Friday, 18 September 2015

Game of Thrones: Season 1, Episode 1 ("Winter is Coming")

"Do the dead frighten you?"

Doctor Who starts again tomorrow. Yay! And I'm blogging so many other series at the moment, some at an embarrassingly slow pace- Sherlock, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, Marvel's Agent CarterBuffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Grimm, the Quatermass serials, Daredevil, and Penny Dreadful. There's nothing else for it: I'm going to have to start blogging another long-running series.

A few words before we start: you know that feeling of missing out on an important piece of popular culture by not being there at the start? And then, year by year, the season's roll along and there are more and more episodes to catch up on. And yet... how can I call myself a geek if I don't at least make an effort with Game of Thrones? Breaking Bad can wait. Especially as the first episode features a beheading, incestuous sex and a dwarf receiving a blow job.

I start out almost completely unspoiled; I'm trying to read the novels at the same pace to see how things diverge, but at this point I know nothing except the "red wedding", a massacre of unknown characters at someone's nuptials which I know will occur at some point. I also know that it's loosely based on the Wars of the Roses and will be looking for signs of this. Other than that I know nothing. So let's start.

It's an HBO show, so we can expect quality, and it certainly looks awesome. The cast is impressive, too: there are only so many tags at the bottom there and I've not been able to include the likes of Roger Allam or Donald Sumpter.

We are in the land of Westeros, ruled by a King Robert I. This land looks like mediaeval Europe and peoples' names are almost, but not quite, English. We begin in the northernmost province of Winterfell, ruled over by Lord Eddard Stark, played by Sean Bean in his native Yorkshire accent. It's a nice conceit, done consistently, to have the "southern" characters speak RP while the northerners speak in such a way as to make it very clear that this planet has a North.

We're clearly meant to feel that ominous tidings are afoot. Demonic and undead creatures are seen at the northern edge of the world, while Eddard Stark keeps banging on about the fact that "Winter is coming" which, I suspect, is meant to be both literal and metaphorical.

Plotting and skulduggery is rife at court, with the king's "hand" having recently been murdered, probably by Queen Cersei's brothers, Jaime Lannister and Teyin Lannister who is, incidentally, a dwarf (a short human, not the bearded, digging kind), and received said blow job. The king (and entourage) this visits Eddard to offer him the position, which he eventually accepts in the full knowledge that he is headed into a pit of vipers. 

He certainly has: Eddard's younger son Bran, seeing Cersei and Jaime, who are twins, shagging each other, is suddenly defenestrated to death, which is not a phrase I've ever had previous cause to use.

Meanwhile, across the sea, Luke's Prince Viseys, who also claims the throne. He's a thoroughgoing bastard, and we are most certainly meant to think so: his first act in the programme is to force his sister to marry a brutal and lecherous warlord.

This is pretty faithful to the novel, looks good and is very fast moving. I'll need a while to get to know the characters but this is a promising start.

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