A Refresher on ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 1: Sex, Violence, Betrayal and Sex

Written by Guest March 26, 2012

Adaptations from book to screen are always a tricky thing. Casting restrictions, a change in tone and creative vision often hinder an adaptation and prevent the original from receiving the justice it deserves. ‘Game of Thrones’ is the rare exception of a program that is based on a complex series of novels that is faithful to the source material while still being compelling to new fans.

‘Game of Thrones’ is based on ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ by George RR Martin. The first season follows the plot of the first novel ‘A Game of Thrones’ almost 100% spot-on. At present, there are five books in the series with an additional two on the way (hopefully at least; Martin writes at a snail’s pace). This means that HBO has a lot to work off of if the ratings and critical acclaim is able to maintain it’s current momentum. The first season premiered last May to incredible praise. The first season won an Emmy for Outstanding Main Title Design and Outstanding Supporting Actor for Peter Dinklage for his flawless portrayal of the stunted Tyrion Lannister. ‘Game of Thrones’ was nominated for Best Drama series as well, no big deal.

‘Game of Thrones’ takes place primarily in the medieval kingdom of Westeros. The kingdom is rocked by the mysterious death of the King’s Hand (the King’s advisor) as well as rumours that deadly creatures are arriving from the north beyond a giant wall that keeps them at bay. In this world, seasons can last for decades at a time. Blood-thirsty beings known as White Walkers that are seemingly immortal are the primary threat of winter, but many in the kingdom doubts their existence. Ned Stark (portrayed by Sean Bean) is named the successor to the previous King’s Hand, Jon Arryn. He takes full responsibility of the kingdom while King Robert Baratheon leads a gluttonous lifestyle, at the same time investigating the Lannisters, a prominent family that may be responsible for Arryn’s death.

Meanwhile in the north, Ned Stark’s alleged bastard son Jon Snow (played by Kit Harrington) joins the Night’s Watch. The Night’s Watch guards The Wall from feral wildlings. Across the sea to the east, the young and beautiful Daenerys Targaryen and her brother Viserys attempt to raise support to regain the throne their family held for centuries until Robert Baratheon overthrew the dynasty. Many forces vie for the Iron Throne to become the most powerful force in the kingdom.

The cast is very large. It is initially hard to keep track of who is who and what their status is in the world. After a few episodes, it becomes more apparent and easier to specify who these fascinating individuals are. The acting from everyone, especially the children, is outstanding and is probably some of the best on television. The world feels very real due to a great set design, locations and costumes. You truly feel like you are watching characters in a different world.

One of the show’s best assets is that it is on HBO. The explicit language, blood and nudity help amplify the gritty cruelty this world unleashes. The series is in a similar vein of a crime drama as opposed to a ‘Lord of the Rings’ style fantasy, and the suggestive themes truly add to the experience of watching the show. However, the show’s biggest weakness is that is on HBO. Like other HBO shows like True Blood, it goes way too overboard with the sex and nudity. Most of the added scenes that were not in the books involve characters explaining the history of Westeros while exposing their breasts and penises. Many of these scenes do not fit with the rest of the show and it feels like the writers underestimate the viewers attention span.

Oh look! Another history lesson!

Season two premieres next week and will be based on the second book in the series ‘A Clash of Kings’, a much stronger book than the first. The first season is just a taste of what is to come. Despite some problems of excess, this is probably the most obsessed I have been with a television series since ‘Lost’. This is not a show for the faint of heart, but if you are prepared for some stellar drama and characters then prepare to make the dive into the intoxicating world of ‘Game of Thrones’.

My Rating: 9/10

 

 

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