‘Game of Thrones’ fi­nal sea­son al­ready cre­at­ing buzz

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Neal Zoren Spe­cial to MediaNews Group Neal Zoren’s tele­vi­sion column ap­pears ev­ery Mon­day.

The eighth and fi­nal sea­son of “Game of Thrones” isn’t set to air un­til April 14, but al­ready there’s spec­u­la­tion about what the last sched­uled episodes might hold and a lot of an­tic­i­pa­tion about this pop­u­lar se­ries.

HBO has re­leased pho­tos and trail­ers, though no sub­stan­tial footage, from Sea­son 8, and pro­duc­ers have been leav­ing hints.

A cou­ple of things strike me as I see char­ac­ters walk­ing to­gether – Sansa Stark and Jon Snow, with Daen­erys omi­nously in the back­ground – or em­brac­ing in those trail­ers. Some of my im­pres­sions have less to do with “Game of Thrones,” a show I fol­lowed more pro­fes­sion­ally than as a fan, than with some trends in tele­vi­sion, es­pe­cially as re­gards ma­jor shows that go out of pro­duc­tion.

In talk­ing with Dom Gior­dano on his 9-to-noon WPHT (1210 AM) talk show Fri­day, I fig­ured one fam­ily or fac­tion might fi­nally unite the king­doms de­picted on “Thrones” but not so ab­so­lutely as to pre­clude se­quels, pre­quels, and other off­shoots.

Ge­orge R.R. Martin is a pro­lific fan­ta­sist who have all of fic­tion and a fa­vored genre at his com­mand. The pub­lic likes the “Game of Thrones” char­ac­ters and Martin has oth­ers, un­seen on the cur­rent se­ries he can bring out for their own se­ries while in­clud­ing some fig­ures from “Game of Thrones.”

J.K. Rowl­ing, an­other fan­ta­sist has wo­ven around the Harry Pot­ter sto­ries so that episodes from be­fore Harry was born and pos­si­ble new tales as Harry ages can be cre­ated. Harry is al­ready a ma­jor fig­ure on Broad­way and on Lon­don’s West End where a two-part play about him is win­ning awards and at­tract­ing au­di­ences.

Martin has the same mo­men­tum at dis­posal. David Be­nioff and D.B. Weiss are shrewd pro­duc­ers. They don’t seem the type to let a fran­chise fade. Just as Lon­don of­fers a slew of “Pot­ter” tours, start­ing usu­ally at King’s Cross Sta­tion, where the phan­tom plat­form to Hog­warts is sit­u­ated, there are al­ready tours of “Games of Thrones” lo­ca­tions in Ire­land. A new cas­tle is said to have been built in Belfast for Sea­son 8.

Most im­por­tantly, tele­vi­sion is not the only medium. Hit shows are find­ing their way to fea­ture film, some­thing “Star Trek” and “Mis­sion: Im­pos­si­ble” have done with a lot of suc­cess.

Right now, com­mer­cial movie ver­sions of “Break­ing Bad” and “The So­pra­nos” are in the works. These are meant to do more than ex­tend their fran­chises. They tell sto­ries that weren’t in­cluded in the se­ries de­spite years to tell the sto­ries. ‘Break­ing Bad” looks ahead. “The So­pra­nos” movie, “The Many Saints of Ne­wark,” looks to the fu­ture. Think of the wealth of fod­der Be­nioff and Weiss have if they choose to ex­pand “Game of Thrones,” which is far-reach­ing to be­gin with.

I’d look for some sur­prises, es­pe­cially in terms of al­liances, dur­ing “Thrones’s” last sea­son. I’d ex­pect some kind of off­shoot to emerge, a la “Bet­ter Call Saul” from “Break­ing Bad,” I would be sur­prised if at some point dur­ing the next decade, there is not a “Game of Thrones” movie, whether it con­tin­ues where the se­ries leaves off or takes some char­ac­ters and ex­plores them in more fo­cal depth.

Those who have never got­ten into “Game of Thrones” and are be­yond or re­moved from what fans feel have a great chance to catch up with the se­ries be­fore Sea­son 8 de­buts in April.

Most “Game of Thrones” sea­sons have 10 episodes. Sea­son 8 has six. So the home­work to un­der­stand it will take longer than the sea­son it­self.

No mat­ter. Xfin­ity has made it easy for its sub­scribers to be­come quick ex­perts in all things “Thrones.”

Dur­ing Fe­bru­ary, the ca­ble provider is of­fer­ing the first sea­son for free via its Xfin­ity Stream app.

Buscemi takes on a big role

When you think of cast­ing calls for God, Steve Buscemi is not the ac­tor who comes to mind.

Yet, tonight on TBS, Buscemi stars in a new se­ries, “Mir­a­cle Work­ers,” a com­edy which de­pict heaven as a busi­ness of­fice. The an­gel in charge of sift­ing through prayers and in­ves­ti­gat­ing the in­ter­est­ing ones is played by Daniel Rad­cliffe. High-pow­ered cast­ing, huh? It in­cludes Ti­tuss Burgess, Mar­garet Cho, and Tim Mead­ows.

Other shows de­but­ing this week are “Lorena,” a four-part take on Lorena Bob­bitt’s sev­er­ing of her hus­band’s pe­nis, as ex­plored by Jor­dan Peele on Net­flix on Fri­day; “The Um­brella Academy,” also Fri­day on Net­flix, about a fam­ily of su­per­heroes played by Ellen Page, Mary J. Blige, and Tom Hop­per among oth­ers; and “Proven In­no­cent,” also on Fri­day, but this time on Fox (Chan­nel 29) about a law firm that spe­cial­izes in ex­on­er­at­ing the un­justly con­victed. Kelsey Gram­mer stars in a cast that also fea­tures ‘

“Mad Men’s” Vin­cent Kartheiser and “Book of Mor­mon’s” Nikki M. James.

‘Doo­gie’ co-star on stage in Philly

“Doo­gie Howser” fans might be in­ter­ested to know one of the fea­tured ac­tors on that pro­gram, Lawrence Press­man, is cur­rently in the re­gion do­ing a stage turn at Philadel­phia’s Quin­tes­sence The­atre.

Press­man, who played Dr. Can­field, teenage Doo­gie’s su­per­vi­sor at the hos­pi­tal, is do­ing a far dif­fer­ent role in Quin­tes­sence’s en­gross­ing pro­duc­tion of “Awake and Sing,” by Philadel­phian Clif­ford Odets and run­ning through Sun­day, Feb. 24.

He’s the grand­fa­ther of the fo­cal char­ac­ter, Ral­phie, and an ar­dent So­cial­ist who brought his ideas from Europe and works to in­spire his grand­son, an early twen­tysome­thing, with them.

Press­man’s per­for­mance is one of sev­eral gems in di­rec­tor Max Shul­man’s il­lu­mi­nat­ing stag­ing of a well-made play that doesn’t just an­nounce his themes but de­picts a slice of life and has sub­plots that keep one in­ter­ested in ev­ery mem­ber of the De­pres­sion­era fam­ily be­set with dilem­mas even as it strikes one as ev­ery­day.

His decades of ex­pe­ri­ence show as Press­man ex­udes warmth and the dis­ap­point­ment of not be­ing heeded in the fam­ily he, by age, heads. Politics are part of his char­ac­ter, but it isn’t the aged fire­brand, talk­ing to the one per­son who lis­tens to him and seems to revere him that gets your at­ten­tion. It’s the com­plete­ness of his por­trayal. Press­man shows you the schol­ar­ship and life­long ded­i­ca­tion the grand­fa­ther has to a cause he, like Odets, thinks can im­prove the world. His­tory will prove him wrong, and his daugh­ter and fam­ily friends, are skep­ti­cal. Yet, grand­fa­ther per­sists while suf­fer­ing the slings and ar­rows or those who re­gard him as just a noisy old man.

“Awake and Sing” is a spe­cial pro­duc­tion. It demon­strates the value of the well-made play, the en­joy­ment found in broad-range sto­ry­telling, an ear for lan­guage of a time and place, and a style of play­writ­ing that isn’t in vogue but is su­pe­rior to all that is. One doesn’t have to agree with all Odets says, Press­man’s grand­fa­ther be­ing his voice, but the way he puts the Berger fam­ily on stage rings with re­al­ity only artistry can muster and shows the ups and downs an or­di­nary fam­ily en­dures as it strives for peace­ful survival and a mea­sure of hap­pi­ness.

Press­man shares the stage with other ex­cel­lent ac­tors, par­tic­u­larly Sab­rina Profitt, who gives a tough, mov­ing, in­tri­cately de­fined per­for­mance as a mother work­ing to keep a house­hold to­gether; Buzz Roddy, an­other na­tional tele­vi­sion veteran who is so real he barely shows signs of act­ing as Ral­phie’s suc­cess­ful un­cle; and Lee Cor­topassi as a neigh­bor­hood sharpie and petty crim­i­nal who does well and has strong feel­ings for Ral­phie’s sis­ter.

PHOTO COURTESY OF HBO

Emilia Clarke plays Daen­erys Tar­garyen in Sea­son 6 of ‘Game of Thrones.’

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