In a recent interview with EW, “Game of Thrones” showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss discussed the lengthy process of filming “Blackwater,” this Sunday’s heavily anticipated episode (written by George R.R. Martin and directed by Neil Marshall, who also helmed the kick ass The Descent) which will assuredly make you cream your pants. Assuming you’re wearing pants, which you probably aren’t when Talisa’s involved.
But I digress. It’s rumored to be one of the most expensive episodes of TV ever, and it’s definitely the priciest “Game of Thrones” installment yet, due to its large number of special effects. Those flaming arrows don’t flame themselves. To honor the only thing you’re going to be talking about on Memorial Day, here are five other TV episodes that featured HOLY CRAP special effects.
Show: “The X-Files”
Episode: “First Person Shooter”
Originally Aired: February 27, 2000
Unlike some of “The X-Files” more gorgeously stylized episodes, such as “The Post-Modern Prometheus,” “First Person Shooter,” about the Lone Gunmen, Mulder, and Scully entering a virtual reality game of the same name, is flashy, sure, but also not very good (like most of season seven, actually). But hey, it looked kind of cool, with all the tanks with guns and motorcycles with guns and Mulder and Scully shooting at a bunch of Maitreya duplicates…with guns. Basically, a lot of guns. Just watch “Kill Switch” instead.
Show: “The Simpsons”
Episode: “Treehouse of Horror VI”
Originally Aired: October 29, 1995
Man oh man, “Homer³” blew my MIND when I first saw it. It’s amazing how “realistic” the episode looks, or at least as realistic as fictional characters can be. (It also “feels” realistic, so to speak; for a gimmick episode, it’s really funny, especially, “Have we got a family activity for you: a pillowcase full of seashells from our trip to Sulfur Bay.”) The animation team at Pacific Data Images managed to make Homer and Bart move naturally, and the 3D interpretations look remarkably close to the pen-and-paper versions. Take a look on YouTube if you want to see how wrong things could have gone - there’s nothing robotic about Homer entering into the 3D world, a scene that showrunner Bill Oakley called the “money shot.” You know something’s good when it can be metaphorically compared to semen!
Show: “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”
Episode: “Trials and Tribble-ations”
Originally Aired: November 4, 1996
As much as I occasionally want to convince myself otherwise, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” isn’t very good. It had its moments, sure, but it’s probably the weakest “Trek” TV series to not star Scott Bakula (has anyone called him the The Bakman? Probably, right?). But one of those “moments” was brilliant. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the original series’ “The Trouble with Tribbles,” which is as cute as it is good (very), “DS9” devoted an entire episode to Sisko & Co. going back in time to the 23rd century, onto Captain James T. Kirk’s Enterprise during Stardate 4523.3, a.k.a. the Great Tribble Crisis. Using footage from “Trouble,” director Jonathan West and a team of special effect coordinators were able to seamlessly blend in Bashir and O’Brien into the episode’s centerpiece fight with the Klingons. But WHY do the Klingons look different in the past than they do in the future? “It is a long story.”
Episode: “Genesis” (pretty much all of them, actually)
Originally Aired: September 25, 2006
Though “Heroes” had its fair share of faults (so, so, so, so many faults - I think “How to Stop an Exploding Man” has the widest, non-“Lost” ratio between How I Excited I Was Beforehand and How Much I Liked It Afterward of any TV episode ever), the show’s special effects were always top-notch, particularly with Claire’s rapid cell regeneration. I picked “Genesis” for this list because a) we all have fond, not tortured, memories of the episode, and b) two scenes in particular stand out: Claire getting her hand stuck in garbage disposal and Nathan flying to catch Peter. And then it all fell apart…
Show: “Battlestar Galactica”
Originally Aired: October 16 and 23, 2006
SO FIRST THIS ONE SHIP IS LIKE PEW PEW PEW AND THEN ANOTHER WUSHES BY AND THEN THIS BIG SHIP BLOWS UP AND THERE’S A CRASH AND EVERYONE’S SCREAMING AND OMG LOOK AT THAT FIRE HOW ARE THEY DOING THIS AND YAY STARBUCK AND ADAMA. That’s my review of “Exodus.”