Saturday, April 16, 2011

Game of Thrones: A Must-Watch

It's rare that a show on HBO doesn't make me excited. HBO has created such a high standard of TV excellence over the years with shows like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire, True Blood, and so many others, that it's almost singlehandedly raised the standard of television itself. No longer are viewers happy with pablum, but demand shows with higher production values, sweeping epic stories, excellent ensemble casts, fantastic writing, and fewer throwaway episodes.

So when I first saw a trailer for Game of Thrones (premiering this Sunday, April 17 on HBO and HBO Canada) that not only looked like Lord of the Rings but boasted all of the other attributes of HBO programming, the days until the premiere couldn't fly by fast enough. After having seen the first six episodes, I can reassure you that it lives up to its billing.

Don't listen to completely CRAP reviews like this offensive one that appeared in the NY Times, no less (thanks to Jen Stuller for the link) wherein the reviewer says that shows like this are for boys only, because there's no girl who could possibly like fantasy or sci-fi fiction. (Wow, maybe SHE should put her Harlequins away and emerge from HER mom's basement to discover there is a world of much more interesting women out there.)

If you liked Lord of the Rings, tune in. If you liked The Wire, tune in. If you like a sweeping story that crosses generations and geographical boundaries, tune in. I can best describe this show as Rome meets The Wire -- it's got all the excellence (and incredible costuming) that Rome had, but is as complex as The Wire. Considering the books the show is based on -- like Harry Potter, they will eventually be 7 volumes, but four of them are out now with the fifth in July -- are about 700 pages each, I imagine that a lot of material is being truncated into quick scenes. But check out the opening credits... watch them closely the first couple of weeks, because they intricately and beautifully lay out not only the geography of the area we're in (which is a lot like England) but each of the seven realms rises up one by one as the camera sweeps over the areas, and you get a sense of where everyone is located and why the tension is peaking.

Now, I'm not going to go into too much detail on the show here, this is just a pre-post to tell you how much I loved it. Instead, I decided I'd do something new. See, I haven't read the books at all, so I couldn't tell you if the show is a successful adaptation of them. I can only say if it's a successful series on its own. However, my friend Christopher Lockett (you may remember him from the Buffy Rewatch) is a huge fan of the books. So, he graciously agreed to do a co-post with me every week. We'll watch the show on Sunday night, put together a post where I address the show on its own, while he talks about the show as an adaptation of the books, and then we'll post it on each other's blogs at the same time. Look for the first post to go up Wednesday night, and if it works, we'll attempt to make this a weekly thing, barring personal commitments.

Until then, please tune in this week and enter the world of Winterfell, direwolves, and The Imp.