I will be honest with you guys. I meant to have this first article up a long time ago.
Want to know how long ago?
Last year. You know, before Season 6 of Game of Thrones. Last. Bloody. Year.
I know, it is a disgrace. *Goes to sit in corner*.
So, Game of Thrones! I have been spending ages working out this article series. The HBO baby of the last five years, and the universe love-child of George R.R Martin’s acclaimed fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. Announced in 2010, the first season piloted in 2011, and it has been a roaring success for millions across the globe, winning multiple awards out of the ass.
Or has it been the success so many people claim? Prepares for the pitchforks.
Now, while I go into this long journey, I will like to make some facts plain. It will not be just scrutiny of HBO’s adaptation of the series because that would be plainly unfair. I am critical of the series for sure, and it has certainly gone through many ups and downs during its run. Season 7 and 8 will be the last ones of the adaptation of the books, but four more spin-offs got confirmed last year so we will be able to see much and more of Martin’s universe adapted for the big screen. That in the event is good, and I look forward to watching more.
I will not be blind in praising the show to high heaven like some people, but neither will I be a book fanatic and blast it for everything that went wrong (believe me, several things go horribly wrong). I want to be firm, yet fair. The universe of George R.R Martin is massive, and his gardening strategy has meant the series is not as refined as it could be. It was something never meant to be adapted for the viewing narrative, so on that regard, Game of Thrones has done a good job. Overall. It’s a shame about some of the writing, but that will come later.
Bold print – Watching Game of Thrones solely? I recommend you read some of the books or the lore. It goes into world building and overall character development far stronger then the show, but GOT is a lot more fast paced, and tells the overall story better. No 20 page descriptions of clothing or meals here, boys!
Read the books but haven’t watched the show? Here is my advice. TRY to completely separate them. Otherwise, there will be many things in the show adaptation that will piss you off, and you might even hate it. Please.
But that is for another time. For the first stage of this series, I would like to begin on a positive note, before I go into all of the gritty, controversial stuff. Oh, and potential spoiler alerts! I’m happy to say that despite my very heavy criticism of what HBO did to ASOIAF, they did a lot of things well, and some things brilliantly. So let us go into some amazing positive stuff!
Part 1 – Wonderful things the Show has done.
The cinematography and the overall setting is fantastic.
My word, did they do a wonderful job on this overall! From the gritty world of the North up to the massive Wall and the Nights Watch, all the way down through to the cities and King’s Landing, the phenomenal work into all the sigils, the clothing and the atmosphere, it was pretty much top notch. All of the work put into the Essos lands, and inventing their own language for the Dothraki (one of my favourite parts of the show for me was how they represented the ferocious yet barbaric nomads), and I think they did a very good job for this in the end. It did get weaker as time went on, with scenes being re-used and some important book moments a little lackluster, but I cannot begrudge them for the bigger picture. I could not have imagined a TV version looking much different (nor better) than HBO did with Game of Thrones.
*Points angrily at the Greyjoy kingsmoot*.
The Overall Cast.
They did a splendid job on this in the bigger picture, I think. Now, some are better than others, and I will be pretty controversial in my opinion about a certain main character…but wow. Well done!
Stark and Lannister characters…I think they were cast perfectly. Peter Dinklage, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Sean Bean as the wonderful Ned (Sean Bean dies in everything….shhhh). They were the main ones for me that utterly carried the show for a very long time. And who can forget Charles Dance (who did such an incredible piece as Tywin Lannister that I cannot read the books anymore without picturing Tywin as Dance. That is how great he was in portraying the darkest of the Lannisters).
Then we had some excellent cast for villains. Joffrey’s actor Jack Gleeson did such an incredible job in playing that piece of shit that I frankly feel sorry for him getting attacked by people for playing his role so well, Lena plays an admirable performance as the equally as mad Cersei (although her portrayal of her in comparison to the books has been a bit hit and miss…yes, I WILL be covering that!) and Ramsey Bolton was an odd pick that worked out pretty well in an acting role, and being the sadistic little shit. His plot armor and shoddy writing however soured the taste for me in the end. Writing is a major weakness of the show which crops up in increasing proportions as the seasons go on, I might add. Pedro Pascal really did Obeyrn Martell justice in his fire and hidden darkness, and it gave me high hopes for Dorne in later series.
How wrong was I!
Honorable mention to the guy who played Viserys, making me hate him on impulse and really doing his character justice.
Admittedly, there has been few actors that didn’t do their characters well, to be honest, so they get a high score overall.
The White Walkers/Others
The main threat in ASOIAF being the Others/White Walkers, HBO has portrayed these creatures of ice and cold extremely well, potentially even better than the books have. Taking a rather back seat role in the novels with few appearances, the show has gone into quite a lot of work making them terrifying, and they have done well.
From the excellent wight attack in Season 1 including the prologue scene that was an amazing start to the show, the mustering of Others and their minions prior to the attack on the Fist, and what in my opinion is the best scene ever shown in the series with the masterpiece of Hardhome, it really nails it on the head just how deadly they are. Providing them with a figurehead leader too was quite a good idea, although I do worry that it’ll become a case of Sauron Syndrome. You know the one. (Kill leader, everything attached to them dies in a Phantom-Menace style nuke. Not cool dude!)
While people may be annoyed that the actual Fist massacre does not happen in the show, I am happy to say that the Season 5 variant more than makes up for it. Like….Christ. The Hardhome sequence is the jewel of Game of Thrones for me. It is spectacular.
They tend to go with a heavy theme for the ninth episode; show something massive, or really fuck up the viewers. Each one has been huge, with an event or battle that is the climax of the season, or a scene that is sure to really mess up a viewer’s evening where they curl up like a burrito and sob against the wall. So far we have had:
- Ned Starks Confession
- Battle of Blackwater Bay
- Edmure Tully’s wedding to Roslin…Freys!
- Battle of Castle Black
- Stannis breaking canon and being a complete dick (As you can tell, my least favorite EP9!)
- Battle of the Bastards (A cinematic masterpiece, but was awful from a writing and tactical standard)
Love or hate them, HBO has much to be thanked for the majority of these climaxes, and they tend to be the main viewer spoiler of each season. Very solid overall.
Some excellent deviations from the books!
As a book purist, this may come off as a little weird, but I give them full credit here. Some amazing things happened in the show which did not happen in the books;
- Robert and Cersei’s beautiful conversation, exploring their ruined marriage, Robert’s love for Lyanna and his broken mind, and the fear of the Dothraki hordes invading Westeros.
- Switching Ayra serving Tywin as a cupbearer instead of Roose Bolton.
- Sansa going north. Yes, this I feel was right; she does very little in the books. The idea of this was solid, just a shame it was written so poorly.
- Bronn being a witty badass throughout, and it was incredible to watch.
- HARDHOME! Sure in the books it’s sort of mentioned, but very sparsely. Instead we got the best 20 minutes in all six seasons.
- Aging the characters up I think was a smart option too. Some very fucked up shit happens which they just cannot show if they were the same age as in the novels; Dany weds Khal Drogo when she is 13!
Well, I hope you enjoyed the first stint. Join me next time as I go into the best character portrayals….and the worst.