If you are a fan of medieval fantasies, you will probably enjoy the HBO original series ‘Game of Thrones’. In fact, if you just like complex, convoluted drama, it should appeal to you and clearly, you are not alone. The proof is with the critics. ‘Game of Thrones’ made the best of the best list in 2011 in both the ‘Washington Post’ and ‘Time Magazine’. ‘Entertainment Weekly’ states that it is achieving universal acclaim.
In 1991, author George R. R. Martin began writing a series of fantasy novels with the idea that they would make an ideal television production. The first volume, “A Game of Thrones,” hit bookstores in 1996. Martin is still creating installments in the trendy novel series titled “A Song of Ice and Fire” even as HBO produces the show based on it. HBO uses their own writers to create the scripts with Martin’s New York Times bestselling novels as the guide and screenwriters stay faithful to the original concept of the books.
One of the things that make “Game of Thrones” a winner is the epic, intricate nature of the story. At any given moment, there are multiple arcs working. This is not a show for the simple-minded. Keeping track of even the main characters takes focus and strategy. HBO spares no expense on the landscaping either. If you imagine the large, sweeping scenes in the movie “Braveheart,” you get an idea of a typical day in Westeros.
The first season begins with Ned Stark on a quest to determine who killed the Hand of the King. At the same time, Stark must protect his family from a rival group in the House of Lannister. Stark and Lannister are both members of the Noble houses in the Seven Kingdoms.
Game of Thrones has been a prime piece of real estate for HBO since even before the premiere in April 2011. The novels have a distinct fan base. The anticipation for this production began as soon as the announcement went out. The hype was so inflamed it had the potential to kill the show before the first airing. Had HBO messed up with the Martin’s story, chances are there would have been riots in bookstores across the world. Luckily for “A Song of Ice and Fire” fans, HBO did it right. In fact, they did it even better than most thought possible. Season 1 met with very positive reviews. Words like “thundering” and “vivid” came from even the toughest critics.
What is good about” Game of Thrones?” The question is almost as complex as the story itself. The acting is superb: Peter Dinklage took home both an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his role of Tyrion Lannister. This is a character-driven storyline, so poor performances would have meant death for it. Casting directors Nina Gold and Robert Steme did an award-winning job of creating a well-rounded entourage with no overly inflated names to contaminate the soup.
Filming for the 10 episodes in Season 2 began with an increase in the budget from HBO. The show did so well that the renewal came just two days after the series premiere. Season 2 gives us a mix of old and new characters. All the surviving members made appearances, but Season 2 brought in some new folks, as well, including a knight with a drinking problem, a Wildling Craster and the Onion Knight. Martin’s novels have such a variety of characters that the true challenge of this series is casting. “Game of Thrones” Season 2 has one of the largest casts around.
What does the future hold? Two key indicators say it looks positive. Martin is still writing novels for this series. As long as he is producing stories, there will be fuel for HBO to burn. The second indicator comes from one of the standout stars – Peter Dinklage. Mr. Dinklage’s contract is for six seasons. HBO has already committed to number three, but clearly, they have more in mind.
One thing that television does poorly at times is milk the good. Over done stories sabotage what we like about a series. Because HBO is following Martin’s direction, it may not be a concern with “Game of Thrones” the way it would be for other story formats. You might remember a little show called Friends. It was fun and fresh at the beginning, but did not exactly end that way.
“Game of Thrones” is on track to be one of HBO’s finest moments for many years to come. If HBO continues to cast well, follows Martin’s lead and does not skimp on the budget, this one will always be a winner.
David Andrew Johnson is a content creator for Drive Network. He writes about a variety of topics, many of which have been published in a local newspaper with a circulation of around 300,000