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Game of Throne episode 1 review


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#1 The Heretic

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 04:10 PM

“Winter is coming” and it has arrived on HBO with the grand ambitions of the novel and the visceral promise of television. The first episode of the new HBO series, Game of Thrones, dispelled a lot of my ambivalent feelings about having my all-time favorite series from the fantasy genre being adapted into television format.

Being stoked by the pre-show hype for the past two weeks, I convinced a friend familiar with neither the genre nor the series to record the early HBO show so we could watch it together. A few pauses and some brief exposition was required to help him keep up with the two dozens of characters, so I realize that the show may be too taxing for the newcomer, but this should be less of a problem as the season rolls on and each character gets more facetime to themselves.

Within the first 10 minutes there are two beheadings, and throughout the show there’s plenty of rutting and screwing. Zod bless HBO, and bless George Martin for grounding his fantasy world with realism in a medieval era. The episode is basically expository, where two houses meet together in one giant feast and the King of the 7 kingdoms Baratheon offers Lord Stark the role of the Hand of the King, and on another continent, across the Narrow Seas, the deposed royal family Targaryens scheme to retake the throne by having the sister Daenerys married off to a warlord.

Sean Bean successfully plays against type as the noble Lord Stark. But Peter Dinkleage has the juiciest role as Tyrion Lannister, thanks to some of the sauciest lines this side of Lord Henry. I was also struck by Emilia Clarke’s performance as the terrified bride Daenerys, and I hope she has the required inner strength the role will require.

The story doesn’t really pick up until the last ten minutes, so it might not have been enough to recruit new viewers, weaned on far less challenging fare like Spartacus or Tudors, where they could afford to miss a few lines here and there. Game of Thrones will punish you for missing anything because every line and scene is full of allusion and foreshadowing.

I’ve finally found a new TV show to follow, and now 2011 won’t be a total loss without Mad Men.

#2 Scotty

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 06:04 PM

I do agree that Tyrion has the best lines, the spear that never misses was acutely hilarious.

Daenerys will be a tough role, but I think will actually be one of the better characters as the story goes on.  I think there is a lot of character "changes" within her that will blow people away as the series goes on.

It took me a while to refresh myself on the characters as the story went on, but it all started to click together near the end in my mind.  Cersei Lannister should be a good watch too.

Although I am not prudish about the sexual side of it, I felt they overdid on Daenerys, although she is very beautiful :)  It seemed the lingering scenes were just that.

I felt a few of the scenes, like the Dire Wolves, were a bit pushed along and the people didn't seem to work as well together.  That is probably nit-picking.  I also thought the receiving of the dire wolves should be more dramatic as you don't know the significance of the wolf and the stag as you did in the book by that time.  

Anyway, it will probably come out later, but I agree that missing lines will kill you in this series, "The things I do for love."  Yep.

-Scott

#3 The Heretic

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 06:52 PM

The more I reflect about it, the more i'm of the mind that this episode should have been a two hour premiere, if only to avoid from compressing all the various characters and hurrying through such scenes you pointed out (direwolf adoption) and losing the newcomer.

This could be chalked up to the re-vamp of the original pilot show that was already filmed a couple of years ago.

But yeah, a minor nitpick. I will add more observations when i put this up on my blog (background of fantasy and the cinematography, etc.)

#4 Stummel

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Posted 18 April 2011 - 10:46 PM

View PostThe Heretic, on 18 April 2011 - 06:52 PM, said:

The more I reflect about it, the more i'm of the mind that this episode should have been a two hour premiere, if only to avoid from compressing all the various characters and hurrying through such scenes you pointed out (direwolf adoption) and losing the newcomer.

This could be chalked up to the re-vamp of the original pilot show that was already filmed a couple of years ago.

But yeah, a minor nitpick. I will add more observations when i put this up on my blog (background of fantasy and the cinematography, etc.)
  

If they did that the show would be even closer to the end, and we all know it will be years, if not decades, before good old George has actually finished the series! They can't fire it all off too quickly.  ;)

I was actually really disappointed with Daenerys and the Dothraki scenes in particular, but maybe it will improve later on.
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#5 Scotty

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 12:39 AM

"I was actually really disappointed with Daenerys and the Dothraki scenes in particular, but maybe it will improve later on."

That was the other scene that I was thinking of when I thought it was a bit off, like "staged barbarism".  I suspect they will be out of that soon, and I think the characters will work together better.  

I am waiting for "give me my crown" scene :)

-Scott

#6 The Heretic

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 01:55 AM

Boy am I tempted to reread Game of Thrones just to see what happens next week! :mrgreen:

#7 Hugo Holbling

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Posted 19 April 2011 - 07:38 AM

I enjoyed the first episode, although I'm with TH in wishing it had been longer. I very much agree about the Dothraki scenes, which were disappointing and explained nothing of what makes them interesting or anything other than stereotypical "savages". Daenerys is one of my favourites from the books and I thought she was portrayed quite nicely, although the gratuitous nudity in shows is really becoming tiresome - Harry Lloyd was surely slimy enough as Viserys for us to get the picture. What's wrong with some subtlety?

On that note, I agree with Scott that some of the nuances are lost on screen (as no doubt they would be) but the direwolves and the death of the stag are surely the kind of symbolism that should be lingered upon. On the positive side, Jon Snow and Tyrion are already more interesting than the other characters, perhaps because they are underplayed, and the twin menaces of the land beyond the wall and the overseas threat are bracketing the machinations for the Iron Throne. I guess it's going to be difficult to fairly judge the series having read the books but it looks good so far. :)
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#8 Scotty

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 12:32 PM

Should we start a new thread or just stick here?

I felt that the second episode was an improvement over the first.  There are still a lot of characters to get any sort of in-depth feeling yet, but it is getting better.  

I kept having a feeling that Jon Snow was missing something, where the f*&k is his dire wolf?  Ghost, here boy, here Ghost!  WTF?  Dropped on the editing room floor?  I hope they don't just cut him out of there...

Ah, I just read some of the casting changes as I was looking up info on Daenerys, and they had to reshoot the scenes after casting changes, so no wonder it seemed a bit wrong on the first episode.

They are doing a much better job with Daenerys now, and the lingering on the dragon eggs I think it just perfect.  She is starting to come out and work things, which I think is coming along nicely.

Tyrion is still a favorite, the opening scene with the dogs seemed out of place, but slapping that little snot Joffrey was pretty good.  Although for some reason I didn't follow exactly why he was slapping him around, I didn't mind at all :)  Which means of course they are doing the characters very true.

Tyrion and Jon chatting about the Wall was such a good way to see Tyrion, it really pulls you in.  Very nice.

Oh, and I forgot,  and just had to look it up, but Tyrion is supposed to have one green eye and one black eye?  Did I miss that in the show?  Something else dropped?  Maybe too distracting on screen, not sure.

Even though it has been a long while since I read them, I thought the meeting with Sansa and Joffrey and Sandor "The Hound" was done very well and the whole rushing cacophony leading up to Eddard and Lady was both quick and confounding, but it was that way in the book too.  It leads you to understand more of the thinking of how "justice" is served.  Yet, since the Dire Wolves were not weaved in as well in the first episode, it does take away from the drama.

A two hour premiere would have been a much better choice.

-Scott

#9 The Heretic

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 04:39 PM

I agree, Scotty on most points.

I actually went back and re-read Game of Thrones after last Sunday night, just to refresh my memory because I originally read all 4 books in one month over 4 years ago.

So watching the 2nd episode was a bit different from the first just because of my refreshed memories: Tyrion's lines are left intact. Too golden to be disturbed.

Some of the scenes were new: Cersei talking to Catelyn about her first kid, which added humanity to her character (no idea if she was lying though) and the slave girl teaching Daenerys empowerment.

Agreed the wolves were not as present as they were in the books, but I guess they're the ones to be sacrificed for screentime.

More later.

#10 Scotty

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 05:55 PM

Quote

Some of the scenes were new: Cersei talking to Catelyn about her first kid, which added humanity to her character (no idea if she was lying though) and the slave girl teaching Daenerys empowerment.

I thought those didn't seem right to me, but it has been a long time since I read them so I figured they were collapsing elements.  Can't wait for you full review :)

-Scott

#11 Scotty

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 01:17 AM

I am watching it again now, I just didn't pick up the Tyrion and snot-nose very well the last time.  My dyslexia kicking in I suppose.  Made sense this time :)

-Scott




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