Sunday, April 24, 2011

Game of Thrones First Episode Reaction

"A Song of Ice and Fire" is so far the greatest books series I have ever read.  As a history major, it puts a smile to my face as every moment of the series is a constant bloody medieval war, with flipping political sides, deep characters with real growth, and dragons.  I know dragons weren't actually in history, but they should have been, dammit!  George R. R. Martin knows better than the history textbooks on that level.  I tore through the entire series in exactly a month last year, and now, with the fifth book, "A Dance With Dragons" just on the July horizon, we have the HBO series to keep us happy until that happy day.

My first worry, that the series would fail has been allayed, as HBO has already bought a second series.  This first season of "Game of Thrones" details the first book, "A Game of Thrones".  This is definitely the best way to adapt these books, as George R. R. Martin's tale is simply too dense with events and characters to ever be made into a feature film.  While reading, I can't help but get the same kind of feeling as watching an HBO drama like "The Sopranos" or its equally brilliant rip-off, "Boardwalk Empire".  Next season we'll be seeing "A Clash of Kings", and presumably, if the series does well enough, every one of the current five books will get a season.  Then there will be problems, but until then...

So as a huge fan of "A Song of Ice and Fire", how did I react to this first episode?  I'll give you two words:  "TOTALLY AWESOME!!"

The casting of this series clearly must have been a meticulous and painful process, but the work has definitely showed.  For a few exceptions, I must say that every character has been picked with an actor that is absolutely perfect.  In many cases, the casting department has done an even better job than I did in my own mind.  Their Jaime Lannister is perfectly handsome.  Their Daenerys looks like "Song of Ice and Fire Barbie", which made me laugh a bit until I realized how perfect that was.  And Sean Bean as Ned Stark is absolutely perfect (though I still say Liam Neeson was born to play that role).  If I must complain about some things, I'd say Tyrion is way too handsome, I always saw him as Toby Jones.  Also King Robert is a little too fat.  He should at least have some shoulders left, right?  I don't know.  I'll get used to this though, I'm sure.  Already each and every one of these pictures have taken root in my mind, and I don't think they'll ever leave.  My mental images of "Dance With Dragons" will be far different than the other four.

However, I will never get used to Kal Drogo's ridiculous beard.  "Ray Liotta" of the "Finish the Book, George" compared him to Carmen Ghia of "The Producers" - a dead on comparison.  He looks ridiculous and awful.  And I always assumed the Mongol-like Dothraki should have been played by... you know, Mongolians?

Of course, the various lines of the series are enough to make my inner fanboy squee like a little girl.  Hearing Sean Bean rattle off "Winter is Coming" unleashed a wild dance of hooping and hollering that I've been told can be best compared to the mating noises of a Hamadryas baboon.  Then when I saw the Hound's helmet, I swooned like a 20s silent film heroine.  Next episode I'll be sure to keep a handfan ready.  "ICE!"  "THE WALL!"  "KING'S LANDING!!"  It may just be my fanboy delusions, but I thought this was some of the best television I've ever seen, and I will have to keep on watching forever.  The opening credits were especially awesome.  You know I'm a serious fan when I tell you that I am very bitter that Dany's eyes aren't purple.  I could photoshop purple eyes in thirty seconds, what's stopping the post-production department?

However, what's the deal with all the nudity?  Yeah, I'm not complaining about Dany's lovely bath scene, but this gets pretty gratuitous.  Look, fanservice is fine, but there comes a point where its totally ridiculous.  Its not particularly groundbreaking anymore either, since just about every HBO show has nudity once an episode.  Hopefully they're just jumping in guns blazing and by the next few episodes they'll settle down.  Probably not because George R. R. Martin does love his whores...  Even Frank Miller doesn't love whores this much.

My biggest worry is season 6, unfortunately.  I know by that point Martin will have had five years to have written "Winds of Winter" (and since this is an HBO show that probably means we'll be going at a slower pace then one season a year).  But Martin took eleven years to write the book that became "A Feast for Crows" and "A Dance With Dragons", so who knows?  I honestly doubt he has the ability to finish the last two books fast enough for this series to be over on schedule.  What will they do?  Skip a year?  Filler Arcs?  Do we really want a "Bount Arc" for the Stark children?

Now some of you have been asking me if I'll do a Recap series for "Game of Thones".  The answer is:  I will not.  I like what I'm seeing too much to ridicule it.  And ultimately, "Bleach" is a much more wacky series with far more material I can work with.  Last night Spoony grew six arms - when is there going to be something that weird here?  I couldn't get critical with "A Song of Ice and Fire" because I honestly didn't have any problem with anything until the third and fourth book*.  Every recap would be "this was a good episode, that's all".  And you don't want to read that, do you?


* Martin, really, do we need to start introducing new POVs in the middle book?  Who gives a shit about the Iron Islands and Dorne?  "Feast For Crows" is a book where very little happens, and it easily could have been half of a larger book like Martin originally intended.  There also gets a point where medieval violence becomes too much of a good thing.  I wish we'd get to the fantasy aspects of this fantasy series already, personally.  Hopefully "Dance With Dragons" will get things moving again - review for that coming July.


  1. Dying of envy. It's not showing in Australia as yet, and it appears it might only be available on pay telly when it does turn up.

    Doctor Who series Fnarg+1 started on the 23rd. Any chance of you watching it?

  2. @Yuany: Doctor Who seems like a really imposing fictional universe. I'm a little overwhelmed by it as an outsider, like Star Trek or Stargate. Honestly, I rather doubt I'll ever try it out. But you did lead me to Ice and Fire... Maybe I should pay attention when its next on SciFi.

    Sorry about no Game of Thrones yet. Australia always gets screwed.

  3. I know! We have to wait for freakin' forever to get anything over here. Just about anything that gets posted on this blog, movies, games etc, takes at least 6 months to cross the pacific. I remeber back in the day when I was an avatar fanboy, we had to wait a whole year before the new season finally crossed over to our shores.

    Better bloody hurry up, 'cause this looks epic. I think it's a given that anything written by anyone with two Rs as their middle name has to be awesome.

  4. George R. R. Martin really is a dirty old man. I felt awkward watching this show in my dorm's common room. But besides that and similar concerns about Tyrion's appearance, I have no complaints.