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    In ‘House of the Dragon,’ Paddy Considine Claims the Crown

    A string of critically acclaimed roles has made him many British actors’ favorite actor. It has also lifted him from hardscrabble roots to a seat on the Iron Throne.WINSHILL, England — On a blindingly sunny June afternoon, Paddy Considine whipped his sedan through a working-class neighborhood in this suburb in the West Midlands, pointing out the stolid taverns, churches and council houses that combine to cast the long shadows of his childhood.There was the gospel hall where he and his friends sang hymns when they weren’t “getting kicked out for fighting about.” The pub where men from his estate pursued nightly oblivion. The post office where his tempestuous father “tossed a wheelie bin through the front window” during one of his frequent swerves into rage, a moment Considine memorialized in his bleakly beautiful 2011 film, “Tyrannosaur.”He pulled to a stop in front of a pale gray two-family house and pointed to an upstairs window. It was his old bedroom, and he told a story about a kid desperate to show the world he had more to offer than it might think.“I’d run home after school and then put the music on and stand in the window, dancing to Adam and the Ants, so the parents would see me and look up,” he said. “It wasn’t like I was a show-off. I just wanted to be seen.”He looked at me with a grin that was equal parts affable and intense. “There’s a difference, you know,” he said.Over a two-decade career in film, TV and the occasional blockbuster play, Considine has thrived within that difference. He has crafted performances that demand to be seen, partly because they forgo performative pyrotechnics in favor of a palpable, at times unsettling sense of the real. The fact that he hasn’t had what you might call a signature role hasn’t kept him from becoming many British actors’ favorite actor.“I just believe him,” said Olivia Colman, a longtime admirer. “You sort of look into his eyes, and he’s feeling it all, and he means it all.”Considine’s profile is more modest in America, but it might not stay that way: Beginning on Aug. 21, he will be dancing in his largest window yet. That’s when “House of the Dragon,” the long-awaited “Game of Thrones” prequel series, lands on HBO. A family melodrama with all the violence, sex and power-lust one would expect from a tale set in Westeros, the series seeks to recapture the magic that made the original a global phenomenon before it stumbled to its polarizing conclusion in 2019.The story, based on “Fire & Blood,” a spinoff novel by the saga’s mastermind, George R.R. Martin, is set nearly 200 years before the events of “Game of Thrones.” It involves an earlier battle for the Iron Throne, one that threatens to crater the Targaryen clan long before their combustible descendant Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) arrives in the original series.At the heart of it all is Considine, who stars as King Viserys, the ruler whose decisions and frailties set into motion much of the conflict and carnage to come.Paddy Considine, who plays King Viserys Targaryen, in a scene from “House of the Dragon.”Ollie Upton/HBOIt is a surprising bit of casting, at first glance. After arriving as an eccentric thug in the 1999 film “A Room for Romeo Brass,” Considine has made his name mostly in small-bore dramas playing emotionally conflicted men who feel it all, and then some: a grieving immigrant father in “In America”; a religious zealot ex-con in “My Summer of Love”; a murderously vengeful veteran in “Dead Man’s Shoes.”While he has appeared in franchises (“The Bourne Ultimatum”), genre series (the Stephen King adaptation “The Outsider”) and surprising detours before (the goofball cop comedy “Hot Fuzz”), a dragon epic did not seem like the most natural fit.“If you look at the body of his work and the type of movies that he does, it doesn’t necessarily lend itself to a big HBO franchise like this,” said Matt Smith, who stars in “House of the Dragon” as Viserys’s belligerent brother, Daemon. “But I think he’s got good taste, and I think he realized the part was really interesting.”Considine, 48, is a man of multitudes and paradoxes. An acclaimed actor, he nonetheless struggles with attacks of insecurity to the point that he considered leaving projects like “Hot Fuzz” because he felt he was flailing. He has an unmistakable toughness, but what makes it captivating is the sensitivity that bleeds through.Ryan Condal, one of the “House of the Dragon” showrunners, said that Considine imbued Viserys, a relatively passive character in the script, “with a bit of Paddy’s working class background.”“What Paddy brought to it was Targaryen-ness, this fierceness,” he said. But as the other showrunner, Miguel Sapochnik, noted: “He wears his insecurities on his sleeve.”Return to Westeros in ‘House of the Dragon’HBO’s long-awaited “Game of Thrones” spinoff will debut on Aug. 21.A Primer: Though it is the successor to the groundbreaking fantasy drama, “House of the Dragon” is actually a prequel. Here’s what else you need to know.The Stakes: Can the new series save the future of the “Game of Thrones” franchise? George R.R. Martin and HBO are about to find out.Wearing the Crown: A string of critically acclaimed roles has lifted Paddy Considine, who stars as King Viserys Targaryen in the show, from hardscrabble roots to a seat on the Iron Throne.‘Thrones’ Guide: Want to take a deep dive into past episodes and plot twists? Check out our obsessive compendium to the original series.This combination has already won over the toughest “Thrones” fan of all: Martin, who said Considine’s Viserys surpasses the one in the book.“Every once in a while, an actor or the writers will take a character in a somewhat different direction that is better,” Martin said. “And I look at it and I say, ‘Damn, I wish I had written it that way.’”Considine admits that he was flattered to be asked to lead such an enormous undertaking, which will almost certainly result in more people seeing him than ever before. But what drew him in were the same things he seeks in all his roles, qualities that his past and predisposition help him depict with rare delicacy.“There was just conflicts in him; there was pain in him,” he said. “There was stuff for me to do.”CONSIDINE SPENDS MOST OF HIS TIME far from the show-business fray. He lives with his wife of 20 years, Shelley, and their three children in the town of Burton-on-Trent, near where he grew up, located roughly 110 miles northwest of London. It helps him avoid having to glad-hand industry types or audition for roles, which he loathes because he’s terrible at it, he said.While Considine is generally immune to Hollywood cliché, he certainly looked the part when we first met. Sitting inside a coffee shop in a posh village near his home, he was wearing black on black with dark glasses, and he spent the first 20 minutes talking about his rock band, called Riding the Low. He knew how it all came across.“I know … an actor with a band,” he said.But the reality is, he has been playing music for longer than he’s been acting, and the band is no mere vanity project: In June, they played Glastonbury Festival, and their latest record included a cameo by Considine’s musical hero, Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices.As for the glasses, they contain special lenses to treat Irlen syndrome, a disorder that is believed to affect the brain’s ability to process visual information. (Much of the science and medical community is skeptical about the affliction, but Considine and many others say the lenses changed their lives.) Generally funny and easygoing in conversation, Considine said this condition, along with a mild form of Asperger’s he was diagnosed with in his 30s, contributed to a reputation for aloofness as a young actor.“I couldn’t concentrate or focus on you, so I’d have to look away,” he said. “It led to this behavior of me going within myself and being slightly unapproachable.”But he is used to being misunderstood — even as a boy in Winshill, Considine had a reputation that preceded him. But it wasn’t his own.Considine’s father was known as a brawler with a quick temper. “I grew up with a lot of labels on me when I was a kid, just because of the reputation mainly of my father,” the actor said.Max Miechowski for The New York TimesHe grew up with a brother and four sisters in one of the few two-parent households in his social circle. His mother, Pauline, was a natural nurturer who temporarily took in kids from around the council estate when things got rough at their own homes. “I’d go downstairs and there’d be, like, a six-foot punk lying on the sofa under a blanket, with a big red mohawk,” Considine said.His father was another matter. An Irish alcoholic with a depressive streak, Martin Considine was known as a brawler with a quick temper, and was given to staying in bed until the afternoon, “watching ‘Raging Bull’ over and over again,” Considine said.“I grew up with a lot of labels on me when I was a kid, just because of the reputation mainly of my father,” he said.For a while, he lived up to them, alienating his teachers by being an uninterested student and a class clown. But when he signed on to a school production of “Grease,” it was transformative in more ways than one. When he opened his mouth to sing “Greased Lightning” in the first rehearsal, he discovered a robust voice he didn’t know he had. On opening night, everyone else discovered something, too.“It changed the entire school’s perception of me,” he said. “The teachers perceived me differently, the students. And I thought, this is powerful.”At 16, Considine began a drama program but “didn’t really learn that much, and I just left,” he said. (He eventually got a photography degree.) But he struck up a fortuitous friendship there with Shane Meadows, a fellow Midlander with similar tastes in music and film. Several years later, Meadows cast Considine in “Romeo Brass,” which won both men acclaim.Higher-profile roles followed in films like the Factory Records chronicle “24 Hour Party People” (2002) and the melancholy immigrant tale “In America” (2003). Then came “Dead Man’s Shoes,” a nervy, lo-fi riff on a slasher picture that stars Considine, in a frightening but grounded performance, as an ex-soldier stalking his brother’s former tormentors.The film is still revered in Britain — nearly everyone I talked to about Considine mentioned it — though the actor long ago tired of discussing it. (“Part of me wants to die” when people bring it up, he said, but he has made his peace with it.)That indelible performance indirectly enabled Considine to subvert it, to change perceptions again. He met Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright on the awards circuit for “Dead Man’s Shoes” — it and their film “Shaun of the Dead” were both released in Britain in 2004 — and the result was a part as a doofus detective in “Hot Fuzz.”“Meeting Paddy in person was a revelation; he was incredibly warm and funny,” Wright wrote in an email. “We knew he had a comic presence that hadn’t been fully unleashed yet.”Considine (center, with Rafe Spall, left, and Simon Pegg) tried to quit “Hot Fuzz” over a crisis of confidence about his comic chops. “This was, of course, ridiculous,” said Edgar Wright, the film’s director.Rogue Pictures, via Alamy“Hot Fuzz” was where Considine met Colman, a co-star, who went on to lead his first feature as a director, “Tyrannosaur.” The film, which he also wrote, tells a grueling but powerful story about a splenetic widower (Peter Mullan) who befriends a devout woman (Colman) trapped in an abusive marriage.For Colman, then known primarily for comedy and TV, the wrenching performance opened new dramatic opportunities that eventually led to an Oscar for the 2018 film “The Favourite.”“He sort of directly changed the trajectory of my career,” she said.For Considine, it offered a chance to revisit his upbringing via the means that had allowed him to escape it. As we drove around Winshill, he pointed out landmarks that had inspired scenes in the film.“I think ‘Tyrannosaur’ was just a love letter and an apology to my parents,” he told me. “It was me just trying to make sense of some of the things I grew up with.”CONSIDINE STARTED ACTING long before he became an actor.As an insecure kid cowed by a chaotic home and by other parents who “shut doors in my face” because of the sins of his father, he learned to perform confidence and swagger. “I had to create a sort of carapace to be able to protect myself,” he said.That armor never entirely went away — he still dusts it off for premieres and red carpets. Neither did the insecurity. As his career blossomed, it became both the thing that made acting a misery, at times, as well as a force pushing him to go deeper into performances that dazzled his contemporaries.“In England, I think a lot of actors feel the same way about Paddy,” Smith said. “We hold him in very high regard.”Tony Pitts (“All Creatures Great and Small”), a friend of Considine’s and past co-star, called him “the male actor that most male actors want to be.”Considine is choosy about his parts — it’s hard to find an outright stinker on his IMDb page. Friends say this derives from the fact that acting can take a profound psychic toll on him, so he has to be invested in a role to accept it.“Paddy’s not one to just pitch up and say the lines,” Pitts said. “I’ve seen him when he’s been at the point where he said, ‘I don’t think I want to act again.’”Wright calls Considine “Mr. 11th Hour” because that’s when he “had to be talked out of leaving” both “Hot Fuzz” and a later comedy, “The World’s End,” over a crisis of confidence about his comic chops. “This was, of course, ridiculous,” Wright said. “It just shows me he cares, maybe too much.”From left, Glenn Speers, Considine, Stuart Graham and Genevieve O’Reilly in “The Ferryman,” Considine’s first performance in a play. Sara Krulwich/The New York TimesConsidine went through something similar in “The Ferryman,” Jez Butterworth’s 2017 drama set during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. It was Considine’s first play, and he took it on as a kind of trial-by-fire apprenticeship because he felt limited by his lack of formal acting training, even after numerous series and films. “I was running out of places to hide, and I was running out of enthusiasm for it, too,” he said.He found stage acting terrifying. His self-doubt reached a crisis point during the initial run, at London’s Royal Court Theater, and then again when “The Ferryman” moved to Broadway — both times Sam Mendes, the director, helped him through it. (Reviewing the Broadway production, The Times said Considine gave “a superb, anchoring performance.”) The actor now says “The Ferryman” was “a game-changer,” in terms of his comfort with his craft.That comfort wasn’t always apparent on “House of the Dragon,” however. Considine said he based the physically ailing Viserys partly on his mother, who went through multiple amputations resulting from diabetes before dying of a heart attack. Colleagues said watching him inhabit the role sometimes bordered on concerning.“He turns himself inside out in his performance, and that metamorphosis is sometimes really painful to watch,” said Olivia Cooke, who stars as Alicent Hightower, a woman close to Viserys. “We spoke about it, and the only way he can access his performance, sometimes, is to go to such a horrid and painful place.”Sapochnik said that when Considine struggles with material or anything else, “his default is anger.” Directing him involved “helping to work through that, being patient about it, sometimes saying to him, ‘Mate, calm down,’” he explained. “But also then seeing how he brought that into Viserys.”Considine brought fierceness to Viserys, but he also “wears his insecurities on his sleeve,” said Miguel Sapochnik (right, with Considine and the actress Milly Alcock), a “House of the Dragon” showrunner.Ollie Upton/HBOAt the same time, his co-stars, from old hands like Smith to relative newcomers like Emily Carey, who plays a younger version of Alicent, roundly praised Considine as a funny, warm and supportive colleague and collaborator. The person he is hardest on is himself.“It sounds like I’m a miserable sod, but I have a good time doing these things, as well,” Considine said. “It’s just that when I perform in any way, I have these challenges in front of me again.”What keeps him going are the flashes of transcendence. He mentioned one late-season monologue Viserys gives before his family that “touched a bit of old Hopkins,” as in Sir Anthony, one of his acting heroes.“The moments where you are fully in it, all that goes — all that awareness, all that self-observation, all that stuff, that inner critic,” Considine said. “That horrible stuff just falls off you. And that’s ultimately what I’m searching for.”And to the extent that any of that horrible stuff is linked to his past, he’s learning to let some of that fall off him, too, as achievements mount and the passing years bring distance and perspective.“That kid in the window, he hasn’t got to die, but it can’t keep dominating your life,” he said. “You’ve got to explore other things, and ‘Game of Thrones’ is part of that.”“Who would’ve thought that kid would end up playing a [expletive] king?” he added. “Who would’ve ever conceived that I would be a king in anything?” More

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    What to Know About ‘House of the Dragon,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ Prequel

    HBO’s new “Game of Thrones” prequel takes us back to the land of Westeros, hundreds of years earlier. We’ve got your cheat sheet.In the final episodes of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” the mad queen Daenerys Targaryen incinerated most of the capital city of King’s Landing. But what was it like when it was all still standing, and the Targaryen dynasty ruled with an iron fist — er, throne?That’s the question explored by “House of the Dragon,” the new series set in author George R.R. Martin’s revisionist epic-fantasy world. Created by Martin along with Ryan Condal, who serves as showrunner with the veteran “Thrones” director Miguel Sapochnik, “Dragon” takes place far back into the ancestral line of the “Thrones” protagonists Daenerys and Jon Snow, whose own Targaryen identity was revealed late in the original show’s run.As their forebears battle for control of Westeros’s Iron Throne, what do you need to know about the new series, and its connection to what has gone before — or, more accurately, after? Our cheat sheet has you covered. Read on and prepare to dance with dragons.A pregame of thronesThough it is the successor series to “Game of Thrones,” “House of the Dragon” is actually a prequel. Set 172 years before the birth of Daenerys Targaryen, it chronicles the history of her royal family during a tumultuous time, a calamitous internecine war known as “The Dance of the Dragons.” During this conflict, a slew of Targaryens and their dragon steeds — these fire-breathing beasts were more plentiful at this point in Westerosi history — did battle for the Iron Throne.That said, “Dragon” shares several key elements with its predecessor series. These include Martin, who wrote the books that form the basis of both shows — the “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels for the original series and the prequel book “Fire & Blood” for the new one.Return to Westeros in ‘House of the Dragon’HBO’s long-awaited “Game of Thrones” spinoff will debut on Aug. 21.A Primer: Though it is the successor to the groundbreaking fantasy drama, “House of the Dragon” is actually a prequel. Here’s what else you need to know.The Stakes: Can the new series save the future of the “Game of Thrones” franchise? George R.R. Martin and HBO are about to find out.Wearing the Crown: A string of critically acclaimed roles has lifted Paddy Considine, who stars as King Viserys Targaryen in the show, from hardscrabble roots to a seat on the Iron Throne.‘Thrones’ Guide: Want to take a deep dive into past episodes and plot twists? Check out our obsessive compendium to the original series.Condal is new to the franchise, as is the entire cast. But Sapochnik, the other showrunner, directed several of the most memorable “Thrones” episodes, including “Hardhome,” “Battle of the Bastards” and “The Bells.” The composer Ramin Djawadi returns, as do unmistakable elements of his “Thrones” theme music.In addition, the setting of King’s Landing and its royal seat, the Red Keep, are virtually identical to the versions we’ve seen previously, as are the various noble houses’ symbols or “sigils” and even their hairstyles. The Iron Throne itself may have been enhanced by hundreds more melted-down blades, but this is very much the same Westeros we’ve already occupied for eight seasons.“House of the Dragon” begins with the naming of Viserys as heir to the Targaryen throne.Ollie Upton/HBOA family affair“Game of Thrones” famously depicted strife between several noble houses, most notably the Starks and the Lannisters, who rose to power after the death of the last Targaryen monarch, the Mad King Aegon IV. But most of these houses — Stark, Lannister, Greyjoy, Tyrell, Martell — recede into the background in “House of the Dragon.” The new show is focused almost exclusively on the Targaryen family, the dynasty that conquered Westeros over a century before the events that kick off “Dragon.”When the series begins, a great council of the aristocracy is convened to select Old King Jaehaerys Targaryen’s son Viserys (Paddy Considine) over his older female cousin, Rhaenys (Eve Best), as heir to the throne, on explicitly patriarchal grounds. The council, a comparatively democratic body during these feudal times, is intended to put such questions of succession to rest.In Westeros, as in our world, momentous decisions often reverberate in unexpected directions and lead to unanticipated conflict. The main players in “House of the Dragon” include the well-meaning but ineffectual King Viserys and his younger brother, the roguish Prince Daemon (Matt Smith), who would inherit the throne if his brother dies. Viserys’s closest adviser is Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), the Hand of the King — a position of great influence, as it was in “Thrones.” Hightower is a rival of the kingdoms’ richest man, the veteran seafarer Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint), who is married to Rhaenys and who, like the Targaryens, is a descendant of the ancient empire of Valyria.In an echo of the earlier succession dispute, another natural claimant to the throne is Viserys’s daughter, Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock as a youth, Emma D’Arcy as an adult), his only surviving child. Also central to things is Rhaenyra’s childhood friend Alicent Hightower (played by Emily Carey and Olivia Cooke), the daughter of the ambitious and calculating Otto.Trouble, obviously, ensues.The story’s main players include Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint) and Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best).HBOUnreliable narrators“Game of Thrones” was based on Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels: “A Game of Thrones,” “A Clash of Kings,” “A Storm of Swords,” “A Feast for Crows” and “A Dance With Dragons.” (Still to come: “The Winds of Winter,” which Martin has been working on for years, and “A Dream of Spring.”) But “Fire & Blood,” the “Dragon” source material, is written as a faux-historical tome rather than as a proper novel. Martin wrote the book in the voice of one Archmaester Gyldayn, a historian from within the world of Westeros itself. As such, many of its main characters’ motives, actions and dialogue remain matters of conjecture.Complicating matters further, Gyldayn’s primary and secondary sources have their own conflicting writing styles, political loyalties and points of view. (Among the fandom, the most popular of these is “The Testimony of Mushroom,” a salacious account of events written by the Targaryen court jester, who does not seem to appear in “Dragon” at all, at least not yet.) These shifting viewpoints leave several crucial matters, from trysts to betrayals, in a did-they-or-didn’t-they limbo.Given that several of these question marks drive the battles for supremacy that will likely drive “Dragon” in turn, the show will have to come down on one side or the other. For longtime fans and newcomers alike, these are likely to be the juiciest and most thrilling sections of the story, which will unfold over multiple seasons, if the gods be good.Light your candles to the Seven, and we’ll learn together who comes out on top. More

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    Can ‘House of the Dragon’ Be HBO’s Next ‘Game of Thrones’?

    The stakes are high for the first “Thrones” spinoff, which could determine nothing less than the future of the franchise.LOS ANGELES — George R.R. Martin has seen the comments, and he’s read the emails.Ever since “Game of Thrones,” the groundbreaking HBO fantasy series, went off the air in May 2019, he has been well aware of the backlash against the show’s final season. Martin, the man who painstakingly created the “Thrones” universe over the last three decades through his many books, and who was mostly on the sidelines during the final seasons of the TV series, does wonder if there will be some viewers who skip “House of the Dragon,” the first “Thrones” spinoff. The series will make its much-anticipated debut on HBO and HBO Max on Aug. 21.“People say, ‘I’m done with “Game of Thrones,” they burned me, I’m not even going to watch this new show — I’m not going to watch any of the new shows,’” Martin said in a recent interview.The question, he said, is how much of the “Thrones” audience do the complainers represent?“I mean, are we talking about a million people?” he asked. “Or are we talking about 1,000? People who have nothing to do except tweet all day over and over again? I don’t know.”Martin and HBO are about to find out.Three years after the most popular show in HBO’s history bowed out, the hunt for a successor is finally over. It took a lot of effort to get here. Numerous “Thrones” prequels were put into development, and a pilot episode for another spinoff was filmed before it was canceled. Tens of millions of dollars have been poured into the winner of the bake-off, “House of the Dragon.”The stakes are high. Success for “House of the Dragon” would reassure HBO executives that viewers are craving more “Thrones” stories and could lead to many more shows set in Westeros and beyond. In addition to this series, HBO has at least five other “Thrones” projects in active development.“The trick here is, you don’t want to just remake the original show,” said Casey Bloys, the HBO chief content officer. “You want to make a show that feels related and honors the original, but also feels like its own.“It is a very important franchise to us.”Paddy Considine plays King Viserys Targaryen, the occupant of the Iron Throne.Ollie Upton/HBOBut if the first one out of the gate fails to find an audience, it could raise questions about whether the Thrones Cinematic Universe is really the intellectual property gold mine that HBO executives hope it is.HBO’s new corporate overlords, executives from Discovery, have a crushing $53 billion debt load, and they have been looking for savings — in other words, high-cost “Thrones” spinoffs had better pay off. “House of the Dragon” will also have plenty of competition in the would-be blockbuster space. Two weeks into the prequel’s run, Amazon will debut its enormously expensive and ambitious “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.” Will two splashy, big-budget fantasy series be too much for some viewers?It will also have to overcome the stench of a final few episodes that left fans and critics scratching their heads at hairpin narrative turns as the series galloped well past the still-unfinished works of Martin’s series of books, “A Song of Ice and Fire.”Return to Westeros in ‘House of the Dragon’HBO’s long-awaited “Game of Thrones” spinoff will debut on Aug. 21.A Primer: Though it is the successor to the groundbreaking fantasy drama, “House of the Dragon” is actually a prequel. Here’s what else you need to know.The Stakes: Can the new series save the future of the “Game of Thrones” franchise? George R.R. Martin and HBO are about to find out.Wearing the Crown: A string of critically acclaimed roles has lifted Paddy Considine, who stars as King Viserys Targaryen in the show, from hardscrabble roots to a seat on the Iron Throne.‘Thrones’ Guide: Want to take a deep dive into past episodes and plot twists? Check out our obsessive compendium to the original series.But those are the challenges.Here’s what “House of Dragon” has going for it: “Thrones,” which ran between 2011 and 2019, was the most-watched show in HBO’s history. That controversial finale drew nearly 20 million viewers the night it premiered — an astonishing figure in the fragmented streaming era. “Thrones” was also a delight to critics and won more Emmys than any series in TV history, including winning best drama four times.The series changed television in so many ways — lavish budgets, technical wizardry, a cinematic scope that was once rare for the small screen — that it can be a little too easy to overlook the incredibly strong foundation it built for spinoffs.“I do believe that is a little bit more of an online narrative than it is in real life,” Bloys said, of the final season backlash. “I mean, we have the data of who’s watching ‘Game of Thrones,’ and it is consistently in the Top 10 assets that people watch on HBO Max around the world. As we’re coming closer to the premiere of this show, we’ve seen people going back, and we’ve seen an uptick in the viewership on HBO Max for the flagship series.”The final season of “Game of Thrones” inspired a backlash online.HBO“House of the Dragon” takes place almost 200 years before the events of “Game of Thrones.” The series follows the Targaryen family — that would be the silver-haired, dragon-flying crew, the one that Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) made famous in the original series — just as it is about to rupture, with dire consequences for the realm.And in the premiere episode, there are elements that will look familiar to “Thrones” viewers, including plenty of gore, multiple dragons and an Iron Throne. Also: nudity and an orgy.It took more than five years to get to this point. In May 2017, with the penultimate season of “Game of Thrones” about to debut, the network announced that it had four potential spinoffs in the works. A year later, a candidate was chosen: a prequel that would take place some 1,000 years before the events of the original series.It would not last. By 2019, after the pilot was shot, the network pulled the plug.“Once I saw that first pilot, I knew that was not the series to launch,” Bob Greenblatt, the former chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment, where he oversaw HBO, wrote in an email. Greenblatt said the pilot didn’t feel “expansive or epic enough.”At that time, the clock was also ticking. HBO had been very deliberate in developing spinoffs, and WarnerMedia, then owned by AT&T, was months away from debuting its new streaming service, HBO Max. Greenblatt was “desperate to get something — anything — from the ‘Game of Thrones’ I.P. into our pipelines,” he wrote.“I understood Casey and the team’s reluctance to throw a new ‘Game of Thrones’ show into production (especially since the backlash from the final season of the original series),” he added. “However, while we all knew no sequel or prequel would probably ever rise to the level of the original, there was agreement we had to go forward with something.”Luckily, the network had another project in development, one that Martin had been pushing for some time: his rise-and-fall tale of the Targaryens, which he had written about extensively in his books. “House of the Dragon” is adapted from Martin’s “Fire & Blood,” the first in a planned two-volume chronicle of the family’s exploits and clashes.Miguel Sapochnik (right, with Matt Smith, left, and Fabien Frankel), a director of “Game of Thrones,” is a showrunner of the new series.Ollie Upton/HBO“He was very passionate about this particular story,” said Miguel Sapochnik, a veteran of the original series and a showrunner of “House of the Dragon.”The network cycled through two writers before Martin asked for help from an old friend: The writer Ryan Condal, a creator of the USA science fiction show, “Colony.”Condal caught up regularly with Martin over dinner and drinks and geeked out over the works of other fantasists like Robert E. Howard, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Ursula K. Le Guin. “When we would get together we would, you know, talk like two fanboys do,” Martin said. Martin asked Condal to start writing a Targaryen prequel.HBO executives liked what they saw in Condal, who signed on as a creator, with Martin, and as a showrunner. After Sapochnik, who directed some of the original’s biggest episodes, also agreed to be a showrunner, HBO ordered “House of the Dragon” straight to series.“What appealed to me about it was it’s a family drama,” Bloys said. “Anybody who has stepparents or siblings or half siblings, or had warring factions of a family — I think every single family in America has dealt with some version of this.”As Condal got to work on “House of the Dragon,” he leaned on Martin’s expertise a lot — the opposite of what had happened with Martin in the later seasons of “Game of Thrones.” In the early seasons, Martin wrote and read scripts, consulted on casting decisions and visited sets. Over time, however, as he stepped back to focus on his long-delayed next “Thrones” novel, “The Winds of Winter,” Martin grew estranged from the show, which was created by D.B. Weiss and David Benioff.“By Season 5 and 6, and certainly 7 and 8, I was pretty much out of the loop,” Martin said.When asked why, he said, “I don’t know — you have to ask Dan and David.” (A representative for Weiss and Benioff declined to comment.)Martin also said that “The Winds of Winter” — which he conceded is “very, very late” but vowed to finish — diverges from where “Game of Thrones,” the series, went.“My ending will be very different,” he said.Martin said he wants from “Thrones” what Marvel has done — created a world that Disney continues to mine and that fans reliably show up to watch. Last year, he signed an overall deal with HBO, and he has been actively involved with the other spinoffs in development.“George, for us, in this process has been a really valuable resource,” Bloys said. “He is literally the creator of this world. He is its historian, its creator, its keeper. And so I can’t imagine doing a show that he didn’t believe in or didn’t endorse.”As for viewership totals, Bloys said he did not expect “House of the Dragon” to match the heights of “Game of Thrones.” But he was still hopeful that it will be a hit and lay the groundwork for future spinoffs.“There’s no world in which we expect this to pick up where the original left off,” Bloys said. “I think the show will do really well. But it will have to do the work on its own to bring people in and to sustain the viewership.” More

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    Martha Plimpton’s Favorite Things: Pamela Adlon, the Tate Modern, Abortion Rights

    The star of Amazon Freevee’s new comedy, “Sprung,” also confesses her public radio addiction and shows off her Edward Gorey tattoo.In a perfect world, Martha Plimpton typically has three to six months before shooting to get into character.But her latest role, in “Sprung” — which reunites Plimpton with her “Raising Hope” creator, Greg Garcia — happened on the fly.About a year ago, Plimpton was at her London home cooking dinner when Garcia called to ask about her plans for the next couple of months.Why? she responded.“He said, well, could you get on a plane on Sunday, do fittings on Monday and start shooting my series on Tuesday?” she said. “And I said, yeah, absolutely, get me the ticket.”“I didn’t even have to read the script,” she added. “It was Greg, and I would follow him into a volcano.”On her flight to Pittsburgh, she dug into that script. And somewhere over the Atlantic, Barb was born: the mother of a recently released convict (Phillip Garcia) who offers two of his fellow inmates room and board — if they join her robbery crew to earn their keep. A dowager’s hump, bright red hair streaked with white and a perma-snarl completed the character. “Sprung” debuts Aug. 19 on Amazon Freevee.In a video call from London, where she lives when she’s not in Brooklyn or Los Angeles, Plimpton elaborated on 10 things she can’t live without from a list of hundreds — “I wanted to say toilet paper or, I don’t know, clementines,” she quipped. Among them: driving Highway 101; her pandemic pooches, Walter and Jimmy Jazz; and abortion rights, for which she is a famously outspoken advocate.“They can make all the laws they want,” she said of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling, “but they’re not going to stop us.”These are edited excerpts from the conversation.1. “Gloria” (1980), directed by John Cassavetes “Gloria” is the first movie I remember seeing that was an action film with a woman heroine, firing a gun and running through Penn Station in heels and a fabulous silk Ungaro suit and easily the best hair in the history of Hollywood. I get goose bumps from Gena Rowlands’s power in this movie. It’s just a badass woman, kicking butt and taking names. It’s part of why I wanted and still want to be an actor, because I really [expletive] hope I get a role like that someday.2. Her Dogs During the early months of the pandemic, I thought I was going to lose my mind if I didn’t have an animal to take care of to get me out of the house. I contacted a lot of shelters and nobody had any dogs left. Then this lovely woman named Tiffany [at Animal Haven] wrote me back and said, “I just happen to have two little dogs here. I’ll bring these guys over.” I wanted to foster first, but I’m a typical foster fail because my dogs bring me enormous peace and a sense of living in the moment as much as humanly possible. They’re magical little creatures that make my heart bigger and teach me patience.3. Highway 101 It’s the route to my family home in Oregon. It’s astonishingly beautiful going from the California coast up through the redwoods and past the little motels on the side of the road and the lighthouses. And you’ve got to drive slow. You cannot go 75 miles an hour on Highway 101 or you’ll end up in the ocean. It forces you to take it all in one mile at a time.4. Tate museum membership Some of the most exciting things I’ve seen have been at the Tate Modern. Also, they have the best museum gift shop, and I’m huge on museum gift shops. The last show I saw was Lubaina Himid, who’s an extraordinary artist who works in a multitude of mediums, from sculpture to audio to site-specific stuff to these colorful, bright, beautiful paintings about life in London and colonialism, family, food.5. Public Radio I listen to NPR or WNYC easily 24 hours a day. I love the reporters. I love the name generator, where you can type in your birthday or whatever and it gives you one of those kooky names that they all have. It brings me a sense of continuity and keeps me informed because I don’t like to watch television news. I’m like one of those crazy spinster ladies who listen to the radio at night.6. The photographer Weegee My mom, for a time, was a research librarian so she had a lot of great photography books, like Robert Frank’s “The Americans.” But the one that I still have, and that I will never let go of, is her book of photographs by Weegee. I’ve been totally entranced by those photographs, completely mad for them. Photos of city life, freaks and weirdos and criminals and cons and card players and kids playing in the street. His photograph of a transsexual being carted off in a police wagon — just the look of joy on her face as she lifts her skirt to show her stocking — is one of the most extraordinary photographs I’ve ever seen.7. Edward Gorey My first and only tattoo is an Edward Gorey phrase. [Reveals the underside of her arm.] It says, “On which she flung herself over the parapet.” And then down here [shows her rib cage], there she is flinging herself over the parapet. I got that when I was 42. But Edward Gorey is an artist that I’d been looking at since I was very little — 3, 4, 5, 6. His “Gashlycrumb Tinies” book is, I suppose, the most famous. It’s all these children’s names that start with a letter from the alphabet, along with what horrible way they died.8. Abortion rights I’m angry, and I’m frustrated. I feel very strongly that a law codifying the right to abortion federally needs to be passed. I think we should pass the [Equal Rights Amendment] sooner rather than later. I think that our president has an obligation to do these things without concern necessarily for the climate in the Senate. Abortion is normal. It is a regular health procedure. I think the way we’re living now with this is sadistic and cruel, and it’s meant to silence us and to sideline us. And that’s just not going to happen.9. Pamela Adlon “Better Things” is one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen. I have rarely seen family portrayed so brutally honestly and also with such heart and good humor. Pamela has this sort of signature move. She leans over, she grabs her knees and she just exhales. [Demonstrates the move.] And that’s something that I so relate to, even though I don’t have kids. The boring, tedious agony of being a middle-aged woman, and particularly an actress, in our culture is ripe for that kind of exploration, for that kind of truth.10. Stephen Sondheim He is easily for me the greatest composer-lyricist of the 20th century, and he was utterly fearless, seemingly, in what he was willing to do. Musical theater has died a million deaths and he always seemed to be the one to bring it back to life. There are certain things that I will never be able to listen to without collapsing in a heap of tears and chills and goose bumps. “Sweeney Todd” might be up there as my absolute favorite. “Sunday in the Park With George” is another. When he died, I had those two on repeat very, very loud in my house, listening to them over and over again. He’s just such an extraordinary capturer of what it means to be a human being and to love and to believe in art. More

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    Hulu’s ‘The Bear’ Fuels Demand for Chicago’s Italian Beef Sandwich

    The FX series has fueled a spike in sales of the sandwich at Chicago-specialty restaurants across the country.Last month, Dan Michaels, an owner of Gino’s East of Chicago in Los Angeles, watched as orders for Italian beef — the classic Chicago sandwich of thinly sliced roast beef and tangy giardiniera piled on a roll — suddenly soared to 300 a day, from 150 a day in June.“The Bear” had struck again.The cross-talking, anxiety-inducing series from FX about a struggling Chicago beef sandwich shop and its harried kitchen brigade has drawn acclaim from food media and restaurant veterans, propelled a slew of “Yes, Chef!” memes gushing over the lead actor, Jeremy Allen White, and energized a collective lust for sweaty line cooks.The show has also spurred instant demand for the delectably sloppy Italian beef sandwiches at the center of the plot’s chaos. Search interest on Google, according to Google Trends, nearly doubled after the show was released on Hulu on June 23, and Chicago-style restaurants across the country are feeling the effects in person.From left, Jeremy Allen White, Lionel Boyce and Ebon Moss-Bachrach convening in a walk-in refrigerator on “The Bear.”FX, via Associated PressMike Klaersch, the owner of the Pizza Man, a mom-and-pop Chicago joint outside Kansas City, Kan., noticed customers piling in for the sandwiches. The restaurant, he said, sold five to six times as many as it did in June.Jarret Kerr, an owner of Dog Day Afternoon, a Chicago Italian beef and hot dog restaurant in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, said he had seen at least a 50 percent increase in orders of hot Italian beef sandwiches — at $15, the most expensive item on the menu — since the show debuted. The cramped shop used to sell up to a dozen a day; the staff is now slinging 30 or more a day and selling out daily.“It’s been a godsend,” Mr. Kerr said. “Now every day we say, well, thank you to ‘The Bear,’ thank you to ‘The Bear.’”The shop was name-checked last month on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” when Mr. Meyers and the actor Mr. White, who stars as Carmy in the series, took bites of its Italian beef sandwich. (A “Late Night” intern snagged the last two sandwiches before the shop sold out for the day, Mr. Kerr said.)Goldbelly, an e-commerce company that delivers specialties like lobster rolls and gumbo from restaurants around the country, has seen a 30 percent increase in sales of Italian beef sandwiches since “The Bear” premiered, a spokeswoman for the company said. (That number could soon rise with the recent addition of the Chicago staple Al’s Beef to the site.)According to Chicagoans, a true Italian beef relies on a consistent, harmonious formula of roast beef and hot giardiniera, all atop — this is important — a Turano Baking Company French roll. Roasted peppers, for a touch of sweetness, are optional. The sandwich is then “dipped, dunked or baptized” in beef juices according to jus preference, said Henry Tibensky, a native Chicagoan and the founder and chef of Hank’s Juicy Beef, a roving Chicago hot dog and sandwich pop-up in New York City.The gloriously messy sandwich as served at Al’s Beef in Chicago.Anjali Pinto for The New York TimesAmjad Haj, an owner of two Al’s Beef locations in Chicago, hasn’t seen an increase in business, but his customers are talking about the show. “One thing I’ve heard a couple of times though is they don’t think the accent is right,” Mr. Haj said. (Staff members at three other Chicago-area restaurants we contacted hadn’t heard of “The Bear” at all.)Not even the recent heat wave that hit much of the country could slow demand. Italian beef sandwich orders have doubled over the last two weeks at Emmett’s, a Chicago-cuisine restaurant in Manhattan, said the owner, Emmett Burke.At Mr. Beef On Orleans in Chicago, where exterior scenes for “The Bear” were shot, business is booming. Joseph Zucchero, an owner who opened the shop in 1979, said he went from selling 250 to 300 Italian beefs per day pre-“Bear” to 800 daily in early July.“The week after it aired, all of a sudden, we were out of bread,” Mr. Zucchero said. Some days he keeps the shop open three to four hours past closing time to accommodate the line of customers.As for the show? “I haven’t seen it yet,” he said as a phone started to ring in the background. “I’m too busy. I’m waiting for all of the hullabaloo to calm down.”Follow New York Times Cooking on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and Pinterest. Get regular updates from New York Times Cooking, with recipe suggestions, cooking tips and shopping advice. More

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    Stephen Colbert Taunts Trump for Bad Bathroom Behavior

    “To be fair, it’s unclear if those are official White House documents or his toilet’s suicide note,” Colbert said.Welcome to Best of Late Night, a rundown of the previous night’s highlights that lets you sleep — and lets us get paid to watch comedy. Here are the 50 best movies on Netflix right now.Name DropperStephen Colbert couldn’t resist razzing Donald Trump on Monday night after photos were released that were said to show ripped up notes in the former president’s toilet.“Not the first time the former president tried to flush something embarrassing. One time, staffers went in there and found Eric,” Colbert joked, referring to the former president’s son.“Of course, when the story broke, the ex-president denied it. So, that’s it. There’s no way to know the truth — until this weekend, when the plot went from one-ply to two, because Haberman revealed these photos from a White House source, showing some torn-up toilet memos. To be fair, it is unclear if those are official White House documents or his toilet’s suicide note.” — STEPHEN COLBERT, referring to Maggie Haberman, a New York Times reporter“He even wrote the name ‘Stefanik,’ as in Elise Stefanik, one of the ex-president’s biggest G.O.P. defenders in Congress. If you’re in the MAGA world, that’s huge. Congrats, Elise, heard the president dropped your name.” — STEPHEN COLBERT“Wow, even the toilets are writing tell-alls.” — JIMMY FALLONThe Punchiest Punchlines (Biden’s Back — Again Edition)“Good news, President Biden is now Covid-free! Happy to hear that. He’s back on his feet and as healthy as a 175-year-old horse.” — ROB MCELHENNEY, guest host of “Jimmy Kimmel Live”“This was Biden’s second bout with the virus. You know, these rebound Covid cases are quite rare. They say the odds of Joe Biden getting reinfected were almost as low as the odds that he gets re-elected.” — ROB MCELHENNEY“And 18 days is a long time in quarantine, but I’m sure he’ll get right back into the swing of things, you know, because, yeah, being president is a lot like, you know, riding a bike — oh, Joe, no, don’t do it! Don’t do it!” — TREVOR NOAH“Yeah, Biden had a great weekend. He’s feeling so good, last night he looked at his bottle of Cialis like, ‘Not tonight, pal. I got this.’” — JIMMY FALLONThe Bits Worth WatchingThe Canadian singer-songwriter Lauren Spencer-Smith made her U.S. television debut on Monday’s “Tonight Show.”What We’re Excited About on Tuesday NightKate McKinnon will pop by Tuesday’s “Tonight Show.”Also, Check This OutAbbi Jacobson plays a talented, anxious catcher who becomes her team’s leader.Amazon StudiosAbbi Jacobson cocreated and stars in the new Amazon television adaptation of the popular 1992 film, “A League of Their Own.” More

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    ‘Better Call Saul’ Season 6, Episode 12 Recap: Hit the Road

    Kim would like to make a confession, Gene has a new problem, and Jeff has car trouble.Season 6, Episode 12: ‘Waterworks’After years of blending in and keeping low in Omaha, Gene Takavic, a.k.a. Saul Goodman, is about to lam it. In the closing moments of this episode, he is outed for good by a terrified but determined Marion, who has discovered the truth about her overly helpful pal. All it took was a computer, Ask Jeeves and a few key words: “Con man” and “Albuquerque.”We still don’t know why Gene changed from a skittish, no-profile schmo into a risk-addled home invader. One assumed that there were clues to be gleaned from the conversation he had with Kim in the previous episode, but in this one, we hear that conversation and nothing about it says, “This guy needs a lot of cash, stat.” It might be that swindlers need to swindle, that Jimmy/Saul isn’t alive unless he is ripping someone off and skirting the law. Perhaps this isn’t a story about a man who needs money. It’s a story about a man who can’t change.If so, it sets up a stark distinction between Jimmy/Saul and Kim. We find her in Titusville, Fla., living an utterly pedestrian life designing brochures for a sprinkler wholesaler. She seems reasonably happy with her hunky boyfriend and their suburban, backyard-barbeque life. The justice-seeking lawyer in her has been quashed, and we get only the briefest peek at her former self when Kim flies to Albuquerque and visits the courthouse, where she looks enviously at a public defender. In a glance, she sees the life she has abandoned, the calling that drew her with such force that she hatched a very nasty scheme — to frame Howard Hamlin as a drug addict — in order to fund it.Kim has returned to New Mexico to right a wrong. She confesses everything in an affidavit, which she presents both to prosecutors and to Cheryl, Howard’s widow. It’s all there. Every petty twist in the plot that buried Howard, including his murder at hands of Lalo Salamanca. This drastic act happens right after that call from Jimmy/Saul in the previous episode.“I’m still getting away with it,” Jimmy/Saul says.“You should turn yourself in,” Kim replies, after a painful silence.The Return of ‘Better Call Saul’The “Breaking Bad” prequel is ending this year.A Refresher: Need to catch up? Here’s where things left off after the first seven episodes of the show’s final season, which aired this spring.Bob Odenkirk: After receiving a fifth Emmy nomination in July, the star discussed bringing some measure of self-awareness to the character of Saul for his final bow.Stealing the Show: Kim Wexler’s long slide toward perdition has become arguably the narrative keystone of the series, thanks to Rhea Seehorn’s performance.Writing the Perfect Con: We asked the show’s writers to break down a pivotal scene in the ​​transformation of Jimmy McGill into Saul Goodman.“Why don’t you turn yourself in, seeing as you’re the one with the guilty conscience,” Jimmy/Saul says. “What is stopping you?”He then lists the people, all dead, who could possibly help implicate Kim. It’s a reminder that she could tell the authorities the whole truth, and without any bodies and any witnesses, it might not matter.It’s a point that Kim herself makes when Cheryl asks whether this conscience-cleansing affidavit comes with any authentic legal peril. The truth is that Kim can keep getting away with it, too, even if she wants to be punished. Maybe that’s why she cries during the ride on the rental car bus. The unburdened life is unavailable to her. It’s a predicament worthy of Dostoyevsky, and it’s an especially gruesome fate given that she was the one who conceived and pushed for the scheme against Howard. There was a time — it started at the end of Season 5, to be precise — when Kim was the more wicked of this duo.Not that Kim has become a saint. Note that she tells Cheryl one whopper — that Jimmy might be dead. (To be lawyerly and specific about it, Kim says that there are no living witnesses to events described in the affidavit, other than her ex-husband, “assuming he’s still alive.”) She knows he’s alive. She just spoke to him. Kim was always the better liar in this couple, and that is still true.But with her job and boyfriend in Florida, Kim was taking a stab at a dull and law-abiding life. At first, it seemed hard to fathom that she had managed to become an office worker whose life revolved around writing vivid descriptions of plastic tubing. It seems a long way from the valiant efforts she made on behalf of indigent clients. Remember though, that the crusading incarnation of Kim was relatively new. She worked for years as an associate at a law firm, and then she burrowed deep into the intricacies of banking regulations as counsel to Mesa Verde, a local bank with regional dreams. She’s done the office drudgery thing before.Whether she can keep her quotidian existence is a question that is no longer hers alone to answer. Her affidavit incriminates Jimmy, too, and at minimum, he is going to need to run from the law. If he is caught, the show could end with an episode that pits Kim against Jimmy, back in Albuquerque, perhaps in a trial that garners national attention. (“Consigliere of Dead Meth Baron Implicated by Ex-Wife!”)Kim would be the only witness who could send Jimmy away. And it’s getting easier to root for some jail time for this guy, is it not? In the last few episodes the writers have put their collective and heavy thumbs on the scale by turning Saul/Gene into a monster. In this week’ episode, he appeared to be on the verge of strangling Marion with a cord, and earlier he seemed every bit as ready to cold-cock a man with the urn containing the ashes of his dog.This is a nervy turn of events. The show has ditched the idea that this is a narrative about love. The show will culminate, it seems, by posing questions about fairness and justice and maybe mercy. Will Cheryl forgive Kim or sue her? Will Kim testify against Jimmy or spare him?What ending does Saul Goodman deserve?Odds and EndsIt’s great to see Jesse Pinkman return for yet another scene, one that occurs before he goes to speak to Saul about springing his friend Badger out of jail, an event from the “Breaking Bad” timeline. His dialogue sounds utterly organic. (“It’s crazy, like bananas, all this rain. I thought we were, like, in a desert, you know?”)But this feels a bit like stunt casting because it’s hard to see how his presence moves the story forward. The scene ends with Kim saying that Saul was a good lawyer back when she knew him, underscoring the notion that the man she married no longer exists. That’s a point that could have been made without Jesse, and one that is pretty obvious during the signing of the divorce papers, moments earlier, when Saul feigns indifference as they muddle through the paperwork. It would have been great to learn something about Saul we could not have known unless Jesse showed up. Or even something new about Jesse.Fun fact: Kim represented Combo after he stole a creche.Wait, another scene of Kim brushing her teeth?Jeff’s freak out and car wreck seem implausible, even for Jeff.Saul/Gene uses the name Viktor St. Clair as a pseudonym when he calls Kim, which she appears to recognize immediately. Sound familiar? It’s the name he used (“Viktor, with a K”) when he and Kim ran their first con together, on the foul-mouthed stockbroker Ken, back in the Season 2 premiere (with help from a spiky-topped bottle of Zafiro Añejo).We learn during that phone conversation that Kim did not take the Sandpiper Crossing settlement money. Her conscience has been plaguing her for a while.Perhaps the best part of this episode is the way that its writer and director, Vince Gilligan, captured office life with such uncanny verisimilitude. The birthday cakes, the Miracle Whip lunch talk, the ritualized passing of hole punchers from one employee to another — it’s all so dead on. Offices like that of Palm Coast Sprinklers have been a part of television for a long time, but this might be the most accurate depiction of it Your Faithful Recapper has ever seen.The next episode is the last. The end of an era! Feel free to make predictions in the comments section. More

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    What’s on TV This Week: ‘The Princess’ and ‘Password’

    HBO airs a new documentary on the life and death of Princess Diana. And NBC brings back a game show.Between network, cable and streaming, the modern television landscape is a vast one. Here are some of the shows, specials and movies coming to TV this week, Aug. 8 — 14. Details and times are subject to change.MondayMOULIN ROUGE (2001) 5:49 p.m. on Starz. Over twenty years before Baz Luhrmann was focused on “Elvis,” he directed this whimsical, pop-music filled love story. Set in Paris in 1899 Christian (Ewan McGregor), a writer, meets Satine (Nicole Kidman), a cabaret dancer, at Moulin Rouge and tries to impress her in order to be able to perform his play at the now-iconic venue in the outskirts of Montmartre. They end up falling in love despite the relationship Satine is faking with a Duke (Richard Roxburgh) who is helping fund the club. “‘Moulin Rouge’ will be accused of having no heart,” Elvis Mitchell wrote in his review for The New York Times. “But the truth is just the opposite. The movie has so much heart that the poor overworked organ explodes in every scene.”TuesdayFrom left: a contestant, Jimmy Fallon and Keke Palmer in “Password.”Jordan Althaus/NBCPASSWORD 10 p.m. on NBC. In 1961, CBS aired its first episode of this game show. After a 14-year run, the show ended and instead became an occasional segment on Jimmy Fallon’s “The Tonight Show.” This Tuesday, the show is coming back with Fallon as an executive producer and Keke Palmer as the host. Each episode will feature Fallon teaming up with a celebrity guest (to name a few: Chelsea Handler, Heidi Klum and Martin Short), and they will be playing against two contestants to guess a secret password using one-word codes. The first episode of the show will honor Betty White, who originally played the game on the show in 1961 — which is also where she met her husband, Allen Ludden, who hosted the show.HARD KNOCKS: THE DETROIT LIONS 10 p.m. on HBO. With a new team and new season, football fans are getting another inside look into what goes on at training camp — this season follows the Detroit Lions. Each season of this long-running show follows a different NFL team’s players and coaches in their personal and professional lives. This year, cameras followed the Lions at their training camp in Allen Park, Mi. Later this fall, there will be another new season featuring the Arizona Cardinals.WednesdayAlan Tudyk in “Resident Alien.”SYFYRESIDENT ALIEN 10 p.m. on SYFY. After a midseason break, this show is back on Wednesday to tie up loose ends from the first half of the second season. In the series, which is based on a comic book of the same name, Alan Tudyk plays Harry Vanderspeigle, an alien who was dropped to earth on a mission to destroy all life but cannot do that until he fixes his spaceship. In the meantime, he pretends to be a small town doctor. The show has already been renewed for a third season.ThursdayBUMP 8 p.m. on the CW. Coming all the way from Australia, this show about an unexpected teen pregnancy is airing in the U.S. for the first time this week. The series begins when a 17-year-old girl named Olympia (Nathalie Morris) is rushed to the hospital for intense cramps and finds out she is actually in labor. She then has to reassess her ten-year plan when she realizes the baby’s father is not her boyfriend. The original run on Stan in Australia finished after two seasons.FridayCHILDREN OF THE UNDERGROUND 8 p.m. on FX. In the late 1980s into the early 1990s, Faye Yager was creating a secret network of women and children who she was helping protect from alleged abuse at the hands of their husbands or fathers when the criminal justice system did not step in. In 1992, she went to trial herself, for kidnapping and emotional cruelty of the children she was claiming to help. Though she was acquitted of all charges, public opinion has not decided whether she was hurting or helping the families she worked with. This original documentary is diving deep into who Yager was and what she was trying to accomplish in this five-part original series.SaturdayTHE PRINCESS (2022) 8 p.m. on HBO. Aug. 31 will mark the 25th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Though there has been no shortage of details surrounding her untimely death in the years that followed, this documentary uses archival interviews and footage to highlight key moments in the princess’s public life and lay out the details as if they were happening in real time. The film focuses on the public adoration of the princess as well as the intense media scrutiny she faced.SundayAaron Paul in “Westworld.”John Johnson/HBOWESTWORLD 9 p.m. on HBO. This show, which was first set in a futuristic park meant for wealthy people looking for a vacation, is wrapping up its fourth season this week. The show first premiered in 2016, and viewers experienced a seven-year time jump in the show between season three and the current season. This season consisted of eight episodes, and there is no word from HBO yet about whether it will be renewed.WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? 7 p.m. on NBC. It turns out that Zachary Quinto, who played Commander Spock in “Star Trek Beyond,” wasn’t the first person in his family to say the iconic greeting “live long and prosper” — his great-grandfather, P.J. McArdle, wrote a letter to the editor in a newspaper published in 1899 that ends with the phrase: “May it live long and prosper.” This is just one of the things that Quinto finds out about his history on this show, executive produced by Ancestry, which is finishing up its eighth season this week. This season comprised six episodes featuring Billy Porter, Nick Offerman, Allison Janney, Zachary Levi and Bradley Whitford.GRANTCHESTER 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings). The seventh season of this series is set in the summer of 1959. There are lots of murders happening in the city of Grantchester, which gives the detective inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green) and his friend, the Reverend Will Davenport (Tom Brittney) a lot of crime solving to do. The show, which originally aired on ITV in Britain, has not yet confirmed whether there will be an eighth season. More