Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pilot Review: Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones (HBO)
Premiered April 17 at 9pm

I wasn’t sure that I would like the much-hyped adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novels as a TV show. I anticipated that, like many other HBO, Showtime, and Starz period dramas, it might prove exhausting to keep track of the many characters and heavy storylines, and that I might be ready to check out long before any of that became very clear. That doesn’t reflect poorly on the shows at all; it’s just not the kind of series to which I’m often willing to commit. My suspicious were all but confirmed in this pilot, and therefore I can’t guarantee that I’ll be sticking around in future weeks. I certainly am intrigued, however, and would like to know more about this intriguing universe. I did notice that this show is fond of casual beheadings, something which has become entirely commonplace by the fourteen minute mark. It’s an intense story that definitely has some strong moments, firmly establishing the state of fear and disbelief in the eyes and faces of the people when they’re facing their deadly, long-thought dead enemy. Among the large, large cast, I was amused to recognize Peter Dinklage, who gets blond hair and plenty of cockiness while receiving affection from several prostitutes at once. I’m not quite sure what to make of the greater show, however, and the final act of the episode, which shows Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, formerly of the incredible would-be series “Virtuality”) pushing a child out of a window and saying, “the things I do for love,” makes this whole thing seem just like a game. Do you want to play? I’m not sure I do.

How will it work as a series? The first season is slated to be ten episodes, which should cover considerable ground with the many characters while exploring the storylines of the books. This is the kind of show that requires weekly viewing, and even regular viewers may have trouble following along. It’s just the kind of show that can use a hardcore devoted fan base, and this show has just that.
How long will it last? The premiere numbers were much improved from those of “Mildred Pierce,” which held this timeslot in previous weeks, but not as strong as those for “Boardwalk Empire.” Still, this series has such an excitable group of fans that I’d imagine HBO will want to keep it around for a while, maybe even into a second year. Revision: I wrote this before the news came in on Tuesday that the show has already been renewed. Wow!

Pilot grade: B-

1 comment:

Greg Boyd said...

From what I've heard (and I unfortunately can't watch this since I don't get HBO), this show looks great. It's been compared a lot to "The Wire": complex and hard-to-follow at first, but in the end worth it. It's probably worth sticking with.