'Game of Thrones' returns, 'Raising Hope' signs off

Jack Gleeson resumes playing Joffrey Baratheon this season on "Game of Thrones."
Jack Gleeson resumes playing Joffrey Baratheon this season on "Game of Thrones."
Posted: April 04, 2014

IF AND when they're finished with HBO's "Game of Thrones," we should probably put David Benioff and D.B. Weiss in charge of something slightly less complicated.

Say, national health care.

Or sorting out things in Syria, before maybe moving on to Crimea.

As television's most ambitious drama returns Sunday for Season 4, it's hard not to marvel at the producers' stamina as they juggle multiple storylines, filmed on multiple continents, with a crew of first-rate actors whose characters may not have yet met but who seem utterly integrated into the company.

As intricately engineered as the 3-D map in its title sequence but brimming with the lives and loves of people we can't help but accept as real, "Game of Thrones" continues to tease out the most meaningful stories from George R.R. Martin's still unfinished fantasy series, "A Song of Ice and Fire," straying where necessary to highlight a possibly neglected character or perhaps just to produce something slightly less depressing.

Not that it isn't still brutal. Bad things will continue to happen to good people (and, occasionally, to very bad people). The Lannisters will continue to seriously underappreciate Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), and the remaining Stark children will face even more challenges. Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) will find his return to King's Landing less triumphant than he hoped.

And those dragons that Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) is raising, along with her army? They're growing ominously large.

But where reading each subsequent book - five of the planned-for seven have been published - left me increasingly dispirited, "Game of Thrones" remains an exhilarating ride.

And, while I wouldn't want Benioff and Weiss to plan an actual wedding, I hope their creative marriage with Martin goes on and on - and that somehow they find a way to bring this massive story to an end that's about more than their simply running out of people to kill.

* RAISING HOPE. 9 and 9:30 tonight, Fox 29.

It didn't get the nine seasons that CBS' "How I Met Your Mother" did, but Fox's "Raising Hope" knows how to leave its audience laughing.

And maybe just a little teary. But in a good way.

The second of two episodes airing back-to-back tonight will be the finale for the series, which Fox canceled a month ago after four seasons.

Clearly written with this possibility in mind, it's sweet and more than a bit absurd, and features Jeffrey Tambor as the estranged father of Virginia Chance (Martha Plimpton), to whom he makes an offer she can't refuse.

No one dies (or wakes up in bed with a previous co-star), but it leaves the often unlucky Chance family in better shape than we found them, and allows us to imagine that they'll get along just fine without us (and that little Hope, who came into this world as the daughter of a serial killer and her one-night stand, will turn out just fine).

We shouldn't ask any more than that of a finale.


"Black & White and Dead All Over," a documentary about the newspaper business that focuses quite a bit on this newspaper's recent adventures, will rerun on WHYY12 at 1:30 p.m. Sunday . . . CBS' "Unforgettable" returns at 8 tonight . . . Philly's Bob Saget will be among David Steinberg's guests at 11 p.m. Monday on the season finale of Showtime's "Inside Comedy."

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