The TV Equals Mailbag #2: The Smoke Monster, Dangerous TV Settings & More

The Mailbag didn’t debut to strong numbers, but the network is showing confidence in the creative direction and swears it’s going to get a full season, so we’re back! Of course, the Mailbag is going to have to show some growth over the next few weeks in order to get a second season. Therefore, if you enjoy this particular column, feel free to get involved and get your friends involved.

How do you get involved (he asked rhetorically)? You can submit your question right in the comments section of this post. Otherwise, you can tweet them to me, or you can kick me an email.

To the questions. These are indeed actual emails/tweets from actual readers.

Q: I’m a big fan of fantasy literature, but I somehow missed the boat on GoT (both the books and the show). I keep seeing reviews online specifically for people who’ve read the novels, separate from regular reviews. It seems sort of elitist to me–what’s the difference? Do hardcore fans of the show feel compelled to read the books? Where should I start?
-Taylor (no city/state; currently homeless)

For starters, I’m not really sure what these “book” things are that you speak of. Nonetheless, I’ll attempt to answer your question.

As a TV watcher, I’ve had a fairly positive experience with book readers. I know there are other TV people who have a rather antagonistic relationship with the book readers. They’ll tweet spoilers at them or just act super smug while constantly repeating “Just wait”. That being said, most of them are very nice people and aren’t elitist at all about their advanced knowledge.

As for you, I’m obviously going to recommend the television show. That’s a lot of pages to read. Chances are it will take you longer than the 30 hours required to catch up on the first three seasons of the television series. I will tell you that there are different reviews for book people because there are differences between the books and the shows. Plus, it gives them a safe place to talk about how much they like ink on paper. (Or how the show connects with the story to come. Whatever.)

Watch the TV series. If you really feel compelled, you can read the books later. If nothing else, it will give the Czarina another woman to talk with about Drogo. Speaking of the Czarina…

Q: Lost, Game of Thrones, and True Blood have already been covered- where would you like to see the Smoke Monster appear next?

Shouts to the Smoke Monster. He(?) has had himself quite a career. To me, he has a couple of options:

1. He starts his own reality show. We can follow him around to see what life is like as the Smoke Monster. I imagine that could make for some interesting television. He plays this menacing killing machine, but what if he’s whipped at home by his wife? How about watching him pursue his dream of being a recording star? I’d watch.

2. As for his next scripted TV show, I really think he has to show his range. Sure, he can do good (and bad) drama, but what about comedy? Let’s see if the Smoke Monster can stretch himself with a guest arc as the mysterious business man threatening to buyout Rent-a-Swag on Parks and Recreation. There’s an idea. Somebody get me in a room with Mike Schur.

Q: Where does the Hawaii from Hawaii Five-0 rank in most dangerous TV places?
-Matt, Atlanta, GA

One of the underrated fun parts of watching Hawaii Five-0 is catching the Hawaii commercials. It’s basically them saying “Hey guys, please ignore this television show. Our state is just a quaint little paradise. We’ve never heard of the Yakuza or this Wo Fat dude.”

In any event, this particular iteration of Hawaii definitely doesn’t seem like a friendly place, but it’s far from the top of the list. In no particular order:

-Starling City
-1920s New Jersey
-Washington DC area (We didn’t need TV to tell us this one.)
-Walder Frey’s castle
-Underneath Melisandre’s dress
-Bon Temps, Louisiana

Lots and lots of murder, supervillians, and corrupt cops will make your place unsafe, but I’d still choose Hawaii over any of those places.

Q: In your opinion, which network show has run its course and should be cancelled?

Many shows run their course but keep plugging away. The reasons for some shows continuing can be financial, scheduling, or as simple as inertia. For diehard fans, it’s always nice to get a few more glimpses of actors and characters they love. Unfortunately, sometimes this leads the more casual viewers past the point of diminishing returns.

One such case is NBC’s Community. With the departure of Dan Harmon prior to season four, all the air seemed to be let out of the show. We were no longer watching Community, but a zombie version that vaguely resembled the first three seasons. The ratings were their usual dour selves, and NBC made it clear it wants to go in a different direction with its comedies. Remarkably the show has survived. Dan Harmon is even returning to do the fifth season. You would think this was good news, but it only distracts viewers from the truth: This show needs to go.

I know we all want to believe Harmon is going to step in and save the day, but he’s already doing a lot of those Dan Harmon things that got him trouble the first time. It’s tough when your incoming showrunner disparages the work everyone did the previous season. That doesn’t exactly make you want to sell out for the guy. Plus, comedies are like hard-throwing pitchers: Once they lose their fastball, they don’t get it back.

Q: Regardless of whether it makes sense/would be possible to achieve, which two shows that you love, would you like to see a crossover episode for?

Then I have my answer, I need the Small Council to visit Sterling Cooper and Partners. Eventually, the lion will have to concern itself with the sheep, so why not have Tywin and the gang visit Draper and the crew to kick up some pro-Lannister ads? I’d be willing to bet Tywin and Don would get along quite famously, while Cersei would give some of the greatest ice cold rebuffs in the history of television to the horndogs at SCP. Meanwhile, Tyrion is wondering around making jokes about Joan’s figure and thinking up some great ideas for parody ads. Ultimately, Don and Tywin share some Dornish wine and discuss what Tywin really wants before settling on an ad featuring Tywin as a conquering pirate with Tyrion as his parrot. The episode ends with the SCP people being confused when they receive payment in the form of gold coins and an invitation to a wedding at Walder Frey’s place.

Q: What does it cost to get an ad on one of the top 5 television shows?
-Duane, Savannah, GA

One thing is for sure: It’s not cheap. What’s clear when you look at this infographic is that the 18-49 demographic rules the roost. Of the five most expensive ad spots on television, 4 of them rank in the top 10 in the ratings among people ages 18-49. Who’s the fifth? New Girl, checking in at a cool $320,940. That’s a lot of money to pay so your product can be advertised on the same telecast as the woman previously known as Emily Deschanel’s Weird Sister.

Bottom line, you better have plans to sell a lot of whatever it is your selling if you’re going to advertise with the big boys.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of the Mailbag. Remember there are plenty of ways to get involved. If you have a burning question about TV, I’ve got you covered. Go ahead and feel free to submit a question when its fresh on your mind. I’ll see you back here in two weeks.