Best show on TV right now? Definitely Yellowstone. Oh yea. Yellowstone. Hadn’t watched it yet, though I love shows that use a lot of country music, but for some reason, hadn’t dipped into Kevin Costner‘s latest addition to a really amazing body of work.

Was visiting my folks last week, and my Dad is a fan of the show, so one night, it was up in his recorded list to watch, and we did. The episode cued up was Season 3, Episode 7, the most recent aired being S3 Ep9. Watching it was seeing the characters and story arcs almost completely up to date. I have to say, watching your first episode of a multi-season show late in the current run is great.

When I got back home, I bought all three seasons from Amazon Prime, and binged. Just today, I came up to the that episode I watched with my Dad, and it was almost like watching it for the first time. I could see how each of the characters had grown, and how the stories had developed. As weird as it it might be, I highly recommend it.

Some of the things I thought when I watched S3 E7 the first time were pretty accurate, some weren’t, and a couple were “OH! I understand now!”

The one that’s funny was a makeup thing. I noticed that Kelly Reilly‘s character, Beth, had a mark under her left right eye. I noticed it in the first scene I saw with her. She and Costner’s character, John Dutton, Beth’s father, had an emotional father/daughter scene, in which she cries a little. I could see the tear running right down that mark under her eye, so I’m thought is that from her tears messing up her makeup on a previous take? I couldn’t believe they could be that sloppy. Then, I saw it in a later scene, and that mostly ruled the makeup accident unlikely. Then, watching the series from the beginning, I saw she didn’t have the mark early in the show.

Of course, once I worked my way through Yellowstone, the whole thing got cleared up for me!

It’s really great TV, and looking at the credits, I saw one of the big reasons why. Two of the driving forces behind the show are John Linson and his father, Art Linson. Kurt Sutter, the creator of Sons of Anarchy, has said that without John Linson, SOA would never have happened. Of course, Yellowstone isn’t quite as violent as SOA, but it has its moments. The family drama and sharp storytelling is there. The creator of the show, is Taylor Sheridan, who SOA fans know as Deputy Chief David Hale, who…Oops, almost spoiled. Anyway, Sheridan has a winner here, and I have to believe that one of the reasons is he clearly knows the subject matter he’s writing and producing about. Sheridan appears in a couple episodes as a rancher from Texas, whose equestrian skills are clearly not learned to ride for the show. He knows how, and shows it.

Game of Thrones Fans: What to do AFTER the Finale

I know, I know.
There are only 3 episodes left. What will you DO after the finale?
Fear not. I’ve got your back.

I hear a lot about the “originality” of the HBO production of Game of Thrones. Now, don’t get me wrong. I like the show. I loved the books, even though George R.R. Martin dramatically slowed down writing them, allowing the series to slide past the books in terms of telling the story. When told of his readers’ dissatisfaction, this was his reaction:

Some of this was…kinda complimentary, considering Martin isn’t a spring chicken any longer. He’s not that old, but still. Some readers are definitely concerned he’ll die before finishing the book series, and that would be…well, terrible.

But seriously, books aside, what are you going to do when GoT ends? I’ve got a series of books for you to read that honestly, is partially responsible for Game of Thrones.

In January of 1990, Robert Jordan published the book he had started writing in 1984, The Eye of the World. The series that sprang from that book became The Wheel of Time, consisting of 14 books (plus a much shorter novella). The finale, A Memory of Light, was published in 2013, almost 6 years after Jordan died. Fortunately, Jordan had prepared extensive notes prior to his death, and the excellent novelist Brandon Samuelson was engaged to finish the last book and a half. He did a fantastic job, completing the complex narrative in a most satisfying way.

So, the idea of a popular novelist dying before finishing his series isn’t unheard of.

I’m not sure about the relationship between George R.R. Martin and Robert Jordan, and don’t even know if they knew each other. But, let me warn you: If you begin reading Jordan’s work and find yourself thinking hey, this guy’s ripping off Game of Thrones!.

No, he didn’t. Not saying the opposite is true, just saying WoT was first published in 1990. The first book in the GoT series, A Song of Ice and Fire popped off the presses in 1996. The stories are very different, but both relate to a coming darkness, and the need for many warring nations to come together to defeat the encroaching evil. There’s no real “game of thrones,” but there is much discussion and narrative regarding a “game of houses,” where different families play politics that can get pretty involved.

If you give WoT a try, please resist blaming Jordan for copying Game of Thrones because he’s not. Not saying Martin copied the Wheel of Time series, just that there will things that remind you of GoT.

Review: Red Shirts by John Scalzi

At first, I liked Red Shirts, by John Scalzi (Old Man’s War,The Collapsing Empire and the second book ofThe Interdependency series, The Consuming Fire). I love Scalzi’s writing. His space-action is absolutely riveting, the plots have just the right amount of complexity and twists, and he’s funny as hell.

So, I liked Red Shirts, until about a third of the way in, when things change quite a bit, and not everything (and everyone) are exactly what they seem to be. I lost interest.

Then, needing something handy to read, I see it still in my library, and I dipped back into it, and freaking loved it. It was a very strange experience. I liked the book until I didn’t, but then returned to it and as I finished it, realized that I had just finished reading one of my top 10 favorite sci-fi books ever.

Yes, EVER. And I read a lot.

Red Shirts hits on so many cylinders, I feel like I bought a 4-banger Toyota Somethingorother, and driving it off the lot, discovered it’s a 12 cylinder Mercedes AMG luxury machine.

Unfortunately, discussing everything that makes the book so great would require me to spoil it a bit, so I won’t. Probably just as well, since I’d start running at the mouth and not stop until I’d rolled past 40K words, and that would just be sad. I’m a writer too, behind on a couple projects, and generating that many words for a blog that makes me no money at all, would be…unfortunate.

Suffice it to say that if you are a sci-fi fan, you will love Red Shirts in at least two different ways. Yes, early on, Trek fans will think, either hey, you’ve ripped off Roddenberry, or will be suspicious about it. That’s good. Go with that.

Audible listeners will perhaps, be a little misguided by Wil Wheaton’s narration. His performance, as in The Interdependency Series books, is perfect, but the “red shirt” thing, being read by Wesley, may spin you a bit.

Again, go with it.

I liked Red Shirts until I didn’t, but then loved it tremendously. This is a must-read, and to really enjoy it, a must-listen.

17 stars out of 5!

Tags : , , ,