The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Game of Thrones


After the trash that was "Man of Steel", I needed this. I had to blog about something I love, especially since I'm going through it for a second time with my brother, this is his first time. How bad was "Man of Steel"? Let's just say that coming home to watch the Red Wedding with him was a great antidote to that wretched movie.

I'm a latecomer to this series, it was always on my "to watch" list, but three months ago I finally got into it. I marathoned the first two seasons and then watched season three as it aired. Honestly, I think it's not only the best TV show on the air right now, but the best TV show to air in many years, any and all genres and mediums. It is amazing. I am no stranger to TV shows with casts of thousands, but there were times when even I couldn't keep track of everyone, which is why I wanted to quickly watch the show a second time... to catch the little details I missed, and this time knowing who everyone is and what their deal is.

What I like most about this show is just how real this world feels. It's fantasy, yes; but the fantasy has been kept to a minimum, and this is a strength. When the supernatural does creep in, it's not familiar or ho hum, but it has an impact. When you first hear that the summers can last years and the winters can last up to a decade, you know you're not watching a period piece. And yet, in spite of all this, it feels more real than anything else on TV.

The series is dark. Very dark. Don't go in expecting noble heroes triumphing over dark evils, because you won't find it. You can have your favorites, but don't get too comfortable with them because anybody can die, and will die. Now I've seen other shows where it's been supposedly said that any character can die, but it's almost always bullshit. Not here. Not this show. I'll be honest, it was the Red Wedding that established this show as a favorite for me, because I have never seen anything like that outside of a history book. It broke all the rules of TV, movies, fantasy, you name it. When I first saw it, I sat there for twenty minutes in shock, and then the first words I said were "this show is a masterpiece." Westeros is a dangerous place, and you can't count on the safety of conventional television rules.

My favorite character in the series is Tyrion Lannister, who is probably everybody's favorite character. Peter Dinklage. He's just so much fun to watch, and one of the most clever characters on the show. He's a "dwarf" ... and not of the fantasy variety, he was born with dwarfism and the youngest son of Tywin Lannister (who may or may not be the Big Bad depending on your point of view, because he does have competition for the title). He drinks, he beds prostitutes, but he is also the closest thing the Lannisters have to a decent person. And he is so good at the game, so very good.

The Starks, at first glance, seem to be a family of fantasy heroes straight out of Tolkien or Nordic myths. We love the Starks, they value many virtues like love and honor and really have no initial interest in playing the game of politics, but necessity drives them into war against the Lannisters. Unfortunately, in real life, love and honor are seldom strengths but often weaknesses, as the Starks and the audience will bitterly learn more than once.

The other factions are equally as interesting, the Greyjoys who seek to be kings themselves; the Tyrells who might be giving the Lannisters a run for their money; Stannis Baratheon and his alliance with Melisandre, high priestess of the Lord of Light; the Boltons who are just creepy; and then, overseas marshaling her forces, the exiled Daenerys Targaryen... who many suspect will be the one to win. If I went into more details about each of them, we'd be here all night.

At this point in the show, I have no theories or predictions about where this is all going, and as someone who is used to being able to accurately predict story beats in other works correctly nine times out of ten, I'm not used to this feeling of such uncertainty. But I'm enjoying the ride, and loving this journey.

For now I'll leave you with this article and I'll meet you all back here for season four.

8 comments:

  1. hhmm, you will probably hate this question, but do you plan on reading the book series eventually?

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  2. Well put, Greg. Though I should remind you that everyone, even readers of the original book series, is as uncertain as you are about the future of this story since as of now, Martin still has two more books to write before the story is done. So I'm not going to be surprised (or disappointed) if the show starts taking liberties with the later parts of the story and character arcs.

    I enjoy the heck out of this show too, though I felt the second season was the weakest so far mainly 'cause I loathed Robb and Dany's plotlines in that season, and some of the grimdark stuff was taken more over-the-top than even Martin could write it. The first and third seasons were sheer brilliance, as is the series overall. And yes, Peter Dinklage is especially brilliant: he just owns that role.

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    1. The show has already taken major liberties with the current part of the story its already covered mostly due to the limits of the TV format to be fair and the fact that actors cost money and also cant simply be expected to vanish for an entire season or two and then come back later(they could move on to other projects in the meantime... they gotta eat).

      That ship has long sailed.

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  3. Game of Thrones is a truly great series. And the books are even a bit better (as always with books vs. their TV adaptations).

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  4. I missed Season One when it first aired, but saw it on DVD about a week before Season Two started airing. Then I started reading the books. So for Season One and the first half of Season Two, I got the show before the book, and then from the second half of Season Two onward I got the book before the show. I read the third, fourth and fifth books before Season Three started.

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  5. If you want a show with almost as much gritty realism in a supernatural/scifi setting, I recommend the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica from 2003-2009 (and its abbreviated spinoffs Caprica and Blood & Chrome). GRR Martin once said it was the best show on television (at the time; his books hadn't become Game of Thrones on TV yet).

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  6. I know this a retro post, but I finally watched the first season of Game of Thrones. I felt confused at first about who was who, but like they say about "The Big Sleep", it's all so entertaining that you don't care. It was excellent. I'm usually wary about fantasy, but they use it so sparingly and I think of it more as a political drama. Just wonderful.

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