Monday, June 20, 2011

Game of Thrones - Season 1

Despite still being in progress, A Song of Ice and Fire is probably my favorite fantasy story, so I had a lot of expectations going into the television adaptation. And thankfully, they were mostly met. The show is far from without its flaws, but I was mostly impressed by how well and how faithfully they executed on the depiction of the world George R. R. Martin created and the events that take place in it. It starts with the casting and production, which are both excellent for TV. Almost everyone seemed well suited for their roles, and though not everyone lined up exactly with how I pictured them or how they were described in the book, they all seemed close enough to the essence of their personality, and on top of that the acting itself was generally great. A few of the younger actors seemed a bit unsure at times, (not including the girl who plays Arya, who pretty much nails it) but it was made up for by the multitudes of great character actors who play the grizzled veterans who represent the old days, when war was simple and there were no monsters coming to get everyone. The look of the series is fantastic, with a solid visual style and great locations, sets, and costumes for everyone. There are a few signs that it's not filmed on a blockbuster budget, especially the lack of any battles larger than minor scuffles, but they dance around that well.

All of that would be for nothing if the writers messed things up, but luckily they really didn't. Every episode except for two (one of which was written by Martin himself) was written by the creators of the show, and they definitely seem to get the series as well as anyone could hope. There are a few concessions that have to be made - I was iffy on the first episode because it seemed a bit obvious about introducing all the characters and their relationships, and once in a while there would be an expository scene that just felt clunky or unnecessary. The fact that they often tried to hide these flaws with gratuitous nudity (between this, True Blood, and Boardwalk Empire, HBO is THE go-to channel for superfluous tits) was a bit disappointing as well - the books have always been frank about sexuality, but it was kept to situations where it was warranted. But I was still mostly impressed by the writing, which retained the core essence of all the characters and plot points while dealing with the fact that they can't just throw all of the narration and internal thoughts of the various viewpoint characters from the book onto the screen. They also generally made good use of the ability to show events that the viewpoints from the book never saw - I liked seeing so many great moments get recreated on film, but some of the best scenes in the series were invented to show new things. They developed Tywin more and shows some of the relationship between Littlefinger and Varys, just a couple of the new elements I liked a lot. I wouldn't say Game of Thrones is totally great the same way the books are, but they're a more than serviceable adaptation, and I can't wait to see the next book get the same treatment in 2012.

Also, here are my recaps for all the episodes of the season:
Winter Is Coming
The Kingsroad
Lord Snow
Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things
The Wolf and the Lion
A Golden Crown
You Win or You Die
The Pointy End
Fire and Blood

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