Hoping HBO don’t botch Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is a seriously impressive book. Cleverly written, engaging, full of gravitas. Everything you could expect from a fantasy novel of the highest literary quality.

Making it into a TV series is a sure fire money-spinner, but to do it justice the dramatisation needs to preserve the depth, vision and subtlety of the original. It needs a thoughtful design, to make it look fresh, distinctive and memorable.

So what are the chances that by the time HBO have finished with it we will instead be presented with a gaudy, clichéd, routine costume-drama clunker, spiced up with a peppering of gratuitous sex?

To work, GoT needs cinematic production values, not given the standard HBO big budget TV series treatment.  I fear a repeat of Rome.  Yes the latter was successful and even well reviewed, but it wasn’t actually very good. Aside from all the historical inaccuracies, it was a gaudy, clichéd, routine costume-drama clunker, spiced up with a peppering of gratuitous sex.

I would hate to see GoT go the same way, but what chance the designers find themselves able to resist the temptation to put everyone in over-the-top costumes half the time and out of them the rest of the time?


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3 Responses to Hoping HBO don’t botch Game of Thrones

  1. The trailers do not offer much hope that HBO’s Game of Thrones will be anything other than a routine, overdone costume-melodrama.

    I am about a quarter of the way through the book (Kindle) and hoping to stay ahead of the series. There are ten episodes so assuming the dramatisation is paced fairly linearly measured against the book I stand a decent chance if I keep reading quickly. If I fail I can just leave the last few episodes on the Sky+ disk until I’m ready for them.

  2. Have watched the first episode. Maybe I was too hasty. It may just be that HBO have done an honest job this time. Except they have not stinted on the de rigeur nudity.

    But the overall standard is very high. Close to cinematic, mostly well acted, true to the spirit of the book and visually gripping without going over the top. I’m not sure I’d say it was distinctive, design wise, except for maybe the title sequence. It looks like a medieval costume drama with a few quirks that reflect the fantasy nature of the source material.

    The script is well done, not too tacky or melodramatic. The only negative is that the writers have had to pepper the script with clues for the viewer, to help them identify characters and their relationships to each other and to bring out various plot points. You end up with characters saying things they would never need to say in normal conversation because they would already know, things that are only said for viewers’ benefit, e.g. “We are Lannisters…” or “you are the bastard son of Eddard Stark, born of a different mother..” etc. You can’t avoid this kind of stuff but it could arguably have been made a tad less obvious.

    Oh, and I initially found it hard to work out which character was Robb and which was Jon Snow. The third older boy must have been Theon Greyjoy but that was not made clear in the story. Maybe to avoid more script contrivances for character identification … something along the lines of “Ho there Theon Greyjoy, tell me how you enjoy being a ward of Eddard Stark? Do you not resent him for defeating your father in battle?” Maybe we’ll get that next week.

    Overall I am pleasantly surprised and looking forward to the next episode.

  3. We did at last get the nearest equivalent of “Ho there Theon Greyjoy, tell me how you enjoy being a ward of Eddard Stark? Do you not resent him for defeating your father in battle?” but had to wait until episode 5.

    It came in a sequence with the prostitute Ros which did not appear in the book and was clearly added in as a device to communicate some basic facts about who Theon is and his relationship with the Starks. And while about it indulge in a bit of gratuitous nudity.

    Funny isn’t it how so many of HBO’s “invented” scenes, absent from the book but added in to aid narrative exposition, take advantage of the opportunity to show a bit of tit? The regular media have picked up on this tendency which has been dubbed “sexposition”. That’s one word not two, otherwise some bright spark will reel off a choice of Missionary, doggy style, etc….

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