Game of Thrones (Season 1)
Summer span decades. Winters can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. It will stretch from the south, where heat breeds plots, lusts and intreagues; to the vast and savage eastern lands; and all the way to the frozen north, where an 800-foot wall of ice protects the kingdom from the dark forces that lie beyond. Kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars, lords, and honest men, all will play the game of thrones.
Plot Rating: 5/5
The overview (this one copied from Amazon) in a word “sucks”. Game of Thrones doesn’t have a single solid storyline throughout season one, but rather multiple ones. I’ll explain each of the key players:
Ned Stark is Lord of the north who presides from the city of Winterfell. He is a very honorable man who loves his family and his people. He is called upon by his friend, King Robert, to come to the capitol and serve as the King’s Hand (second in command). He helped Robert win the throne from the evil and insane King Aeris Targaryen. His story primary deals with his investigation into the sudden death of the King’s last Hand, his brother-in-law John Arryn.
Queen Cercie is of the house Lannister, a very proud and arrogant family who desires power above anything else. She is having an affair with her brother (you read that right), Jamie, a member of the Kingsguard sword to protect the King with their lives. He was also a member of the guard when he put a sword through the back of Aeris Targaryen, which earned him the dishonorable nickname “Kingslayer”.
Jon Snow is Ned Stark’s bastard son, born of an unknown woman and brought back by Ned as an infant when he returned from fighting Aeris Targaryen. Jon is close with the other Stark children, but is vehemently hated by Ned’s wife, Lady Catlin. Knowing that as a bastard he cannot inherit anything from his father, Jon departs for the Wall, a massive span of ice that separates the farthest north from the Seven Kingdoms, and behind which an ancient evil that has slept for 8,000 years has awoken.
Finally, Danyeris Targaryen and her brother Viserys have grown up poor and constantly on the run, as the only two surviving members of the Targaryen royal family (Son and Daughter to the dead King). Penniless, and relying on the hospitality of a supporter, cruel Viserys sells his sister in trade to Kahl Drogo, a horse lord of the nomadic Dothraki peoples, believing that in return Khal Drogo, one of the most feared of his people, will lead his army of 40,000 fierce warriors to the Seven Kingdoms and return him to the throne his father lost. But the Khal does things in his own time, and he loves Danyeris greatly, almost as greatly as he hates her brother.
Yes, there are many intrigues and plots to follow, and it sounds confusing written down, but the story is presented wonderfully with great care taken to distinguish locations and people from one another. It actually is very easy to follow on screen.
Normally a political intrigue kind of show isn’t something I’m interested in, but “Game of Thrones” is wonderfully written and presented. Fans of the books will also catch on quickly that the show and the book are nearly word-for-word. Some scenes in the book did not make it into the show, but I’d estimate a good 95% of them did.
Acting Score: 5/5
Game of Thrones has a huge cast, with nearly every individual storyline needing what in any other show would be a full cast (so you’ve got a good 2-3 show’s worth of actors to worry about). I won’t name all of them, but I can promise you there is no weak link in this chain. Looking through the cast list I count 28 actors that I’d consider important to the story, or who appear in nearly every episode, and not one of them phoned in their performance.
Ned Stark is wonderfully portrayed by Sean Bean, and Peter Dinklage won a golden globe for his role as Tyrian Lannister, the Queen’s dwarf brother who has much more sympathy and heart than the rest of his family (but who hides all behind a fowl-mouthed and perverse mask).
What really impressed me in this show though were the children. Typically if you’ve got a show with a lot of youngsters in it you’re going to have one weak link who hasn’t really done much or honed their skills. And while this is the largest role any of the children have taken on (and indeed the child actor with the most experience has just one other credit so far), they all have an absolutely phenomenal talent. The three to watch are Isaac Hempstead Wright (Ned’s son Bran), Maisie Williams (Ned’s youngest daughter, the tomboy Arya), and Sophie Turner (Ned’s eldest, and most ladylike, daughter Sansa).
I cannot say enough good things about the actors, but there are just too many for me to call them all out. As I said, each delivers a top-notch performance and I can think of absolutely no complaint or particularly weak scene from any of them.
Age Rating: 18+ (Strict)
This is a pretty solid age recommendation from me, with very little wiggle room (I’d say no one younger than 17). If parents were supervising I would consider dropping it down to 16, but that is with extreme caution. There is a lot of very graphic violence, such as beheadings, people having their tongues ripped out, people being stabbed, and other violent acts, and not only against adults. I can think of a few children who meet grizzly ends or are maimed in just the first half of the season. That is what gives it the 16-17, primarily. Now what makes me recommend a strict 18+ is that nearly every episode (if not every episode) contains extremely graphic sex scenes. And not even the usual HBO bump-and-grind where you see boobs and a guy’s butt. We’re talking full frontal nudity of both men and women, AT LEAST 4 women flash their nethers to the camera, and AT LEAST 2 penises. There is one scene in a brothel that I’m pretty sure they just pulled out of a hardcore porno and re-shot it with their actors. Oh, and tons of cursing, but not much of the “little” swear words (shit, damn, hell), mostly the big ones (f**k, C**k, C**t).
Each episode title sequence is a little different, as it shows the kingdoms and castles that are featured in that particular episode.
The actual book series the show is based on is called “A Song of Ice and Fire”, “Game of Thrones” is only the first book in said series, but the entire show adapted that as it’s title.
Season 1 follows only the events in book 1.
Two different actors from two different adaptations of “Lord of the Rings” are featured in the movie. Peter Vaughan (Denethor in the BBC radio adaptation) plays one of the most powerful men in the Night’s Watch on the Wall; and Sean Bean (Boromir, son of Denethor in Peter Jackson’s adaptation) plays Lord Ned Stark.
Yara Greyjoy, introduced in episode 2, is called Asha in the books. The name was changed to avoid confusion with the name of another character, Osha.
Five actors from the “Harry Potter” series can be found in the show: Bronson Webb (the Night’s Watchman named Will) was an unnamed Slytherin student in the third film; Natalia Tena (the Wildling woman Osha) played Tonks; David Bradley (Lord Frey) was Argus Filch; Julian Glover (Grand Maester Pycelle) was the voice of the giant spider Aragog; and Michelle Fairley (Ned’s wife Catelyn Stark) was in “The Deathly Hallows, Part 1” as Hermione’s mother.
While the show religiously follows the books, the character of Ros was created just for the TV show. She takes the place of numerous unnamed prostitutes that appear in the books.