SCOTT IAN’S TV PARTY 2012: Anthrax’s riffer-in-chief on the year in television

First thing’s first: Before reading further, anyone who’s got their TiVo box or whatever all loaded up in preparation for some marathon catch-up TV over the holiday season, be warned that this is a spoiler-heavy review of TV drama in 2012.
OK, so with the disclaimers out of the way, let’s get down to business and welcome Anthrax’s Scott Ian to the Deciblog to discuss some of his TV highlights from the past twelve months. Of course, he’d be forgiven for sticking in his tour de force performance in AMC’s The Walking Dead . . .

. . . which we’re sure we can all agree is the sort of Palm D’Or performance that gets an actor invited on to James Lipton’s show to talk about their craft. But hey, this is Scott Ian’s year in television from the comfort of his easy chair, and in no particular order, except for saving the best ’til last, these are his top shows of 2012.

And remember: **CONTAINS SPOILERS**

People will be surprised that I like Downton Abbey, but I love it. I’m gonna go with Downton Abbey because Fringe is an obvious one; it’s a great sci-fi show and it’s something people would definitely expect me to be into, but Downton Abbey is something that I would see some of my really good friends tweeting about this show—which I thought was called “Downtown Abbey”—and I was like, “What the fuck is this show?” I googled it and see this bunch of British people from the early 1900s living in a big, fancy house and I am like, “Why do they like this?” I was speaking to a comedian friend of mine, Patton Oswalt, and he was like, “You just have to see it.” So I thought fuck it and got the first episode. I was hooked immediately. First of all because it was amazing writing, it looks incredible. It’s a period piece and the costumes are amazing, the attention to detail on how people lived in society at that time, with the upstairs/downstairs . . . But the thing I loved the most about it was how amazingly shitty people treated each other. [Laughs] It’s the most vicious but at the same time in the politest British way of tearing people’s hearts out and roasting them over an open flame. I mean, people are so unbelievably vicious to each other in just the best language. It’s extremely, extremely highfaluting and smart, but what it really comes down to is people just not able to stand each other, and it’s great. It’s like donuts; they’re really not good for you but you still got to eat them.

Favorite scene
I haven’t seen season three yet—I know it aired over there [in the UK] but it’s out in January. I know that Shirley MacClaine is coming on the show and I have seen one clip, a preview online, of her. She plays the American mom from New York. She plays a rich Jewish lady from New York and she shows up and doesn’t get along very well with Lady Grantham, who’s played by Maggie Smith. The only scene I have seen is this preview clip with Maggie Smith and Shirley MacClaine kind of going at it with each other, once again acting like they are the best of friends but everything they say to each other is like a knife to the kidney.

Sons of Anarchy, for me, is just the purest of all them. And I don’t mean this in a negative way; Sons of Anarchy is the least serious of all them because it’s the most over the top. It’s about an outlaw biker gang in Northern California and they deal drugs and run guns, have dealings with the I.R.A. and Mexican cartels, and it’s so out of control but at the same time so unbelievably entertaining, and I find myself so invested in the characters, in who’s going to live and who’s going to die, and hating some of the characters so much—but once again that’s just because the acting is so amazing on the show. Ron Perlman, who plays Clay Morrow, he is just such an amazing actor; he makes you hate him so much. For someone to make you hate a character on a TV show so much. Sons of Anarchy is just sheer entertainment, visceral, super-violent. Season five got so unbelievably violent; the first episode kicks off with—I don’t wanna give to much away but it kicks off with one of the main characters losing someone really close to them who gets burned alive. I was like, ‘Holy crap, they just raised the bar!’ [Laughs] I stopped the episode and just had to sit there for a minute. It’s a great show, just so highly entertaining.

Favorite scene:
In the finale of season five there’s a character named Otto who’s actually played by the guy who runs the show, Kurt Sutter (he writes it and directs it), and he plays this guy who bites his own tongue off so that he doesn’t have to testify. He literally bites his own tongue off and throws it at the two-way mirror that someone’s watching him from. [Laughs] And the guy who’s watching him is like, “Way to commit, Otto.” I mean, this is obviously a commitment to the lifestyle, biting off your own tongue so that you don’t have to rat on your friends.

I’m trying to think what I get the most visceral enjoyment out of watching . . . Y’know this is too hard for me; I take this so seriously. Fuck it, I’ll go with Game of Thrones. They’ve taken some amazing books and they have been able to make it work on television. Even with all the changes and things they have made, I have been happy with all of it; I can say, as a fan of the books I haven’t been disappointed with any of the choices they made. It’s just great to watch. I mean, as great as the Lord of the Rings movies were, I wish someone would now take those books and do them as a TV series because with Game of Thrones they have proven that they can do that in this format with these kind of budgets. I hadn’t read the books when I saw season one (and if you haven’t seen the show there is going to be a spoiler here) and when I got to the episode where they cut off Ned Stark’s head I couldn’t believe what just happened. I thought he was the main character, that he was the hero. It was like what it would have been like if Tony Soprano had been shot in the eight episode of The Sopranos, or if any main character was killed halfway through a season on any show. It blew my mind—I mean, the fucking balls on George Martin to do that. That’s when I went and read all the books. And I know everything that’s gonna happen but it doesn’t ruin the show for me because it does take some different turns, and just getting to see how well it does coming to the screen, and getting to see all these places on the show like my mind’s eye sees them when I read the books is just awesome. I’m super-excited about the third season because I think book three is the best book of the series. I can’t wait to see how they pull some of it off, and I know they’ve split it into two seasons for book three which is just great because there is just so much detail.

Who do you hate more: Clay Morrow or Joffrey?
Joffrey, definitely—that smarmy little fuck . . .

Favorite scene:
The Blackwater Bay battle, that definitely stands out. I love the way they handled that. I love the way Sandor Clegane was afraid of the fire . . . There are so many little things, I’m trying to think of one crystalizing thing but it’s so difficult.

It’s been on longer than Game of Thrones and I am more invested in it. It pretty much comes down to the writing and how they capture that period of time in the world, in that little bubble of the advertising agency, and people’s relationships. Y’know, it’s something that, on paper, I would read a synopsis of that show and probably think what do I give a shit about that it sounds like a stupid soap opera. But you watch it and it is just so brilliantly realized in every way shape and form. The details are just insane. It’s fun to look at. Everything about it . . . is just one big hook!

Favorite scene:
Lane’s death. I could say that I saw it coming but I don’t know that in that episode my favorite scene is when he initially tries to kill himself in the Jaguar and he can’t—he fails! And he can’t even kill himself, and I thought that maybe the irony of that wouldn’t get lost on him and that would have been it, he would have just went back upstairs, went to bed, and figured it out. But that’s the brutality of that show, and the brutality of the writing: it’s like real life; things aren’t easy for people. Then he goes and hangs himself in his office. That whole story arc there, from him sitting in his Jaguar to deciding “Well I’m not done with this . . .” and then goes and hangs himself on the back of his door. That’s the scene of the last series.

It’s just the best-written show, and obviously all the shows that I am talking about are all extremely well-written shows. I mean, TV for me has completely taken over from movies. I find that the writing, the originality in the stories being told on serial television is just so much better, just so much superior to movies. New ideas in movies and great writing in movies is so few and far between these days because everything just seems to be a reboot, a remake, or a re-tread, and just not as good as the originals. And, yes, you do get great movies coming out but it just seems that all the great writing talent has moved into serial television. I look at Breaking Bad as something that every week is like a movie. Every episode of Breaking Bad is better than any movie that comes out; the writing is that good. They take you places you never think it is gonna go, and I try and figure out where they are going to go and you never can because they are so much better at it than I am! It’s just so incredible, and the acting is mind-blowing. Just the conceit of the story, that is started out as this essentially simple idea of a schoolteacher who has cancer and decides to do something for his family so he starts cooking meth. I mean, if you just look at that idea on paper it’s kinda like huh, really, how is that going to work? And then, I mean just what Vince Gilligan has done is just incredible; the writing is mind-blowing. I am as excited about this show, about the last eight episodes of this show, as I have been about anything entertainment-wise in my life. It’s just insane. Literally, everyday I think about what is going to happen; at some point, my mind will be daydreaming and my mind will wander to Walter White, and what’s gonna happen, how is it going to play out? I am sad that it’s finishing but I am also a true believer in get out while it’s still good—there is no reason to take it further than it needs to go.

Walter’s journey is quite something in that they’ve successfully managed to make him almost totally unsympathetic—that’s something that’s not really been done before, not to this degree.
Well it’s been done in plenty of shows; I mean Tony Soprano wasn’t the nicest of guys but you always rooted for him. I am assuming that in these last eight episodes something horrible is going to happen to his family, because that’s really the only thing that he still has any real feelings for. If something were to happen with his son, that’d certainly turn . . . I mean I keep thinking his son, Walter Jnr, is gonna get fucked up on the blue meth, or die from it, or who knows what but that would obviously have a sublime effect on Walter. But I am just guessing; I don’t know anything.

Favorite scene:
I’m gonna go with the last shot, the reveal with Hank sitting on the toilet and looking at the Whitman book, and all of the pieces coming together in his brain, that who W.W. is, when you see the initials—yeah, that realization in Hank’s brain, the look on his face, and then you have to wait a year or something for the next episode to come. I’m going to go with that scene. It’s the scene you’ve been waiting for, for years for Hank to realize that it’s Walter all this time.

**Scott Ian’s Speaking Words tour hits the UK and Ireland in May 2013. For more details on the dates, click HERE**