Tower of the Hand



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His Dark Materials Open Thread. His Dark Materials, a brand new original series based on Philip Pullman's award-winning trilogy of the same name, debuts on HBO tonight. It continues HBO's attempts to find its next Game of Thrones, this time adapting a young adult fantasy that was published in 1995 (a year before George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones) and originally brought to the big screen as The Golden Compass in 2007. The film was not a success, but HBO is hoping for better fortunes from this reboot by writer Jack Thorne. It stars Dafne Keen, Ruth Wilson, James McAvoy, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Game of Thrones' James Cosmo. HBO has already ordered a second season of the show.

Here's HBO on the new show:

The series follows Lyra (Dafne Keen), a seemingly ordinary but brave young woman from another world. Her search for a kidnapped friend uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children and becomes a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. Other series regulars include: Ruth Wilson as Mrs. Coulter, Lin-Manuel Miranda as Lee Scoresby, James McAvoy as Lord Asriel, Clarke Peters as The Master of Jordan College, Lewin Lloyd as Roger Parslow, James Cosmo as Farder Coram and Anne-Marie Duff as Ma Costa, with Will Keen as Father MacPhail and Ariyon Bakare as Lord Boreal.

The first of eight episodes of His Dark Materials debuts tonight at 9 PM ET on HBO. BBC One also airs the show in some markets. Have you read the books? Are you looking forward to this adaptation? Do you think His Dark Materials will appeal more to Game of Thrones' fans than, say, Watchmen?


Watchmen Open Thread. Tonight sees the debut of HBO's Watchmen, the first of several high-profile projects from HBO in its post-Game of Thrones world. From Damon Lindelof (co-creator of Lost and HBO's The Leftovers), Watchmen is set in a contemporary albeit alternate history where superheroes are considered outlaws. The new show is based on the 1980s graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, and follows a filmed adaptation from 2009 by director Zack Snyder, though the HBO show reportedly aims to tell its own story with only a few characters returning from the original source material.

Here's HBO on the new show:

From executive producer Damon Lindelof (Emmy® winner for "Lost"; HBO's "The Leftovers"), the series embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel of the same name, while attempting to break new ground of its own. Nicole Kassell directs the pilot from a script written by Lindelof. Cast includes Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Jean Smart, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Tom Mison, Sara Vickers, Andrew Howard, Jacob Ming-Trent and Dylan Schombing.

The first of nine episodes of Watchmen debuts tonight at 9 PM ET, only on HBO. Let us know if you'll be watching Watchmen, and if so, what you think of it.


Avengers: Endgame Open Thread. With a snap of his fingers, Thanos reduced the universe's population by half, decimating Marvel's biggest money makers, Spider-Man and Black Panther, but leaving us conveniently with the entire original Avengers team, as assembled way back in 2012. It's a safe bet that the status quo won't last, and that we'll see several dramatic reversals in Avengers: Endgame, both miraculous and heartbreaking. Regardless of who survives and what else happens, this feels like the end of an era, another cultural touchstone coming to a close and perhaps passing on the torch to its successor, whatever that may be.

This is an open thread for those who have seen Avengers: Endgame, which releases tonight. What did you think of the movie? What's next for the Avengers team, and for the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general? Beware of spoilers in the comments.


Bracket Madness 2019. Another Selection Sunday is upon us! Today the basketball gods will see fit to tell us which 68 teams have made the vaunted 2019 NCAA Tournament. Then it will be up to us to defy said gods in correctly picking the upsets. What madness! If you're interested in filling out a bracket and squaring off against fellow Tower of the Hand members (like last year's illustrious champion headrush), please join us in the 5th Annual Scorchiebeanie Memorial Bracket Clash.

Everyone is invited to participate. There's no money involved -- just bragging rights. If you'd like to join, send an email to [email protected] with your email address and your TotH username, and our league commissioner pharout will email you an invite. Brackets must be completed by Thursday, March 21, 12:00 PM EDT. If you have any other questions or problems, feel free to leave a comment here.

Consider this the official thread for this year's NCAA Tournament. Feel free to discuss your brackets, the games, and all things March Madness here.


Super Bowl LIII Open Thread. The New England Patriots again? That's four times in the last five Super Bowls (with two victories this decade). At least the NFC is sending a fresh challenger to face them this year, with the Rams looking to bring home a championship for the first time in its storied three-year history in Los Angeles. (I'm only half kidding; despite playing in LA for nearly fifty years in the 20th Century, the Rams' lone Super Bowl win came in 1999 when they called St. Louis their home.) The Patriots are slightly favored. May the best team win, defying blown referee calls and doubly stubborn uprights. Maroon 5 also stars.

Nightflyers Open Thread. In 1980, George R. R. Martin published a short novel called "Nightflyers," an expanded version of which was released the following year. The science-fiction/horror story won the Locus Award and was nominated for a Hugo. Later that decade, GRRM sold the film rights to the story, which led to the 1987 film, Nightflyers, directed by T.C. Blake. The film was neither a commercial success nor a cult favorite. But George R. R. Martin himself would go on to bigger and better things, which may be why Nightflyers is getting a second (or third) chance at being adapted for the screen. This time it's being adapted by Daniel Cerone Jeff Buhler for the cable network Syfy. The first episode premieres tonight at 10 PM ET, with other installments of its ten-episode season airing on consecutive nights.

As GRRM recently noted, he has had little involvement with the production of this new show, though his agents did negotiate an "executive producer" credit for him. Nevertheless, GRRM is reminding us to watch it. Here's how he describes it:

On a mission aboard the Nightflyer, the most advanced ship ever built, a team of scientists embark on an expedition to make first contact with alien life. Set in the year 2093, their mission takes them beyond the edge of the solar system, farther than mankind has ever gone before. But when terrifying and violent events start to occur, the team and crew begin to question themselves, each other, and their reclusive captain. They soon come to realize that the true horror isn't waiting for them in outer space - it's already on their ship.

I personally have not yet read the novella on which the show is based, though I did flip through the first few pages of it in my copy of Dreamsongs (Volume I). Tomorrow we'll discuss whether or not we should read the source material before watching any adaptation, but for now, please use this thread to discuss Nightflyers the TV show, if you're planning on watching, and if so, what you think of it and/or the idea of running new episodes every night.


Solo: A Star Wars Story Open Thread. Now the story of some space pirates who spent years hustling one other, and the one intergalactic heist that by chance brought them all together. It's Solo: A Star Wars Story. Directed by Ron Howard (who took over for original directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller), it stars Alden Ehrenreich as the title character (who inherited the iconic role from Harrison Ford), and features supporting turns from Donald Glover, Woody Harrelson, and Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke. Star Wars vet Lawrence Kasdan wrote the script with his son Jonathan.

It's only been a few months since the last Star Wars installment and here we are again to discuss this next standalone film. (If you haven't already, please do check out Stefan's thoughts and Marc's book on The Last Jedi.) Does Solo make for a good story, or even a necessary one? Is Han Solo a great character who transcends time and space, or was it Harrison Ford who made him timeless? Let us know in this open spoiler thread what you think of Solo: A Star Wars Story, its place in the franchise, and which characters ought to headline the inevitable next standalone.


Westworld Season 2 Open Thread

Westworld returns tonight with its first new episodes since 2016. HBO no doubt hopes that it has found, if not the next Game of Thrones, then a show that satisfies a Game of Thrones-like audience's need for a mystery to fixate on and speculate about. If nothing else, Westworld seems to have taken what was once Game of Thrones' treasured spot on the network's spring schedule.

The second season of Westworld likely picks where the first left off: full of characters -- and viewers -- questioning what is real, in a setting that somehow is both slightly futuristic and an old-timey western, and about a story that remains inscrutable yet meticulous in its vision. Reviews for the new episodes have been promising and even hint at some potential greatness. Will you be watching Season 2? What are your expectations? Feel free to discuss all things Westworld in this open thread.


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Tower of the Hand is an unofficial companion to George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series and HBO's Game of Thrones, featuring chapter and episode guides, character profiles, family trees, and much more.

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