Unless you have been living under a rock or avoiding TV for the last month or so, you should be aware that the new season of A Game Of Thrones begins tomorrow night at 9pm on HBO. If you have been following my blog for any length of time you will have noticed that I am a bit of a fan of the books and the series is one of the best adaptations of Fantasy fiction that I have seen.
I could wax lyrical about the wonderful casting, from the wonderful earnestness of Sean Bean’s Ned Stark to the touching awkwardness of John Bradley’s Sam Tarly. Then there is the awesomeness that is Peter Dinklage, who deservedly won both a Golden Globe and a Primetime Emmy for his portrayal of my favorite character of all time after the 2011 season and was nominated again for an Emmy in 2012. It is rare that a production this large manages to cast everyone perfectly, but so far they have not made a misstep. Even when actors do not match the physical descriptions from the books, they are still the perfect choice, such as Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister.
However, I believe that the casting is only part of the reason for the show’s success. The production is lavishly detailed and maintains a feeling of reality that must make life very unpleasant for many of the actors. The decision to film in Iceland, so that the Night’s Watch would be seen in a truly inhospitable environment is indicative of this attitude. The depiction of the battle sequences as confusing, bloody and messy adds to the sense of horror that we should feel when people are killing one another. And who can forget the shocking depiction of the Wildfire at the Battle of Blackwater?
But, above all, it is the writing that has made this series the massive success that it has become. Without the wonderful world building, characterization, plotting and dialogue this would be yet another dull Fantasy series trying to impress us with its production values. The producers chose to stick very closely to the original texts and this was a very wise decision, one that other series have failed to make (True Blood springs to mind). There is nothing guaranteed to completely geek out a fan of the books more than lifting dialogue and using it wholesale. By retaining the myriad of individual voices that Mr Martin created in his writings, we can distinguish between all those characters, even if we are not sure what their names are.
Of course, that does not mean that I would not prefer a few ‘slight’ changes to the plotline so that my favorite characters would survive a bit longer or be a lot less miserable whilst my most hated characters would have a quick meeting with a large spiky implement . . . actually, make that several meetings. I am sure that every fan has their own personal dream of things should have worked out, but this one from College Humor is particularly entertaining.
I am trying to resist the temptation to engage in a marathon viewing of Seasons 1 and 2 before the show tomorrow night, so I will leave you with the wonderful Season 2 Refresher Course from Winter is Coming.