Game Of Thrones
Creators: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss
Cast: Sean Bean, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage
Review by Brian M. Sammons
Ok, so this isn’t a horror show, but it is easily the best show on television right now. Yep, I mean that and stand by it 100%. This is how you do good genre television, right here. Now this is only the first season, so it doesn’t fall into the late season decline that other once great TV shows slipped into (X-Files, Dexter) and it has yet to do a second season and run the risk of falling into the dreaded sophomore slump that some shows hit after a stellar debut season (The Walking Dead). Also while more sword and sorcery than horror, Thrones has far more death and truly eerily moments (every time the white walkers are on screen) than pretty much any other TV show on the air right now. It also has the guts to “go there” and by that I mean having really bad things happen to good people. So for those reasons, and the fact that it’s just so damn good, I decided to review it here.
Game is based on the A Song Of Ice And Fire series of books by George R. R. Martin. Now I have never read these books, but then most of the fantasy I enjoy are the classics of Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith and J.R.R. Tolkein. And if you know those three authors, then you know how varied their fantasy worlds are, so I am not against reading the books by Mr. Martin, I just have yet to do so. So I went into this new dramatic series on HBO as much of a blank slate as possible. So based solely on the strengths of this TV show, I was completely won over. I found it one of the most compelling and complete fictional worlds ever conceived, and that was all the show, not any of the books. A higher compliment than that for a fantasy series, or any series, I cannot think of.
If you have yet to see this show and read the books, then I envy you your first experiences should you chose to pick up these new Blu-rays. And boy, do I think you should. So with that in mind, I shall try my best to avoid spoilers in this review. So read on without fear.
As the title suggests, Game Of Thrones is far more of a political drama than an action packed Conan story where the mighty barbarian hews through savages with his broadsword. Although to be fair, this show does not shy away from the violence in any regard. Or the sex. If wanton nudity offends you, consider yourself warned. On the other hand, I enjoy sex and violence in my entertainment. I am a horrorhead, first and foremost, so I liked the gripping story and incredibly detailed characters getting spiced up a bit by a nice beheading or a pair beautiful, bouncing breasts from time to time. Call me a pig, but I’m an honest pig.
As for the story, it takes place in what I would call a “low fantasy” setting. There are no elves or fairies and magic and wizards are in very short supply. There were once dragons in the skies, but they are now long dead, and the supernatural elements are used sparingly but effectively, such as the mysterious and creepy white walkers and the dead men they control. This is a story about men and woman and all the various political intrigues, backstabbings, and dirty deals that revolved around a collection of noble houses tenuously united underneath the banner of a usurper king. The king sits upon an iron throne, created from all the melted swords of the previous dynasty’s enemies, that everyone wants for their own. There are enemies within the kingdom that plot and scheme, the deposed heir of the last mad king, now in exile across the sea, will marry his young sister to a hulking barbarian if that will get the throne back to him, and then the undead threat from the north. In this world, the seasons don’t act like they do here. When this story begins, the kingdom has enjoyed a many-years-long summer, but all the signs point to the fact that winter is coming and that it’s going to be a particularly long and harsh winter. And in addition to all the hardships that a mini ice age would cause, it looks like the undying white walkers shall return this winter after a thousand-year-long slumber.
As you may guess, things start to fall apart for the kingdom in record time and on all fronts. There are battles to be fought of a personal nature, and those that will leave hundreds dead on the field. There are enemies on distant shores, those that share the same bed, and even those that mock death. And with all that conflict, it is only natural that some die. However who dies may surprise you and also let you know that in this world, no one is safe. That’s yet another instance where this show beats the hell out of many a horror movie.
Combine that rich, incredibly detailed story with beautiful settings, well done special effects, competent direction, and amazing acting (some of the best I’ve seen in any TV show or movie) and you have one hell of a must watch show. On that last bit, the acting, while all involved do a superb job to the last man, woman, and even child (and I usually hate watching kids trying to act), I feel special praise must go to Peter Dinklage a little person who plays Tyrion “the imp” Lannister, a dwarf (no, not fantasy, Lord Of The Rings dwarf) who is remarkably pragmatic, charismatic, and just plain fun to watch every second he’s on the screen. In a show with a cast this huge, and with as many great and memorable characters, that he should so clearly be my favorite speaks volumes to his acting chops.
Now as good as this TV show is, the Blu-ray collection by HBO is just as good. Not only does everything look amazing in High-def, but these discs are jammed packed to over flowing with extras. So much so, that I shall save us both a lot of time and not try to list them all here. I will just say three things here about them. First, wow. Second, this is how a flagship show for a premium cable channel should be released; with tons and tons of extra features. This is a lesion Showtime needs to desperately learn, as all their seasons of Dexter have so far only had a pitiful amount of extras. And third, these Blu-rays come with a very detailed, illustrated and acted out compilation of histories all about the lands, people, and past events of the world this show is set in. These were entertaining, informative, and a great way for someone like me, who had never read the books, to learn more about all the behind the scenes bits. I loved it.
So Game Of Thrones Season One is a great show, it looks great on Blu-ray, and it has a bunch of great extras. Yeah this one is a no-brainer, you need to get this set of Blu-rays. Consider this one very highly recommended.