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.