Secret affairs. Family drama. Wolves. Incest. Cross-dressing. No, this isn’t some warped new Bravo series — HBO’s Game of Thrones returns this week for a second season (9 p.m., Sunday).
Based on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, this fantastical medieval drama isn’t just for fantasy nerds. Game of Thrones follows the major families in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros (think post-Dark Ages Europe), all with their respective lands, on the brink of all-out war over who will take the all-powerful Iron Throne. There’s the Lannisters, Baratheons, Targaryens and Starks, with members in each who believe they are the rightful heirs to the throne. Protecting Westeros from the mysteriously dangerous, icy north is the 300-mile-long, 800-foot-tall Wall protected by the brave men of Night’s Watch. We’ve only gotten a glimpse of the mystical demons and destruction that lie north of the Wall — this season promises more terrifying creatures.
Key players include King Joffrey Baratheons, who is only a child (a cold, cruel child of incest) when he takes over the throne-in-question; silver-haired Daenerys Targaryen overcomes struggles with her eerie, infatuated brother and a rough-around-the-edges husband to stake her claim to the throne — with the help of baby dragons; young Arya Stark doesn’t fit the role of a typical girl but is mighty skillful with a sword; Tyrion Lannister is a dwarf with a penchant for booze and prostitutes but is smarter and more powerful than he appears.
Coinciding in-depth storylines make keeping up with the characters bit of a challenge (I’m referencing Entertainment Weekly’s GoT family tree as I write this). A second screening of each episode isn’t necessary, but can definitely help clear up confusion or reveal details you might have missed the first time.
If we learned anything last season, it’s that no character is safe. And with war around the corner, expect more losses, but keep those family diagrams out — even more characters will be introduced in the second installment of this epic tale.
WEDNESDAY MARCH 28
South Park (10 p.m., Comedy Central) – When new trends begin to develop swiftly, the boys attend a Republican presidential debate to hatch a scheme. Will security shut them down when it gets word someone might be “Faith Hilling” the event?
THURSDAY MARCH 29
Community (8 p.m., NBC) – In the first of this two-part episode, another sandwich shop opens in the cafeteria, despite Pierce and Shirley’s attempt to open their own. They plot to shut ’em down. Troy and Abed battle over competing blanket forts.
30 Rock (8:30 p.m., NBC) – Jack has trouble thinking of new ways to expand Kabletown; Hazel continues to obsess over Liz.
Awake (10 p.m., NBC) – Michael searches for a serial killer thought to be dead when the FBI steps in to question him as a suspect in the same case. When Hannah considers going back to school out of state, Michael’s therapists agree that new surroundings might solve his complicated dual-life dilemma.
Delocated (midnight, Cartoon Network) – When girls go wild, they might drink too much and flash their tatas. When “Jon Done Gone Nuts,” he reveals something even more incriminating: his face.
SUNDAY APRIL 1
The Killing (Season premiere, 8 p.m., AMC) – In this two-hour premiere, Sarah returns to Seattle to look into a possible cover-up that led to Councilman Richmond’s arrest, and later discovers a revealing secret about him.
Shameless (Season finale, 9 p.m., Showtime) –
Jimmy introduces Fiona to his family while Jody and Sheila try start their own — with Karen’s newborn they stole from the hospital.
Mad Men (10 p.m., AMC) – Peggy is given new responsibilities as SCDP is crunching to increase business. Don and Harry pull out all the stops for a new client. Betty finally makes her return?
Drinking game suggestion:
Just attempt to keep up with Don.
TUESDAY APRIL 2
Savage U (Series premiere, 11 p.m., MTV) – Dan Savage presents this new show, dubbed “the real Sex Ed,” in which he visits college campuses to discuss sex, dating and relationships and answer students’ burning questions.
Best Ink (10 p.m., Oxygen) – TV execs were all, “How can we make tattoo shows like Miami Ink even more entertaining for viewers?” Answer: Throw in a competition component. Following in the footsteps of shows like Ink Master, Best Ink gives 10 talented tattoo artists from across the country a chance to win $100,000 and a spread in Tattoo magazine.
WEDNESDAY APRIL 3
American Weed (10 p.m., Nat Geo) – Denver growers go head-to-head in Colorado’s first-ever High Times Medicinal Cannabis Cup.
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