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30 January 2013

The Game of Thrones - Series 1 (2011)

A couple of months ago I bought Mrs Uke some books by George R R Martin. They belong to a series called "A Song of Ice and Fire". I didn't have a clue what I was buying to be honest; I guessed it was something to do with her beloved World Wrestling Federation, but no, these are in fact the novels that have spawned the HBO TV series "A Game of Thrones". Still none-the-wiser? Neither was I until I shelled out for the blu-rays of the first series. "It's a little bit racey," was the only warning I got from Mrs Uke. Blimey! What on earth had I let myself in for?!?!

Tyrion Blackadder... erm... Lannister
Game of Thrones, HBO 2011

The TV show is based upon and named after the first book in Martin's series. He started writing in 1991 and he's still going strong! Five books are currently available with a promise of two more to come. One of the books took him 6 years to write. His persistence certainly is commendable! Mrs Uke seems to be really enjoying them.

Game of Thrones is what you might call "Epic Fantasy". I'll admit that I was a bit wary going into this. Often fantasy stories lack depth and I find that too many rely on magic as the answer to everything. Thankfully this isn't the case with Game of Thrones. The story is definitely fantastical, but thankfully, Martin has done a good job of grounding it in an historical setting that feels very familiar and believable. My resident Game of Thrones expert Mrs Uke says that Martin has taken inspiration from the War of the Roses for some of his plot twists. I can believe that; There is a lot of olde-English swords-and-armour interspersed with sex, gore and mysterious goings on. I think it helps to elevate the tale.

The Seven Kingdoms of Westeros
Looks a lot like Great Britain doesn't it?
Game of Thrones, HBO 2011

Let's see if I can give you a rundown of the story. I know that there is no way that I'm going to do this justice... There is just too much going on! Believe me when I say that there are threads within threads within threads. I'm getting the feeling that unless I succumb to reading the books, I'm never going to spot them all, let alone understand them. Here goes...

The Seven Kingdoms of Westeros are on the brink of their darkest hour. Something is stirring in the frozen North beyond "the Wall". Even "the Wildlings" are heading south in fear of what is to come. Meanwhile in warmer climes, the ancient families of the empire have grown fat and complacent. As ancient allegiances shift, blood is being spilt in pursuit of "the Game of Thrones". Years of delicate order appear to be ending and the Realm is quickly spiraling into chaos. All the while, in exile across the Narrow sea, the last of the Dragon-lords is building an army to take back the crown. The question is... Which disaster is going to unfold first?

The Houses of Game of Thrones Series 1
It'll need updating for Series 2...
Game of Thrones, HBO 2011

Okay - that's that best I’m going to do on a synopsis. Let's talk about some of the things that caught my imagination...

First off I'm going to call out is the cast. What a fantastic set of actors! Sean Bean has been plucked out of Lord of the Rings to play Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell and loyal servant to the King. He's brilliant... as always... and I loved that the Northerners have Yorkshire accents! My absolute favourite though is Tyrion Lannister played by Peter Dinklage. “The Imp” has all the best lines and succeeds in blurring the boundary between the Goodies and the Baddies. It's worth pointing out that Martin has done a fantastic job of staying away from the usual stereotypes. I really got the sense that each character is his own man (or woman) and sometimes they're good and sometimes they're horribly despicable. Saying all that... Jack "Joffrey" Gleeson is a right little shite pretty much all of the time! :-D There are just too many great performances to mention them all.

"The Imp" - Peter Dinklage
Game of Thrones, HBO 2011

Some of the ideas in the story are great. Take the Night's Watch... the poor souls who have pledged their lives to defending the Wall. The inspiration is obviously Hadrian's Wall, but the execution is more Nights of the Templar crossed with the French Foreign Legion. Even the aging Night's Watch aren't really sure of what evil they’re defending the Empire against. If the opening scenes of the first episode are anything to go by then it's going to get pretty hairy... you mark my words! "...and the Dead shall walk the Earth..."

Daddy... I don't feel very well.
Beware the White Walkers!
Game of Thrones, HBO 2011

Death is a bit of a recurring theme for Game of Thrones. Martin takes great delight in getting to know his characters and then dispensing with them when you’re least expecting it. I’m going to give him the credit and say that he's doing this on purpose. What a crafty bastard! I'll never trust him again! So far the surprises have been worth the wait.

The soundtrack is pretty good with its lush moody orchestral pieces. I wasn't too sure about the opening credits at first, but the tune soon grew on me to the point where I was singing along by about episode 3. Talking of the opening credits: I heard that they won an Emmy for "Outstanding Main Title Design". It's alright, but I wouldn't wet my pants over it. I'm probably showing my age here, but I can't watch the bit where it goes on its side without feeling a little bit seasick. :-D

Jon Snow - Ned Stark's bastard son
It's a long story...
Game of Thrones, HBO 2011

I mentioned that I'd bought the blu-rays. I’m pretty new to this new-fangled medium. Is it my set-up or do they take a bloody age to load? I was reminded of the lack of patience I used to have with VCR tapes. Blu-ray: Two steps forward... one step back? There are some extras bundled in, but I wasn't entertained by these in the slightest. They repeated footage and contained too much of the actors doing their "this is the best project I've ever worked on" speeches. Yeah... go get that money. They didn't add any real insights other than that Ireland seems to be a bit of a hotbed for acting talent at the moment. I gave up on them in the end. One thing that I did learn was that the filming was done mainly in Ireland and Malta. The Irish scenery is simply stunning. The Maltese scenery seems to have been 95% covered up by CGI, but then Malta's not famous for its scenery.

Daenerys Targaryen - Dragon Queen
Game of Thrones, HBO 2011

Before I finish I have to mention the sex scenes! I know that you've been waiting for this. They had me chuckling to myself. For a while it seemed like every character's introduction was going to be heralded with nudity, swearing... and panting sex. Imagine if you can... Fifty Shades of Gandalf! Ha ha. Definitely not one for the children. Fortunately it calmed down a bit once the story got going and the gratuitous sex was replaced by gratuitous gore! Much better, I'm sure you will agree!

Khal Drogo the Horse Lord
Game of Thrones, HBO 2011

So that's Series 1 under by my girdle. Series 2 is going to be available on blu-ray very soon. It's based upon the second book: "A Clash of Kings". And if that's any cop... Series 3 premieres in March. Wow... it's all go! I can't wait!

On the Triple-B I'm going to party with 8 whores before I ride into battle. This could be my last night alive! Now... which one of you is Ros?


  1. I bought series 1 on blue-ray,too.
    Only because I wanted the dragon-egg paper weight,because to me it looked like a bunya pine cone :-)
    I've only watched the pilot so far as in this house it's hard to win the blue-ray off the other players in my house.
    Instead of "Game of Thrones",it's game of the blue-ray in my house and I'm dwarfed by the opposition.-)

  2. Ooo... you got a fancier boxset than I did Daz! The egg does look like a Bunya pine cone! There's an idea... dragons growing on trees. If you're the Imp in your household then I think that you'll get the upper hand eventually... GET THIS WATCHED!

  3. KU have you seen the movie
    "I Love You Too"

    starring Brendan Cowell and
    Peter Dinklage ?
    I met Brendan in Byron Bay the year before last,so that puts me 2 degrees away from Pete on the six degrees of separation scale.-)

  4. No I haven't Daz. Pete D was okay, but the rest sounded sort of foreign... I couldn't understand a word of it. Does it come with subtitles? ;-)

  5. Re:
    "Does it come with subtitles?"
    No,but if you just swap the i's an e's around in your mind as they are speaking,you should be able to translate it alright into an inferior language .-)

  6. You gotta love the Dragon Queen. She is very pretty.

  7. Sure is Brian. I just checked out your Game of Thrones beer coasters. Brilliant! My favourite is the Lannister Gold... Hear me roar. Ha ha.