Friday, June 13, 2014

My Game of Thrones Review (Some Spoilers)

If you've ever read my blog before, you know I'm a fan of Game of Thrones.  I bought the season DVDs, I watched all the episodes, I bought the books.  Now, I'm going to complain about them.

Most of this post will be about the HBO show rather than the books.  But, I'll get to the books, don't worry.

I started the Game of Thrones series a bit late.  I did see the first season before the second season came out, but I wanted to wait until the entire series was out before I watched it.  Also, like everything else, I was always behind the curve.  I have too many interests and I spent far too much time on them to get anything done in a timely manner.

The first season was better than I expected.  The story was big, there were lots of characters, there was plenty of backstory, and the world was big and fresh.  It's what convinced me to buy the books and it convinced me to buy the season DVD set with my limited funds.  Main characters died, and it showed that not all characters were safe.  From a table-top RPG perspective, it showed that sometimes nearly random events can have catastrophic results.  I'm sure these deaths had different causes, but the effects were the same.

I read the first book, but realized that I was going to have to slow down if I didn't want to wait for the end of the series.  George R.R. Martin writes at his own pace, but I hate waiting.  I know he used to write episodes for television shows, and still does on occasion, and that's what the first book felt like - it felt like it was deliberately leaving plot holes open in order to fill them in during later episodes... er, I mean books.  I know it does take a while for a writer to get comfortable with a particular voice, but this was clunkier than I'd come to expect.

I'm not perfect either, so I was willing to give Mr. Martin a chance.

The show, after the first season, got bigger, but the world didn't seem to add much depth.  This is a difficult concept, but I've noticed that the world doesn't seem much bigger than the story.  I'll give an example because I didn't really phrase it right - you ever notice that after the show introduced the Rains of Castamere, it was the only song the characters in the show ever knew?  Then they introduced another song - The Bear and the Maiden fair, and still, those were the only two damn songs that anyone ever talked about.

Y'ever notice that after a character was mentioned as having been born in a part of King's Landing called 'Fleabottom' that everyone mentioned it as a place in King's Landing?  They never mentioned Guilder's Row or Iron Hill or Stone Chimneys (I made those up), but Fleabottom was mentioned several times.  Yes, it makes the world seem a bit more detailed when you bring up disparate stories like that, but it never seems to make it bigger than the story itself.

Maybe that's the problem here - there are a lot of characters and a lot of stories here and there just isn't time to show those extra background touches.  In the meantime, it seems like an episode of Star Trek, where everything happens on the bridge of the ship because they never had time to make a real set for the science labs or anywhere else.

While we're on the subject, what are the chances that every single combat encounter Arya has involves someone she hates from a previous experience?  Every.  Single.  One.

Again, I realize that it's hard to make a series like this with so many main characters with so little screen time.  I don't know how to fix it.  I would imagine that the episodic feel to the show would become even more episodic if they somehow doubled the amount of episodes in a season or the length of episodes themselves.  As the seasons get more complex, I can only imagine that it would get worse, regardless.

Finally, there's the sense of being robbed.  I know that exciting dramatic scenes cost money.  That's the point.  Waiting nearly a year to watch the dramatic fight at the Fist of the First Men was so worth it when they skipped over the fight and just played the sounds of some swords clanging and a couple guys shouting.  Wasn't that supposed to be the cliffhanger at the end of Season 2?

Maybe it's just me, but at this point, it seems like the characters are wandering around, marking time, until they can get to the last season when they can resolve the plotlines.  In the meantime, things happen, but they're less plot-driven than they are emotion-tugging.

Ah well, had to complain.

- Jim