That the new Golden Age of Television coincided with huge advancements in computer-generated effects can’t be a coincidence, right? Sure, celebrated shows like The Wire and Deadwood were maaaybe better known for their writing than they were for CGI, but these days it’s hard to find a classic show that doesn’t somehow include seamless special effects.
Most of the big genre hits have effects that rival or surpass those found in summer movies, but even dramas like Breaking Bad and Mad Men use computer imagery in such crucial ways that these shows may have been prohibitively expensive to produce in earlier eras.
So let’s give all those unheralded tech whizzes their props: Special effects have never been better or more crucial to the shows we love.
Below are some off-the-top-of-our-heads picks for TV shows with the best effects work. Which show’s visuals are YOU constantly amazed by?
Game of Thrones - is another show that uses effects in both ostentatious AND subtle ways. There’s no debate about how straight-up incredible the wildfire incident was, but Season 2 also gave us Dany’s haunting hallucination scene, plus the now-CGI direwolves looked just as organic and normal as their real dog predecessors. And those baby dragons looked so real that I’m pretty sure everyone in the world wants one now.
The second season of “Game of Thrones” is over and the long wait for Season 3 has begun. The only question now is: Are you going to sit and wait on your couch or on your made-to-order $30,000 life-size replica of the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms?
HBO is now selling replicas of the Iron Throne through its online HBO Shop with the $30,000 price tag and a shipping fee of $1,800. It’s the kind of collectible only a Lannister could afford.
This custom chair is designed to mimic the seat of kings in the Seven Kingdoms. On the show, the Iron Throne was constructed by Aegon I Targaryen, the first king of the Seven Kingdoms. He made it from the swords surrendered by his enemies. Legend has it, it’s made of a thousand swords that took 59 days to hammer out into a throne. Spikes and jagged edges in every direction make this one very intimidating lounge.
- Dimensions: Height: 7’2″, Depth: 5’11″, Width: 5’5″
- Made Of: Hand finished, hand painted fiberglass throne.
- Weight: 350 pounds
HBO is continuing their YouTube experiment after posting Girls online, they are also hosting Veep. The show, which will only be available online until May 21, stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as a former senator who’s been asked to be Vice President of the United States
The full bio from HBO:
Former Senator Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) has accepted the call to serve as Vice President of the United States. The job is nothing like she imagined and everything she was warned about. ‘Veep’ follows Meyer and her staff as they attempt to make their mark and leave a lasting legacy, without getting tripped up in the day-to-day political games that define Washington.
Created by Armando Iannucci (The Thick of It, In the Loop), a Scottish comedian, director, and writer famous for his satires about British politics.
Watch the full pilot episode – Fundraiser
Clip – “I’m the body man”
In a new twist for HBO, they have posted episode 1 of their new series, Girls, on YouTube. The show, which will only be available until May 14, is about four college graduates struggling to get by in New York City.
A sort-of Sex in the City, the early years. The bio from HBO:
Created by and starring Lena Dunham (“Tiny Furniture”), the show is a comic look at the assorted humiliations and rare triumphs of a group of girls in their early 20s. Dunham wrote and directed the pilot of the series, which she executive produces along with Judd Apatow and Jenni Konner. The cast also includes Jemima Kirke, Allison Williams, Adam Driver and Zosia Mamet. Episodes were shot in New York. The ten-episode season debuts in 2012.
Watch the full pilot episode – Girls
Clip – “you know that part about special skills on your resume…”
He became a giant of television for creating The West Wing, then the toast of Hollywood for The Social Network…now Aaron Sorkin, is set to launch one of the most eagerly anticipated media events of the season.
The Newsroom, which begins on the cable channel HBO on 24 June.
A trailer has been released online, and set television critics raving. It featured the show’s star, a news anchor called Will McAvoy, played by Jeff Daniels, having an apparent meltdown on a chatshow.
But just in case anyone is thinking that liberal darling Sorkin is going only for the Democratic half of America, the clip contains a shocking revelation. “I’m a registered Republican. I only seem liberal because I believe hurricanes are caused by high barometric pressure, not gay marriage,” McAvoy growls. Not that this has appeased many on the Republican right, where there has been rapid condemnation of McAvoy as an unlikely and unpatriotic televised version of an American conservative.
The Newsroom, like The Social Network, will reveal a secret story behind the world of modern media. But this time Sorkin is setting the drama in the old-tech world of a television news studio.
“It looks set to examine the process of how something is made. That’s what Sorkin is good at,” said Caryn James.
Here is another one: Indie Game: The Movie
A behind the scenes look at the tiny, passionate teams of imaginative programmers and level designers who spend years and thousands of dollars slaving away towards realizing lifelong dreams of sharing their creative vision.
The documentary follows two different game developers building games for the X-Box Live Arcade. One is called Super Meat Boy, the other is called Fez.
Now these aren’t the thousands strong teams that bring us games like Call of Duty or Fallout 3, these are young dudes who have a passion for gaming. Both teams consist of 2-3 people doing all the coding, designing, business end stuff, organizing, beta testing and distributing of their work.
The Super Meat Boy guys (Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes) are the upstarts, bright-eyed young men bound and determined to wow the world with their concept
The makers of Fez are more the rock stars (Phil Fish) who made a big splash at a gaming con when they announced the game. They won awards, garnered huge praise from the gaming press and then disappeared.
They also give us a brief history of indie gaming, underlining the huge boom thanks to X-Box Live Arcade, tablets and smart phones.