Winter is Coming… And it is About Time!

Oh, Netflix.  I have had the first season of the HBO series Game of Thrones saved in my queue since it was announced.

And finally it arrived.

Granted, I gave up on reading the series at the fourth book, “A Feast for Crows,” because it became clear that the the crows were likely feasting on yet another popular point of view character that was destined to die, along with the remains of my patience with the story.

Seriously, I am pretty sure George R. R. Martin has a Post-It note on his desk reminding him that any point of view character who is interesting, not a sailor, and over a certain height, must die.

Yes, interesting is a relative term.  You might find the tale of Daenerys Targaryen very interesting.  After three books of her wandering around, I just want somebody to wake me up when she actually does something on the same continent as every other POV character in the book.  Daenerys Storm Born?  More like Daenerys Storm Boring!

And don’t even get me started on the Greyjoys.  They should change their house motto to “We Do Not Suck,” and then trying living up to it.  That is what killed “A Feast for Crows” for me, arriving back on the Iron Islands with another freakin’ Greyjoy as a POV character.

Okay, let me take a deep breath here.  Don’t get all worked up defending the series, it probably isn’t worth the effort.

And I will say that I liked the first book very much, back when the story was fresh, not quite as complicated, and the POV characters had only just started to get killed off.  And I had heard good things about the HBO adaptation, so have been keen to see it.

Not so keen that I would, you know, go out and buy it or anything, but still keen.

So I put it at the top of my Netflix and waited.

Weeks went by and it sat there at the top of my queue with “Very Long Wait” written next to it while Netflix fed me videos from further down my queue.  I didn’t get to the point of immediately returning videos just to see if I could get lucky, but the thought did cross my mind.

Finally though, my number came up and I got an email letting me though that winter, though much delayed, was finally coming.

It arrived and we began watching that night.

The first disappointment was that there were only two episodes on the first disk.  That would last us one night.  One of the strange mysteries of our household is that on a weekday night, a two hour movie after dinner seems like too much of a commitment, but two one hour episodes of a TV show, no problem!

And, all in all, it was pretty good.

I had some trouble adjusting to the actors playing the various characters.

I had seen Sean Bean and Peter Dinklage in their parts early on in the production of the show, back when I was starting on the books, so they had already been inserted into my mental image of the characters.  But the rest, suddenly brought to life after nearly three thousand pages of story.

Jon Snow and Robb Stark both seemed more foppish than I would have imagined in sons of Eddard Stark.  And while I expected Cersei and Jamie to be young and attractive, Jamie Lannister was almost a pretty boy, and I immediately dubber him “Starbuck.” (Original BSG Dirk Benedick version.)  And Khal Drogo looked so much like Richard Kiel that I expected, when he opened his mouth, to see that he had metal teeth.  Not as bad as finding some character you liked and respected being played by Tom Cruise, but it can be jarring and does take a bit to get your mind in sync.

And was I the only one who, on seeing the first establishing shot of Winterfell, thought “Jabba’s other palace?”  It is the towers.

From the temperate zone of Tatooine?

(Picture from the Game of Thrones Wiki.)

The first two episodes also moved pretty quickly through the material of the book.  That was to be expected, of course, as a close examination of everything would require a lot more episodes.  And there was some very good use of the power of being able to show something rather than describe it in words.  But I still had to stop at one point to clear up a few details for my wife, who was completely unfamiliar with the books.

And I am not sure somebody who had not read the books could pick up all the important details that flashed by.  But that is always a hazard as well.  Do you make the show for the people who are already fans and will smile knowingly at little details, or for people new to the material and stop and highlight the important?  Things seemed to waver on that point, though we are only two episodes in now, so there is still plenty of time for certain things to come into focus.

Still, in the end, it was good stuff.  We zipped through the first two episodes and cursed the mail system because the soonest we could get the next disk was Monday.  Ah well.

15 thoughts on “Winter is Coming… And it is About Time!

  1. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @Saucelah – I went through a couple of those steps, but watching it on my computer wasn’t an option. I wanted to see it on our big TV.

    But douchiest prince ever, absolutely.

    And, looking again at that picture of Winterfell, the foreground would be the perfect place to do the constitutional peasant sketch from “Holy Grail.”

    This all might be an issue with my brain rather than the actual scenery.


  2. Stabs

    I admire the way they’ve stayed true to the waiting for GRRM to write the next volume experience in sending out dvds to people.


  3. HarbingerZero

    Just wanted to say you are not alone in your opinions about the book, though I didn’t mind characters dying so much as just how insanely obvious their death and the plot in general was.


  4. p0tsh0t

    Waiting for the streaming for the same reason.

    We seem to devour series but somehow getting through 1.5-2hrs of a movie on a weeknight is a dubious proposition.


  5. NoAstronomer

    “And I will say that I liked the first book very much, back when the story was fresh, not quite as complicated.”

    My wife and daughter have both read the books and are watching the series on HBO. Me? I gave up on the first chapter of the first book when GRRM introduced what felt like a dozen major characters in the space of three or four pages. That was already too many characters for me.

    As for watching on TV. Personally I would rather be playing…


  6. mbp

    My cable TV service doesn’t carry the only channel over here that shows Game of Thrones so Netflix is my only hope. Sadly Netflix UK/Ireland has a very poor selection of licenses compared to Netflix USA so iwe probably wont’ get to see it for a long time.


  7. Anders Johansson

    When you get to season 2 you will like it that they they take a lot of liberty with the material.
    One of the scenes I found they put too little focus on explaining is the scene with the stag and the dire wolf puppies. They symbology of the totem animals of Robert and Eddard killed by each other really sets the mood and I feel the series missed that and put it there so the Eddard kids could get their wolf-tamagochi


  8. carson63000

    A couple of co-workers who have not read the books have been enjoying the series. They are probably missing some details, sure, and they ask me the odd “who was so-and-so again?” question, but I don’t think it’s any harder to follow all the characters as, say, The Sopranos or The Wire.


  9. Gank

    I gave up on the books as well mostly because I couldn’t find a way to climb into them and kill some of those pathetic idiots sooner than Martin did.

    Still, the HBO series is pretty good. It at least gives me the chance to play ‘I know who’s about to die’ with those who haven’t read them.


  10. Toastman

    @Syncaine In my opinion, even Feast of Crows (the slowest of the 5 books) is no where near as slow as some WoT books (Nynaeve tugged her braid…) albiet, less satisfying to read. In my opinion at least.


  11. Shadow

    Only thing that really bugged me about the series was Jaime Lannister (I pronounced it like game) being called “Jaimie”. Don’t know why it irked me.


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