The Itty Bitty Symphony

“Winter Is Coming” shirts are now IN THE STORE!!! [based on this comic]

As last Sunday approached I really did start to get desperate. Without adding HBO to my already bloated television package, how was I going to watch Game of Thrones? I was lucky enough to shotgun all of season one  during a weekend long HBO free preview last June, but no such serendipity presented itself this time around. I assumed that, this being a non-insane world, I would be able to purchase HBO Go on my iPad and hook it up to my TV for the weekly viewings of beheadings and blood fountains and wolf maulings and such. Turns out this is in fact a TOTALLY INSANE WORLD, where HBO only offers it’s mobile service to those that ALREADY pay for HBO through their cable or satellite provider. You would think they would want, let’s say, $6-10 a month from all of the people who want to watch their content but don’t want 275 other channels of bullshit. It is one of those “shut up and take my money!” situations where the other party REFUSES to A) shut up and B) take the aforementioned monies.

I know this frustration is the result of existing deals the premium channels have with the cable companies that stipulate they not offer their content a la carte. The reason for these deals is to keep you paying $100 a month to get the 10 channels you watch instead of paying $2 or $3 a month per channel for those same 10 channels. Cable companies essentially operate under a model of prolonged denial of their own obsolescence enforced via content providers acting against their own best interests out of fear of change. It’s really a great system where everyone wins, only the prize is sadness. The concept of a cable company is broken. They know it and they also know that they are no longer necessary. Channels will be apps in less than 5 years. If you embrace that idea now, you might not end up like the record industry, you stupid dummies.

Luckily, my television provider just so happened to be offering 3 months of free HBO right when Game Of Thrones was about to premiere. I assumed the two events must be connected, but I couldn’t figure out how it benefitted AT&T (the provider in question). The only thing I could think of was that they are hoping to stifle anyone that might leave for another company offering new subscribers a billion free channels (including HBO) for the first 6 months, or that HBO requested the deal to get new users hooked on that sweet, sticky GoT. The first season’s free, as it were.

Speaking of Game Of Thrones, I did finally see the premiere last night and DAMN if it didn’t remind me what I was so excited about 9 months ago. Every single second Peter Dinklage is on screen I am essentially giggling with excitement. He absolutely owns every line and steals every scene. Even those he isn’t in, because I am still thinking about him. He’s like Poochie. Every time he’s off screen the other characters should be saying “Where’s Tyrion?” He puts the “IMP” in PIMP. My only criticism (and this is more George R. R. We There Yet‘s fault) is that with SO MANY new characters, new plot threads and new claims to the throne, it is difficult to see any one plot line or character arch progress during a single hour long episode. Alright, I have to get going. This three-eyed crow isn’t going to have nightmares about itself!

COMMENTERS: What did you think of the GoT premiere? If you are posting SPOILERS, please tag you comments appropriately. What’s the most complicated or expensive thing you’ve ever done to get to watch any one show? When I was a teenager, my home town stopped carrying Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I had a girlfriend that lived out in the sticks and she was able to pick up Houston’s paramount affiliate on her 30 foot tall arial antenna. I would drive a tape to her house, she would record a month or so worth of episodes and I would watch them all in a sitting. DS9 was one of the primary reasons I was not able to break up with her LONG after I realized we had nothing in common.

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  1. I suffer for the fact that I refuse to pay for any broadcast television, digesting everything via the intertubes. In situations like GoT or True Blood, I wait patiently, biding my time, until the season is available for viewing or purchase en mass online. And since HBO is one of those companies that won’t release such content until well after the season is over, I reward myself by hermiting away for a weekend of watching every fucking episode back to back, devouring the whole show at once, like a 10 hour long movie, only emerging from my darkened apartment on Sunday to realize that I do, in fact, live in the 21st century, and not in a pseudo-medieval world of intrigue and incest.

  2. Torrents. That' how "my friend" watches Game of Thrones, Dexter and True Blood. It could end up being the most expensive thing he has ever done to watch a show, if he ever gets caught by someone that cares

  3. I wouldn't say it was either very complicated nor expensive (free can't be called expensive, right?), but I got the free month trial of Netflix soley to watch Dr. Who. I'd just gotten into it after keeping it at bay for far too long, and I annoyed the heck out of my wife by cramming every season up to the Matt Smith era into that month (Matt Smith's Doctor had to wait for DVD since a)they hadn't aired yet b)they weren't on Netflix).

    As a side note: I actually finished Dr. Who pretty quick, so I finished off the month watching every Phineas and Ferb.

  4. I got hooked on GoT last summer when I was visiting my uncle in San Diego. Watched all the episodes in 2 1/2 days. Then I come back home where I don't have HBO. It's cruel, cruel punishment to have to be without my show!

    Also, my uncle acts just like Josh when we talk. That smug GoT watchin' bastard.

  5. The premiere was great. Tyrion is, and always shall be, my frie- er, favorite character. The scene between Cerci and Littlefinger was awesome-sauce as well. However, I watched it twice and it almost felt like there was an introductory scene missing. They sort of just jumped right in to everything without any build up. Granted, with so much going on, they sort of need to do that; and having read the books I knew who was who. But still, I felt like someone unfamiliar with the story would have no idea who Stannis was and only barely remember Renly when he was mentioned in passing.

  6. I absolutely loved the premiere. It is rare to find a show that is absolutely, 100% worth the wait between seasons and GoT nails it on all fronts. The episode ended and within moments I had my face pressed to the window, looking out over the rainy day, longing for the next episode to arrive.

  7. It was quite nice.

    most expensive thing I've done for a TV show: bought the laserdisc sets of Zeta Gundam via a friend who lived in japan; cost about $1000 total, in 1994.

  8. Gah! I have not had the chance to see ANY of the HBO series. I just finished the first book and am now 3/4 of the way through the second, and the DVDs from Netflix have an ungodly long wait time.

  9. I dated a guy who would go over to his friend's house every week to tape the first season of Babylon 5. She was a busy mom, so if he didn't come over to tape it, it didn't get taped. A few weeks into dating, his Babylon 5 obsession didn't seem as important to him, so he stopped going to the trouble. His friends blamed me for the loss of these tapes, they didn't have specialty cable either. He eventually got me hooked on B5, Red Dwarf, and Miyazaki films, had an interesting tape collection that included the Logan's run TV series. We were able to watch later seasons of B5 on regular Canadian cable, friends of mine in Montreal were able to catch it just with antennae on one of their 5 channels.

    • You know what's worse than that? Working for Time Warner and not having a good answer as to why we don't have HBO Go yet.

  10. "The reason for these deals is to keep you paying $100 a month to get the 10 channels you watch instead of paying $2 or $3 a month per channel for those same 10 channels."

    If cable went to a la carte, a lot of niche channels would effectively disappear, partly because the only reason cable carriers have those channels is because they are lumped into packages with other, larger channels and aprtly because if they didn't have enough a la carte subscribers, they wouldn't be cost-effective to offer at all. Plus, you'd lose a lot of the "surf and discover" factor that I personally love about television.

    Of course, I really just don't want to lose my cushy cable job.

  11. Well, Joel…

    Primarily: Due to the fact that you've provided me with numerous hours of free entertainment…
    Secondarily: Due to the fact that I live a few brief moments away from you in Arlington…
    Tertiarily {Really?}: Due the fact that I pay cruel amounts of money every month to have, without exaggeration, every channel that TWC provides, other than the Sports Package…

    I offer to you any shows that you require.

    • I knew that I was missing a reason:

      Game of Fucking Thrones

      {Now that I've watched to Tattoo video, which you so kindly linked above.. I'll never be able to hear the theme song any differently than that. And that's such a good thing.}

  12. Sorry to post an off-topic comment all. Joel, I just wanted to say that you are a trully awesome human being. You may never know exactly how much my wife appreciates your general awesomeness and your Emerald City Comicon Awesomeness in specific. Thank you.

  13. I'm in a very similar boat with GOT. I too shotgunned the first season during a free preview just last weekend . Even got to see the season premier (that was last weekend right? the 11th ep and it's air date was 2012, so I assumed it was the premier). And now I'm left out in the cold (north of the wall?) unable to continue enjoying the infighting, incest, decapitating, fireproof boobies & baby dragons, and snow-zombie fun times! I can't afford to bump up my TV (dishnetwork) package, hell the only reason I HAVE one at all is someone else in the house pays for it.

    I would have been better off not getting hooked during that free preview. damn HBO is like a crack dealer "first taste is free man". I'm stuck going cold turkey, I'll probably never see the rest of the series, by the time it's on DVD or downloadable, I'll have forgotten about it/be too broke to buy it.

  14. Insane world indeed. When I became a grownup with a job and a credit card, I got too lazy to pirate games. It's so much easier to buy from a store or, better yet, buy online and download what ever I want, when ever I want it. I can even get what ever physical objects I can think from Amazon.
    I don't mind at all that I have to pay for my frivolous junk, as long as it is exactly the frivolous junk I want. If Amazon send me a stack of random magazines with every book I order, I would be pissed. If they also dictated that I have to read the book at home this week and then they take it away, I would never buy from them.

  15. That "Imp in PIMP" line is so awesome that I might just have to tell all my friends and pretend I made it up. Telling you here absolves me of dick points for that, right?

  16. Back in 1994 Joplin MO decided to pull the FOX station off cable when they got the NFL rights over ABC. This was largely due to the fact that the station manager for the ABC station was on the city council. So, the ABC station became a secondary affiliate of FOX. This meant they showed the NFL games and were supposed to air the FOX prime-time programs as well. They decided to run shows like "The Simpsons" and "The X-Files" sometime AFTER 1am, and not on the same day the aired on FOX. So when the second part of "Who shot Mr. Burns" aired on Sunday at 8pm, we had to wait until Friday at 1:30am to see it. They were also not very strict on the time table either. Sometimes the shows would start at 1am, sometimes later. On a few occasions they ran a 30 minute infomercial in the middle of "The X-Files. So you had to set a tape to run all night, just to be sure you got the show you wanted. If I didn't hate sports before, I certainly did after this. It wasn't until 1996 that we got FOX back. Strangely enough, right about the time the NFL rights reverted to ABC. This was in the pre-DVD days, so watching the whole season without taping it was unheard of!

  17. As a 60 year old guy, my TV drug of choice was The Avengers, circa 1966. If only Emma Peel would dump that 007-wannabe and notice ME! Fast forward thru 40 years of no reruns, cult status, and pre-internet withdrawls to three years ago. We have DVD box sets at CostoCo for $200. Sold. But the moral is not to let too much time go by. I never watched more that a couple episodes, never even ripped the set to my 3Tbyte harddrive full of other videos. Sad sigh. It's more about the having the memory sitting on your shelf after time has passed for THAT long. To have a teenaged level of obsession would feel so good right now… Thanks for a comic that reminded me of the weekly thrill back in the old days.

  18. The only solution that I can offer is to point a webcam at my TV and P2P stream it to you. Or read the books. Or just chunk down for the HBO 'til the season is done and can it like I do. Let the folk at HBO know that I'm only in it for the GoT action.

  19. I keep telling the cable and satellite reps that I'll subscribe to their service when they let me cherry-pick the 10 or so channels I want for $50/month without having to take ESPNs 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-pi and the other crap they use as filler. They keep saying that there's just no way for them to do that. I call them lairs and ignorant of their own technology.

  20. Whatever, Joel! ::holds up "W" fingers::
    Once the government finally locks down the internet via some SOPA clone, the record industry will be back on top, baby! The only problem right now is the 12 guys that are still illegally downloading Lady Gaga, and definitely NOT with the record industry's quaint 1960's business model. ::nods head vigorously::

    A few months ago, when I was feeling the same way about the presidential primary coverage that you now feel about Sean Bean, I called up my mom and had her do essentially what Josh won't do up there. Although, to be honest, if she's paying for CNN, shouldn't SOMEONE be watching her share? I think it's only fair. Not to mention that I've now been exposed to hours of their advertising (included in the live stream), and that's why I own this big pile of coal. I'm just *that* susceptible to advertising.

  21. We have worked around this conundrum the following way: My friends' neighbors are young and their parents are paying for HBO. They have given my friends' (who are olds and married) their HBO Go password. Many of us gather each Monday night in their living room to take advantage of the situation.

    Seriously, I would absolutely pay piece meal for some HBO. Especially now that HBO Go is available on the Xbox. But I don't have cable so I can't get it. Which also, why the hell would I need HBO Go on my xbox on my tv if I already had cable right there on my tv? I don't get it.

  22. As someone who works for a cable company, let me tell you, you have it exactly backwards. The way it works is that a company, let’s say for instance ESPN, in order for us to offer their programming, which lots of people like, we are required by contract to offer every other ESPN network, including, if they feel like it, the Ocho, otherwise we lose ESPN.

    A better way of thinking of it is that, in all honesty, not as many people watch the Discovery Channel as watch Lifetime. All those lifetime watchers are subsidizing your enjoyment of Mythbusters.

    Cable companies have wanted to offer individual channels separately for years, because they could charge a lot more per channel, and people would be happy about it because they’d be paying less, but paying more per channel. However, everyone in the industry realizes the inevitable result of this would be that 90% of the channels on television would die out, and sadly, it would be the channels you, as a geek, like the most that would be hit hardest.

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