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Game of Thrones, a low fantasy which ran on HBO from 2011 to 2019, is a show about nothing. No hugging, no learning.
The show, based on an unfinished Doorstopper septology by George R. R. Martin, started out strong: literally its first announcement was that Peter Dinklage, Martin's only choice for the role of tritagonist Tyrion Lannister, had accepted the part. It launched hard into its Low Fantasy, Gray-and-Grey Morality, personality-driven realpolitik and "Anyone Can Die" level of Reality Ensues. It has a fascinating Three Lines, Some Waiting plot: the "Seven Kingdoms" on the continent of Westeros are consumed by a Civil War spawned by a Succession Crisis, ignoring the rise of a Greater-Scope Villain from the Lands of Always Winter in the north and the efforts of a Literal Bastard to rally them against the threat... while, a continent away, a Princess in Rags rises to save them by magically resurrecting the extinct race of dragons. With such meaty material, it became the Star-Making Role for a number of now-unquestioned talents: Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Michelle Fairley, Jason Momoa, Maisie Williams, Jack Gleeson, Sophie Turner, Pedro Pascal, Gwendoline Christie and of course Dinklage himself, who was nominated for an acting Emmy every year. And, for the first few seasons, all was well.
Unfortunately, the show outpaced the books: during its entire run, only one novel (the fifth) was released. This led to a decline in the show's quality: showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss were better at adaptation than at writing their own material, and the show Jumped the Shark at the end of the sixth season by adding Plot Armor to a series that was conspicuous for its lack. Additionally, Benioff explicitly declared in an interview that "Themes are for eighth-grade book reports," and the show deconstructed what that means: It's a show about nothing, with no Aesop to be found. There's a Shocking Swerve in the second-to-last episode that the show's Main Character was Evil All Along, and the Author Avatar delivers an Ice-Cream Koan that the other characters — and, by extension, the viewers — were evil to root for that character back when they were The Cape. By presenting this Broken Aesop in total sincerity, the show explicitly declares its irrelevance.
And that's why Game of Thrones is the real "show about nothing." That's why, for that matter, Game of Thrones stopped being a "water cooler show" the instant the credits rolled. It has no relevance to Real Life. It doesn't want to have relevance to Real Life. In the end, it is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Should you watch it? Yes. Just don't expect it to matter to you.
TL; DR - Good show, go watch it, form your own opinions.
- Prologue -
It started for me as I expect it started for a lot of people; I was young and malleable. Always looking for something new to suck me in and give me another favorite thing to follow. I first heard about GOT on the far reaches of the web. Some image board maybe, and then again when I had asked a few friends what the big deal was. From him I learned the basics about the series. That it was about a fantasy world where seasons like winter and summer lasted for years. That was actually perfect for me because it really established what the big deal about the prologue was before I even watched it. The hype was everywhere of course, it was a torrent of fanboy praise that constantly seeped into comments on forums and on TV show review sites like a battered barrel of crude oil.
In 2014, I spent my summer break from school marathoning Thrones, because it was up to season 4. I was a bit bored at first, just mindlessly watching season 1 wading through the sex and violence to understand what all the hype was about. I can't make sense of when exactly it happened; maybe it was Ned Stark lost his head, maybe it was when Jon and the Night's Watch went beyond the wall for the first time, but somehow I was hooked immediately. To make a long story short, year after year I waited for and watched Thrones with the same anticipation and it never went away
- Actual Review -
I won't waste anymore characters, we all know what the show is. How it started and how it ended. Well, I feel it is my civic duty for future fans to leave this review and tell them: It is a great show and you are missing out if you don't watch it from start to finish.
The casting is perfect, the acting is top notch, the effects are admittedly shit at first, but they get better overtime as the budget pours in. I can count the amount of truly horrendous moments on my hands and I'm shocked by how much everything changed over 8 years. If I have any complaint, it's that the Dorne Storyline was absolute trash and was not very well thought out and more time maybe could've been spent showing characters traveling instead of just popping up in places.
People talk about the books being so much better (They're not), They talk about bad writing and plot armor and other terms they clearly don't understand and just heard from other critics but the truth? It's a strong piece of television. Not the best show ever, but certainly not the worst, and I would happily stake my honor on saying it's decent throughout. Are there weak moments? Absolutely. Is there Sure? Yes. Are some of the plotlines wrapped up a bit too conveniently? A few, yeah. But on the flipside are there Iconic scenes, great music, a memorable cast and characters? Indeed. Watch it as a show, not as a milestone in human history and you'll enjoy yourself all the more.
The final season was polarizing, no one is going to deny that. But that was always inevitable. No matter what people say, what they claim, a story like A Song of Ice and Fire was always going to end in a way that pissed a lot of people off. One thing I've learned from this experience is that when people become sour to something, they can come up with all kinds of nitpicks to justify their frustration. Maybe I'm just easily impressed, but Daenerys turning evil and burning down King's Landing was nowhere near a dealbreaker for me. In fact I was surprised other people weren't expecting it as her storyline had "Villain origin story" written all over it. I was satisfied with Bran becoming King and the fate of the other surviving characters...except Jon. Jon got screwed.
I'm sure I sound very condescending, and I hope anyone who disagrees with me would be willing to have a calm discussion over their qualms.
Just saw the pilot episode last night. I got all the hype for the series (and have heard of the book, but never got around to reading them... too much else to read!) and so was expecting something very, very good.
By the end of the episode, I had a rather vague understanding that there was intrigue going on at the capital, there was some renewed evil 'white walkers' thing going on North of 'the Wall,' and this ex-princess (who's brother is trying to take the throne) is being used as a bargaining chip and got fossilized dragon eggs (which will obviously hatch, despite, ya know, being fossilized).
Now don't misunderstand where I'm coming from: I love fantasy. Lord of the Rings was a favorite (books and the movies, both great in their own ways). I've played Dn D (and all kinds of other RP Gs... Dn D not being a favorite, but thats for another review...) and generally I'd consider myself (and most would consider me) pretty good at understanding and appreciating complex plotlines and the various other traits that Game of Thrones is attributed with. Perhaps most importantly, I have no aversion to grittiness, sex, violence, etc, taking part in a series. (Pillars of the Earth was pretty darn gritty, but it was just about my favorite tv series ever, around the same area as Firefly).
Now, I want to make sure that I'm not missing something from this series that makes it great. But, it seemed to me, it was basically just a bunch of sex scenes— which is taking the easy way out to explain relationships.... not that bad in an of itself, but the fact that they managed to make such a long episode consist of about 30% sex shows how gratuitous it really was. Other than that, they had rather poorly explained ideas that there would be upcoming intrigue (the white haired fellow is clearly planning an invasion, while something is going on with all the royals.. the second in command being killed...but not much else has been explained as of yet). For the most part it was just discussion of whether Boromir would accept the king's job offer... with a lot of associated narmy acting.
Looking into it (I wanted to know why it was so popular when to me it lacked any substance) basically lead to "its like the book!" so why is the book so popular? Is it just out of sheer grittiness? Surely there must be more. So, what am I missing?
By now, I'm sure you've heard about Game of Thrones, the once beloved adaptation of George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice And Fire", and the way it ended. If you haven't gotten started, you may wonder if you should even bother, but I say that yes, even after everything that happened, Game of Thrones is still worth a look.
If you've heard about the series, or the books that inspired it, you may know its story. It's a sprawling fantasy epic with plots ranging from various factions jockeying to take the throne, to a royal in exile trying to return home, to an order of soldiers that keeps barbarians and worse things away from the civilized lands. Most episodes alternate between multiple characters in various parts of Westeros and Essos, resulting in a very complex but also engaging story.
The characters are an interesting and complex lot. The series manages the improbable feat of showing that a man who tries to murder a ten year old boy out a window by pushing him out a window (crippling him for life) has redeeming features, and shows that even the more heroic characters have severe flaws that can result in their deaths. Because of the latter, you shouldn't get too attached to any one member of the cast, since the series, is not shy about killing off characters.
For the most part, the series does an excellent job of bringing the books to life. Large-scale battles are shown in all their brutal, chaotic glory, and the various locales are quite well-designed. Unfortunately, some of the insights gleaned from seeing things through a character's eyes are lost, but this is an unfortunate tradeoff of going from a text-based medium to a more visual one.
Unfortunately, while the show is quite entertaining and well-written in the best of times, it doesn't last forever. The first four seasons are solid and the three after that are flawed but enjoyable, but the last season can charitably be described as a trainwreck. Long-running threats are dealt with anticlimactically, characters' entire arcs (Jaime, Tyrion, Daenerys, to name a few) are derailed, and it leaves many fans with a bad taste in their mouths. It doesn't help that a lot of the problems started popping up when the show writers ran out of published material to work with.
Of course, while it is understandable that many people are bitter about what Game of Thrones has become, it's also important to remember what it was. As such, I wholeheartedly recommend the first half, but only proceed on to the second half if you can handle disappointment.
Someone on our forums mentioned that s/he advises viewers to treat everything up until Episode 9 as a prologue, because it's then that the story starts. Really, this is understating it: the entire first season is a prologue, and the actual story will finally begin once Season 2 airs.
So why watch a show that need a 10-hour Origins Issue? Simple: you're in for a hell of a ride.
It's Low Fantasy, with an emphasis on drama and politics; personality drives all the Shocking Swerves, not magic. Character Development is central to the series; replace one character (and their strengths, their insecurities, their hangups) with another, and events would doubtless turn out differently. Gray And Grey Morality rules the roost, and each viewer's list of "good guys" is likely to be different (with the exception that Tyrion is probably on everyone's). Anyone Can Die, to an extent that makes Joss Whedon look like a pussy. The casting is nothing short of stellar; almost every actor and actress has justified their inclusion, and Peter Dinklage won acting awards for his role, an upset for fantasy. And HBO isn't shying away from the sex and violence, which is good: in Westeros (as in Real Life), much revolves around these two things.
Of course, it demands a lot of its viewers. Continuity Lockout has set in by Episode 2. There are Loads And Loads Of Characters, to the point that Main Characters are missing from episodes. The sex has been criticized as gratuitous, and your favorite characters might lose their heads at any moment. There are Four Lines All Waiting (and it's going to get worse) and the actual Myth Arc is not readily apparent. (Spoiler: watch the very first scene of the season, and then the very last, to get the fandom's best guess.) And, well, there's so much going on, a 10-hour Origins Issue was necessary to set it all up. This is not a show for casual viewing; you have to commit and hold on tight.
So, what are you looking for? Those seeking fun frolics with supernatural elements are best served by something like Avatar The Last Airbender. But for a sprawling epic fused to wonderful characters, go with Game Of Thrones.
An amazing series, but people really need to read the book series to understand a lot of what's going on. Don't bother watching or commenting on the series otherwise.
I'm sick of this from HBO. We have porn for when we want to see sex. Some of the sexual scenes in here seemed necessary but plenty of it seemed gratuitous or at the very least it seemed as though the story was steered about to serve the purpose of making sex scenes relevant. Do you have a story or not? Then tell it already. Quit trying to score a cheap thrill.
Game Of Thrones is a show that takes a sprawling, imaginative, well-realized epic and condenses it into ten short hours. And here's the thing: it pulls it off. The narrative deftly juggles multiple locations, twisting political plots, and Loads And Loads Of Characters, pulling out the essentials with a grace and clarity I can only wish all adaptations could achieve. Any problems early in the show (some jarring scene transitions and a bit of Wall Of Text-style backstory, though artfully done, felt odd at times) have been smoothed over as it progressed, and the last few episodes in particular are supremely confident in their presentation.
This is a series where events move forward at a rapid clip, often skipping hours, days, or even weeks, and yet it takes the time to sit back and meditate on the characters as well. Some of the best moments come from the monologues, which consistently reveal interesting personality and motivation for characters across the enormous Ensemble Cast. The acting is uniformly superb, with everyone from big-name stars to veteran character actors to young unknowns delivering understated, believable, and deeply moving performances.
Yes, there is lots of sex and lots of violence. Yes, Continuity Lockout is in full force, and it takes a decent amount of concentration to keep up with the tangled web of characters and plot. But wow, is it ever worth the effort.
For the most part, Game Of Thrones is a triumph, a tv show that looks like a big-budget movie and feels like a fully realized world. The attention to detail in every aspect pays off, from the exquisite armor to the construction of the Dothraki language, which the fluent characters speak with absolute conviction. I care deeply about too many characters to list, and am fully invested in their development going forward. Granted, I have read the books, but that doesn't really matter when all's said and done, because this show speaks for itself.
I'm writing this as someone who hasn't yet read the book series, and now I can't wait to read them. I generally don't go much for cable shows that pile on the sex and violence, which is definitely true of this series, but it's strengths far outweigh these aspects (frankly, even though I understand the books have a lot of sex and violence, I figure that a lot it in the show is to satisfy an HBO requirement).
Game Of Thrones is excellently written and has many interesting and complex characters. I will echo a common opinion that the show has truly talented child actors who inhabit their roles. I really hope the kid who plays Joffrey isn't like that in real life...
All in all, this is a must-watch and makes me optimistic about future tv and film adaptations of fantasy and science fiction novels.
I was annoyed at having a new character introduced at first (the fanservice prostitute a distracting introduction as I didn't remember her from the books, with good reason) but now I see the point: often the books depicts a character's point of view and his thoughts. Outside having that character narrate everything he, or she, is thinking (which doesn't make great television) you don't have many options. Introducing new characters with which they interact instead, and that explain the same plotpoints (thus staying true to the story and preventing plotholes by having main characters share important plotpoints which make later decisions stupid) is a neat solution as long as they remain secondary characters. So far so good.
As with a lot of HBO shows, they seem to love blurring tvshows with porn and I can't see myself recommending the show to anyone outside my age range. Even the Sopranos were never this explicit, they'll probably outdo trueblood soon at the rate they're going. But if the porn keeps the show on the air then it's a small price to pay. (porn is cheap, special effects are not, same reason I forgive not seeing the direwolves all the time)
Casting wise for the main characters are all very good with a few exceptions.
Tywin Lannister didn't do it for me (I expected John Glover) but it's only been a first impression. He might be decent. Catelyn Stark is ok but not great, the actress that plays Cersei manages to be more sympathetic than her so far. Jon Snow sounds really whiny but that's also in the role so I might just dislike the character. <<The Mountain>> is pretty hammy but I'm not sure that can be avoided. He has the physique though. Finally the king is not very impressive either.
Now on a good note. Everybody else is very good. The child actors are especially promising and Tyrion's actor steals every scene he's in. You should also note every character that didn't seem as good as the others are relatively minor roles.
Finally the editing is very comprehensible, the story even seems simpler to understand as opposed to the books and the pacing of the story means we should have enough material for the next decade. Hopefully the next book will be out by then.
The prologue was shot like a horror film, which ticked me off because all the fans of the book know exactly what's going on and want to see the character designs on the Others already, while I imagine the new people are just plain confused.
It seems like a number of characters are bigger jerks than in the books, most notably Ned and Robert. Whoever they cast as Jaime was great for the role, he was the doucheist looking man I've ever seen. However, his hair was a different shade from Cersei's, which is an issue because their hair color is a plot point.
The direwolves have an unfortunate shortage of screentime, sadly skipping Ghost's staredown over chicken and his first encounter with Tyrion. Maybe their appearances will pick up over time, but I worry that they'll never quite reach the point of being pretty much constantly around whenever their Stark is on screen.
Credit sequence was cool.
Minor but hilarious issue: Right at the start, the background had buildings with walkways that appeared to have glass walls.
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