HBO's sword 'n' snow epic finished its first season in mighty fine form. Also today: Lots of casting news, from people as diverse as Griffin Dunne and Penn Badgley. Plus: Who will replace Elliot Stabler?

  • The season finale of Game of Thrones, HBO's adaptation of George R.R. Martin's dense yet potently addictive fantasy book series, hit a ratings high on Sunday night, raking in 3.9 million pairs of eyeballs (cut out by Gregor Clegane himself, no doubt) across two airings. If you then factor in DVR and OnDemand viewings, an average of 8.3 million people watched each episode of the show's first season. That's great! The ratings actually went up almost every week! People like fantasy! Even though there's not that much hard "fantasy" in the first season/book. Anyway. Sorry. I can't really focus right now because I'm thinking about the books. Almost done with the second one. NO SPOILERS, GUYS. You should read these books. And watch this show. And honor and love everything about it forever. You are now betrothed to Game of Thrones, it is known. [The Wrap]
  • From the Department of Ugh Really comes news that Gossip Girl actor Penn Badgley (he plays one of the many boys in Chace Crawford's Boi Harem) has been cast as late singer Jeff Buckley ("Last Goodbye," among other masterpieces). Look, Badgley proved less than annoying in Easy A so I guesss we'll give him a pass on this, except... Nah. I find it strange that they'd cast someone who's still on Gossip Girl in this of all roles. It'd be like casting Kellan Lutz in a Morrissey biopic. Well, OK, it's not that weird, but it's pretty close. [THR]
  • Since his weird-sounding Hallelujah pilot, created by Republigay Marc Cherry, didn't get picked up, Lost tragic figure Terry O'Quinn is headed back to Hawaii. He's been cast in a recurring role on the second season of Hawaii Five-O, which also stars Lost alum Daniel Dae Kim. So except the second season of Hawaii Five-O to start off really cool and intriguing and then to end with everyone hugging lamely in a church. [EW]
  • Curious. So since Chris Meloni is leaving Law & Order: SVU, the show is in need of a new male detective (who gets too close to the case? He has to get too close to the case). It seems there's a shortlist of dudes currently up for the role, and the choices are interesting. The producers are said to be looking at some dude off Cold Case, another dude off Ghost Whisperer, True Blood sexhunks Kevin Alejandro and Michael Raymond-James, and, oddest of all perhaps, Rhys Corio, who plays the jerky (well, less jerky these days) Billy Walsh on the forever jerky Entourage. So they're clearly going for a dark-haired, vaguely ethnic kind of aesthetic. Which, fine. I don't care if they cast a Paul Bettany-esque albino, so long as Stabler 2.0 often gets too close to the case. That is a staple of that show. That terrible, beautiful show. No word yet on who will replace Mariska Hargitay when she leaves later next year, but I hope they really think outside the box. Like Vanessa Redgrave outside the box. Like Wendi McLendon-Covey outside the box. Like Chris Meloni outside the box. He just walks in with a wig on and says in a weird lady voice "Hulllooooo I'm the new lady detective..." and Cragen puts his head in his hands and says "Stabler, we know it's you." That's good TV right there! [Deadline]
  • It's a castapalooza today! Next we have news about House of Lies, the new Don Cheadle-starring Showtime show about consultants. They've cast Griffin Dunne as a famous consultant who teams up with Cheadle to... consult things, I guess. That's fun! If one has seen After Hours, one can't help but hold a special, weird place in one's heart for Griffin Dunne. Man that's a strange movie. All about the dangers of SoHo! Plus both of Kevin McAllister's parents are in it, John Heard and Catherine O'Hara. And Linda Fiorentino plays a character named Kiki Bridges. And it's directed by Martin Scorsese. It's so weird! New York in the early 1980s! What a world! [THR]
  • Comedy Central has had it with sports! They've gone and canceled two sports-based series, Sports Show with Norm McDonald and Onion SportsDome. Hm. That's too bad, for people who like sports comedy. I guess you'll just have to go rent Major League and the Kathy Ireland vehicle Necessary Roughness to get your sports laughs now. Meanwhile, Comedy Central's top-rated show remains Tosh.0. Which should make everyone feel really upset about things for a while. [Deadline]

[Image via HBO]