Category Archives: Television

The Summer of Mail


Please email Stephen all of your movie, TV, and random entertainment questions:

The dog days of summer are officially upon us, and with the heat and humidity making everyone miserable, I would gladly take some of that “Winter is coming” that Jon Snow is always talking about.  This is a very unusual time of year with baseball taking a break for a few days, most of the summer blockbuster movies have come and gone (RIP Indominus Rex), and Comic-Con has completed sending sweaty nerds home with visions of Joker dancing in their head.  There will not be any grand studio movie announcements anytime soon, and we have to wait until the fall for the TV shows we love to come back into our lives.

What I am trying to say is that I am bored, and even though Ant-Man and Trainwreck come out this weekend, there is nothing exciting on the horizon.  So what is a bored writer to do during this dark time when “Winter is coming,” but it won’t be here for quite some time?  He opens up the mailbag and answers some questions from his readers.  There are some terrific questions that I’ve wanted to get to, so let’s dive in and help each other beat the heat with some entertainment talk.

This time of year sucks as far as TV goes, what should I be watching right now?  I miss Sunday nights being the best night for TV, and True Detective isn’t doing anything for me.

Shane – Dallas, Texas

Sunday night is still must watch and I will tell you why: Battlebots!!!  There is NOTHING more metal that robots fighting each other with sparks flying, flames throwing, and nerds getting mad at each other.  If there was a way to gamble on this, then I might like this show more than Game of Thrones.  The smart money is on Tombstone, an intimidating number one seed, who has taken a basic robot design and is using it to make spare parts out of the rest of the field.


Sure, there may be other decent shows on that are dramatic and enthralling, but I am with you on not being able to get into True Detective, and I think part of that is that I need a break this time of year.  For years now, Sunday night was all about Breaking Bad or Mad Men or Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, so during the summer I am really enjoying my “drama” in 3-minute fights between two robots that were built by really smart people to destroy each other.  It is exciting and fun for all ages, so why not just enjoy the lull with something like this.  Battlebots is a bracket style tournament; you will quickly find someone to root for and even people to root against, like spoiled MIT kids who act entitled and who I hope meet Tombstone and have to watch their dreams destroyed in a violent manner.  Suck it MIT kids, Tombstone Fo Life!!

Can you give me any recommendations for a video game?

Jessica – Houston, Texas

Does this count? This is the last time I was current on video games.


I have spent the last month arguing with friends trying to decide who would win in a “John off” and have gone back and forth several times, so I’m sending this to you for help deciding.  Who would win in a fictional fight between Jon Snow and John Cena?

Jeremy – Waco, Texas

I hate to break it to you Jeremy, but both answers are wrong when it comes to who wins the battle of the John’s.  John Wick walks into a room with Cena, Snow, Wayne, or any other John you want, and walks out of that room alone.  Nobody wins a fight against John Wick, and I mean nobody, just ask Theon Greyjoy how it worked out.


That is one of the secretly underrated parts of John Wick, while we are on the subject.  If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, then you can watch full-dick mode Theon Greyjoy for the first part of the movie, and then seem him shit his pants and go full Reek as soon as John Wick shows up.  I’m sorry that I couldn’t settle your internal struggle of John; nobody stands a chance in this fight.

Is it me or is July 17th starting to resemble a heavyweight fight between Trainwreck and Ant-Man?  Who do you think wins the opening weekend?

It’s the most underrated movie battle of the year, and on top of those two movies going at it, don’t forget about those pesky Minions who will also be in the mix.  Trainwreck has been promoted so much now that it almost feels like I have seen the movie, so I am hoping there will be some surprises along the way. Amy Schumer is one of the funniest people in the world, and Judd Apatow is widely known and respected, so I have a strong feeling that this movie will be good, but you never know.

Apatow Productions
Apatow Productions

I had that same feeling about Funny People, and it is far from being a good movie.  It has good parts, but for the kind of star power it has, it drastically missed the mark.  Will Trainwreck have that same type of thing happen or will it stand out as the best comedy of the summer?  I honestly don’t have an answer, just the opinion that it will succeed, and even if it doesn’t, it is going to have a strong opening weekend.

Ant-Man, however, is something that I know will be good, but I’m not so sure about how it is going to open.


I am sure that it will be good because Marvel is a well-oiled machine at this point, and I trust that studio more than any other right now to turn out a quality product.  Guardians of the Galaxy had a solid opening weekend at $94 million with characters that nobody knew about at the time, but the only other movie it was going against was the less than stellar James Brown biopic Get On Up.  With Ant-Man, there is serious competition, and this may be the first Marvel movie that doesn’t open strong, even though it is going to be a strong movie.  I have a feeling that one of these two movies is going to suffer because of the other, and come in third at the box office with Minions coming in second.  I’m calling it now.

Who won Comic-Con this year?  I have watched the Batman v. Superman trailer at least 20 times.  It has to be that right?

Kenneth – Houston, Texas

I absolutely loved the Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer, and it was exactly what I wanted to see from the movie.  Seeing portions of Wonder Woman in-costume fighting is something that is new and exciting, and the only other thing that I wanted was Aquaman footage, but I get why they are waiting at this point.  I actually think Aquaman is going to be a key to part of the plot, so who knows if they will show him in the trailer at all.  All of that being said though, Suicide Squad, and more specifically The Joker, is what I came away from Comic-Con being the most excited about.  The trailer from that movie showed just enough of Leto as The Joker and holy shit does it look and sound amazing!

I have never seen a version of Joker like this on film, and I could not be more excited about Leto being the one who is bringing it to life.  In the Bats v Supes trailer, there is a brief shot of the Bat Suit with The Joker’s writing on it, so it appears as if this is post Killing Joke where it is taking place, which puts it in some of the most dark and scary Joker times that there have ever been in the comics.  The one thing that DC DEFINITELY does better than the competition is produce villains that are terrifying, and for my money, there is no better villain in the world than The Joker.  That short 20-second look at him in this trailer, and the knowledge that David Ayer is the one in charge, makes me so very excited to see the darkest version of this character.  That, to me, won Comic-Con and was the loudest reaction that I heard from any of the footage.

Stephen Balding is the Entertainment Badass for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenB_41.


True Detective is The Beatles vs. The Stones

Seasons 1 & 2 of True Detective — Different, Similar and All Too Brilliant at the Halfway Mark

– Kevin Donnan – Regular Contributor to The Scoop Entertainment and The Scoop Sports

[Let me begin this piece by saying there are no episodic spoilers ahead.]

Over the past 50 years, it’s probably fair to say that the question of, “Are you a Beatles person, or a Stones person?” is asked at least once a day on this planet.

In the times it has come up, I’ve always said, “Both.” No need to debate, and no need to take up time and space to something that has been explored to death, but I couldn’t help but think of this analogy as HBO’s True Detective has returned to the small screen.

Divergent as the bands may be, there’s also no denying their similarities. The same can be said, for seasons one and two of True Detective. They are decidedly different, yet similar, while adding the critical element that makes it all work: maintaining a nostalgic look, feel and perhaps laudatory tribute to the cinema of the days when Mick, Keith, and The Fab Four were on everyone’s lips.

True Detective is amazing film noire that takes the viewer back to the days of Serpico, In Cold Blood, and Bonnie and Clyde.


Whether you are a fan of the tortured and brutalized partnership of season one featuring the brilliant Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, or the unlikely and unlucky quartet that is season two, the unifying element beyond its name is that this show or series or whatever you want to call it, like the Beatles and the Stones, is the best the medium has to offer and quite possibly episodic television among the very best we’ve seen.

The Series That Isn’t a Series

I’m not sure anyone who has seen it can deny the power of a television series that really isn’t a television series. True Detective is back this summer, and this time the dark and greasy underbelly of L.A. serves as the backdrop, and creator Nic Pizzollatto has created another gem.

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Its first run was as if you were watching a classic 1970s movie every Sunday for two months. One week, Chinatown. The next? Dog Day Afternoon. It carried that kind of brilliant intensity. No matter the turn, you never could truly anticipate whether there would be light or more darkness.

That hasn’t been lost this season either. At its midway point (four episodes), Pizzollatto can still generate the boil of those classic and gritty dramas of the 70s for this new generation that is all too unfamiliar with that bygone and beautiful genre of film.

Mick & Keith and Ringo


The most obvious and most definitive difference for season two is the replacement of the Mick and Keith of the bayou for a somewhat unlikely quartet navigating the murder and mayhem. Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Taylor Kitsch and Vince Vaughn meet at he intersection of greed, sex, power and murder. Three different cops, from three vastly different places, yet, all broken, and a crime boss desperately trying to go legit.


As the tragically flawed and tortured ‘Glimmer Twins’ chased pedophiles and the occult in season one, this time around True Detective is a lot like The Beatles. The performances of Farrell, McAdams and Kitsch represent Lennon, Harrison and McCartney, mesmerizing, evolving and exploring. And then you have Ringo Starr.


Hulton Archive
Hulton Archive

The jury remains out, but halfway? Vince Vaughn at this point seems a little like Ringo. As the rest of the band evolved, Ringo always seemed stuck back in The Cavern Club.

Make no mistake, he is an undeniably important and essential piece, but hasn’t every Beatles fan pondered if Ringo‘s abilities could have been somehow enhanced, if he could have had someone else sit in, or was Pete Best actually worse?

Spelling-Goldberg Productions
Spelling-Goldberg Productions

Right now Vince Vaughn is having to do the most work to keep up and move beyond his very strong work in comedy over the past two decades. It’s a gamble, and a not-so-easy transition for someone who’s predominantly known as a comedic actor. Every fan of this show certainly hopes that Vaughn‘s talent will win out and he will pull off a career-altering performance.


Every Beatles fan has had to face the difficult reality that from album to album, Ringo never got better, but that never kept you from silently hoping he would. The same can be said for Vaughn as this story starts the turn for home.

Season one with Jagger and Richards, or season two with The Fab Four (with Ringo warts and all)? Either way, it’s television you can’t, shouldn’t and don’t want to miss, and is the most intense series we’ve seen since The Sopranos and Breaking Bad.

When it comes to which one I prefer, or which one I think is technically better, like the Beatles and The Stones, I’ll say, “Both.”

Kevin Donnan is a regular contributor to The Scoop, and is a sports obsessed and self-confessed Pop Culture idiot savant trapped in a frozen, northern wasteland, yet, loves all things Texas, and is the most “American” Canadian who has ever lived above the 49th parallel.

2015 San Diego Comic-Con Preview


Please email Stephen all of your movie, TV, and random entertainment questions:

If you walk outside right now, face west, and inhale really deeply, then it is possible that you will catch a whiff of the type of smell that can only happen when 1000s of sweaty nerds in costume converge in one place.  The 2015 San Diego Comic Con is this week, and this year, like every year, Whale’s Vagina becomes mecca for all things movie, TV, and comic book related.  If you are one of the people who says it has just turned into a corporate event and has lost all of its charm, then I’m here to offer you a counter-argument to that.

It would have never became such a large event if it wasn’t for those nerds who grew up reading comics and are now in charge of making those comics come to life.  Would you trade a smaller crowd once a year for no Dark Knight trilogy?  Some things are worth it, and I, for one, welcome those corporate studios because they want to get the crowd excited by huge announcements and fanfare.  The announcement two years ago that Batman was finally going to be on screen with Superman in the same movie made me cry and jizz at the same time, and that kind of movie or announcement wouldn’t be possible without the SDCC.  I mean, just look at the reaction and tell me that this still doesn’t give you the bumps of a goose.

I am very curious to see whose movie or news will dominate all of the talk this year, and have a few thoughts on the topic.  Let’s run through some of the top panels and preview what we hope to hear this year.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice

DC Entertainment
DC Entertainment

Marvel has dominated the SDCC for the past few years and has established themselves as the top dog when it comes to comic movies, but they will not be there doing a panel this year.  Age of Ultron has already been released, and Ant-Man comes out next week, so all of their movie releases came at points that promotion here isn’t needed.  That gives DC a wide open lane to come in with some good footage and a couple of announcements, and destroy the minds of everyone there.

They have to put on a show because they are miles behind Marvel and need to make up some ground.  There is a trailer that has been released, but I’m expecting some new footage that includes more than Bats and Supes glaring at each other.  I’m hoping for some Wonder Woman footage because she is going to be one of the main characters, and if they don’t show her, then the fears that are present that they made a bad choice in casting are going to show up again.


On top of wanting some Wonder Woman footage, I would like to see Aquaman and his trident pimping around on the back of a whale.  I have a sneaking suspicion that Aquaman is going to have more to say in the plot than the title would suggest, so there may only be a quick shot, but it still needs to be a shot nonetheless.  This movie has so much more than Batman and Superman, and even though it is a year away, we want and need to see those other elements, and hopefully DC doesn’t let us down the way they did with that piece of shit Green Lantern movie like it has in the past.  Bring it on DC, drop your big movie dick on the table and show us what you’ve got!

The Hateful Eight

Weinstein Company
Weinstein Company

Quentin Tarantino will be making only his second appearance ever at SDCC, and could quite possibly steal the show.  There haven’t been any formal announcements on who will be showing up from the cast with him, but I can’t think of a better way to spend an hour than listening to Samuel L. Jackson say mother fucker while there is some awesome footage of people getting shot in the old west.  A trailer hasn’t been released for the movie yet, so get prepared to see it hit the web in the very near future since it will most likely debut in Hall H.

Now, it is very possible that Quentin doesn’t care about making a splash and is only showing due to a studio obligation, and if so, then it will be boring and he’ll be out the door.  However, if he is there to drink and party and blow people away with possibly the best cast he has ever had, then I am all for him showing everyone that he means business.  You never know which Quentin will show up, but I’m expecting movie fan/heavy-drinking Quentin to show up to crash parties and end up on YouTube doing something ridiculous.

Fear the Walking Dead

AMC Studios
AMC Studios

Say what you will about having The Walking Dead, the highest rated show on television, to anchor Sunday nights, but AMC is getting scared that they are almost out of programming.  Mad Men is gone, Better Call Saul isn’t the hit they thought it would be, and Walter White isn’t walking back through that door……wait, what??  Breaking Bad might have a season 6??  That scares me, and not in a good way.  With Fear the Walking Dead, this is a pure spinoff that the network is hoping will catch on the way its predecessor has and give them another show in their depleted arsenal.

The first season is premiering soon, and will only have 6 episodes, so you know full well that those episodes are going to be intense and action-packed.  They have some things in their favor, the top of those things being Kim Dickens being cast as the lead, and so there is a chance that it catches on, but for it to be successful, the Comic-Con/comic-reading audience needs to be on board.

AMC Studios
AMC Studios

This new show isn’t something adapted from the comics, this is a straight spinoff, so part of that huge audience might not respond to the characters the they did with the original.  At the end of the day, it’s still zombie-killing, and zombie-killing is fun to watch, but without that emotional connection from the story it will be a failure.  I am a huge The Walking Dead fan, so I’m rooting for it to work and for them to eventually meet the Atlanta group, but who knows if that ever happens.

At SDCC, however, the new show will be on the same panel as the old show, so any clips that are seen will have to be taken with a grain of salt.  Fans are going to go crazy, but that doesn’t mean they will watch it.  A good showing here might change that, or it might ruin it before it ever gets out of the gate.  This panel will be one that I watch closely.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens


Here is your odds-on favorite to show up this weekend (2nd to last show on Saturday) and shut down Comic Con like Eminem rap-battling a toddler.  JJ Abrams could walk into Hall H with a lineup that includes all of the members of nerd Mount Rushmore and make the force awaken in everyone’s pants at the same time, and I wouldn’t put it past him to do exactly that.  Sure, there has been some hype about the movie, but that is mostly from fans, and it is close enough now that the studio is going to start ramping up the excitement themselves.


What better way to do that then with Han, Luke, and Leia on stage together at the same time on a panel that will melt the faces of every fanboy in attendance?  I’m sure they have appeared together at some point since then, but if they have, I don’t remember it, and it is time for that to happen, even if Harrison Ford will be comatose the entire time and doesn’t give a shit about you.  He is still Han Solo, and his presence alone wins the SDCC; if he is as stoned as he normally is, the look on his face when 84 Chewbaccas are looking at him at the same time wins going away.  Someone please make that happen!  I don’t ask you for much!

Stephen Balding is the Entertainment Badass for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenB_41.

Edie Falco Hangs up the Scrubs

“Nurse Jackie” exits as one of the most underrated shows of all time

– Kevin Donnan


(Edie Falco as Showtime’s Nurse Jackie)

If you watched The Sopranos as faithfully and relentlessly as I did, you know that very few could ever follow Carmela Soprano. When ‘Carm’ entered a room, she was a force of nature, and typically in (likely stolen) Italian pumps, a magnificent Chignon and perfect nails.

And she was all Jersey girl too. Exactly the way Bruuuuce helped us imagine that yes, even a depressive, psychopathic, tortured soul and mobster like Tony Soprano would surrender his heart because, “Nothing matters in this whole wide world, when you’re in love with a Jersey girl.”

Beautiful, tough and unbeatable. Edie Falco played the role of the smart, conflicted, devoted and all too suburban mob wife to perfection, picking up eight Emmy, SAG and Golden Globe awards.


Following The Sopranos, when it was announced that she was taking on the role of the unethical and indomitable “Nurse Jackie,” I wasn’t about to turn away after her performance as the matriarch of La Familia, North Jersey.

Now, as Nurse Jackie has come to a close after seven seasons, I wonder about the prospects of a meeting between Carmela and Jackie Peyton? That’s a showdown that would give Sergio Leone a chill.

Falco‘s first significant recognition was on the HBO series Oz as the tortured prison guard Diane Whittlesly. It was The Sopranos that launched her into the stratosphere. Her scenes with the incomparable James Gandolfini are the stuff of legend, and no matter the situation, be it in a kitchen, a funeral parlour, or a hospital room, when Carmela was in a scene you couldn’t take your eyes off of her.

The Sopranos was not for every taste, but if you had to pick one episode to simply gain an appreciation for her work, watch “Whitecaps.” It is that penultimate episode where you will see the most raw and real interpretation of a relationship laid bare. It has been rightly compared to Taylor and Burton in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and if you’ve ever seen it, there is no way you could forget it.


From the outset, Nurse Jackie was a difficult series to pin down. Always placed and hinted as being a comedy, Nurse Jackie was significantly and dramatically more geared towards drama, and critics have also suggested that at times, this factor was part of its struggle to find its place and a wider audience. However, when it had to be funny it was downright hilarious, and when heart-wrenching drama was required this cast and its star could most certainly pull it off.

Through its smallish, and even cult-like audience, it has carved out its own place thanks to the toughness and unrelenting passion of the actress and the role. That audience has been riveted and pained while watching the navigation of addiction, with its central character fighting to remain strong as she desperately battles for something to hold on to, all the while trying to save the lives of others.

As she descends, she elevates. Redemption and heartbreak, and as she falls, she tumbles. Criticized at times, and perhaps was at its best a season or two ago, it’s hard not to call this series one of the quietest, most underrated shows of recent vintage.

In Oz and The Sopranos, Falco was part of substantial ensemble casts. When she signed on for Nurse Jackie, however, this was the series where she took an even bigger step forward.

During its seven year run, and as the undeniable core of the ensemble, is where she found another gear, showed another facet and even more depth. Through this series, which in its final season rebounded from a somewhat slower previous season-and-a-half, Falco has shone while working within multiple storylines and jousting with the entire cast seemingly all at once. It’s that ability, and perhaps agility, to deliver time and time again as both the actor and the character are in the nucleus of chaos, that should cement Falco‘s status as easily the best working actress in television over the past 20 years.

No matter its challenges or successes, this sharply written, beautifully paced and incredibly clever character study was very unique. Yes, we’ve seen the ‘rebel with good intentions’ before, but we’ve never seen it from as wide a spectrum. The caregiver who at the core is inherently good, is also an addict.

You can now add the incomparable and insufferable Jackie Peyton in the lexicon of “Mary” and “Elaine” and “Murphy.” In addition, and in as much as you can add the character to that list, it is time to start looking at Falco as an actress you can start to mention with the likes of Mary Tyler Moore, Julia Louis Dreyfus and Candice Bergen. As much as those three ushered in their own eras on the small screen and left indelible performances behind, Edie Falco has been the unquestioned heroine and trailblazer for female characters on cable television.

From the prison guard, to the suburban hausfrau and now, the addict and caregiver, she took the trials and tribulations of nurse/addict Jackie Peyton and created another one of the most dynamic female characters in the history of television.


While ironic that Nurse Jackie, like The Sopranos, ended with its own open-ended and audience interpretive conclusion, the one constant remains. No matter what has happened or what’s been thrown at them, Carmela and Jackie will survive.

All I can think now is that I hope she takes a well deserved break, but comes back soon. Because from Diane, to Carmela, and to Jackie, Edie Falco always leaving you wondering and wanting more.

Kevin Donnan is a regular contributor to The Scoop and is a sports obsessed and self-confessed Pop Culture idiot savant trapped in a frozen, northern wasteland, yet, loves all things Texas and is the most “American” Canadian who has ever lived above the 49th parallel.

Game of WTF?!

Please email Stephen all of your movie, TV, and random entertainment questions:

I know that I promised more on Jurassic World and how casting and execution is the key to summer movies, but that has been put on hold for now.  Now that Game of Thrones has ended, and everyone has had a couple of weeks to catch up and work though what they saw, I want to recap Season 5 and make some predictions on the upcoming Season 6.

Spoiler: If you haven’t watched all of Season 5, then stop reading immediately and come back after you have finished.

After watching the Season 5 finale of Game of Thrones, every theory I had about the show was left lying in the snow making me want to punch a kid in the throat for what he just did.  Say what you will about GOT, but no other show in history has ever made it more acceptable for wanting to blast a child in the face.  I didn’t know if I was a bad person for wanting to see something worse happen to King Joffrey than the fate he encountered, but settled on the fact that this is fantasy and as such, that kid deserved way worse than he got.  Of course, it also has made watching a brother and sister have sex next to their dead son in a church seem like just another episode too, so take that for what you will.

Home Box Office
Home Box Office
Season 5 did, however, give us some of the best moments from the entire run of the show, so does Jon Snow bleeding into the snow as the camera pulls back mean that everything we loved from the season wasn’t true?  My favorite moment from Season 5 was Daenerys and Tyrion sitting next to each other drinking wine and talking about their fathers.  It took 4 ½ years for everyone’s two favorite characters to meet face to face, and they did not disappoint at all.  I think that both of them will have a big say in the end of the series, but the main person who I thought/think will have the biggest impact on who ultimately decides the rightful person to sit on the Iron Throne was killed in the finale.  Jon Snow took several knives to the stomach, the most crushing of which coming from Olly the trusted house boy.

So does that mean it’s a wrap on Jon Snow forever, or will something else happen to undo the bitter end of being betrayed by those you depended on and who depended on you?

Here are some predictions on what will happen next season…

Jon Snow is dead and not coming back – This theory is one that I don’t like at all, and ruins all of my future theories, but it has to be considered a possibility.  Where does that leave the Stark house, though?  Well, it leaves the Stark house with its 4 youngest members all scattered about, which includes one who hasn’t been seen for an entire season.  All of them think that Jon Snow is still alive and running the Night’s Watch, so it is conceivable that some or all of them will seek him out, which may lead to their eventual harm at the wall, or team them with others who wish to protect them…i.e. Sansa Stark and Brienne of Tarth.

The best bet for the Stark house is Bran proving to be much stronger in his ability to possess people and things, and attempting to take over something that makes the Stark house a force and rally the North behind them.

Home Box Office
Home Box Office
What could he take over?  The last scene we saw him in, he was told that he would never walk again, but that he would fly.  The only two things that fly in Westeros are ravens and dragons.  Could he take over one of the dragons and do some major damage alongside Dany and Tyrion?  If that happens, then it would really mean that Dany is the one true ruler, and that she will sit on the Iron Throne alone with the best of the other houses there to support her.  A nice thought, but a much too obvious one for something that has changed course so many times like Game of Thrones has over the entirety of its run.

The odds of this happening are around 17%.

Jon Snow will end up alive, but not show up for Season 6 – There were several people who did not have a single scene in Season 5 that I’m sure will show up in Season 6.  Bran, most notably, but also The Hound was never actually seen dead, and I don’t believe he is.

Home Box Office
Home Box Office
The Hound was far too important for his death to be shown off camera and for him to go out without killing his brother (or what is left of his Frankenstein brother at this point), and he is going to show back up.  It’s easy to forget how great his scenes with Arya were, but they rank among the very top of any scenes from the show.

So with The Hound and Bran both being out for the entire season, it could stand to reason that Jon Snow will have the same kind of fate.  He could show back up to save the day when what is left of the Stark family tries to take back the kingdom that belongs to them.  That would also get Jon Snow away from the wall and back with his family.  Nothing gives you a free pass away from the wall like a bunch of stabby dudes tricking you into playing pin cushion in the middle of the night.  Jon Snow is brought back to life and shows up a year later, a little changed, but a lot more fired up about killing people that fuck with his family.

Home Box Office
Home Box Office
I also hope that Theon, aka Reek, sticks around long enough for Jon Snow to put a sword through his face for everything he has done to his family.  I don’t care how much has happened to Theon or how much he ends up doing to save Sansa, that dude is a straight up dick and needs to go.

Odds of this happening are 38%.

Lady Melisandre brings Jon Snow back to life and we find out who his real parents are – Look, I know that Melisandre isn’t winning any awards for talking Stannis into having a Fourth of July BBQ with his daughter, but if she brings Jon Snow back to life, then I’ll totally forgive her.  Don’t forget that she rode into Castle Black on the same day that Snow was stabbed, so it’s possible for her to have seen that, and bring him back when nobody is around.  She saw it happen and believes in the same god that did it before, so you know she would be crazy enough to try it.  Plus, she doesn’t know that Stannis is dead, and for all she knows she could be raising Jon Snow from the dead to protect herself.  As for Jon Snow’s parents, that is the thing that I’ve been bugged about since Season One, Episode One.

By all accounts from everyone, everywhere, Ned Stark was the most trustworthy and honest person in all of the Seven Kingdoms.  Except for this one time that he was off to war trying to save his sister, he comes home with a bastard kid?  That never made sense to me, and I think I know the reason why.  There have been a few times that other characters have spoken about Lyanna Stark running off with Rhaegar Targaryen, and they always leave it with Ned finding her at her dying moments, and then coming home with a bastard kid.

Those are Jon Snow’s real parents, and it makes even more sense that the season is going to be spent partly in flashback, since casting news has GOT looking for a young Ned Stark and a man who can only be described as Arthur Dayne.  If the series is going to spend time on the Tower of Joy storyline from the books, why would they do that when Ned Stark and Jon Snow are both dead?  The answer is that they aren’t, and Jon Snow is still alive!

Not only is he going to be alive, he is of royal bloodlines and will end up on the Iron Throne with Dany, Tyrion, and Bran by his side.  I’m not the first one to put this theory together, but from all of the reading and research and years of figuring out plots, this is the one that I think is most likely to happen.  The Starks are making a comeback in a big, bad way, and the Lannister’s house is about to come crashing down.

Odds of this happening are 65%.

Stephen Balding is the Entertainment Badass for The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenB_41.

Is Howard About to Say, “Buh-Bye, Baba Booey?”

Like David Letterman and Jon Stewart, will Howard Stern exit in 2015?

Losing two comedic legends and innovators within four months of each other is devastating, but will one more make 2015 the year comedy died in December?

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(Letterman, left, signed off in May — Stewart will say his goodbyes in August)

Last month, with a heartfelt, “Thank you and good night,” David Letterman signed off, and Jon Stewart will exit The Daily Show in August.

Now all eyes, or in this case, ears are fixed on Howard Stern.

Legacy Secured

I started listening to The King of All Media during a tour of duty in radio in the early 1990s. Stern had exploded on the national scene with his book Private Parts and luckily, I had a co-worker who had a friend in New York State who would send bootlegs and underground recordings of his show.

It was like finding your older brother’s porn stash for the first time, or when you were assembling your own. No matter, it was forbidden, it seemed wholly wrong, but you couldn’t live without it either.

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Stern circa Early 1990s

Since then, with the help of YouTube and my own conversion to satellite at over $200 per year, I’ve become become an unabashed “Stern Fan.” I have to say I’m grateful to have had the privilege of not only listening to a legend ‘live’ while also gaining a greater sense of his unique place in history, thanks to his unending catalog of back material and shows.

There’s little to no point debating Stern‘s impact on radio and pop culture. Love him or hate him, he revolutionized radio as we all know it. Quite simply, modern radio doesn’t exist without Stern. For every “morning zoo” in any city, to every silly stunt, prank call or celebrity interview that goes too far, Howard‘s fingerprints, the genius of his staff and writers and influence, are in there somewhere.

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Stern on Letterman (CBS)

He’s done all there is to do. The bestsellers, the movie, it has all contributed to a very secure legacy and perhaps a very appealing retirement. His leap into satellite has made both him and Sirius extremely successful, with over 27 million subscribers and a balance sheet that is making shareholders very happy. Stern has become decidedly more acceptable to the mainstream, and a more respected talent thanks to his reach via America’s Got Talent.

One of the most recent estimates pegs Stern’s net worth in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and he recently purchased a home in West Palm Beach worth $52 million that is only slightly smaller than the actual island of Manhattan. To put it into perspective, the entire Wack Pack could visit for the weekend and likely never find him.

Has he finally had enough?

Like in 2010, Stern fans have started the second or even third, Bataan Death March. In December, Stern’s second five-year contract at Sirius-XM comes to an end. In 2010, at roughly the same point on the calendar, he had already begun to lament his schedule and the demands.

Not long after his re-signing in 2010, Stern sued his employer over stock options in 2011 and came up short, but it’s seemingly the only serious bump in the road on the corporate side.

America's Got Talent (NBC)
America’s Got Talent (NBC)

On his show, he has talked about expanding his interests in painting and photography, while also cutting back his schedule even further and to spend more time with his wife. As recently as last week he was speculating about which job he would prefer, the radio gig, or America’s Got Talent.

Seemingly every hurdle he faces makes him yearn for a life away from the spotlight, and between now and quite likely a few days before the contract is up, listeners will either be entertained or beaten down by the daily speculation.

No matter what, it’s going to be a long, hot, summer.

Further Cementing History

The twisted part is that these negotiations make for great radio. An angst-filled Howard is pretty much radio gold.

Without having to worry about timelines and sponsors, he has simply flourished since his foray into satellite. The satellite medium has given him the freedom to widen and expand his show’s reach in terms of comedy, news and features.

(LtoR - Stern, Billy Joel and Robin Quivers)
(LtoR – Stern, Billy Joel and Robin Quivers)

The porn stars and lesbians, while never far away, have been supplanted in some ways; the Stern channels run features on everything from embedded news items about specific members of the Wack Pack, to amazing projects like a three-hour Billy Joel interview/performance and a birthday bash that will go down in history in terms of both performances and guests. He’s also booked exclusive concerts that have reunited acts like Soundgarden and brought in other bands like The Flaming Lips.


As a further indication of how much better and more mature Stern has become, twenty years ago, if anyone would have guessed that Howard Stern would produce a men’s health show on radio, you likely would have been committed.

These highlight what has been a better than brilliant second term for Stern at Sirius.

Stern with Quivers (National Enquirer)
Stern with Quivers (National Enquirer)

Rumors are more than strong that one of the key factors in re-signing in 2010 was Stern’s loyalty and worry about the fate of his staff going forward without him. While nearly every member of his staff pushes him to the breaking point, arguably the most poignant and beautiful aspect of this second term was his outpouring of love for Robin Quivers during her yearlong battle with cancer.

It exposed a side of Howard not often seen, and the kindness and loyalty to Quivers, and begrudgingly at times to the rest of his crew, demonstrate that Howard is not only a legendary figure, but deep down a very good and gentle man.

The revolution and the high profile rebellion of years gone by may be over for Howard Stern, but he’s rich, comfortable and ultimately needs this forum. The pain and suffering hides the importance of this forum to him. He knows he’s a far more important voice than he ever was and is reaching a wider audience year by year.

Stern with Madonna (Rolling Stone)
Stern with Madonna (Rolling Stone)

Even though new technologies and platforms continue to emerge, he’s not overly interested in companies like Apple and their platforms via iTunes, and has all but denounced podcasts as being a waste of time. Most importantly, and any time he’s pressed, he’s intensely proud of what he has accomplished at Sirius, both for himself and the company.

In spite of the pain in his voice, the wealth and the legacy, I’m not sure we’ll hear a final “Baba Booey” for a while.

Kevin Donnan is a Contributor at The Scoop and is a sports obsessed and self-confessed Pop Culture idiot savant trapped in a frozen, northern wasteland, yet, loves all things Texas and is the most “American” Canadian who has ever lived above the 49th parallel.

It’s Not Just “Dave” That’s Leaving

LA Times
LA Times

Late Night TV Will Never be The Same

We loved him because he “got” us.

As David Letterman seemingly closes the curtain on an amazing near 40-year run in network television, he leaves as an icon for generations of stand-ups, talk-show hosts, actors/actresses, directors and producers, while also becoming a skeptical and cynical form of an “anti-hero” for his legion of fans, while also finding the formula that probably worked better than anyone before (Johnny included) or since.

One with the Audience

As Jerry Seinfeld helped expand and even create his own brand of comedy, David Letterman helped expand and create an entire genre of his own as the bridge from the traditional shows of Paar, Cavett and Johnny, to where we are today.


Whether it was the painfully long staredown of the camera and breaking the fourth wall over a failed joke, or the altogether too phony comment by some vacuous celebrity whose movie you knew would likely bomb, he not only let us in on the jokes, but he also made us feel like we shared in his pain and the absurdity of show business at its core.

From his entry in the late night talk arena in 1982, he was different. It wasn’t seamless. He never took himself or his position very seriously, and somehow he made YOU feel like you were one of the buddies he had around tossing ideas over a case of beer and at least three or four opened pizza boxes.

He was simply “Dave” and if he could do it, why couldn’t anyone else?


Watching the original Letterman show made you root for the guy. Here was a typical Midwestern kid, the son of a florist and a church secretary, who was simply trying to entertain while navigating his show through the haze of corporate and broadcast bureaucracy (the NBC and General Electric bits), vapid celebrities and the challenges of day-to-day life.

Nowhere was that more apparent than during a “dream sketch” when Dave decided the three people living or dead he would want to have dinner with were: William Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln and NBC movie reviewer Gene Shalit. Or, when asked by Shirley MacLaine whether he “believed in having past lives,” he responded with, “I may have delivered a pizza to the Eisenhowers.”

He was the sophomoric smart-ass, and one of the true reasons why David Letterman was so inspirational to so many is that Dave made us feel like he was an “outsider” among all of the ridiculous people in an even more ridiculous business.

Taking Johnny to Another Level


Where Johnny’s show had the feeling of a polished, well-oiled machine, with a flawless big band and a show that was fondly nicknamed “How America Went to Sleep,” Letterman was there to show us that his studio wasn’t much bigger than a broom closet, and he had a four-piece band that could rock the place if necessary. He wasn’t in Burbank with the perfect set, kibitzing with the A-listers who played cards with Johnny on his yacht. Johnny had sketches and bits, but they always seemed a little forced and focused on rim-shot humor.

Dave was the guy who drove in from somewhere in Connecticut and tried things that no one dared, or considered. And when he tried to put a fresh spin on bits from other acts like Steve Allen or Howard Stern, he would either pay tribute, or apologize (rather than outright stealing them and taking credit for them as original, a-la, Jay Leno).


The Top 10 List, Late Night “Thrill” and “Monkey” cams, “The Guy Under the Stairs,” Stupid Pet and Human Tricks, “What’s Hal Wearing” and Dumb Ads. Some of them worked brilliantly, and even the ones that failed somehow became absolute gold.

Bill Carter’s book, Late Shift, captures in brilliant detail the Tonight Show triangle of Johnny, Dave and Jay. The account is a reporting masterpiece that unlocks the backstage door of a power struggle that changed television and Hollywood, and in the end, Letterman never got what he and many, many, others felt was his just reward for essentially re-inventing the formula of the talk show.

As he made the transition to an earlier time-slot at CBS, it always felt like Letterman had a Van Halen type of existence in terms of his career. Where once he was edgy, raw and people were even slightly afraid of him, when he went to CBS, he suddenly became “Buttoned-Down Dave” and put away the wrestling shoes and tan khakis for designer suits, and suddenly became more mainstream.

The name was the same, but we all had to adapt to a rather seismic change. While fans could spend years debating, which Dave they prefer, much like Van Halen, the foundation, and yes, even some of the magic, was somehow still there, albeit in a more reserved, more mature and perhaps, more confident place. Everyone mellows out and gets old. Yes, even Dave.

As Dave became an adult, so did we, begrudgingly. And as he put away a good chunk of the old bits and gags, he became a better interviewer, and found the perfect balance where a true late night talk show could still explore complex issues like war, race relations and terrorism, while still ending a long day with a smile.

You only have to watch his performances following 9-11 to understand just how important, how reasoned and valuable he became in that time. Somehow the guy who wore a Rice Krispies suit helped an entire nation heal.

Dave leaves an ever-evolving medium where the balance has shifted. The emphasis no longer on the “talk” and the celebrity, but rather sketch comedy and bits where celebrities make fools of themselves and only appear interested in release dates and favorite songs to lip-sync. Times change, but the absence of Letterman will see that style of late night fade to black. At the same time, I’m not sure anyone could ever feel at all comfortable with either of the Jimmys (Fallon, Kimmel) discussing foreign policy today, tomorrow or anywhere else in the future.

No Matter the Dave

The magic of Letterman was his ability to find that perfect balancing act that gives the viewer enough celebrity to draw you in, and enough humor to keep you coming back.

The Velcro suit should probably be in the Smithsonian. We’ll miss the gap-toothed grin, the wild guests, jokes and the brilliant cynicism, but what we’re really going to miss is a guy who understood and appreciated his audience better than anyone.


David Letterman may not have the title “The King,” but for at least a generation, maybe two, we’ll settle for “perfect,” simply because he was one of us, and leaves with the legacy of the ultimate balancing act that made us keep coming back no matter what version of Dave you liked best. In the end, an entire nation is showing its well-deserved gratitude, and having a hard time saying farewell to both.

Kevin Donnan is a Contributor at The Scoop.