Tuesday, June 14, 2016

HBO TV review: Game of Thrones, Season 1-3

Game of Thrones (2011) - Created by David Benioff, D.B. Weiss; Starring Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harrington, Lena Headey, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Jack Gleeson, Natalie Dormer, Carice Van Houten, Stephan Dillane.

By Kenny Howell

Hail King Joffrey, the one true king!

I am obviously late to Game of Thrones. Me and my wife watched the pilot many years back, but she was a little disturbed with it about 10 minutes in and never went back to it.

I returned to it in the last few months. Through life, which includes not having any money, getting said money, but then having a child which takes away most TV watching, it took me all this time, but I figured this was as good a time as ever.

My opinions are many, but the biggest one is that I am not sure I would stick with the show without Jack Gleeson as King Joffrey and Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister. Game of Thrones does not have a shortage of characters, and that might be the biggest detriment to me. It's gotten to the point where some episodes you check in with a character for 5 minutes then go to the next for 5 minutes. It is still solid TV, but there are many episodes that are not totally necessary. If the show focused solely on the Lannister and Stark families, it would definitely still be a terrific show.

Since Game of Thrones is such a cultural phenomenon, I hear what happens in the later seasons. I know I need to say my goodbyes to Joffrey now. But when I see friends post about characters that die in the show, or appear to die like Jon Snow, they freak out, and I am not sure why. Snow's character through the first three seasons may be the dullest for me. He is one of the ones that could be totally cut out, and I wouldn't really notice. Kit Harrington is good in the role, but it just seems like unneeded weight to the show. That view might change in the subsequent seasons, but right now, I barely think I would notice a difference. I see the appeal to some because his is the only true romance on the show, but that isn't enough for me.

The show loves its sensationalism. At times it works great, and it times it comes off as trying too hard. But that is its calling card, and it knows how to sell some of those moments. I am sure that if Jamie and Cersei weren't on the show, and didn't have their, putting it mildly, awkward relationship, then it would lose a little something. There are many like that.

The most intriguing storyline going forward for me will be the development of Daenerys, mother of dragons, because she has amassed herself quite an army through the first three seasons. The line that she walks between compassion and ruthless vengeance is one of the more intriguing character arcs of the first three seasons. Same goes for Arya Stark, who had me at throwing Joffrey's sword into the river, and continues to grow into an interesting character.

I get the attraction of the show. It's a nice mixture of over the top excitement and dense political infighting in an intriguing, disgusting world created by George R.R. Martin. It balances the brains with the brash well, it just made may be too expansive for its own good. However, from season 1-3 the show does get more control of itself, and that is what it needed to continue to do.

You can catch up on earlier seasons of Game of Thrones on HBO Go or HBO Now.

Rating: ***

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