Dark and Brutal, Game of Thrones is a Royal Treat

At last, HBO is back.

I’ve been waiting a for a new show to get excited about for a while now, and I think Game of Thrones just might be it. Yes, I’ve recently made my way through Boardwalk Empire, but it wasn’t a terribly captivating experience. But swords, kings and maidens? And drunken debaucherous dwarves? Count me in.

It’s rare that I have this good of a feeling about a show just from knowing its mere concept and watching the pilot. I had a similar experience with The Walking Dead on AMC, and so far that’s proven to be worthwhile, although why they scheduled a six episode first season with an indefinite hiatus following, I’ll never understand.

Thrones is going to be a massively complicated show, that much is clear thanks to the 30 title characters that were all introduced in the pilot, but what I’m most excited about is the fact that a show with some MYSTERY is back on TV.

The new “Others.”

No, I don’t need something as convoluted as Lost, where every time it answers a question, it raises five more. Rather, I just mean that Game of Thrones is an entirely new universe to get lost in. It’s a medieval epic that’s created an entirely new world I know nothing about, and that promise alone is enough to get my attention.

Sunday we were introduced to the entire cast, and I’ll try to be as concise as I can summing this up. There’s a grand kingdom broken up into seven smaller ones. Our focus is on the northernmost one, which protects the kingdom from evil to the north courtesy of a giant wall. The ruler of this area, Winterfall, is Sean Bean, and he has five children (or sons, plus a few more daughters? Not sure) one of whom is a bastard neglected by the rest of the family.

In the capital city down south, and Sean Bean’s old friend, who is now king, travels north to recruit him to be his right hand man as he takes the throne. Meanwhile, across the sea, an Arian prince attempts to assemble an army to take back the throne by offering his sister up to the chief of a barbarian tribe who can give him the forces he needs to take over.

Behold, my newest TV crush.

Two paragraphs? Not bad, but that’s leaving out things like drunken royal dwarves, incest between the queen and her twin brother (ew) and a rumor that the “White Walkers,” vicious and murderous beings thought extinct, have been seen in the north. We catch a glimpse of their glowing blue eyes, and they’ll likely be the show’s greatest mystery for a while. An additional question also arises about who killed the king’s old right hand, as there are whispers he’s been murdered.

So yes, as I said, I’ll start to try and learn the characters names so my analysis is a bit more legible as this show goes on, but that’s the gist of it. It’s brutally violent, chock full of nudity and profanity, like any good HBO show, but I’m hoping it recreates that human element of likeable, deep characters that’s been missing from many of HBO’s recent dramas.

The show is based on a book series, which I believe is another plus. I think it’s often good to have a blueprint out in front of you, as if you’re show all of a sudden becomes popular, you have some indication of where to from there. I expect very little of Lost’s or Battlestar Galactica‘s “making shit up as you go” philosophy employed here.

And finally, a medieval fantasy drama! How great is that? When’s the last time we saw anything even close to this on TV? Hercules and Xena? Only HBO could pull of something like, as it’s able to through a pretty huge chunk of cash behind the show (rumor has it the budget is about $50M), and as a result, it looks fantastic. The sets, the costumes, the CGI fantasy landscapes, it almost looks better than Lord of the Rings.

Sean Bean makes everything better.

That trilogy would probably be the closest thing to compare this show to in look and feel and the capacity to feature Sean Bean, but it’s quite different from that series as well. There would appear to be no sorcery here, and though unspeakable evils lurk in the woods, no one’s throwing around fireballs or creating Orcs out of mudpits.

Rather, this is going to be a character driven drama, and a gorgeous and well produced one at that. It could be foolhardy to have my hopes up after a mere hour, but I guess I’m so starved for good new shows lately, finding this is stumbling into a sauna after a long night trudging around the arctic tundra of the current television landscape.

I have a hunch that with Dexter on hiatus, this will be the new show I review week to week. I’m a bit worried at that prospect, as there are a ton of characters to keep track of, and I’ll be damned if I learn most of their names before this season’s over.

So raise your mug of ale to Game of Thrones, an experiment in high budget TV I desperately hope succeeds.

Whoopsie!

 

19 Comments

  1. Lyre April 19, 2011
  2. rearadmir0l April 19, 2011
  3. Jeremy April 19, 2011
  4. Dagron April 19, 2011
  5. eWave April 19, 2011
  6. Paul Tassi April 19, 2011
  7. Mandy April 19, 2011
  8. Comfortable Madness April 19, 2011
  9. elmarpla April 19, 2011
  10. Artorious April 19, 2011
  11. matt April 19, 2011
  12. hun23 April 19, 2011
  13. Marcus April 19, 2011
  14. Random Leon April 19, 2011
  15. melodie April 19, 2011
  16. dude April 20, 2011
  17. Shiki April 20, 2011
  18. Jason April 20, 2011
  19. alcanalz April 21, 2011

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