By Matt Goldstein
The hype has been building for months and months about the new high profile series from HBO, Game of Thrones. Based on a series of books by George R. R. Martin and costing about $4.5 million an episode, the production costs make Game of Thrones one of the biggest budgets HBO has ever had for a series. The opening episode sets the scene with the Kings right hand man dying of fever. King of the Seven Kingdoms of Wetereos, King Robert Baratheon decides to travel north for an old and trusted friend, Lord Eddard, “Ned” Stark, to take his place. Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North has fought more than half of his life protecting and fighting the Kings battles. Stark, reluctantly accepts the position as the new hand of the King, but worrying about the breakage within his own family because of the move. The scene is set, Stark is to be the King’s hand and protect the kingdom from a possible invasion from Viserys Targarian, who claims title to the throne, and a Dothraki army of barbarians, who will lead the invasion. Of course, before the episodes end, it is rumored that the Kings hand was murdered as well as Starks son being murdered by the queen’s brother, setting the stage for even more drama.
The first episode set the landscape well for a dramatic series. However, Game of Thrones is a bit over the top and cliché at times, not to mention outright racist. First, the nudity and violence is mostly unnecessary, but OK, people love nudity and violence so that’s how you get ratings for a TV show. Then, the Queen Cersei Lanister is sleeping with her brother Ser Jaime Lannister brother and they both might have conspired two murders inside the King’s court to hide the secret? Yeah, OK, not too over the top or anything.
Perhaps the low point of the show was at the Dothraki wedding to celebrate the marriage between Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryan. The only black characters in this show were of course dancing without clothes, having deep tribal inclinations, animalistic traits and over the top sexuality. Do we even have to explain the problems here? It’s not that we don’t expect outright racism in the year 2011; it’s just that we expect a much tighter PR firm to jump all over something like this and force it to be cut out of the final edit, but I digress. The opening episode of Game of Thrones, “Winter is Coming” is a B/B- although most first episodes are just there to set the stage. No doubt the drama is coming, hopefully at a more subtle and intellectual pace. We did watch the first episode 3 times in the first 24 hours since the premiere so there are some great things going on. We will be watching closely over the next few episodes to see if there’s a real series here, not just an overpriced production.