Saturday, March 30, 2013

I'd Rather Be on the Throne, Playing a Game

When I was television critic for The Detroit News, and later for the (Detroit) Metro Times, I would be approached frequently by semi-jealous civilians who gushed, "Man, you got the best job in the world! All you do is sit on your a-- at home all day and watch TV! And you get paid for it!"

Well, to some extent, that was true.

However, I would quickly respond with two "Yeah, but"s: (1) I actually had to write about what I saw, which tended to cut into my TV viewing time; and (2) I really didn't get to choose what I wanted to watch. When you're a professional television critic you're expected to be knowledgeable about everything on television, the good, bad and too-often ugly. At some point you must see it all, and for every Seinfeld, there's a Cavemen; for each Sopranos, a Stars Earn Stripes.

Well, thank heaven it's a new age. Thanks to the blogosphere, I can write these posts about television for fun, and about the series and specials that interest me. I'm an amateur now. A dilettante. And in that light, I have a confession to make.

I have absolutely no desire to watch or review Game of Thrones. Does that make me a bad critic?

Love Peter Dinklage, but... (HBO Photo/Helen Sloan)
I fully understand that the HBO fantasy epic, which launches its passionately anticipated third season at 9 p.m. EST Sunday, March 31, has exploded into something of a worldwide cult obsession. A simple Bing search of the words "Game of Thrones" generates more than 20 million responses. It has its own language. References to the show seem to jump in your face everywhere you look. Sports Illustrated made a play on its name for the cover of the magazine's first "Power Issue."

And, predictably, every television critic and pop culture outlet on earth has weighed in this week on the blood and lust coming soon to a Westeros near you. Even Tom Long at my old workspace The Detroit News, arguably the worst movie critic in America, took time this week to praise Game of Thrones in glowing detail. (Has anyone had the nerve to mention to him that this is a TV show?)

I'm certain the series, which I'm told has more than its share of nudity and vulgarity, is a sight to see. I've been a big fan of Peter Dinklage (no pun intended) since The Station Agent a decade ago, and I hear he's something of a sex symbol here. (Bully for you, Pete!) Game of Thrones obviously boasts a fine cast, dense multilayered storylines and eye-popping scenery and special effects. And that's all wonderful and stuff.

But I'm just. Not. Interested.

Maybe it's a cultural thing. I never played a knight with an imaginary sword as a kid growing up in small-town Michigan, never fantasized about "Dungeons and Dragons" as a teen. I saw the Lord of the Rings trilogy and found it impressive, but not life-changing.

Actually, I think we're both better off here: I'm not forced to write about something I don't want to watch, having to overcome a possible inherent bias in the process, and you literally have millions of other sources who can wax about the third season of Game of Thrones with rhapsodic glee. Everybody's happy.

I'm chalking this up to just another of the many things about television I don't fully understand. I can think of 10 more without reaching for my remote:

• How The Jerry Springer Show can still be on the air after 22 seasons;

• The undeniable, intrinsic appeal of Duck Dynasty; 

• Why anybody still cares whether it's Jay or Jimmy at 11:35;

• Honey Boo-Boo (of course);

• The continuing explosion of bloody, gory, serial-killer dramas in prime time;

• The proliferation of bloody, gory, serial-killer reality series everywhere else;

• Why anybody who watches TV would voluntarily go on Judge Judy as a litigant;

• How too-cool-for-the-court, master-of-the-obvious Clark Kellogg manages to keep his job as lead analyst for CBS college basketball;

• How I can be the only person who thinks Jimmy Kimmel is the smarmiest, most unlikable person on television;

• Any Kardashian.

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