Game of Thrones & Onion Sports Dome: 2 Great Shows, Only 1 Winner

The conclusion of the television season has two clear winners for best new shows.  HBO’s Game of Thrones and Comedy Central’s Onion Sports Dome.  But only one has survived.

Game of Thrones

There were a few new dramas I enjoyed this television season.  I thought Boardwalk Empire was close to excellent.  The Killing on AMC was very solid, though a little up and down and The Event, which sadly was cancelled, was the most surprising good new drama, being that it was on NBC and was attempting to evoke Lost, two big drama negatives as far as I am concerned.  There were a ton of dramas that sort of sucked (Hawaii Five-O comes to mind), but only one show this season has the quality to potentially join my upper tier of shows.  And that show is  Game of Thrones.


A friend of mine recently told me that if I keep comparing shows to Breaking Bad then I will never be happy.  I told him, we should assume that I am unhappy to begin with so comparing things to Breaking Bad will not increase or decrease my happiness.  Just like I now compare comic book movies to The Dark Knight, I will always compare dramas on television to my Top 5 dramas (Six Feet Under, The Wire, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos and The West Wing).  That is why shows like Sons of Anarchy or Dexter, although much better than its premiere season over the years, will always be entertaining distractions, because they lack the gravitas and quality of the Top 5.

Game of Thrones had a few things working against it before it started.  It struck me as something of a cross between Rome (HBO’s well done, but too expensive two season drama) and True Blood.   I was afraid that Game of Thrones could easily go the route of Rome, which seemed to have as its goal to appeal directly to the id of heterosexual males and sacrifice some of the quality of the story (for the most perverse example of this please Netflix Spartacus: Blood and Sand – the worst drama I have ever seen).  Similarly, True Blood, which for me has been on a rapid decline since a very strong first season, seems to be geared towards the id of young women and gay men.  For both shows it felt like the shows did excessive focus group work after initial success and realized respectively, “hey dudes dig tits and blood” and “chicks and gay dudes like pecs, androgony and excessive smoldering looks.”  If I want tits and blood I will go back to dating on Craig’s List.  But for quality television I demand more.

So the test for Game of Thrones, which certainly had its share of gratuitous nudity and violence (two horses beheaded – take that Godfather, and a 10 year old breast feeding – how is that not child pornography?), but it was also the best fantasy epic  piece of entertainment since The Lord of the Rings.  The show is beautiful, the cast is without weak spots and the story has held no character sacred or untouchable (not to mention the opening score is Last of the Mohicans-esque awesome).  Although a show needs at least three seasons before it can make the “Shows J-L Incessantly Praises While No One Listens” list, Game of Thrones has made a strong statement with its first season.  But it has to tread carefully now.  Because on either side of the fine line it has drawn is an HBO show that lost its way.

Onion Sports Dome

I was convinced that Onion Sports Dome had the potential to join Arrested Development and Eastbound and Down as the Holy Spirit in my trilogy of great comedies of the last ten years.  It did what I always want a comedy to do – it compromised nothing.  The humor was sophisticated and clever and it was coupled with an intimate knowledge of sports.  In other words – if you like comedy and know sports it was nothing short of brilliant.  If you didn’t possess one of these qualities then the show was not made for you.  Unfortunately ratings were not strong and the show has not been picked up for a second season.  Neither was Norm MacDonald’s Sports Show, but that is no great loss.  The people who praise MacDonald’s show all seem to be pre-existing Normphiles.  The truth is the show was not that good, except for the first episode.  Onion Sports Dome, however, is a major loss.  Every episode (except the first, which I thought was mediocre) was an A+.  But in an industry that is constantly on the lookout for the next twelve Zach Galifianakis look-a-likes yelling non-sequiturs in funny voices, I guess I should have known a brilliant, hilarious, sports-themed comedy show would be DOA.  The comedy business is revenge on jocks, not a celebration of them, even if in jest.

Well at least the geeks and me can agree on Game of Thrones.