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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Game of Thrones: TV's greatest epic is back, here's why

I was never an epic fantasy reader per say. I did read Terry Brook's Shannara series which I always thought could translate well to film with the right director, screenplay, and actors. Pretty much the ingredients needed for any movie venture.

George R.R. Martin's 1996 Game of Thrones book title (GOT hereafter) has captured my imagination enough to vault it to the top of mandatory viewing list. I will not go into a fascinating regurgitation of characters/actors in the seven kingdom fantasy world of Westeros. The names are confusing - unless you are a fantasy reading know-it-all - but what fascinates about this show, compared to all others, is it adoption of techniques rarely combined well, making GOT the number 1 pirated-show in the world. Shakespeare would even approve of this being done.



1. Sex, blood, and Middle age rock and roll. The first two seasons satisfied with Rome-like sex and blood lust that had purpose. While sex and prostitution was a staple of that Rome's series - now crossing over with Mance Rayder added to the GOT cast - the whores and women nude in GOT serve more that just jump off points to a scene. The sex shows the bad guys at their very worst; the conflicted souls at their tenderest of moments. And the quips made about the cockless, secret information man, well, are priceless. Blood - have a head, might travel - gets more gruesome that at Rome's peak possibly. And what's an epic without two rock and rollers getting bit parts - Coldplay's  Will Champion and Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody.

2. No place is home. This story travels to destinations with a feel that you are never going to go home again. The characters have to interact with their environment in such ways - that you feel Westeros really does exists on the map. Northern Ireland, Malta, Croatia, Iceland, and Morocco were the real locations - meaning some travel expenses must be really racking up in this epic. The dress and castle keeps and ice, desert, river runs, make this a breathing show via locale alone.

3. Characters that all have 3-dimensions. Rare that series has more than 1 or 2 characters with major arcs that need fleshing out over the course of the show. GOT though has 15 characters (just a number) that have huge conflicts to be dealt with: from an incest-made brutal teenage king who is the most despotic on TV; the new dwarfish Hand of that King (HOTK) that quips and calculates to TV perfection ; a revenge-through-war son-of-that-fallen King's hand who now loves a doctor that patches up his men; a once-timid "Dothraki whore"-to-a future dragon queen growing darker by the day; or the conflicted on The Wall bastard son of dead HOTK Ned Stark, whose life choices will be made against white walkers, or tied to family concerns. A young girl-made boy-girl cup bearer that has rewritten the child role forever as a killer who has to now hide amongst her fiercest enemies of her family. A crippled son of that HOTK, whose dire wolf and castle keep are all he's got - both at danger at every turn.

4. Lights, camera, ACTION! You get no break of action amongst this substantial cast. No one comes on the set without a purpose - whether to kill a lead character, to deliver the bad news, complicate the intriguing and messy plot, devise a new self-serving plan, deliver an evil spirit baby, or protect a tyrant's bride-to-be who has to hold her tongue, or die. GOT does not use long drawn out stares, or wishy-washy sub-characters to get from point A to point B, or C.

GOT uses action to move people - where there is quiet moments, it is to show characters revealing deep thoughts to others - doubts that make their actions before and after better cinema, if conflicted to their words, all the better.

5. This Realm Needs A King, A Leader True. You feel like this in everyday life. Who is our world's best leader? What will they do to improve on our hopes for the betterment of man? So each of these characters set out to be that leader, or maker of the leader they wish for. Fighting for their places at the table of power, or setting up the weakest among them. Sounds like a United Nations free-for-all, after aliens pop in - with the possibility of a fairy creature dropping in to make stuff really interesting. (Aliens=Dragons)



Peter Dinklage as HOTK Tyrion Lannister: Leader True?



I will be glued to GOT Season 3 opening. GOT will make the winter wait worthwhile if at least one head rolls, a whore gets some get back, a child undermines a powerful man, or a "halfman" takes a non-bastard king and tosses him to a dire wolf.  All will come true! It's Game of Thrones!

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