Editor’s Note: With the premiere of the Game of Thrones we also say hello to our newest contributor, Yeti, who will be our guide for the entire ride through Westeros.
So I’m new around here, and at some point I’m sure we’ll get to the who I am, why you’re stuck reading me, etc. Right now though, we have more pressing business at hand. After what seems like a lifetime of build-up and anticipation (ok ok, they only announced the project two years ago but, you know, a lifetime) Game of Thrones finally premiered on HBO, and it more than lived up to my expectations. As a long-time fan of the books, I couldn’t wait to see George R. R. Martin’s world come to life, and I watched with a stupid grin on my face as I saw Winterfell and Pentos spring from the page into vibrant, living places on my tv screen.
To save some time (and word count), let me just say that I agree with the vast majority of the numerous reviews that have been written by television critics far more accomplished than myself: the acting is great and the design is fantastic, and those are really the two biggest takeaways at this point in the series. A show in this genre is going to live and die by how easily you can immerse yourself in this world, and I never really found myself being pulled out by something that looked overtly like a set or a prop. I could praise all of the actors in turn, but instead I’ll just say that Harry Lloyd as Viserys was my episode one MVP for adding some dimension to an incredibly flat and unlikeable character in the book.
In fact, it was the attention to a multitude of small details that I think made the biggest impression on me tonight. Robert’s crown being a suggestion of the stag’s horns that represent his House, the three-headed dragon brooches worn by the Targaryen sibings (a nod to their family’s history), and the bas-relief direwolf shields carried by the Stark guardsmen are just three examples. The Hound’s helmet was better than anything I had ever imagined while reading the books, and the shot of Ned sharpening Ice under the heart tree was just plain fanboy catnip.
Obviously many of these small moments are appreciated by fans of the books, and may go unremarked upon by newbies to the series, but I think there was plenty to engage viewers coming into the series fresh. I watched with my fiance and she said she was pretty engrossed in the story even at this early juncture. It didn’t hurt that they chose an excellent cliff-hanger to end on, as 10 year-old Bran being pushed from the tower by Jaime Lannister was, um, definitely HBO (it’s not tv).
If this was any other show I’d speculate on what was coming next, but since I’ve read the whole book series (multiple times)(stop laughing) it doesn’t make sense, and I’m not about to spoil anything for those that aren’t familiar with the plot. Instead, I’ll just say that I think this pilot episode did a good job establishing the foundation of the various intrigues that are yet to come this season. While I’m not anticipating that the full spectrum of schemes and schemers from the books make it onto the screen, the “coming up this season” that HBO ran right after the episode left me hopeful that we’ll get enough complexity to show the tv viewers what has made the fans of these books so particularly rabid.
Final thought- the title credits were just flat out awesome. Using that time to give a sense of geographical orientation saved some exposition later, and the music, both the title track and throughout, was strong while not being distracting or bombastic.
Next week: Bran’s fate and if we’re lucky, Tyrion digging for gold in Mole’s Town.