Game of Thrones

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The first season of Game of Thrones by HBO is over so it's time to take step back and summarize my feelings. To do so, I'll interview myself on the subject as a viewer.

So, Phil, was the series better than the novel?
Not quite but it was damned good. I really don't think it's actually possible when you're taking on a great novel. However, as was the case with LOTR, the production value for its medium was simply amazing. For me, GoT was as good for TV fantasy as was LOTR for movie fantasy. I'm glad HBO decided to invest money on the project and assemble a great team of artisans and actors. More so for the readers, seeing all our beloved characters come to life can be quite the charm.

I was not aware that the book could be cut into ten segments with some kind of cliffhanger being present at the end of most of them.

Right at the beginning, when watching the beautiful dynamic intro (I know it was a bit too modern or even mechanized in some parts) and the amazing theme song I could feel that passion was put into the project. I can't seem to be able to remove that theme from my head. Along with its integration into the general score, the whole music was of the highest quality.
Speaking of actors, what of the cast?
Saying that it was stellar would be too much a cliché. First I have to say that I was amazed at the number of characters that were pretty much spot on in term of interpretation of my imagination. That means that George description where taken into account, at least for most of them.

Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) will probably win an Emmy and it will be rightfully deserved. Jon Snow, Arya, Jaime, Littlefinger, Catelyn, Sansa, and most of the rest where nice discoveries or simply great casting choices, they delivered. And I should not forget Joffrey. What a little piece of shit, if only I could remove that spiteful grin form his face myselft!

On the other hand, even though I don't think his performance was subpar, I didn't really connect with Sean Bean as Eddard. Something was missing for me. The same could be said about Cersei. She didn't feel like the cold hard beauty I remember from the book. In her case and in the Targaryen offspring case (although Emilia Clarke was superb), the wigs could have an influence in my feeling. I think the blond wigs were not a success.

Seeing Jon Snow, Tyrion and Arya in 'real' made me remember how much I missed those characters. A Dance with Dragons cannot come soon enough to quench my thirst. I really hope with all my fantasy reader heart that it will live up to MY hype (which may be going too far for some...).
Who had the best storyline?
Tyrion, Jon and Daenerys. And in that, they succeeded in the same parts as the book. And taking into account that there's no real connection in the first book between the characters in the Seven Kingdoms and those in the Free Cities, I have to admit that I always felt connected to both of these separate 'worlds' events in the TV series as much as in the books.
What about nudity and gore?
They had to do it, it wouldn't have been Game of Thrones without some of it. It was not done with the intention of shocking the public, it's simply a part of ASoIaF.
And the sets?
Another aspect where I can only answer with a positive reaction. I remember being annoyed while watching The Borgias, when the same balcony or room was used over and over again. It's the case in GoT, even in the outdoor scenes. However, what was the most important aspect of it was the feeling the watcher would get of being immersed into Westeros and the free cities. Here again, kudos to the artisans, the job was well done. I could easily discern the differences between the houses livery and I was never asking myself where the protagonists were while looking at the scenery behind them. I was never distracted by some bad design choice.
Is it simply for fans of the book?
No but then, maybe yes to really get the whole perspective on what's happening in the Seven Kingdoms. Nevertheless, I could be stating that because of hindsight. Anyway, my girlfriend who watched the series with me enjoyed it as much as I, but I have to admit that I had some explaining to do (the names at first are not that easy to grasp). Was it really necessary or was I only trying to spice up her ASoIaF experience (as I wrote, the novel was still better than the series)? Saying that, you could ask me if I would still encourage non initiates to watch the series and you would be right. But even if you're not grasping absolutely everything that's going on 'crystal clearly', I think that the series was still directed and scripted well enough to be quite enjoyable and worth your time.
Was there annoying dissimilarities between the book and the series?
Ok, if you are among the fans who asked George why the horse on which Jon is sitting when leaving Winterfell is not of the right color, I think you may be asking for too much unnecessary perfection. However, I have read the book a couple of years ago, so I'm not sure I could be the one to spot dissimilarities. And even if I would, nothing big was changed so I wouldn't make a case of it. Were you really upset when you saw Arwen coming to help Frodo reach Rivendell instead of Glorfindel? I know Tom Bombadil was missed as... at least a cameo... but there was none of that type of oversight in Game of Thrones.
Did it succeed in making you emotional?
Yes it did. I won't spoil the story for those of you who haven't read the book or watched the series, but A Song of Ice and Fire is a harsh story and an unforgiving one. I was moved by several moments throughout the series even though I knew they were coming. This is probably the best achievement I could hope for.
Is winter coming?
Indeed it is, and until it comes, I shall wait patiently for the next season to begin.


Simcha said...

I've heard great things about the show but I've decided to try to read the book before watching the show. Hopefully I'll get to it this summer.

RobReitz said...

Great summary. The show reinvigorated my interest in fantasy. I watched the first five episodes and decided to stop; I needed to read this stuff. Given the performances by so many of the actors, especially Dinklage, I knew this had to originate from some seriously good literature. What a revelation. BTW: I am completely back in on fantasy reading and your blog has made my shortcut bar on safari.

Bets Davies said...

I need to get the DVDs, or etc. as I don't have HBO, though you sure made me wish I did! I'm not an epic fantasy fan, actually, but you made me wish I was.

BTW, I did not miss Tom in the Lord of the Rings. I always thought he was a long winded and completely pointless section of the book. But, as I said, I'm not an epic girl.

Phil said...

Thanks RobReitz, glad you like it.

Bets... I'm sure you will find something good in the series even if you're not a big fan of epic fantasy.

*Dream Weaver* said...

Recently watched GoT and am hooked. Are the books good???

a Fantasy Reader All rights reserved © Blog Milk - Powered by Blogger