Friday, November 19, 2010

Heavy hangs the head that wears the crown.

It shouldn't be a surprise that my geekiness extends beyond television. So I am sure that the sentence, "Maggie loves fantasy novels" is not shocking to you. After all, I am right in the middle of an epic reread of the entire Wheel of Time series (a series so long that the author actually DIED before he finished it) and that takes some serious commitment. So I'd say I'm more than a casual fan of fantasy.

So imagine my delight when I learned that one of the best examples of the genre, The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, was being made into a television series. And not by just any crappy network. We're talking HBO here. Which means three things are guaranteed: adult language, adult situations, and nudity. To which I say: WOO!

Because Martin's novels are not your average medieval fiction. Sure there are knights, kings, big fights, but there's also extreme violence, plot twists, and a delicious depiction of political jockeying. There's also a bit of magic here and there with witches, and did I mention the dragons? No? What about the incest? Everyone loves a good incest subplot! And don't even get me started on the under-age marriage.

The thing that's truly great about the novels, and what I hope they retain for the show, is that NOBODY is ever safe. Any character can die at anytime. Oh, you really like that character right there? Too bad! He/she just got an axe to the face. Or were horribly poisoned. Or had their throat slit. Or any other manner of delightfully gory death. I've heard this levied as a criticism of the novels, but to me, it's what steals the show. The constant surprises are why I stick around. Even though the latest book has been pending now for...let's see...five years. Seriously, get a move on, Martin. But you know I will preorder that shit as soon as a release date gets updated on Amazon.

HBO has been rather stingy with teases of the show (titled Game of Thrones and premiering in early 2011), but there is some interesting content up on the show's homepage, and just showcased an entire gallery of pics from the series and a set report. Instead of just listening to me blather on about it, I thought you might be interested to hear from some other fans of the books.

From my co-worker, Bill: What struck me most about the photos was the sense of grit. Martin stressed the poor, brutish, nasty, and short aspects of life in his novels, and I loved how no one quite seemed fully cleaned up. The photo of Jon Snow (pictured on the left) really brings that home. He has that pale skin our Shakespeare professors assured us was a good thing (Look ma, no syphilis!), and appears to have not bathed in a week. This photo of Jon Snow and Sam Tarly (pictured middle), presumably at the Wall during training for the Night’s Watch really jumped out at me. THAT was the world I had envisioned when reading the series.

From fellow William and Mary grad, Dorilyn: So far, it looks awesome to me. HBO shows have a really high production value, so I know the costumes and sets will be top notch. Normally I worry when the cast is largely unknowns, but I understand HBO's thinking and George R. R. Martin had a say in who was picked. I think Jaime and Cersei (pictured) look fantastic.

Regarding Cersei, Bill also had to say, "she looks, well, scary." Don't underestimate her just because she's blonde, y'all. Also, don't tap that. People who sleep with Cersei tend to have horrible things happen to them.

More from Dorilyn: I'm a little concerned about Daenerys (pictured) because I know they had to age the character because of what happens to her. Avoiding spoilers, part of the reason she is what she is, is because of the horrible things that happened to her in her formative years. I know the book deals with a lot of very adult themes (and again avoiding spoilers), I hope that HBO manages to convey all of them. I'm concerned about what will be left out to make the show suitable for a wider audience. Some of the adult themes are essential to the plot and I think the show would suffer if they were left out entirely. I also hope that "fantasy" label doesn't scare people off. From the previews I've seen, I think they're going for more of an intrigue/action slant than the magic and dragons slant, which is probably good for attracting viewers. I think that the people who tune in for the pilot will be hooked.

Thanks, guys! I think you hit the nail on the head. To respond to Dorilyn's comment about the adult themes, as I noted above, HBO is famous for adult themes and has never really shied away from something before (anyone who has watched Deadwood can tell you that) so that was kind of the one thing I wasn't worried about. I think part of the appeal of pay cable shows is that we can get all the violence, sex, and foul language we want and not feel as guilty about it because it's a little more classy in the presentation--and we are choosing to have it in our homes, unlike broadcast cable (of course, you could always just CHANGE THE CHANNEL PEOPLE but I digress). Game of Thrones is definitely not going to be for everyone, but as for me, I say bring it on!


Caroline said...

"Oh, you really like that character right there? Too bad! He/she just got an axe to the face."

HAHAHAHAHA. Seriously, this made me laugh out loud right here at my desk.

*off to add books to library queue*

Maggie Cats said...

Be warned: they are quite lengthy and dense. But well worth the time, in my opinion! I hope you enjoy them!