Games on TV: Game of Thrones

It’s no secret that the GFG crew are big fans of the Game of Thrones books and games, so I felt it was appropriate to share some of my thoughts on last night’s premiere of the HBO series. I subscribed to HBO exclusively for this show, so I hosted an AGOT viewing party. We had a good mix of fans and newcomers on my couch, but I think everyone was satisfied when the end credits rolled.

The first episode followed the first few chapters of the book closely, and I was surprised by how much of the story was covered in the first hour. I think this was due to some clever editing of Daenerys Targaryen’s scenes. Game of Thrones has a lot of character’s to cover, which could be a concern, but I think they’re going to handle it well. I felt like certain aspects of the books that I like, such as the dire wolves, was glossed over in the first episode, but I think those key scenes that I remember will be covered later on. At any rate, the show was good enough that I’m eager to see the next episode. Last year’s breakout nerd series, the Walking Dead, proved that you can depart from the original story but stay true to the heart, so I won’t mind if there are any big changes in Game of Thrones.

The casting for this show is phenomenal. Ned, Robert, Arya, Daenerys…they’re all exactly as I pictured them to be in the books, and as a fan of the games, they even match the art that Fantasy Flight has been using. Jaime Lannister, however, is a total doppleganger. I have the Song of Ice and Fire art book on my coffee table, and the Nikolaj Coster-Waldau looks just like the illustration of Jaime on the cover.

The acting was great beyond casting lookalikes. Lena Headey, a favorite of mine since 300 and Sarah Connor Chronicles, was my choice for Catelyn when I heard she was cast, but I was confused when she was cast as Cersei Lannister instead. Headey usually plays the strong mother figure, so putting her in the blond locks of a cold-hearted bitch like Cersei was a surprise to me. She pulled it off well though, and I know her previous experience will serve her well a few episodes from now.

Visually, this show is going to be stunning. Westeros is full of several distinct regions, and the opening credits displays this in an amazing 3D map. The cold north, the warm and lush port of King’s Landing, and the Dothraki plains all felt unique in the show. My favorite shots were of the endless Wall that protects the kingdoms from the dangers from the far North, and the long shot that showed all of King’s Landing showed off some amazing architecture.This show is going to be up for some great technical and visual design Emmies at the end of the year.

Game of Thrones is a story with an epic scope that the thousands and thousands of pages that George R. R. Martin wrote contains easily, but cramming it into one hour episodes is going to be the real challenge of the show. The premiere is a good start, so I’m excited to see the rest of the story unfold.


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