For years I have been wishing for HBO to do a sci-fi or fantasy saga. I whined in vain about how it would never happen what, with their penchant for therapist couch dramas and comedies about how men will be men, but now I have to be shut it because if not exactly making my dreams come true (that would have been a series based on the Jack Vance Demon Princes) they’ve come pretty close with the epic Game of Thrones.
Based on the monumental, unfinished book series by George R.R. Martin (read an interesting article about his intense, often abusive fans here), GoT is part World of Warcraft, part Arthurian legend, part historical drama and thoroughly excellent – though quite an ambitious undertaking for adaptation.
Complex and intense, the series opens with the most intriguing sub plot – a paranormal threat called the “white walkers”, supposedly extinct evil zombie like creatures that hunt North of the kingdoms. If the eerie, breathtaking bloodbath in the snow doesn’t draw you into the series, perhaps the details on the woven black woolen capes will (Ann Demeulemeester would be drooling).
It’s to the creators credit that they pay as much attention to the detail of costume and set as they do to the bigger picture and the main reason I am so furious that HBO is not offered on demand in HD (get it together Time Warner!!).
The cast is spectacular with Peter Dinklage, an actor I’ve always admired but was stuck in an indie film rut, standing out as a sarcastic wit and surprising sex symbol. Sean Bean is excellent doing what he does best – brooding warrior gravitas with a heart of gold.
More surprising is the lovely Emilia Clarke who initially seems like a boring but sexified damsel in distress but is increasingly becoming the character I root for the most. Also great on the female side of things is Lena Headley who is excellent as a total bitch. She has perfected a smug half smile that is only found on murderous, incestuous queens and the worst face of the fashion industry. Her young brat son is equally and delightfully deplorable.
In smaller roles Joseph Mawle is interesting as a Guardian of the Northern Wall, it’s great seeing the former Mayor on The Wire (Aidan Gillen) as a slimy king’s consultant and Iain Glen is outstandingly handsome as an exiled nobleman. I also am loving the new fat kid.
With every episode I am drawn further into this vast world of intrigue and action. It helps me think that our decision to go premium with our cable was not an excessive but brilliant. It’s put HBO back on the map for unique programming.