Game of Thrones Review – “Winter is Coming”

HBO rolled out the much hyped and highly anticipated new series last week. How does it compare to the books? How does it stand on its own?

 

Game of Thrones

Season 1, Episode 1: “Winter is Coming”

Background

For the initiated, I’ll lay down the basics behind the series. The TV series “Game of Thrones” is based on the first book in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series titled, “A Game of Thrones.” All indications point to the whole series (and HBO has already renewed it for a second season) will keep the title of the first book. Frankly, I don’t blame them, it sounds more interesting. Season one is supposed to cover the first book. Season two will, presumably, cover book two.

The series isn’t done and the author, George R. R. Martin, is taking his sweet time getting them finished. As of right now, there are four books in the series, some of which have been reviewed by yours truly. Book 5 is being broken into smaller books and will be released in July.

The title of this episode comes from the Stark family motto “Winter is coming.” In this world, Summer and Winter can last for years (I don’t know how this doesn’t mess with plants’ lifecycles, but there you are). The saying basically means “Bad stuff is about to happen, are you prepared?”

Review

As a fan of the books I was, in short, very impressed. There are few niggling issues here and there, but it is only episode one and they’re off to such a great start, I will give them the benefit of the doubt about tying up loose ends.

The characters are spot-on to the book. Though they aren’t explored as deeply as the novel does, you get the basic sense of each one.

Seeing as this was HBO I was expecting (and wasn’t disappointed) about the graphical nature of the show. The books are bloody, messy, and dirty. Violence and sex play a major role in this series. Often at the same time. This show is not for the kiddie crowd. This is an adult show with adult themes. And let us rejoice in it!

High Points

  • The opening scene North of the Wall.
  • Every scene with Tyrion.
  • I knew it was coming, but they still managed to startle the hell out of me with the “The Things I Do For Love” scene.

Low Points

  • Not enough Tyrion.
  • We seem to be missing a major character, Theon Greyjoy. (Found him!)
  • Khal Drogo feels like more of an underwear model than a warrior king. But it’s the first episode and in the books he’s not exactly loquacious.

Scores

Originality: I’ve yet to come across anything this interesting in the Fantasy genre. 6/6

Effects: These are minimal, but they are incredible. Mostly it’s the CG shots of the castles and cities. And they look awesome. The Wall is truly…well, you have to see it. Stark and frightening. 5/6

Story: The intrigue starts early and just gets deeper. Can’t wait to see more. 5/6

Acting: This isn’t an easy series to be in and has to be tough in both character and what they’re called to do. The cast is outstanding so far. 5/6

Production: Insanely detailed costumes, weapons, and sets. Great to see something not from WETA for a change. 6/6

Emotional Response: It’s tense, gritty, and graphic, all leading you to be engrossed and fascinated by the whole thing. And the final scene of the episode will startle the hell out of you. 6/6

Overall: An awesome start to what should be a great series. Fans of the books will not be disappointed. 6/6

Total Score: 39 out of 42

4 replies on “Game of Thrones Review – “Winter is Coming””

  1. The wife and I picked it up because the name sounded familiar. Now I remember why. :-)

    We’ve watched the first two episodes, and have been very impressed. It took a bit to figure out who was who and what was what, but I think we’re enjoying the fact that it’s complex enough to make us have to figure it out.

  2. Karrde712 says:

    Theon Greyjoy was present, he was just only referred to in passing (mostly because as a character he’s really not important until book 2). They have so many characters already that I can’t blame them for not introducing him directly.

    If you’re looking for him, though, he’s the one holding the blade against the dire wolf pup’s throat during the scene where they are found, promising to give them the mercy of death.

    • (Fixed your double-post)

      I do remember that now. I just thought it was some guard or mouthy servant. That would fit Greyjoy’s character, but I don’t remember him being called by name. Maybe there’s a deleted scene or something where they call him by name and introduce him as the “ward” of Eddard Stark.

      Good catch.

  3. tsunayoshi says:

    When a co-worker who is really into Martin was gushing about the series, I picked up the 1st book so I would have background before the show. The book is amazing, and I think the show is doing a fairly good job at staying true to book.
    I could nitpick some of the minor details of how some things come about, but I realize that the way they happen in the book wouldn’t work very well on screen. I think a big factor in how well they are translating the material is because they had Martin consulting on the show.

    After watching Rome, Spartacus, Tudors, and now Game of Thrones, I have become a huge fan of the various series produced by the pay channels. It is amazing what kind of adult quality material can be produced when you don’t need to worry about movie ratings or keeping the content clean enough for prime time TV.

    I’m trying to imagine a series based on Joe Abercrombie’s novels…

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