Sunday 25 September 2016

A happy family - Game of Thrones style

Published 21/05/2016 | 07:00

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Game of Thrones

TV3

Hoff The Record

Dave

I have to admit, half way through Season 6 of Game of Thrones, I'm still conflicted. I want to deride the show. I want to point out that this is really just swords 'n' sandals with added boobs. I want to argue that any show which features dragons - I mean, really, dragons? - cannot possibly expect to be taken seriously by reasonable people.

I could also point to the reliably clunky dialogue, the liberal pilfering of old fantasy-epic tropes, the contempt displayed for the lower orders and, yes, the fans.

Ah, the fans.

If there is one thing guaranteed to turn the average viewer off a programme like Game of Thrones, it is surely the obsessives it attracts.

It's always nice to see someone wear their knowledge lightly but when it comes to GoT nerds, they wear it like a millstone around their neck. In fact, I haven't seen this kind of pointless trivia one-upmanship and bizarre fixation with minutiae since I was about 12 and everyone was reading The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and showing off to their mates about how much they knew about the book.

Or that may have just been me.

And yet, and yet.

For a show that is, as I've said before, almost flamboyantly, defiantly ridiculous, it is also one of the most gripping dramas to appear on our screens this decade.

The slyly clever ruse to start airing the episodes at 2am, to coincide with the transmission time on the States, has added an extra sense of occasion to this most hyped of all shows. But as this week's instalment, 'Book Of The Stranger' reminded us, there are times when GoT doesn't need the hype and marketing blitz.

This new season started all about Melisandre. The undeniably sexy witch who, we learned, wasn't nearly as sexy as people presumed, had tried and - she thought - failed to bring Jon Snow back from the dead.

While her witchy magik did eventually work, and the female fans' favourite was resurrected, Melisandre may wonder why she bothered.

A sensitive soul at the best of times, death has not been good to the Bastard of Winterfell.

In fact, he seems almost pissed off to have been conjured back to life. His response to this unexpected second chance is an understandable mix of confusion, fear and resentment at the people who killed him in the first place. But now he has gone full Emo - pouting and sulking and even his rather touching reunion with half-sister, the newly ballsy Sansa Stark, was fraught with angst and unspoken recrimination.

Meanwhile, Daenerys enjoyed a resurrection of her own. She may not have died, but her story was displaying all the life signs of an expired parrot. Now that she has burned all her enemies alive and emerged from the flames like some magical Katniss Everdeen, we might actually get back to her having a proper plot to contend with.

As ever, the best lines went to the best character, the gleefully psychotic Ramsay Bolton.

Anyone whose family sigil is a flayed man is always going to have an enthusiastic attitude towards dispensing pain, and his letter to Jon Snow was a treat of a threat: "I will ride north and slaughter every wildling man, woman, and babe living under your protection. You will watch as I skin them living. You will watch as my soldiers take turns raping your sister. You will watch as my dogs devour your wild little brother. Then I will spoon your eyes from their sockets and let my dogs do the rest."

And with that, my faith in the show was restored and my admiration for Ramsay Bolton has now developed total man-crush levels.

But that's for me and my therapist to work through together...

We all know that David Hasselhoff is a joke. But it's okay to say that because nobody is on the gag more than the Hoff, himself.

Perhaps the man's greatest charm - and he has that weird California charm in spades - is that he remains as baffled as the rest of us by his success.

The second season of the beguiling and frequently wince-inducing mockumentary Hoff The Record is back on our screens on Dave and really should be watched by everyone.

Having relocated to the UK, this larger-than-life presence is like a giant puppy as he and his new hosts stare at each other with mutual bafflement.

His entourage, such as it is, are like characters from The Thick Of It, and this week's episode even featured an old alum of that brilliant show, Alex McQueen, who most viewers would remember as Julius, the prissy civil servant.

On this occasion, he is playing Kurt, a frustrated actor who is on suicide watch in the psychiatric facility which the faded star has been checked into.

Celeb rehabs are all the rage and when he realises that he can make a fortune from making a video diary of his travails, he reluctantly signs up. The thing is, Hasselhoff's main failing is not substance abuse - although there are plenty of nasty references to him infamously drunkenly eating a burger off the floor - but the fact that he is gullible to the point of reckless stupidity.

As the Hoff's incompetent management team try to maximise his earning potential, Kurt persuades his new friend to jump off the roof and only a last minute intervention saves the day.

Meta-fiction has become increasingly popular, to the point were it has lost its novelty value, but this is a little gem.

Irish Independent

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