Monday, 23 January 2012

‘Game of Thrones’ Episode One: ‘Winter is Coming’

What with one thing and another I never got round to watching the first season of ‘Game of Thrones’, I kind of figured that I’d read the books so wouldn’t be missing out on a huge lot… would I? On the other hand…The thing is, I’d always fancied checking out at least one episode; I’d really enjoyed the books and wanted to see how it all translated onto the small screen. Like that was ever going to happen though, I’d have to wait at least a couple of years for the box set price to drop and even then I’d still be way behind everyone else. Who knows, at that rate George might have even finished writing the series by the time I caught up with Season Three…(probably not but it’s not like I don’t have a heaving pile of books to get through in the meantime).

Then I saw this post and was off down to my local HMV in the time that it would normally take for Robert Baratheon to father another bastard child. I might still have to wait a little while for a cheap box set deal but the first episode should be enough to keep me going in the meantime.

Before we get started, is there anyone who hasn’t read the books? How about anyone who hasn’t seen the first episode of ‘Game of Thrones’? Really? I don’t believe that…;o)
Look, if you haven’t read the books or seen the show then you need to be aware that I’m not going to skirt round any spoilers; if I see one coming at the end of a paragraph then I’m just going full steam ahead. The season defining spoilers don’t come along until much later but even so, you’ve been warned.

The bottom line is that ‘Winter is Coming’ really worked for me, I’ve definitely got my eye on the box set now (even though I’ve read the books). Some of the CGI scenery is a little too obviously CGI (I thought the Direwolf pups looked fine myself) but when that’s the only thing wrong with the episode, well… you can’t complain really can you?

What we’ve got here is an episode that introduces us to the Seven Kingdoms, sets up all the players on the board and then has them jockeying for position while nasty stuff is starting to happen up North beyond the Wall. Those scenes in particular were superb as far as I was concerned, tense and shocking moments that held my attention straight away. The producers/directors (I can never tell the difference) are obviously not afraid to skimp on the blood and that is definitely in keeping with GRRM’s grim medieval world.

There’s only an hour to get all the initial stuff set up and so it’s inevitable that not everything will fit in. It seemed to me that events took precedence over characterisation although the main players do get a chance to shine. Peter Dinklage in particular shines as Tyrion Lannister.  When an actor replaces my own mental image of a character then I just know that they’ve done a good job. When I next read the books it will be Dinklage’s Tyrion that I see. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau's Jaime Lannister was almost as impressive but looked a little too much like Prince Charming (‘Shrek 2’) for me to be totally convinced. Sorry, that’s just the way it goes sometimes. And just where is Rickon Stark? I couldn’t see him but that’s not saying that he wasn’t there. Help?

Like I said, all the main events (from the opening chapters of ‘A Game of Thrones’) are covered in enough detail that the viewer is left with a decent idea of who means what to whom and why certain events are still resonating down the years. You can see how certain events build up a good head of steam (poor Bran) that will carry things along nicely in terms of pacing. From what I could see of the scenery, Ireland looked like a good place to film Winterfell. Where were the Dothraki scenes filmed? That looked gorgeous as well.

Apart from a couple of ropey CGI moments, ‘Winter is Coming’ really kicked things off in fine style and promises good things for the rest of Season One. You probably all knew that already though ;o) Don’t expect to see me talking about the rest of Season One anytime soon as I’m waiting on that box set…


Mark said...

It's brilliant I love it! And I cannot wait for S2 in April on Sky

Jamie Gibbs said...

Thanks for the heads up - I'm heading to HMV today and seeing if Cardiff has a copy for me to pick up.

I've not read any GRRM and decided I'd go into the series fresh. I thought the series was amazing, and Game of Thrones is on my TBR list. Dinklage is epic as Tyrion, and I completely agree with you about Jamie Lannister.

Anonymous said...

I love the books and the series. Don't know how you could wait so long :)
You can see Rickon at the opening scene in Winterfell when Bran trains archery. He sits besides Robb.

Anonymous said...

You see Rikkon during the introduction to the Stark's (right after the opening scenes beyond the Wall). He's the child sat laughing on the fence when Arya upstages Bran in archery.

The Dothraki segments were filmed in Malta.

Graeme Flory said...

Anon/Phil - Cheers guys :o) I'll have another watch and see if I can catch him next time round.

Nick said...

The series gets better and better, after it finished i read all the books one after another. Excellent cant wait for season 2

Jay said...

Peter Dinklage steals the whole season. I've not read the books but with 6 episodes they had to cover a lot of pages. At least season 2 is 12 episodes so it shouldn't be so rushed.

JamesY said...

I've asked Mrs Y to ignore Easter eggs this year as I'd very much like a Game of Thrones dvd boxset. Fingers crossed as the Easter bunny isn't usually that generous...!