TV series review: Game of Thrones (2011), series 1
tl;dr: Best thing to happen to TV in a long time!
Sometimes there are good ideas. Sometimes there are pretty awesome ideas. Turning George R.R. Martin’s fantasy epic A Song of Ice and Fire into a TV show is among the latter. Each massive tome making up one series, and here is the first one, based on A Game of Thrones (1996). I’ve not read it, but Mr T has all the books, and in fact, has just finished reading the long-awaited latest instalment in the series, A Dance with Dragons, which he said was a 3.5 out of 5. Always nice to see people take fantasy seriously and make something good happen. Perhaps now the doors are opened to do something similar to Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time? Fingers crossed! (UPDATE 2021: Coming to Amazon Prime later this year! SO EXCITED!!)
We didn’t see the episodes live as we recorded them for later viewing. After finally getting around to watching the first episode, Mr T said “and that’s all we’ll watch for now”, to which I said “but I want MORE!” Heh. So some weeks later, we caught up with a few more episodes, and some weeks after that, the final ones. And wow, it was so good I’m now finally going to start reading the books.
The series follow a few families – the Starks, the Lannisters, and the Targaryens. Eddard “Ned” Stark (Sean Bean) is the guy who keeps everything in order Oop North, along with wife Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) and offspring: son Robb (Richard Madden), daughters Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya (Maisie Williams), and young one Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright). I think there’s another, youngest, one, but he was hardly in it. Oop North is also where you’ll find a great big wall, built to keep a variety of creatures from the icy realms away from the rest of people. Ned’s bastard son, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) goes to join the Night Watch, who patrol the Wall.
The King of the Seven Kingdoms (Mark Addy) calls Ned Stark to his side, to be his new Hand. Ned reluctantly agrees, and gets drawn into something he rather wish he didn’t. Not only are people plotting and scheming at court, they’re scheming in the very family. Notable mention: Aidan Gillen as Petyr Baelish – I saw him and said “I bet he’s fishy!” simply because I recognised him as the rather shifty Stuart from Queer as Folk, yonks ago.
Queen Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) has a couple of brothers: twin brother Jaime (Danish-born Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, whom I recognised from the movie Wimbledon) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), who is a dwarf (not the kind from The Hobbit). Cersei and Jaime have some mutual interests, and Tyrion is a rake – he’s cheeky and enjoys a good party. The prince, a snooty child called Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) is meant to eventually marry Sansa Stark.
Crikey, this is getting complicated to explain. So many people! On the other side of the sea, we have the Targaryen siblings: Viserys (Harry Lloyd, Will Scarlett from BBC’s Robin Hood, no less!) and his sister Daenerys (Emilia Clarke). Their family was banished by the king and Viserys carries a huge chip on his shoulder, because he’s the Dragon, yadda yadda. In order to get himself an army, he marries his sister off to the horse people’s leader, Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa). We also get familiar with the sibling’s protector and advisor (Iain Glen, so because of my preconceptions from Spooks 9 said “DON’T TRUST HIM, HE’S A SHADY BASTARD!!”)
Other notable mentions: Julian Glover as Grand Maester Pycelle, Charles Dance as Lannister patriarch Tywin, Natalia Tena (Tonks from Harry Potter!) as a woman rescued from north of the Wall, and Joseph Mawle (Women in Love) as Stark’s brother or something like that. He looks very fetching anyhow. Phew, I think that’s it!
What follows isn’t the sword and sorcery style of fantasy. There are swords, admittedly, and quite a lot of them as well, and there’s technically some sorcery as well, but not a lot. As fantastical beasts go, there are only dragon eggs, but who says they’re actual eggs from actual dragons? With regards to swords, this isn’t something for the faint-hearted. Game of Thrones is very gritty. There’s blood and guts and gore galore, mixed with some pretty raw language use and sex (two hookers having it off with each other while two other characters are having an important plot discussion can only be seen as gratuitous, but the rest is less “why the hell …?”), so proceed with caution if those things aren’t your cup of tea.
Character-wise, I loved the tomboyish Arya Stark. I think it would be difficult not to. Just the right amount of bite and childish innocence. Tyrion is another one. He’s snarky, and he’s also more layered than you’re first led to believe. Can’t wait to see what else he’ll be up to. Peter Dinklage has even recently been Emmy nominated for the role!
Jamie Lannister and his lover had me giggling. (Won’t go into details. It would be a big spoiler if you haven’t seen/read it already.) Well, I can’t say that I blame the lady in question. He does look great in a suit of armour. And, no doubt, without. But the relationship that was the most interesting was probably that of Khal Drogo and his Khalisi. The girl is wide-eyed and innocent and she’s married off to a brute, and yet, she still tames him while at the same time, rising up to show that she’s not just some meek little girl. Her brother, on the other hand, I felt like clobbering over the head with one of those dragon eggs. Both didn’t look like natural blondes either, but there you go.
I could probably wax lyrical about this show for quite some time, but I fear this post is quite long enough already. The acting is great, the story is great, the scenery is great, the costumes, the sets, the title graphics … Suffice it to say Game of Thrones is awesome and neither me nor Mr T can’t wait for series two to come out. Meanwhile, I’ll be starting to read the first book, hoping that it, too, will be a solid 5 out of 5.
UPDATE 2021: Yeah, well, those were the heady days of series one. It got progressively worse, to the point where the final season kinda ruined the enjoyment of the show as a whole. 🙃