Greg Dixon 's Opinion

Greg Dixon is deputy editor of Canvas.

Greg Dixon: Have the bucket ready

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The Mountain and the Red Viper fight in Game of Thrones. Breathless, right, is full of hot air.
The Mountain and the Red Viper fight in Game of Thrones. Breathless, right, is full of hot air.

When I think back on this week in years to come, it will live in my memory as "the week of the exploding head".

Never in my life had I seen such a thing. First, there was the punch to the mouth and all the broken teeth and blood going everywhere. Then there was the thumbs in the eyes and the blood. And the next minute -- pop! -- the Red Viper's head exploded leaving it looking like a surprised, bearded tomato that had been run over by a bus. Or maybe a fleet of buses.

I was so shocked by this sight -- yuck! -- that I immediately rewound the sequence and watched it all over again just to make doubly sure it was as repulsive as I thought it was the first time. And it was!

Henceforth Game of Thrones (8.30pm, Mondays, SoHo) will no longer be called Game of Thrones in my house, it will be called Game of Throw-ups. And I shall be keeping a bucket handy from now on.

Even more delicious than the B-grade, Bad Taste-esque exploding head that ended the epic fight to the death between the Red Viper and the Mountain in the final scene of this week's episode of Game of Throw-ups, was the sadly predictable outrage on the web: "They've gone too far!"; "I can't sleep for the nightmares"; "It's the most disturbing thing I've seen on TV" was the the gist of the whining from those with nothing better to do.

It wasn't just the so-called fans. One American newspaper, the Washington Post, even wrangled an expert to say it wasn't possible for a head to explode by applying pressure through the eye sockets. They didn't ask the expert whether it was possible to take what is obviously adult fantasy fiction too seriously, or whether exploding heads were good for ratings.

Still, this was only the second really good episode in what has been, with two episodes to go, a pretty average season of Game of Throw-ups. The main problem, I think, has been the ever growing number of concurrent -- and competing -- stories needing to be told, not to mention the sheer number of characters.

The heavy weight of all that story means that it feels like we're spending less and less time with individual characters and when we do spend a bit of time with them there's a tendency for them to wax philosophical for no apparent reason: what was the point of Tyrion's long exposition about bloody squashed beetles?

No idea.

Still, the pieces might finally be in place on the show's massive chess board and we'll get a couple of cracking final episodes. Here's hoping.

In the meantime, I have begun auditioning shows that could fill the void once Game of Throw-ups reaches it's no doubt bloody cliff-hanger series finale two Mondays from now.

I can report that Breathless (9.30pm, Sundays, TV One) is not that show.

Set in a gynaecology ward of a British hospital on the cusp of the swinging 60s, this drama, as pre-publicity suggested, very much echoes Mad Men in its attention to period design and the glowing primary colours in the cinematography.

But there any comparison ends. For a start Breathless is not witty. Nor do any of its characters have anything like charisma.

Instead, there's a sort of preaching, mostly about the tired hypocrisies of the English class system and the rum state of sexual politics back then.

The performances of the female cast members were mostly excellent in the premiere episode, but I'm afraid Breathless is the sort of sedate, safe, bloodless drama that has me desperate to see the next blood-splattered season of Game of Throw-ups.

- TimeOut

Greg Dixon

Greg Dixon is deputy editor of Canvas.

Canvas deputy editor Greg Dixon has spent more than 20 years working as a journalist for the New Zealand Herald and North & South and Metro magazines. He has been deputy editor of Canvas since 2008 and has won awards for his writing and editing, but would have preferred a pay rise.

Read more by Greg Dixon

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