Monday, April 18, 2011

My Two Cents: HBO's 'Game of Thrones'

Being a huge fan of George R.R. Martin's 'Song of Fire and Ice' series, I've been understandably excited for the "Game of Thrones" television series, which debuted last night. However, I've reserved a fair amount of skepticism, especially after "The Walking Dead" TV adaptation went so awry. After viewing last night's pilot, I believe that I was completely warranted in doing so, but that fair amount I have reserved should only need to be doled out in small portions over the course of the whole season.

My issues with the episode are primarily based on my perception of the books as a reader and the discrepancies I saw when the story was translated to the small screen. I won't air those here because they're really not valid when critiquing the show on its own. I almost wish I could purge my brain of the story details I've read while watching the series, so I could view things with a clean slate. I say almost because I accept my pre-knowledge of the craziness ahead as a worthy trade-off for having the opportunity to read these books.

Most of what I saw on last night's episode was fairly solid. The cast is strong for the most part and the look of the show is quite impressive. A lot of information was covered in that one-hour period and it didn't seem terribly rushed. My primary concern with the show is in its tone though. I was excited for this show to be on HBO because of what they will allow on their programming. They can present this fantasy show with a significant edge and appropriate darkness (like Valyrian steel!) that would not be acceptable anywhere else. What I saw last night had all the gruesome and explicit action that I expected out of the series, but with that edge lacking. I hated the Dothraki wedding and don't like what I'm seeing from how they're being portrayed. What could have been a frightening and intense scene turned out as something lame and neutered. I felt as though I was watching something with a PG-13 approach that contained R-rated actions. I guess it's hard to explain. Perhaps it's best to not come out of the gate on too grim a note and maybe they'll acquire that desired edge over time. I'll just have to wait and see.

*The opening moments of the show up beyond the Wall, which debuted on HBO a couple weeks back, are very well done and a bit frightening.

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