GAME OF THRONES
Eddard Stark - Sean Bean
King Baratheon- Mark Addy
Catelyn Stark - Michelle Fairley
Cersei Lannister- Lena Headey
Tyrion Lannister - Peter Dinklage
Viserys Targaryen - Harry Lloyd
Daenerys Targaryen - Emilia Clarke
Khal Drogo - Jason Momoa
OTHER GAME OF THRONES SEASONS
OTHER FANTASY SHOWS
Mists of Avalon
Legend Of The Seeker
Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire
Winter Is Coming
The old king is dead, possibly murdered, and his son has come to the North to ask his oldest friend, head of the Stark family, to aid in the running of the new kingdom. Across the Narrow Sea, another alliance is being struck, one that seeks to restore and older order..
Fantasy hasn't really flourished on television, not least because it usually comes with a side order of camp. GAME OF THRONES aims to change thatby taking its subjet seriously. Perhaps too seriously, because serious shouldn't necessarily mean dull and this opening episode is nothing if not dull. True enough, it is the opening episode, the introduction that has to set up the characters and the background, but unless you have a fascination for the politics of imaginary families in an imaginary world then there isn't really a whole lot that happens.
There are plenty of characters to go around, but none of them are particularly likeable despite a quality cast. This is partly down to a script that gives most of them nothing to do beyond the family sniping. You wouldn't want to spend time with this bunch of people in real life, so why on television?
The production is handsomely mounted with some impressive scenery and settings, but production values do not a successful show make. The wall to the North is impressive, but the gritty reality and the mud aren't inspiring.
The opening sequence introduces a threat that is subsequently completely ignored in favour of family squabbles, incest and unnecessary female nudity.
GAME OF THRONES will have to, ahem, up its game in future episodes.Top
Stark's youngest son lies on the edge of death, but he must go south with the King. Almost immediately after his departure, another attempt is made to kill the boy and Stark's wife determines to tell him of her suspicions. On the road, a falling out between the families of Stark and the King leads to bad feeling all around and Stark begins to wonder if he has made the right decision.
More happens in this second episode, but it is an awful long time coming. There is lots of character stuff, but very little of it is actually interesting. Thank goodness then for Peter Dinklage who appears to be the only person in the whole show who is having any fun.
When it finally comes, the face off between the Prince and Stark's daughter is dramatic and has consequences that are far more tragic than they have any right to be. It is noteworthy that the wolves in the show have much more sympathy than the humans.
The pace remains a bit too leisurely, but there are more signs that things are going to start happening soon and hints that they just might be worth waiting for.Top
Stark's youngest wakes up from his coma, but remembers nothing. His wife arrives with the knife that implicates the King's family in the assassination attempt on her son's life. His illegitimate son arrives at the wall and makes enemies and friends of the same people. Stark himself arrives at the capital and finds the kingdom bankrupt, corrupt and with deadly danger in every conversation.
GAME OF THRONES wants you to think that it's full of foreboding and portents and meaning and shifting alliances and dangerous undercurrents. And maybe it is, but the chances are that you're too asleep to notice. If events travelled any more slowly then they would be in reverse, which at least might be a little more fun. Nothing of any importance actually happens. We meet a few more characters who might become significant later, but they all just blur together because we just don't care enough about the ones that we already have.
Mark Addy's king has a conversation about first kills that is loaded with characterisation, but it's all characterisation that we've already had and tells us nothing about anyone that we didn't already know. The only developments are in Daenerys discovering that she is pregnant, that she has the power of a tribal queen and that she is no longer beholden to her brother for everything. What does she do with all this new information? Nothing.
Only Peter Dinklage remains worth watching and his character has as little to do as the rest, but he pulls it through with effortless charisma. If the rest of the cast were as watchable then the pace might be justified.
Winter is coming, but this show would have trouble keeping up with its glaciers.Top
Cripples, Bastards And Broken Things
Stark starts to make investigations into things he shouldn't. Daenerys comes to some uncomfortable conclusions about her brother and Lady Stark takes action over the attempted murder of her son.
The game pieces continue to move around the board to no particular advantage and there is little enough happening to keep the audience interested. People have pointless conversations that might become significant at some point in the future, but by then it is possible that we will all be asleep.
Peter Dinklage bookends the episode and he is the only interesting character and the only one with any charisma at all.Top
The Wolf And The Lion
Stark's wife takes her royal prisoner to her sister's supposedly impregnable castle in the sky to meet an uncertain welcome. Stark himself refuses to take part in an assassination of Daenerys and her unborn child, losing his position with the king and making him vulnerable in a city where he has few friends.
GAME OF THRONES finally bursts into life with an episode that balances the character drama that has stifled it with bursts of action that mean something, bloody and graphic action. The too slow build up is starting to pay out on its promise.
Stark's righteous anger finally gives Sean Bean something to play with, bringing out the steel of the character and his defiance of the king also allows Mark Addy to show how his character became king and stayed king. These two characters come alive and since the focus is squarely on them this is all to the good.Top
A Golden Crown
Stark is given back his position as the King's hand and takes drastic action in the King's name whilst the sovereign is out hunting. Tyrion takes steps of his own to get free from his imprisonment, but that leads to a duel to the death. Daenerys finally faces up to her brother's shortcomings.
Disappointingly, the show lapses back into its holding pattern after last week's brief burst of life. The characters all start circling each other again and though a few things happen, nothing of consequence seems to be going on and the various threads seem to be keeping their distance from each other rather than coming together towards some sort of coherent conclusion.
The action, when it comes, is bloody and good and the death at the end is particularly nasty, but there is too much in between that seems pointless and padding out a plotline that has a lot of characters and not enough to do with them.Top
You Win Or You Die
The King suffers a hunting accident and names Stark as the regent for his son. He uses the power that he has been granted to right some wrongs, but the powers against him are formidable. Khal Drogo declares war when his wife is almost killed.
Finally, things start to happen and the show threatens to come to life and yet even with the plotlines starting to accelerate out of its standing start it feels the need to throw in an extended graphic lesbian nude scene that acheives precisely nothing other than proclaim its 'adult' status.
Charles Dance pops up at the beginning for a scene that achieves nothing more than fill out some time and it is only towards the end that the threads finally come together for a nice cliffhanger ending.Top
The Pointy End
Stark languishes in prison following the betrayal of his people, but his son raises an army to move against the Lannisters. Daenerys learns some uncomfortable truths about the nature of war. The men of the wall learn that the threat from beyond is ever closer and Tyrion strikes a bargain with unlikely allies for his life.
The fallout from events of the last episode continues and things aren't going well for the Stark family. The initial promise of this action unfortunately leaks away as the underhand politics slow everything down again, Daenerys receives and gives a lecture on the horrors of war and even Tyrion's tale proves to be a diversion without point to it.
There is a sense that we are coming towards some sort of resolution, or at least a climax, but to say that the show's accelerating towards it would be inaccurate at best.Top
The Lannister and Stark family armies come to blows at last and Rob proves to be more adept at warfare than his enemies might have suspected. Ned tries to save his daughters by admitting treason and Daenerys takes desperate measures to save her husband.
After weeks of waiting for the big bust up that the show has been promising between the Stark and the Lannister clans, the whole thing takes place off camera in what has to be one of the biggest cheats ever. Instead there is more pointless talking involving a man whose bridge the army wants to cross and Tyrion's first sexual encounter. Daenerys facing the loss of everything thanks to her husband's illness comes about so suddenly that it seems to have been shoehorned in to provide something resembling action.
The scene in which Ned Stark publicly announces his treason and takes his punishment is thankfully powerful, not to say unexpected for anyone who hasn't read the books, but it's precious little recompense from cheating us on the big battles.Top
Fire And Blood
Following the death of Lord Stark, everyone pauses to consider the new landscape. The war is running against the Lannisters, the young King is refusing to be commanded by his elders and in another land witchcraft has dramatic results.
It's the big finale, except that it's not.There is no climax here, no conclusion, no bringing together of the plot strands into some sort of satisfactory whole. Instead, the plot continues to meander on, there are more meaningless conversations and patience continues to be stretched to snapping point. The end result of ten hours of the most vaunted fantasy series ever is an astounding 'is that it?'.
The show tries to pull things out of the fire (literally) with the birth of Daenerys' dragons, but by that point it hardly matters. Faith must be hugely high in the possibility of a continuation of the show since no effort has been made to wrap up even one single storyline or present a cliffhanger. The story didn't come to an end, it just sort of ... stopped.Top
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