BethR

Game of Thrones

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Alan Sepinwall's thumbs up:

There's so much going on in this series - so many people and places and rules to learn - that I feared I would be completely lost without the books as a roadmap. But as with the cream of the HBO crop, "Game of Thrones" deposits me in a world I never expected to visit and doesn't leave me feeling stranded and adrift, but eager to immerse myself in the local culture.

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Salon posted a brief guide to the series so far.

It says things like:

"The first four volumes of "A Song of Ice and Fire" -- ("A Game of Thrones," "A Clash of Kings," "A Storm of Swords" and "A Feast for Crows") overflow with gratuitous sex and violence -- just the kind of fare we've come to expect from the small-screen boundary-pushers who gave us "Rome," "Deadwood" and "True Blood." Brothels, dragons and more decapitations than you can count: What more could a jaded television audience possibly want?"

and

"Unremitting bleakness would be a turnoff, however, and Martin delivers far more than just pain and porn."

Something about these comments does not strike a chord with me. I never really considered all the sex and violence in these books as "pain and porn" or "gratuitous." I have always simply accepted Martin's world as-is. Where other fantasy authors pull their punches when it comes to realistic depections of what actually makes history happen, Martin just spells it out.

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The Salon article has some decent points, and does offer a nice overview of the series. Unfortunately, it can't help injecting a little bit of snark every now and then, and you can't help but feel like the writer is trying to both talk up the series' brilliance and poke fun at it.

There are those moments that Leary mentioned, which strike me as incredibly reductionistic. And then describing Daenerys as a "blond teenage bombshell" seems incredibly wrong given that she's 13 at the start of the series. It strikes me as very similar to the sexualization that her character undergoes in the early parts of the story, i.e., as a a bargaining chip for her brother -- sexualization that I think Martin calls out and criticizes, given her overall character arc.

Edited by opus

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I guess I would even say it this way: One thing that sets Martin apart from most others I have read in the genre (which is admittedly few) is that this series thinks of history much like the Old Testament does. It is a warts and all record of man as an incessantly political animal.

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Bought the ebook for "A Game of Thrones" this week. Looking forward to watching the show while reading it. Although, I have to admit I'm a bit nervous about beginning the books given the frustration of many fans with delays, etc.

Does anyone know how much of the story season 1 covers? Half the first book? A quarter? ...a tenth?

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Does anyone know how much of the story season 1 covers? Half the first book? A quarter? ...a tenth?

First seasons covers the first book, basically. If they get a second season, it'll cover the second book. In interviews, the two showrunners said that the third book would probably have to be split season-wise.

As far as starting the (book) series and delays, I'll say this: if Martin died today and the rest of the series never saw the light of day, I'd still be satisfied with the stories and characters he created. The New Yorker has a fascinating article on Martin, his fans and his writing delays here.

Edited by Jason Panella

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First seasons covers the first book, basically. If they get a second season, it'll cover the second book. In interviews, the two showrunners said that the third book would probably have to be split season-wise.

It will take a few years for the show to catch up to the books, but at the rate things are going (only one book published in the last eleven years) they might get to a point where they're waiting for the next book to come out to continue the show. Then again, maybe the show will serve as an impetus for Martin to finish the series.

As far as starting the (book) series and delays, I'll say this: if Martin died today and the rest of the series never saw the light of day, I'd still be satisfied with the stories and characters he created. The New Yorker has a fascinating article on Martin, his fans and his writing delays here.

I saw you link to that piece earlier in this thread and read it. That sort of made me more excited and more nervous about starting the series. Especially that one guy that said the first three books were the best novels that he ever read but he wished that he'd never read them. I found Martin's fears of "pulling a LOST" to be pretty funny, though.

I've already read the first few chapters and it kind of reminds me of "The Wire" in that the reader is thrust into this strange world that has its own history and jargon and a massive amount of characters and so far there has been very little attempt at easing the reader into these things. But I kind of like that.

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I saw you link to that piece earlier in this thread and read it. That sort of made me more excited and more nervous about starting the series. Especially that one guy that said the first three books were the best novels that he ever read but he wished that he'd never read them. I found Martin's fears of "pulling a LOST" to be pretty funny, though.

There's a line or two in that New Yorker article that sort of answers everything for me: why Martin has taken so long, whether he'll be able to finish the last two books quickly or not, whether the show will run out of material, and so on. Martin mentions that he's basically been rewriting stuff for the past five years, material that involves his favorite character, material that's particularly hard on him. (I don't think this is a spoiler, since all of Martin's character go through tough stuff.) Knowing how attached he is to this particular character, I can understand how he'd want to get it perfect before moving on. The rest, as he implied, should fall into place now.

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In my personal correspondence with Martin, it has become clear that the character arc of Hot Pie has really ground this whole thing to a halt. Martin has been grappling for years with the great question of Hot Pie's destiny, as the complexities of his backstory are immense even by Martin's standards.

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FWIW, I've posted a brief introduction/overview of the series on Christ and Pop Culture.

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My wife and I really enjoyed it. Loved the "prologue" in the woods, super spooky. Loved the titles sequence. It was very successful at putting flesh and blood on the book's characters. Not a *ton* of exposition in the dialogue, though maybe a little. It definitely immerses the viewer into a world and expects them to keep up. We're definitely gonna keep tuning in.

As I mentioned before I've begun reading the ebook of "A Game of Thrones" and I think the material I've read so far only covered about the first 25 minutes! I need to pick up the pace!

And because I know it'll probably come up, I'll mention the nudity. Most of it I think did connect to character and/or plot development in some way, and so didn't really feel gratuitous. However, despite going in expecting a fair amount of nudity, I was still somewhat surprised. So, it won't be a show for everyone and that's fine.

Overall, I think it is as advertised. I'm pleased.

So, in the words of Alan Sepinwall: "What did everybody else think?"

Edited by Gavin Breeden

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I haven't read the books, but I thought this version was very well done, and they did a good job introducing the characters. A lot of intrigue to keep me interested. Lines are being drawn. As far as the nudity, I thought it was realistic in the portryal of a world ruled by sensuality in the midst of a moral code that values justice but not mercy. And the ending of this episode, that was a shocker.

The good news is that Game of Thrones has been renewed for a second season.

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Ack, totally missed Jim's comment above about the renewal. Sorry!

I'm hoping to get to be able to watch the first episode sometime this week. Here's hoping!

Edited by Jason Panella

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....Anyone?

Alright, first of all, after single one episode I'm sold, this show alone is worth ordering HBO for. Then we have season two of Treme starting up in a couple days. Season two of Boardwalk Empire, season four of True Blood, and season one of David Milch's Luck are all on their way.

Second, I generally don't like fantasy stories. But I love history, and it looks like Benioff and Weiss are completely capturing the spirit of Martin's loose adaptation of the "war of the roses/different families competing with each other for power" sort of story. So this is going to be a story of political intrigue, back stabbing, and matching wits on the part of the different factions who all want the throne. Sean Bean easily plays the part of the honest medieval lord through the first half of the episode (this seems like old hat to him), but sometimes you forget he's actually a good actor. I remembered as soon as he's told in secret that his "father" figure was actually murdered - at that moment Bean suddenly becomes Ned Stark for me. There's an internal power there that looks like it could be a dangerous force - a power that he doesn't even bother to draw from when he's taunted a little by Lannister.

Third, following another HBO tradition, the opening credits are mesmerizing. Check 'em out.

.. a little military and political strategy hinted at there, a little suggestion of the depth of detail that Martin has given to this fantasy world, and a suggestion of clockwork.

Fourth, as far as the nudity goes, remember that there's usually always more of it in the first episode of two of any HBO show. I almost think it must be one of the ways they market it to the HBO executives.

Fifth, the Stark kids are looking like they're going to be good. Don't think I've ever seen the actors before, but I especially found Maisie Williams (Arya) and Isaac Hempstead-Wright (Bran) to make themselves so personable that I could have been happy if the episode had just focused on their characters entirely.

Sixth, it's been a while let me get this straight, Mark Addy's Baratheon is now King, but isn't interested in actually running his kingdom. "The Hand" of the king is given the power to run the kingdom. This a job most people would probably be happy to have. This is job where the last guy who had it was murdered. This is a job Stark [1] does not want, [2] was going to turn down, and [3] decided to accept the moment he finds out that the last one was murdered.

Seventh, Kit Harington's Jon Snow looks like he's going to be fun to watch. I couldn't quite tell as much about Richard Madden's Robb Stark yet, but I'm guessing he'll get more of his required character development soon.

This could be a great show, and from the first episode, it looks like it looks like it will be.

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If anybody discovers that the pilot episode is available anywhere for folks without HBO, please let me know!

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Ahh - crazy week at the office! ;) I want to say lots, but for now I will just say that I agree. The first episode was great. I liked Michelle Fairley as Catelyn more than I thought I would. Maisie Williams is perfect. Peter Dinklage chews up every scene he's in. Emilia Clarke is breathtaking and I can't wait to see her steel up.

Jim, I'm glad to hear you were drawn in even though you haven't read the books. I'm interested to know how things go for new viewers--I remember it was kind of exhausting keeping track of everything while reading, even with handy family trees and character lists in the back.

They were pretty liberal with the nudity, but I think it was necessary. At least for now. I was telling someone the other day that watching this pilot after having read all four books was sort of akin to starting Mad Men over from the pilot after having finished Season 4 ("I can't BELIEVE they are talking to Peggy like that!"). There are a lot of strong female characters in the novels, and I hope people don't get too turned off before meeting them on the show.

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It's been a busy week for me as well, but I finally got around to watching the first episode yesterday. Better than expected. If Starz had done Camelot with this level of gravitas, it would have won more respect. It may help that it's not tied to a particular era, but the production really "sells" the medieval setting in numerous ways Camelot fails (and should not). I actually found the "HBO-effect" gore/violence/nudity/sex/four-letter-words slightly more restrained than expected (slightly), but this was only episode one. Also. I may have been hiding my eyes occasionally (yes, I'm a sensitive flower at heart).

Jeffrey, I sympathize, because if not for a 3-month "free preview" of HBO, I would be waiting for this show on DVD. And I'm such a cheapskate, that I may miss the last few episodes, because there's nothing else on HBO that I care about enough to pay for. I hope the wait won't be long.

Opus--very good commentary on your blog.

In my other lives, much kerfuffle over the NY Times reviewer who couldn't imagine why women would want to watch GoT, unless it might be for the sex? Geekgirls and guys of all ages descended on her in droves, causing the closing of comments on the article. She then responded lamely by saying WTTE, "Hey, it's just my opinion. And I really don't know any women who like sci-fi/fantasy!" No one was amused. Reminded me of Barbara Nicolosi's inability to appreciate LotR, but at least she didn't insult people who did like it. At least, I don't recall that.

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No, Nicolosi saved the derision for those who liked Batman.

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... and those who liked There Will Be Blood.

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In my other lives, much kerfuffle over the NY Times reviewer who couldn't imagine why women would want to watch GoT, unless it might be for the sex? Geekgirls and guys of all ages descended on her in droves, causing the closing of comments on the article. She then responded lamely by saying WTTE, "Hey, it's just my opinion. And I really don't know any women who like sci-fi/fantasy!" No one was amused. Reminded me of Barbara Nicolosi's inability to appreciate LotR, but at least she didn't insult people who did like it. At least, I don't recall that.

Matt Zoller Seitz demolished the NYT and Slate reviewers for bashing the fantasy genre. His comments are worth reading.

Also, is it just me or does the "women will only tune in for the sex parts of GoT" argument not make much sense? I know not all people are the same, but in general I would wager that sex/nudity parts of a show would appeal more to males than females.

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Gavin Breeden wrote:

: Also, is it just me or does the "women will only tune in for the sex parts of GoT" argument not make much sense? I know not all people are the same, but in general I would wager that sex/nudity parts of a show would appeal more to males than females.

Depends on what kind of sex or nudity, I guess.

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Finally got around to seeing this.

I thought the pilot was quite good. I can see how some casual viewers would be turned off. In a way, it reminds me of the first few episodes of The Wire — you either get into the rhythm or you don't. It wasn't hard for me, as a fan of the novels. They did a nice job using the first episode to set the stage a bit. Did I see Hodor in there, too?

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No, Nicolosi saved the derision for those who liked Batman.

Depending on which filmic incarnation of Batman, she may have been totally justified ;)

I'm kidding!!!!

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Matt Zoller Seitz demolished the NYT and Slate reviewers for bashing the fantasy genre. His comments are worth reading.

Also, is it just me or does the "women will only tune in for the sex parts of GoT" argument not make much sense? I know not all people are the same, but in general I would wager that sex/nudity parts of a show would appeal more to males than females.

Yes, the Salon column was spot on, particularly in pointing out that Bellafante's "review" said nothing substantial about the production itself.

And no, it's not just you. In fact, after seeing the first episode, I wondered whether she'd actually watched it herself, as the sexual stuff is pretty unpleasant and she seemed to be thinking of some kind of stereotypical romance novel fantasy scenario. Other women I know have said much the same.

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