Game of Thrones revisited [Review – NO SPOILERS]
Long term readers might remember that Game of Thrones is one of only two one star reviews that I’ve posted. Generally I avoid negative reviews because I don’t think they help much, especially when all I’ve got to say is that it wasn’t really my sort of thing.
Game of Thrones in video
As I said in my original review of A Song of Ice and Fire, there’s a lot to like in the story, but there’s also a deplorable level of unnecessary misogyny. This didn’t sit right for me as when you base a fantasy world on history you can change it.
What made me give Game of Thrones another chance was two fold. First there was a chance that the translation from book to screen had changed it to bring out the good bits. Secondly a lot of people that I know raved about the TV version. Importantly most of these people were women. That praise was also heard by my wife from different people, so we thought we’d watch it.
GoT Box Set
We got GoT series 1-5 in a Blu-ray box set in December. It came all neatly packaged with four or five discs per series and with some interesting extras. We’ve not yet finished watching it all.
We lead busy lives, and the series carries a British Film Certificate rating of 15 or 18 depending on the episode. The certificate is there for good reasons, there’s little left to the imagination. This meant that we couldn’t watch it until after bedtime. So it took us nearly six months to watch series one.
Series one left us a little unimpressed, it was hard to see what the fuss was about, unless the people liked slasher porn. Every episode had several scenes with full frontal nudity, bloody mutilation or death, or a combination. Some of this furthered the plot or helped develop characters, but a bit of me felt that some of the scenes could have achieved the same effect with slightly more left to the imagination.
It was only continued positive feedback that brought us into the second season during the school holidays. About half way through this I started to feel empathy for most of the characters. There were new angles on the people that we’d been following, which made them more human. More relatable.
We started watching one or two episodes a night and that made it make more sense. The more we watched the more it grew on us. Also the further in we get the less gratuitous the nudity and violence seems. I think that’s because there’s less nudity and the violence is driving the plot along. However it might just be that I’m getting inured to it.
Game of Thrones is a multi-threaded story. This is one of the strengths of the book. It gives a wide sweep of events and a suggestion of a strategic overview. This is comparatively unusual and makes the series more expensive to shoot.
It also makes it harder to develop characters, they’re only getting 5-10 minutes of screen time per episode. With the extra cost of special effects and multiple different locations we’re only getting 10 episodes per series.
That means that by the end of the first series each character arc had about one episode worth of screen time. So it’s no wonder that we didn’t immediately relate to it.
Game of Thrones should be binge watched
The other thing that multi-threaded approach does is make binge watching more sensible. It’s hard enough remembering where we left someone when you’ve seen six other arcs between the scenes. It’s even harder when you’ve had a week between episodes.
Games of Thrones – Verdict 2.0
I will be watching the rest of Game of Thrones when the box sets arrive. There’s a massive visual spectacle and some really interesting plot with multiple threads. None of the characters seem safe, and there’s clearly a build up to some cataclysmal conclusion.
In short the TV version has all the good points from A Song of Ice and Fire. If you haven’t watched it already then I recommend setting aside a weekend to plough through a couple of series.
Also I recommend not leaving spoilers in the comments either.
NB everybody dies is not a spoiler…