US Airdate: 17th April-19th June 2011
Winter Is Coming: It’s kind of hard to actually review this series because the one thing that I can guarantee about it is that so much seems to happen and largely at times, all at once. For some people, a series with this much going on might be a worrying thing but you have to admire the confidence in which this series goes about it’s multitude of storylines.
Based on the long selling books from George R.R. Martin, this was definitely the first time HBO have done something quite overtly on the end of the fantasy scale and it easily could’ve been a misfire for them. Thankfully with a great budget, shooting the series in four different countries and some incredible storytelling, this can easily be seen as one of the greatest shows to emerge in the last decade.
The world of Westeros is definitely an interesting, multi-layered place to explore and with so many of the characters driven by greed, revenge, pride and a sense of entitlement, the chaos that often ensues throughout the ten episode first season is certainly expectant in places.
Ned Stark is definitely a typical good man caught in a political situation gone bad as he finds himself becoming Robert Baratheon’s unwitting Hand of the King and ultimately it is not a role that ends well for him or the rest of his family by the time we get to the second half of the season and Robert’s tyrannical son Joffrey succeeds his father to the throne.
Then there are the likes Daenerys – an exiled princess sold to the Dothraki so that her callous brother Viserys can ascend to his rightful place as King. Viserys is living proof that some men really do not deserve to become while Daenerys storylines range from being placed into a submission arranged marriage with barbarian Khal Drogo to finding her own inner strength and a few dragons along the mix.
As for Tyrion Lannister and Jon Snow – they are two of the biggest outcasts we get from the first year. The former being a dwarf and brother of incestuous duo Cersei and Jaime Lannister while the latter the bastard son of Ned Stark embarking on a service to the Wall. They’re both characters who are easy to care about due to their own compassionate natures and steely determination but between the two of them; it’s painfully easy to see why Tyrion has struck a chord with so many fans.
In terms of the rest of the characters, I find it amazing how well this show writes for children. Rob Stark is forced into taking over his father role when Ned goes to the South, Bran deals with a bad blow dealt to him in the first episode, Sansa is given a terrible reality check when she realises the man she loves is a monster while Arya is a spirited tomboy who certainly takes no prisoners in her own determination not to fall into the traditional female roles.
Similarly, Joffrey’s also a complete monster but manages to be surprisingly effective and then you have capricious characters such as Littlefinger and Varys as well to watch for throughout the series and the rather wonderful Jorah too as well as the cowardly but sweet Sam as well.
In terms of it’s depiction of female characters, this show nails it on the head. I might not be a fan of Cersei and her horrendous scheming but her reasons behind her actions are often easy to understand as are the more sympathetic Catelyn Stark’s actions too. Also when you consider the characterisations for the likes of Sansa, Arya and Daenerys. That and the rather interesting depiction of Renly’s relationship with Ser Loras and this is a show that effectively covers all kinds of fan bases.
I really don’t want to fall into a cliché here but ultimately, if you haven’t seen the series, you really should amend that and buy the DVD. Especially considering the second season is only a mere day away now. Trust me, even if you hate fantasy with a passion, this is one show you should make the exception for.
HBO tend to be hit and miss with their extras but here, they’ve surpassed themselves. There’s seven commentaries (including one where the actors playing Sansa, Arya and Bran hum the theme tune), 15 character profiles, a fantastic feature in relation to the Dothraki language as well as look into the Night’s Watch, a rundown of the series from book to screen and creating the show open. All of which are worth the price alone.
1x01: Winter Is Coming = 9/10, 1x02: The Kingsroad = 8/10,
1x03: Lord Snow = 8/10, 1x04: Cripples, Bastards And Broken Things = 9/10,
1x05: The Wolf And The Lion = 9/10, 1x06: A Golden Crown = 10/10,
1x07: You Win Or You Die = 8/10, 1x08: The Pointy End = 9/10,
1x09: Baelor = 10/10, 1x10: Fire And Blood = 10/10.