is an absolute delight and steals every scene he is in. He won an Emmy for his role. The fabulous clockwork map titles also won an Emmy and the series was nominated for eleven others.

Game of Thrones is a fantasy in the same sense that the new Battlestar Galactica was science fiction – it is true but it’s more of a milieu to discuss other topics. For Game of Thrones, this is a showcase  for politics. King Baratheon is obviously modeled heavily on King Henry VIII. There are a number of other historical parallels such as the Borgias and the Mongols, though each of George R.R. Martin’s characters are fully fleshed. My wife, who has read the first book, said that the show is accurate albeit with some compression of events.

The set design, writing, direction and cinematography are outstanding. Pacing is somewhat stately – this is definitely NOT a hack and slash, in spite of having recent Conan the Barbarian, Jason Momoa, playing Khal Drogo. Boy does that guy have muscles. The fantasy elements are very light but fit well into the storyline.

I watched this on Blu-Ray and the picture quality was phenomenal. This is one of the best looking Blu-Rays I own. If you still get discs from Netflix then I highly recommend putting this in your queue. I would really like HBO to offer HBO Go as a stand-alone service. I’m certainly not paying for cable TV and almost another $30 on top of that for HBO. Alternately I’d like to see a similar service from Showtime. Or perhaps just an ability to purchase individual episodes just after they air like I do with Walking Dead from Amazon.