When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.
Cast and Characters as follows:
Sean Bean as Lord Eddard 'Ned' Stark of Winterfell, descendant of Brandon the Builder (House motto: "Winter is Coming". Sigil is the Direwolf)
Mark Addy as King Robert Baratheon, son of Steffon Baratheon (House motto: "Our's is the Fury". Sigil is the Crowned Black Stag)
Lena Headey as Queen Cersei Lannister, daughter of Tywin Lannister, Lord of Casterly Rock (Official House motto: "Hear me roar". Unofficial House motto: "A Lannister always pays his debts". Sigil is the Golden Lion with a crimson colored shield)
Emilia Clarke as Khaleesi Daenerys Targaryen/Stormborn, daughter of Aerys II Targaryen (House motto: "Fire and Blood". Sigil is the Three Headed Dragon)
(I have chosen these four for a wider description, these four Houses represent the most powerful families in the show, and each one is represented by it's sigil in the opening credits sequence on the four corners of the "Game of Thrones" title card)
Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark) ,
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister)
Iain Glen (Ser Jorah Mormont)
Aiden Gillen (Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish)
Harry Lloyd (Viserys Targaryen)
Kit Harington (Jon Snow)
Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo)
Richard Madden (Robb Stark)
And lastly, but certainly far from least, Peter Dinklage as the "King" Joffrey slapping Tyrion Lannister.
Long have I desired for a mature fantasy series such as this, this 13 Emmy nominated adaptation of the fantasy book series "A Song of Ice and Fire", from acclaimed author George R.R. Martin (who also executive produces and writes occasionally for the program). For anyone who is familiar with the fantasy genre, most books typically begin with a map of the world you're about to delve into, and Game of Thrones is no different, as each episode begins with an appropriately epic score by Ramin Djawadi, which is distinctly medieval and modern in tone, and cities and important locations pop out of a 3D map. From the onset of each episode, it feels as if you're cracking open that beloved fantasy tome once again, and as the score reaches it's crescendo, it suddenly tapers off, and we enter what some describe as 'The Sopranos' of the medieval fantasy genre.
For me, this show manages to capture that same tone and feel that Jackson's Lord of the Rings achieved, and for the freshman season, it most resembles Fellowship of the Ring (not by accident, as admitted by the author). Allow me to explain before you begin scratching your head. As the initial episode rolls out and introduces us to the large Stark and Lannister/Baratheon families and power players, we quickly get a sense of who's important, and sure enough, two important events occur in this time frame that split this large group into several directions. Following this pilot episode, decisions are made by certain characters that end up permanently affecting the perilously balanced political structure of their world, and we the viewers are treated to some of the most ruthless back stabbing, lying, murdering politicking and action HBO has put forward yet.
Curiously, it seems a certain LOTR alum just cannot make it out of any television or movie series he's apart of alive, but like Fellowship, his death is poignant and unsettling and most importantly, matters a great deal towards moving the plot forward. And finally, starkly contrasting the events occurring on one continent, the show abruptly shifts to another each episode that seems to resemble an Africa of sorts, following an exiled brother and sister of dragon's blood who seek to rejoin the struggle on the other side of the map and also lay claim to the Iron Throne.
It feels like a miracle that this series exists and was as lovingly crafted as it is. It could have very easily become another Legend of the Seeker; a spectacularly under-budgeted, silly misfire of it's source material, and a huge disappointment for fans of the Sword of Truth book series.... But thankfully, HBO was wise and decided to have R.R. Martin himself remain close by through production, and managed to stick surprisingly close to the material as their budget allowed. When one reads the first volume, A Game of Thrones, you quickly discover that the television series replicates scene for scene, and sometimes word for word authentically, and unsurprisingly, benefits all the more for it. Like the excellent Lord of the Rings trilogy, there is a self-seriousness ever present, but also smartly laced with well timed humor that never veers into tongue-in-cheek. It's this attitude GoT runs with that allows the viewer to take the fantasy series earnestly, and this dork couldn't be more pleased with the results.
And as my overall quote states, in GoT, nobody is safe, even the dubious, dastardly, duplicitous Lannisters that we all love to hate. I will always appreciate a show or book where you're never quite certain if on the next page or scene a certain beloved or despised character is going to bite it, and in this world, even a child king can put an honorable man to death with but a few simple words, and make viewers everywhere knock their beers over and up-end their bowl of popcorn, and when their spouse asks them why they're freaking out over a show, the dog is in the living room eating the popcorn and lapping up the booze. Yep, that's what kind of show this is, and I wouldn't have it any other way, because when a decision is made that leads to beer and popcorn abuse due to emotional attachment, that's a damn well made drama. Unless of course your username is @ejk1, who doesn't have a heart and suffers no doomed do-gooders/fools.
None of this would be possible, however, had HBO not thoroughly vetted the proper actors/actresses for the show, and like any series/movie, there are your standout's, this time in the famous dwarf (is that the "PC" word to use these days? I dunno, don't really care, either) actor Peter Dinklage as Tyrion, and English newcomer Emilia Clarke as Daenarys. While everyone is certainly playing at their A-game at all times throughout the story, there just seems to be a magical element at work when either of these two are on screen. Whether Tyrion, being half-man sized, is busy making everyone feel smaller than himself with his quick wit and brash humor, or Dany is busy getting naked for the millionth time or eating bloody hearts or becoming mistress of the only dragons in existence, they were and will continue to be infinitely watchable and memorable as the series progresses onwards to season 2.
Where GoT also greatly succeeds is in it's production values. Filmed in Ireland and Malta, and using real castles and locations for the most part, like the way LOTR utilized New Zealand and built it's own entire villages and keeps and aged them for authenticity, it also manages to marry real world medieval with fantasy, treating itself like a historical account. This show deserves awards not just for it's big budget-seeming cinematography, but also in the costume designs. Characters are appropriately dressed based on their climates and conditions (such as mostly leather and furs in cold regions, and hardly any clothes whatsoever in warmer climes), and, here comes that word again that I'm fond of, are authentic in display. This all adds up to making one of the most visually stunning and well played series, period, on premium television.
It's also satisfying that the actual "fantasy" aspect of the show is played low key for the most part. Cleverly, right off the bat the show gives the viewer a little spooktacular, bloody treat to get things going, with the heads literally rolling within the first 15 minutes. It then proceeds throughout to show us who does and doesn't put their faith in the things that go bump in the night (attuned to a score that now makes me laugh when I hear it start up), while we the viewers smile that Mona Lisa smile, as we already know the truth of the supernatural matter.
I cannot stress enough how much you are simply missing out if you haven't found a way to watch this freshman season yet. There is already a loyal following of a few of us MW members, and it would be a delight to me and I'm sure them, if more came on board to discuss this most excellent show in more detail in the future.
Finally, for those that have seen season 1, and those that just like a good laugh whether they understand the context or not....