On March 30, students packed Tate Theater to get a sneak peak at HBO’s critically acclaimed shows "Game of Thrones," "Veep" and "Silicon Valley." Students were treated to an early release of the three shows through a joint effort from UGA's Peabody Award and HBO. The season premieres for these shows are scheduled for April 12.
"Game of Thrones"
We’ll begin with the show that drew the most applause and certainly had the most interest. I was rather blown away by how much support the show had, as the episode received a Sanford Stadium-esque clap as its opening montage rolled.
As for the episode itself, there was obviously going to be a drop off in shock-and-awe from the fantastic end of the fourth season. But what the episode, and series, did really well was manage to manufacture tense and important moments, even from things that seem to be relatively minor.
The episode, titled "Wars to Come," has its essential characters grappling with the idea of choices. Khaleesi continues her series long quest in trying to find the balance between compassion and ruthlessness as a queen. Does she let her dragons roam free and further establish her power or keep them chained up in order to prevent mass destruction?
Meanwhile, Jon Snow and his friends at the wall, grapple with the idea of pride and believing in one’s principles to a point of stubbornness.
The best part of the episode, and what has me most excited for this upcoming season, were the scenes with the now-exiled Tyrion Lannister and the Varys. While the episode did feel stretched at times, as this first episode felt like an SNL episode where some of the scenes felt like sketches that just bombed, the scenes with Tyrion and Varys are so fast paced and so excellently written that it feels more "The West Wing" than "Game of Thrones." The two misfits understand each other’s issues and use them to develop an ultimate plan to restore what they believe to be order to Westeros.
"Veep" opened up its fourth season with an episode that fluctuated from 0 MPH to 100 MPH rather quickly. The plot to every "Veep" episode is rather formulaic. Selina Meyer, now the president, has to do something big and important, but her lovable, odd staff screws up. Selena looks “dumb” and they all irritably reconcile their differences by the end of the show. The season premiere, titled "Joint Session," is no different.
All the regulars are back along with new cast member Patton Oswalt, who plays the Vice President’s chief of staff, Teddy. Teddy is rather hands on and has a hilariously uncomfortable scene with Jonah, who is as vulgar and awkward as ever.
Meyer’s staff all have their moments of individual glory, led by Dan’s quip, “I just saw my career flash before my eyes, It was impressive,” but there were two cast members who have had recurring roles in the past who shined the brightest last night.
The first is congressman Roger Furlong, played by Dan Bakkedahl. Furlong represents the vulgarity of the show at its peak and goes on a tirade at the around the climax of the episode that totally changes the episode. Furlong’s outburst turned the episode from a drawn out "Rocky" fight into a Mike Tyson knockout in about 10 seconds. Furlong’s expletive laden tirade sets in motion the staff screw-up and finally giving the episode a real disaster to root for. In the limited run Furlong has had on the show, he has been incredible in every episode. More of him please.
The other character that left me wanting more was Richard, Amy’s bumbling assistant, as he now runs the Meyer reelection campaign. Richard, played by Sam Richardson, is an idiot, but in a rather lovable way where the viewer roots for him if only to see his lovable gaffs.
The show is set in a world where so many of its characters are smart, ruthless and rather deplorable humans. Richard isn’t any of those things, which is why his scenes are a refreshing change of pace.
After juggling the real-life loss of Christopher Evan Welch, the boys from "Silicon Valley" finally lay his character, Peter Gregory, to rest. The show deals with Gregory’s surprising death in the only way it knows how. A small set of shock, followed by awkwardness, some crude humor and more awkwardness.
The Mike Judge creation knows always plays to its strengths. Richard, played by Thomas Middleditch, is just a really awkward human. Erlich, played the always wonderful T.J. Miller, is really abrasive and over-the-top. The show makes really good penis jokes. The show understands that it is supposed to be a show about a group of guys coming up in Silicon Valley. But it doesn’t have to be a serious show about a group of guys coming up in Silicon Valley.
The show sets itself up to undercut any and every serious moment it has. Monica goes to talk Richard out of taking a huge payday and the scene ends with, you guessed it, a penis joke. The show knows what it does well and doesn’t try to be anything more, which was also the theme of last night’s episode. You don’t need to grab everything you can because eventually you try to grab too much and end up failing.
The episode has its usual debauchery: Erlich putting his balls on someone’s desk, Richard making a tough decision and trying to become an adult, Richard trying to be Erlich like and failing rather miserably and even a real-life Winklevoss sighting.
The show may not be for everybody as it doesn’t try and cater to everyone’s sense of humor. But if you find it’s unapologetic humor and awkward moments enjoyable, there may not be a better show currently on television.