Interview With David Donnella and Mike Marbach of Stark Raven Mad

The Flat Circle discussed the upcoming season of Game of Throneswith David Donnella and Mike Marbach of the Game of Thrones podcast Stark Raven Mad. David and Mike discussed their favorite moments and characters on the show so far and made some predictions for this season. Stark Raven Mad will record a live episode on July 18 at the Philadelphia Improv Theater on 2030 Sansom Street as a part of the Philadelphia Podcast Festival.
There are some spoilers that reference notable moments of the first six seasons of Game of Thrones. 
Game of Thrones has had some dark moments in the show. Stark Raven Mad takes a light, humorous approach to the podcast. Can it be challenging to poke fun at a show that can be so dramatic?
David Donnella: I don’t think so, which I attribute to the fact that this show is inherently ridiculous. I mean, for every serious piece, there’s something bonkers and silly. It’s a drama about the struggle for the throne of a kingdom. But there are dragons. And zombies. And there’s a pair of incestuous twins. And this kid can enter the mind of his pet wolf. With the sheer magnitude of everything that’s happening, it’s usually not hard to find the humorous angle.

Mike Marbach: Not really, I think we do a good job of honoring those moments and given them the weight they deserve. There’s also usually circumstances surrounding those moments that allow us to have some fun either way.

You are recording a live episode of Stark Raven Mad as a part of the Philadelphia Podcast Festival on July 18 at the Philadelphia Improv Theater. How does the live dynamic impact how you put together a podcast?

DD: So, I usually come up with the format of our live shows, and my basic goal each time is do something that’s tight and focused. We have a tendency during our episode recaps to spend 20-30 minutes arguing about minutiae, so I try to spare the audience from those moments since there’s no fast-forward option live. In the past we’ve done live episodes where each panelist pitches a spin-off series for GoT. We’ve done awards shows. Basically, things with clear conceits that have a quicker pace.
MM: I usually ask / let David plan out our live shows.
Mike, in addition to Stark Raven Mad, you are involved with podcasts that cover The Leftovers and Better Call Saul. When you start watching a show, what makes you decide that you want to do a podcast on that series?

MM: It’s happened a couple different ways. With SRM I was watching Game of Thrones from Day 1 and it wasn’t until Season 3 that I thought to podcast about it. That was the first TV show we started covering. With The Leftovers and The Strain we started because of how cool the show looked. We were right about The Leftovers, but The Strain was a gamble that didn’t pay off. It stinks… but Bloody Sunday is a very fun podcast as a result. Breaking Goodman, which covers Better Call Saul was decided after Episode 1 of the show. The Leftoversis done, The Strain will be over, and Game of Thrones is wrapping up, so we’ll be looking for more to do for sure.

There have been a lot of different story lines over the last six seasons of Game of Thrones. What have been your favorite moments of the show so far?

DD: Not really a moment, but the broad highlight has been seeing actors give life to certain characters. Cersei as played by Lena Headey remains the highlight in that regard, but the guys playing Davos and Stannis are also excellent.
(L-R) Stannis Baratheon and Davos Seaworth


MM:
One of my favorite moments is the Red Wedding. Mostly because I didn’t see it coming (though the signs were there) and I was watching it in a room full of people that had read the books. So seeing their reactions to my reactions and just the moment of the show itself is something that sticks with me.

So many important characters have died over the last six years. Is there a character that you have been really attached to that died and what was your reaction when they were killed off on the series?


DD: I read the books, so there weren’t quite as many surprises for me as others. When Ned died, I steeled myself for anything to be possible. All that said, I get this pit in my stomach when Oberyn Martell bites the dust. Awesome character and charismatic actor getting killed off in a totally avoidable circumstance—agonizing.
MM: Oberyn Martell for sure. Such a great character and portrayed amazingly by Pedro Pascal. In such a short amount of screen time he grew to be one of my favorites and is to this day. Going out the way he did annoy the shit out of me, but he dug his own grave there. I had such high hopes for the other Martells that showed up… but the everything Dorne related was just bad.

Are you rooting for one character to sit on the Iron Throne?

DD: It’s conflicting. I mean, it seems like being the ruler of Westeros genuinely sucks. I don’t know if I want any of the characters I like responsible for all that garbage. That said, Davos seems like he has the right temperament to be in charge.
MM: I think the favorite is Dany, right? I am not sure how I feel about that. I think I’d prefer Jon of the big names that have their name in the hat. However it ends, it’s not going to be happy. Bittersweet for sure… probably mostly bitter. So that could mean the main contenders die and it somehow lands on Gendry.
The Iron Throne


Game of Thrones comes back on July 16. What are some of your predictions for Season Seven?
DD: We just did a two-part prediction podcast, but one of my predictions that didn’t make it is that the Mountain will kill the Sand Snakes.
MM: You gotta check out our Iron Bank of Braavos Presents the SRM Stone Cold Locks of 2017! It’s all predictions with point values attached. I think my favorite prediction of my own (which I’m altering a bit here) is that Arya will kill Jamie and then use his face to get close to and kill Cersei.

What kind of grade do you give the show so far and what direction do you think it needs to go over these final two seasons in order to be successful?
DD: I think the show is an A/A- so far. I think the success of the final two seasons hinges entirely on how well they close loops. There are a lot of characters running around and I want to know how everyone turns out, from Tyrion all the way down to Hot Pie.
MM: I’d give it an A overall. That could go up or down by the season (because 5 fell flat for me). They say they have everything mapped out and they have an end date and number of episodes… so I think they’ll continue at that A level. There’s a lot to wrap up and there’s A LOT of people to please… but as long as they don’t worry about that and continue telling a good story with GRRM’s [series creator George R.R. Martin] blessing, I’ll be happy.
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