Tuesday, April 19, 2011

GoT - Initial Reaction

The Bad
  • I was hoping that Game of Thrones would be filmed like any other drama, with dialogue- and acting-heavy scenes that resembled any other HBO show (aside from the armor and fur and swords). Instead, in the first episode of GoT, there were only a couple memorable conversations, and even those were shot in such a way that screamed LOOK AT ME I'M LIKE LORD OF RINGS! Probably the last thing I wanted. What's wrong with having a scene or two take place without some extravagant background?
  • Scenes are too short and rushed. They had A LOT to set up in the first episode, and even I got confused about who-was-who multiple times, and I have read the first book at least five times. I think it was probably twice as fast as it needed to be and each scene had been stripped of everything interesting for the sake of essential facts.
  • The book series is very realistic for its genre. The show looks the opposite. Between zombies that go for B-movie sensationalism and (bad)CGI-dominated shots of scenery and castles, I saw a lot more Xena, Warrior Princess than I saw Rome. The violence is cartoony, the Dothraki were probably on TV in the nineties, and the only HBO aesthetic that survived the tame Renaissance Faire filter was female nudity.
  • As a nerd-raging fan of the books, I have a big problem with Cersei's casting and Lena Headey's performance as the queen. She's not nearly glorious enough, charismatic enough or powerful enough in presence. I think it's the only casting so far that has really struck me as missing the mark. Sean Bean as Eddard isn't a great fit either, but at least he's Sean Bean.
  • I wish I could shut the music off. Way to not distance yourself from every other B-television-show about fantasy ever made.

The Good
  • Despite over-the-top characterization and a silly fake accent, Tyrion is already promising to be a good character. His dialogue is already the best dialogue in the show, and I don't expect that to change. Arya, Jon Snow and Viserys all look potentially great as well.
  • Plot-wise, it's great to see a TV show take a book series from my childhood and not stray from the storyline. It's actually kind of amazing. I'm hoping they don't try too hard and keep the feverish pace of the first episode in attempt to fit in every major piece of action, but I'm glad they are trying to stay true.
  • The costumes are solid for the most part, and the people are beautiful. Mele won't shut up about Jon Snow and Jaime Lannister. I'm not complaining about Dany. If it's going to continue in its current Soap Opera/Melodrama style, then it might as well supply the eye candy to go along with it.
  • It's the first episode. Nothing exciting from the book has actually happened yet, and pretty much everything in the story thus far serves only as a precursor for the real action of the book. It makes sense to me that the worst episode of the season would be the first episode. Hopefully, that is the case here.

Initial Reaction: D. Probably the worst Series Premiere I have ever seen on HBO. That's a tough standard to live up to, especially since the last one I saw was directed by Martin Scorsese, but it's still the truth. Here's hoping it gets better!


  1. Well I liked it a lot more than you did. I am also confident that the show will get a lot better. I mean, it took Rome like 5 episodes before one could really know the characters and understand what was happening. I expect the same of this series. Plus, the scenes in Kings Landing will make the series a whole lot better.

    That being said, I agree that some things were a little bit off. Cersei is my biggest problem with the series thus far. I always pictured Cersei as being basically the same as Atia. But she came off as so frigid in this episode. I hope she loosens up a bit.

    Also, I hated Jaime's delivery of his famous line.

  2. As someone who is not a fanboy of the originally written book series, I was entertained by the first episode. I'm not sure how else the writers could have effectively introduced that many characters to an unfamiliar audience, while simultaneously making the first episode interesting enough (ratings) for HBO to have already renewed the season for a second season. True story.

    I can usually tell whether I'll like a show or movie based on how intensely I either like or hate certain characters. After the first episode ended last night, I commented to Alex that the show definitely inspires strong feelings one way or another about many of the major players. Based on the small window of the world we were given in episode one, Catelyn is so far my favorite (Alex thinks she's boring, but, hey, sometimes I like a good Mom role) and Viserys is the most hate-inducing (though I'm sure that's the intended reaction). And I'm actually glad that the Queen comes across as an entirely different kind of Bitch than Atia -- I mean, they can't all be Atia. She'll probably end up being a conniving Diva in her own special way.

    Oh, and I totally agree with Zach on the zombie thing. I'm basically over this generation's breed of zombies; why can't they all just be Fulci-esque? One of them should have popped out from behind a castle wall and made that little girl puke her intestines out just by looking at her.

  3. -The problem Alex and I have with Cersei is that in the books, Cersei is a larger-than-life character. In the episode, she was subtle.

    -The ratings don't really apply here, because before Sunday, GoT had the largest pre-premiere fanbase in the history of TV (completely independent of how good the episode was). And HBO almost always picks up the show after the premiere regardless (they've done the exact same thing with their last few new shows).

    -I told this to Alex on AIM. But I prefer Rome's slow start to GoT's rushed start. I don't like when a character is introduced using only stereotypes, which is what GoT did with almost every single character (which is why Luke can react so strongly to characters). I actually think, Luke, that your method for determining whether you like a show is the exact opposite method I use. When you can't tell if you like/dislike a character immediately, that means they have more depth than the usual TV archtype.

  4. I like being able to take strong/extreme positions on characters immediately so that I can fully experience the character's changing dynamic over time, and, in turn, my corresponding change of opinion of them. I mean, I was fully in love with Madame President before the introductory mini-series was over. She remains my favorite TV show character ever.

  5. I love that you love Madame President, since she's a religious right-wing conservative and all.

    As for GoT, I reserve the right to be critical. When your favorite fantasy book series ever meets up with your favorite television network ever, you're allowed to keep expectations high.

    But I am very, very happy that you and Alex like it so far. I do not wish the show ill will. I just wish for it to improve.

  6. Excuse me...excuse me...can we just have a moment of dismay over how horrifying Joffrey looks?

  7. I definitely think it'll get better, but I am, admittedly, an apologist.

    I like Ned, even though Sean Bean isn't exactly how I pictured him. But he's a terrific actor and I know he's going to make the character great.

    I was pleasantly surprised by Robert. When I heard the guy from "Still Standing" and "The Flintstones: Viva Rock Vegas" was cast, I was skeptical to say the least, but he's done a good job so far.

    I LOVE Tyrion. Favorite book character, and so far one of my favorite series characters.

    Biggest complaint so far is probably Cersei. I liked Lena Headey a lot in TSCC, but she's just not how I pictured Cersei. Her voice is just too mellow and monotone. I always imagined her to have more of a commanding presence when she speaks.

    Also Jaime is hot, yes, and looks the role, but I kind of hate how you can still tell he's a European actor.

    Overall, though, I'm hopeful. The production is enormous and the writing is pretty solid considering how hard it is to adapt such an epic story into 10 1-hour episodes. It's hard to look at it with an objective eye, but I'm really glad that it's gotten positive reviews from critics and fans who haven't read the books.

    (As a side note, my friend Tyler just tonight got to the Red Wedding and he was so upset, he couldn't sleep afterwards, so he decided to go into work at 2 AM.)

  8. I'm with Luke, I'm reading the book while watching the series and I'm really enjoying it. I think its just you guys read the book before and expected a lot from it. But you guys have the right to, for everyone else there's Mastercard.......wait.....i mean....whatever...