We’re going to try something new on this blog. I’m finally branching into American television for the first time with the premiere of HBO’s new series Game of Thrones based off of author George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy book series A Song of Ice and Fire. I’ve reviewed some TV programs before but they have all been anime and I’ve watched them long after they’ve aired. Any time I review a television program that has already aired, I will review the episodes on a disc by disc basis. However, Game of Thrones debuted this very night, and I’m going to try and write a review for each new episode as I watch it, which means that there will obviously be a week delay between each review. There’s a couple of shows that I’ll be watching this summer that I’ll be trying to do something similar for (Treme, True Blood, etc.). So, without further ado, let’s jump into this incredibly detailed epic series that I’m pretty much already addicted to after one episode.

Game of Thrones is basically what would happen if you mixed the fantasy story-telling of something like Lord of the Rings with the gritty, realistic period portrayal of a show like Rome. For everybody who might remember Rome, it was a really violent and sexual portrayal of historical figures from the Roman empire with an incredible amount of attention to historical detail and elaborate set pieces and costuming. I hate comparing this show to Lord of the Rings because so far there’s been no magic and no monsters (well maybe not. not really sure what happened at the beginning of the first episode). It’s about human beings that happen to exist in a fictional fantasy universe. It is rooted in character based story-telling where the fantasy elements are used to enhance the story and create the world.

Game of Thrones has a very large ensemble cast, but if I were forced at gun-point to pick a main protagonist of the show it would be Ned Stark (Sean Bean), Lord of Winterfell, the northernmost outpost of the show’s primary kingdom, where a giant wall forms a border with a wild, dangerous expanse of land. The closest advisor to King Robert Barratheon has died, and the King travels to Winterfell to ask Ned to become the new “Hand of the King”. Ned and Robert were very close friends before Robert became the king. Ned also has five children and also a bastard child. The other main protagonist of the show may very well be Daenarys Targaryen, the lost princess of the house that was King before Robert. Her brother Viserys in a bid to retake his family’s lost throne sells her into marriage to the king of the Dothrakki, a barbarian race of warriors. Add into the mix the Lannister clan, the head of which is King Robert’s wife, Cersei (Lena Headey), her scheming brother Jaime, and the dwarf Tyrion, and you can see that the show has an incredibly large cast.

As I mentioned, this is a fantasy show but it has so far been very, very realistic. It focuses as much on politics and character motivation as it does on typical fantasy sword-play. There is quite a bit of sex and nudity on the show. The beautiful actress playing Daenarys was naked twice in the first episode alone so my comparison to Rome is quite fit. However, there is still quite a bit of violence. There were two decapitations in this episode as well as a disembowelment. The episode even ended with an event that had to have been incredibly shocking for anyone who hadn’t read the book. Basically, it’s a giant ensemble character drama wrapped in the guise of an epic fantasy series.

I only read a little bit of the first book in the series, and this first episode actually ended pretty much right around where I had stopped reading for whatever reason (I think I was reading the book on the flight to Vegas and after we got there, I was obviously occupied). However, I am quite hooked on the show already. I can’t decide if I actually want to finish the book now or wait for each episode to air. This is a series with practically limitless potential and you can see from the first episode alone that HBO has put a ton of money into the costumes and into the sets. It is an incredibly detailed world that I can not wait to jump right back into.

Winter is coming.

Score in Progress: A-

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