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.
(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.