Monday, 18 July 2011

Game of Thrones Season 1: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Image: Fohnjang Ghebdinga/Fohnhouse

Thanks to the wonder that is Sky Atlantic (for UK audiences), HBO fanatics were able to watch the fantasy series Games of Thrones simultaneously as it was airing on the American network. Based on the first book from George R. R. Martin’s best-selling novel series A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones centres on the seven kingdoms of the fictional world of Westeros and the fight for the Iron Throne (the man on the Iron Throne rules all seven kingdoms).

Understandably so, anticipation for the series was high. Hardcore fans were eager to see if an adequate adaptation had been made, while the rest of us (Fohnhouse included) were simply intrigued by the premise, and the promise of combat, conspiracy, sex, stallions (horse and man kind) and loads of birds (ravens and, if you refer to them as such, women). 10 episodes later, one season in the bag - with a season two pick-up – and a 3 million strong army of viewers behind it, was Game of Thrones worth all the fuss? The long answer: some of it. But sadly, while there was some good, there was also some bad and, unfortunately, some downright ugly.


The cast. When we heard way back in 2009 that loveable rogue Sean Bean had been cast to play one of the key characters, Ned Stark, in addition to the likes of Mark Addy, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage and Jason Momoa, who play Robert Bartheon, Cersei Lannister, Tyrion Lannister and Khal Drogo respectively, we knew the series would be one to watch. And while there are many niggling issues with the series as a whole, the cast is not one of them, and it succeeds in making Game of Thrones watchable and moderately enjoyable in spite of its failings. Kit Harington (Jon Snow) and Dinklage’s characters are particularly noticeable in a big crowd of solid players, although by the end of the season it’s only the sharp tongue of Dinklage’s Tyrion that is remembered, as well as the words of a wise witch.

The sets and costumes are also remarkable and enable you to journey effortlessly into this fantasy world.


The script. The inconsistencies. From as early as the second episode, it’s evident that Games of Thrones is going for quantity and not quality: we’re endlessly forced to accept new characters and story arches which aren’t developed (making it nearly impossible for you to really care or route for any character); lines are repetitive (“A Lannister always pays his debts”); storylines are baffling and improbable (the barbaric Khal Drogo is rendered completely powerless by the “eye contact” of wife Daenerys, who needs lessons on how to “please” a Khal who seems more than happy in the standard Game of Thrones sexual position; the Dothraki tribe of unbeaten, hairy warlords is turned on its head in a matter of seconds by a female foreigner; Daenerys, although given to Drogo by her brother in exchange for help regaining the Iron Throne, appears to explain the term “throne’ to a bemused, hot-but-dim Khal), and the writers seem to have lapses of memory quite often (there are 6 Stark children but you may frequently think there are only 5, and prostitutes give lessons in the art of seduction while clearly lacking the ability themselves). Every storyline is swiftly executed and it’s all just a bit clumsy, and exceedingly overloaded.


The nudity. The porn parody. Now, we haven’t read the books, but an adaptation is exactly that, so every page of the 800-page book doesn't need to be brought to life, and we shouldn't need to have read the book to enjoy the show, which is a separate entity. It’s slightly disturbing to see that in this medieval time, women are only useful if they’re breast feeding, flashing their vaginas, seducing other women or assuming the position (on all fours). Oh, but we shouldn’t forget... there are also a couple of naked men for our viewing pleasure, including a pale, bald, chubby man who randomly pops up (no pun intended) in the woods. Go figure!

We’re not saying that we didn't enjoy Games of Thrones or that it hasn’t got potential, but if it wants to be inducted into the HBO hall of fame, the show’s creators have got a bit of work to do.



  1. 'We haven’t read the books' is the centre of some points of your review.
    What I enjoy the most in this series is certainly how true it stays to the books.
    The story is quite fast-paced in the novel itself, introducing many characters suddenly and without previous knowledge of them. Rickon doesn't do much, nor is central to the books either.
    The scenes of crude violence and wild sex are common, and Arya and Cersei are the perfect examples of how women do more than spread their legs.

    All in all, you judge the series too harshly. It is well acted, the scenery and costumes are very well chosen and it follows true a series of books with a wolrdwide acceptance.
    We know what we want, do we not?

  2. ^This. Second that!

  3. argh.....

    Surely one of the dumbest reviews i've seen in a very very long time. This program from HBO has some of the best production values i've seen (in a what is probably better called a mini-series than a regular show) in a very long time. Characters are solid, the sets and effects are truly amazing and believable and whilst the storyline may be a tad convoluted, this is the world that they come from so it's your job to keep up. As for the nudity, the "pale, bald, chubby man who randomly pops up" in fact only appears once. I for one, find it incredibly interesting to see a show that covers all the gamuts of human emotion inclusing the sexuality. A little voyeuristic perhaps but riveting and gritty. 10/10 from me!

  4. And the one time the "pale, bald, chubby man who randomly pops up" pops up, is one time too many. Of what significance is he to the plot development?

  5. The most idiotic review I ever read. Please stop writing in the future, it's not something you are good at.

  6. I think thay need new staff for this site you suck your reviews suck ead and yes that just happened

  7. "I didn't read the books, so I don't get the show."

    While I appreciate your opinion, in light of the sales of the novels, and the awards the show's earned, I would think that you owe it to your readership to read the first book, and then publish a revision to this review.


  8. This review is utter crap. Terribly picky and shortsighted. There is plenty of time to develop Rickon Stark but it barely matters as he as not been a factor for not 1 book, but all 5. And there is a ton of sex in the book too.

  9. This review is far from truth. This is such an amazing show! The characters do get personal for you. It takes time, but that's because the show follow the books, which I think is the most true and best way to do it. So yeah maybe you get a bit confused in the beginning, but pay attention and you will quickly learn to love and hate the characters. My personal favourites are "The Imp", Arya, Daenerys and of course Jon Show. I feel something for them. That's pretty nerdy I know, but that's what the show does to you!
    My brother's wife actually walked down the aisle to the theme song. So beautiful! :)
    and Daenerys and the scenes where she is getting taking from behind is a symbol of how the men are the ones who has the power. When she then rides him instead you see that this will make the difference between his and her power smaller from that point on. She takes the lead and he loves it! And other sex scenes. well.. The books are far worse! haha. I don't mind it though, but that's different from person to person of course. I get that. But its worse in the books and I think they are trying to create some balance between what's in the books and what they can show without offend people.
    Only a few days now for season 2!!!! Can't wait!

  10. And sorry if my English is bad! I'm from Denmark :)

  11. Dumb review by dumb people. Figures

  12. It isn't the shows fault that your intelligence level is so low. I suggest you keep repeating that in your head. And may I kindly suggest a fun series for you to watch (and review)- Jersey Shore. I am sure it will fit you perfectly, as it is very easy to understand, there aren't as much characters to mess up with your brain. Good day to you sir.

  13. The show frequently mentions there are only 5 sons of stark because there are only 5. John Snow is a bastard child so he is not counted as such, this is clearly explained in the scene with the 5 wolves for each of the sons of stark and the "whelp" for the bastard child. just saying...

  14. What a horrible article/review....

    What is with people hating sex so much? Its ok to have heads flying off on tv but no sex! What a joke! So what if this show has a few sex scenes? Its an adult fantasy, get over yourself and please relize taht sex is ok and not this horrible thing.

    Also to complain about the writing makes me laugh, this is amazing writing a a breath of fresh air.

  15. "Now, we haven’t read the books, but surely they don’t contain this much unnecessary nudity, sex and, generally, girl-on-girl action!"

    They do. :-(

    "... we’re endlessly forced to accept new characters and story arches which aren’t developed (making it nearly impossible for you to really care or route for any character) ... Every storyline is swiftly executed and it’s all just a bit clumsy, and exceedingly overloaded."

    After watching the first two episodes I have to admit, that the show is very near to the books - and as boring as they are. And as clumsy and inconsistent. GRRM at his worst. The show lives only from the actors and the pictures, especially the cast is really great.

  16. Some will love it and some will hate it, that's a fact. Personally, I start watching the show by mistake. Never heard of the story, didn't know the book. When Bran flew out of the window I realized it's gonna be awesome (it was quite a shock). After I watched the last episode, I immediately start reading the books and after reading, I watched the show once more, focusing on details.
    IMO, the best book adoptation I've seen so far. The series wraps it all up beautifuly. I think it's a masterpiece-the devil is in the details.
    Oh and about a nudity. All part of the book. The rapes, the incest, the sex, the whores, sex slaves, lesbian action, choping of limbs, heads, dicks, tounges, fingers....
    Not for easily offended I would say.

  17. Seriously, is this review a bad joke? Do you crave attention so badly that you will make yourself look like a braying jackass to get it?

    I'm not even going to address the points in this review as it is asinine in its entirity. Perhaps you should sticl to the mindless drivel that is network television until you stumble across some maturity. You just aren't ready for grown-up tv yet.

  18. The only TV show in this world that is 100% flawsless, is "THE SOPRANOS"!