Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What's on the Box: Game of Thrones - Season One (2011)

Warning: this review is super spoilerific. DO NOT read this if you haven't seen the show yet, as you really don't want it to be spoiled. Again, don't click the jump if you haven't seen the show! Consider yourself warned.

What is it?


HBO series based off the epic series of fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin titled A Song of Ice and Fire.  The television series takes it title from the first book, A Game of Thrones. There is already a second season in the works. 

What's it about?


Quantom: Game of Thrones is not your typical fantasy story. Rather than delving straight into wizards, elves, and other fantasy tropes, the story is focused around political intrigue and manipulation in the land of Westeros. It features a very rich universe, and for the first few episodes it can be difficult to follow as it literally throws you straight into the lore. There are many intertwining plot threads, from the political maneuvers in King's Landing, to White Walkers past the Wall, to Khal Drogo's horsemen and the last dragon Daenerys Targaryen.


Despite being bombarded with all this information during the first few episodes, the threads start to pull together and you begin to develop an idea of who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, although this isn't always clear cut. The writing of the show had to be good to be able to pull such a complex plot off, and thankfully it is. 


Bean as Eddard Stark

Jables: Would have to agree with you there Quantom.  The first episode or two had you wondering what the hell was going on.  Especially when we see 2 characters having sex in the first episode and I'm like, "hang on a second, aren't those two twins?".  They didn't waste time explaining things, you were thrown into the deep end.  Luckily it didn't take long to work it all out.


The multiple stories are beautifully played out alongside each other and it's a credit to Martin and also the show's writers that we can keep up with so many storylines and see so much happen in only just 10 episodes.  Brilliant work.  The story also has the perfect amount of fantasy hinted throughout it with the rich history of dragons and White Walkers.


Who's in it?


The biggest name of the series is Sean Bean.  Star of such flicks as Goldeneye and Lord of the Rings.  Bean is cast as the head of the Stark house, Eddard 'Ned' Stark.  Ned is a great character who is controlled by his honour.  Unfortunately his honour was probably his downfall.  I still don't understand why you would tell your enemy that you know all their secrets and dismiss whatever element of surprise you might have had.  After this moment there was no way he was going to make it out alive.   

He has an excellent worried expression that's for sure, and perfectly plays the role of a soldier who is thrust into a role of importance in the Kingdom, whether he wants it or not. After playing Boromir in The Lord of the Rings, he had the fantasy mileage in the bank, although this is a different role to that.

Mark Addy, from The Full Monty fame, plays the King of Westros, Robert Baratheon.  One of Ned's oldest friends.  He loves his women and his wine.  He is a typical King that during peaceful times has spent too much of his time eating, drinking and fucking.  I had come accustomed to calling him Fat Bob.  

King Fat Bob
Oh yeah, [laughs] holy shit about the Full Monty! I didn't even realise when I was watching. Too many clothes and a big bushy beard. Also does a good job of playing a King with the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Lena Headey (300, Sarah Connor Chronicles) plays Cersie Lannister, Fat Bob's Queen.  Headey is used to playing strong characters but this character isn't meant to be liked and she does a great job of playing her.

She does a great job of playing an absolute bitch who will do anything it takes to gain (more) power for her family, the Lannisters.

Peter Dinklage (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian).  Arguably stealing the show from the get go.  If Dinklage doesn't win an Emmy for Best Supporting Actor then there is obviously something wrong.  He slips into the role of the Imp so easily and he is automatically likeable.  He can of course be a bit of a dick, he's a Lannister after all, but he bloody funny as and plays drunk amazingly well. 

Never has a drunk and debauched dwarf been so entertaining to watch. 

And he is so much more than just a comic relief character.  Tyrion is so switched on and knows how everything and everyone fits into this crazy world.  Brilliant character. 

Tyrion just before the battle we don't get to see

The acting in Game of Thrones is excellent all around. Considering the cast is VERY large, and often involving child actors, most did a great job. Yes, even the kids. This is even more impressive considering the only big name in the show is Sean Bean. Characters are built up as heroes, villains, and in the case of the dwarf Tyrion, a bit of both. 

Totally agree again.  A huge cast of relatively unknowns (well at least for me) and everyone of them is amazingly believable.  I could swear that Westros was an actual place and these characters actually exist.

The show also has no hesitation in killing characters off. Characters you think will have a major part in the show are suddenly dead, and it gives every encounter between adversaries a tense feel. If the acting wasn't up to par, this would fall apart as you wouldn't care when a character bit the dust, good or bad. The fact that you feel shock when a character dies is testament to the great acting and writing. 

It was an extremely brave move to kill off one of the main characters in the book but I think it's even braver to have him played by the biggest name on the cast and still killed off.  You could forgive people who haven't read the books for thinking that Ned was going to be the biggest player throughout the series.

It's amazing how many of the characters have grown on me throughout the show.  Rob Stark didn't have much to do in the beginning but now you can she how strong and powerful a man he is after having to lead the North to war.  The show almost had me shouting "King of the North!!" along with the characters at one stage.


Jamie Lannister also showed a glimpses of interest for me towards the end after being captured and showing that he isn't just a spoiled rich kid that has sex with his twin sister.  I really think he'll grow to be one of the most interesting characters in the show.

That's a good point about those two characters, it seems like they are going to have a lot to do in the future. Rob is a pretty likeable character as well, and though Jamie is well acted I still hope he dies. 

Jon Snow with baby Ghost

 Quantom's Top Characters

1. Jon Snow - the perennial good guy. Noble, unassuming, heroic, bastard son of Eddard.
2. Eddard Stark - a good guy screwed from every angle.
3. Tyrion Lannister - hilarious, clever, likable dwarf from a conniving family.
4. Daenerys Targaryen - she's got dragon blood and is sexy. Bit stupid though. Going to play a big role.
5. Arya Stark - Eddard's firecracker of a daughter. Pretty kick arse for a kid. 

Jables' Top Characters

1. Jon Snow - The bastard.  The troubled hero that is just looking for his place in the world.  Plus he has the best direwolf in Ghost.
2. Tyrion Lannister  - A great, fun character.  Smart, funny and loves his grog and women.
3. Daenerys Targaryen - Sexy as and dragon blood.  She grew into a damn powerful woman.  What's not to like?
4. Eddard Stark - So damn noble but unfortunately his honour was his downfall in the end.  Brilliantly played by Bean.
5. Syrio Forel - The 'dance instructor' who plays the Yoda type role.  Such a great character.

What do we think? 


The books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series have been around for over ten years, with A Game of Thrones first being published in 1996. While the books themselves aren't new, the series has certainly put them back into the spotlight, especially for people like myself who haven't read them. One thing about the show is that it's pretty much like crack. As soon as the last episode ended (annoyingly on the dragon cliffhanger), I said to myself "more," and then proceeded immediately to amazon.com and purchased the first four books in the series. George R.R. Martin, who has a gig producing the show, must be very pleased.


I also had to purchase at least the first book to read through.  Haven't finished yet though.  But it's just amazing how much from what I have read has been perfectly adapted on to the screen.


The series is, simply put, awesome. The acting and writing has already been mentioned, but the overall package is just as good. There are a few other fantasy shows floating around, including a few versions of King Arthur, and Game of Thrones has by far the highest production values. The show looks fantastic. It's not plagued by that cheap, fake look that a lot of other period shows are, and it's obvious that HBO sunk a lot of cash into making it look top shelf. The sets are great, and in particular they managed to make the Wall look good too, considering it seems to shoot up a few hundred metres into the sky. The costumes feature lots of big, chunky armour, and lots of fur coats for the northmen. The gore is also suitably gory, and features some of the best head-lopping this side of Highlander. Also, beards. 


Great beards.  And great bitch slaps.

Slappy slap slap

They definitely didn't skimp on the cash and none of it is wasted.  It's a perfectly produced series that rival some of the most expensive massive budget movies out there.  It easily has blown away every other fantasy series that there is on TV at the moment and probably of all time.  You never saw these sorts of effects, gore, sets, costumes or boobs in Hercules or Xena.  Xena definitely needed some more boob action.


Game of Boobs also features a LOT of boobs. In fact that one scene with the two prostitutes was borderline pornographic, and wouldn't even get a guernsey on an episode of Underbelly played at 2am. Some of it is definitely gratuitous, but some of the boobs do play an important role in the story, as a few of the prostitutes have a very close presence with some of the main characters. 


Game of Boobs.  Love it.  Unfortunately for the female audience, the ratio of boobs to cock is massive.  I think I recall maybe 2 cocks in the whole series compared to about 135 sets of boobs.  But hey, you have to expect that for a show that is obviously aimed at males aged 15-36.  (I just pulled those figures out of my butt btw.)

The main (only) problem I have though, and this has been guilty of every epic period show of all time (except for arguably Band of Brothers), is that you never get to see the best battle scenes. For example, when the Starks and Lannisters are heading to war, Tyrion cops a stray hammer to the head and gets KO'd. Of course, we are following his perspective at that point and miss the whole battle. Even when we find out the switch occurred, whereby Robb Stark captures Jamie Lannister, we miss that battle too! I understand that it's pretty difficult to pull off a huge battle in a TV show, but it still frustrated me. Most of the hand to hand battles are great though, and it's apparent there was a bit of combat training involved for the cast.


It would of been nice to see a huge battle scene but even with he amount of money they have sunk into this show it would have no doubt blown the budget.  Plus as far as I can gather from the books is that it's mainly from the character's point of views so I don't really know if they had battles in the original stories.  (Oh and nice mention of Band of Brothers.  One of the greatest TV productions of all time.)


Overall, Game of Thrones came out of nowhere for me. Word of mouth spread pretty fast that this show was fantastic, and once I watched the first episode I was hooked. The series just flows beautifully, and rather than having a traditional beginning, middle and end, there is just a constant series of events, often shocking. While this means a cliffhanger ending, it geared me up for more, both in terms of the books and season 2. Bring it on. 


Arya and her 'dance instructor'

I first heard about the show when it was first announced.  Not having any idea of what the hell the original books were I hit up the local geeks at work and found out a bit of the main theme.  After the cast was announced I knew I had to check it out and I'm glad I did.  Game of Thrones is just about the perfect medieval/fantasy show that you could have.  All the characters are interesting, all the villains are the right amount of evil and the good guys are mostly troubled heroes.  Perfect, just what I want.


I could go on for pages and pages talking about how amazing this show is.  But I won't bore you. 

All in all it's an amazing story that has been brilliantly adapted for the small screen.  The cast is amazing, production value huge and it has definitely left me wanting more.  There is plenty in here for the adult and child inside of me and season 2 can't come any sooner.


To finish off I just want to say this.  Fucking dragons!!!!!! 10/10 from me.

Fucking Dragon(s) and the 'smoking' hot Daenerys

And boobs! I give Game of Thrones 9.5 Sean Bean's out of 10.

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