Welcome Back Game of Thrones

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one sitting glued to the box by the return of Tyrion Lannister, Bron, John Snow, Danerys et al last night. I am sure of it because my wife and son were sitting right there with me. Which in itself is an unusual thing these days– normally our group television experience centres around watching a couple of episodes from a DVD box set like The Wire or Big Bang Theory. Watching a live (you know what I mean– it sounds better than non-time-shifted) broadcast at the same time as a whole lot of other people – I honestly can’t remember when I last did that.It might have been the last World Cup and probably not even then. For any sort of drama—I really  can’t remember but it was most likely back in the 80s.

OK– my situation is unusual– I am a long-term expat and not a big TV watcher– but still I am sure this sort of water-cooler TV experience is much less common than it used to be when I was a lad. There are so many more channels and so many more things– like the Internet– competing for attention these days. When I was a kid, the big family gathering around the box was the way to watch TV and probably the central entertainment event of an evening as well.

What’s rather boggling is that GoT is the sort of series that has built the kind of fanbase and word of mouth that has made this experience possible again, and it’s not just among fantasy fans– I’ve lost count of the number of people who have said or written I/my partner am/is not the sort of person who likes fantasy but I/he/she can’t wait for the next season of GoT.

If anybody had told me a decade ago that a fantasy series might get the sort of fanbase/critical adulation reserved for The Sopranos, I would have considered the possibility. At the time Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings trilogy was doing gangbusters box-office and I really thought there was the chance of the golden age of fantasy movies beginning. Well, we all know how that turned out. Then suddenly out of nowhere we have GoT. I’m not expecting the golden age of fantasy TV series any time soon but I am glad we have it.

And honestly I am not surprised GoT is popular in the way The Sopranos was popular. It has a similar mixture of sex, violence, intrigue, power fantasy, great acting and great scripting. It has a wonderful cast doing a great job– from last night I must single out Charles Dance, a chilling and plausibly nasty Tywin Lannister during his confrontation with his less-than-beloved son Tyrion. The sets and special effects are astounding for a TV series– loved the giant and the wildling camp last night. The fantasy elements are downplayed but present in a grittily realistic setting that is convincing.

A lot of credit must be given to the original books but it’s been a lovely adaptation so far. If lovely is the right word to describe a series which, to paraphrase George Orwell, succeeds in the difficult business of making the Middle Ages look worse than they were. 

I am very much looking forward to the new series. No doubt many other people are too.

6 Replies to “Welcome Back Game of Thrones”

  1. Dance does such an amazing job of Tywin… Thought it very funny, as a devotee of the books before the series came out that I pictured Dance actually doing all the scenes as Tywin… they couldn’t have picked a better actor to portray him I am sure of it….

  2. The bit I love the most are the dialogues between Tyrion and Bronn, the dwarf and the sellsword. That smells of pure adventure, fantasy and role playing. They’re not Gotrek and Felix, but the feeling about them is great as well. About Tywin: Charles Dance is doing a great job. When he had Arya serving him in season 2 he almost looked like a grandfather figure, clearly feeling some affection for the young, smart girl. Now he’s ruthless with his own son. We’ll see which side of him will prevail. I’m still not sure about Jon Snow. I love his story, but I can’t shake off the feeling that Kit Harington has 2 main facial expressions: confused, and a bit less confused.
    Maybe it’s just the way he’s supposed to play the part, so it will either turn out as a good piece of acting with a good story or a good story where there wasn’t need for a good piece of acting 🙂
    Now I’m curious to see if Anne Boleyn will lose her head once again…

    1. Hey Davide– one of the things I took away from the Tywin/Arya byplay was that she was very much a substitute child that he liked. You always get the impression that he rather dislikes or is disappointed with his own offspring. Agree about Tyrion and Bronn.

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