Because of some trick of fate or due simply to poor timing, both HBO's Game of Thrones and AMC's Mad Men, some of the most talked about, if not most-watched, shows currently airing, showed big, game-changing episodes right smack dab in the middle of the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Awfully sneaky, guys! Also maybe not that smart?
Did you come home from Memorial Day plans yesterday to a crammed DVR yesterday? Monday was a catch-up night (if you're still waiting to watch TV from Sunday, stop reading this right now), but it seems like it might have been better for the networks to take this week off and wait until next Sunday when they had everyone's full attention. Because big things happened! Show-altering, sweeps-style, finale-type things!
On Mad Men, one woman journeyed closer to the inner core of the company while another walked away from it. Yeah, the main news from Sunday night's show is that Peggy Olson, who entered the mid-century advertising world just as we did, cut her ties to Don Draper and company and walked proudly out. That's huge! And it was just buried there on Sunday night, while you were out grilling and drinking beer and not remotely thinking about television.
There was also a tragic plotline involving Joan selling herself out for a partnership stake in the company, making this episode of the most action-driven of the season. And yet it was forced to languish unwatched, for a few hours anyway, on a Sunday night that didn't feel like a Sunday night. Who scheduled this? Some sort of foreigner who doesn't understand the importance of the Memorial Day summer kickoff weekend? It's a rite of spring! Respect that!
HBO pulled the same thing, airing the much-anticipated battle of the Blackwater episode on this forgotten Sunday night. In what was likely the closest thing this show will ever come to a bottle episode, the action solely took place in the King's Landing castle and on a boat just offshore. We took no trips across the Narrow Sea, didn't venture up beyond the wall, didn't even go check in on Arya. We simply had Cersei getting drunk and frightening Sansa, Tyrion reluctantly leading men into battle, and Davos and Stannis witnessing the terrible terrors of unleashed wildfire. In the grander arc of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, this is a pivotal moment, and it was certainly the show's most special effects-laden and big-budgeted episodes to date, and yet HBO chose to air it on a night when far fewer people than usual were paying attention. We're diehard fans of the show and even we didn't think to watch or record it. Thank the gods for On Demand.
Also, Veep had one of its funniest episodes yet, one that introduced a potentially big plotline about our beleaguered VP possibly being pregnant. That's the biggest thing that's happened on the show thus far, but you wouldn't know it from when it aired. Obviously these networks have to stick to a schedule so they can insure the right premiere date for what comes after, The Newsroom and True Blood in HBO's case, but giving themselves a week of leeway probably wouldn't hurt.
Of course we have now caught up and watched all these episodes so it doesn't really matter when they aired, but for shows that thrive on watercooler conversation and internet buzz, debuting landmark episodes on the one Sunday when no one's looking (and when no one will be at work the next day to talk about it all) seems like bad planning. Remember this for Labor Day, guys.