Archive for August 20th, 2017

by David Schleicher

“A Soapy Game”

Can we all just finally admit that the mass appeal of HBO’s on-going (and seemingly never-ending) Game of Thrones (itself an adaptation of massive tomes still unfinished by the merry fantasy maker George R. R. Martin – none of which, I have to tell you, have I ever, nor ever intend to read, for fear they would bore me to death in their dense-fantasy-laden length) is that it’s a cliff-hanging soap opera on steroids? As such, for all its faults and glories, it’s just a drug…it’s addicting…we need to see…who dies next, who is sleeping with who, how can they shock us now, who will win that damned Iron Throne?

Is there anything more basic…more of “television” as a serialized-story-delivering medium than that feverish compulsion to want to tune in next week to see what’s next? This stuff was made for TV! And the fact that it brings to the table cinematic production values of a feature film combined with the bawdy appeal of adult entertainment (with as many nubile unclothed bodies as there are dead ones)…well, heck, that’s just the bloody icing on the cake that we all gorge from!

Being naturally skeptical of anything medieval-fantasy-tinged, I was a reluctant watcher of the premier episode (what seems like decades ago now). But it was just stylish and intriguing enough to hold my interest…  and then, they got me! At the end of the first episode, the young boy, Brandon Stark, I was made to believe to be one of the main characters and they had so endeared to us (aww look at ‘im holding them little wolves, and look at ‘im climbing those walls to get a peek at…oh, what the hell?!), gets shoved out a window! WOW! This show had balls! Had I read the source material I would’ve known, as so many people instantly spoiled on lit-up internet message boards and social media which has grown in its power over the people in parallel to this show custom-made for social media hype, that kid would live to see another day (and apparently, the future and the past, as well as be able to worg into the minds of animals and dimwitted large people…you know, typical magical paraplegic stuff).

To this day, while I’ve both grumbled and been in awe of every manipulatively placed shock and plot twist over the years, I’m still hopelessly hooked. Even as the shocks get bigger and bolder each year (the Red Wedding! Cersei blowing up the Sept!) it’s that initial shock from that first season and that first devilishly deceptive little twist that still sticks with me most. We all loved watching Joffrey get poisoned, while his former bride-to-be Margery Tyrell biting the dust literally brought down the house (our poor dear sweet Margery!). We marvel at young Ayra’s capacity for revenge as much as we do the wheeling-and-dealing of Tyrion, Varys and Baelish. Meanwhile, Cersei’s ability to survive (and at the start of this season, at least, sit atop the throne), and Daenrys’s ability to cover ground on her march over land and sea (along with her dragons) to reclaim that very throne are as Shakespearian as they are monumentally mythically annoying. But nothing really tops that kid getting shoved out a window.

Between every season (that seems like an endless thousand-year winter) I naturally forget most of what happened only to be re-hyped by the time they finally deliver the new episodes for us to grumble over, debate, decry, praise, rejoice, spoil and be shocked by yet again.

It’s like that “dun dun, DUN-DUN DUN-DUN, DUN-DUN DUN-DUN, DUN-DUN DUN-DUN, dun-dun dun-dun-dun-dun,” theme from Ramin Djawadi is the trigger at the start of each episode to work us up into salivating addicts looking to get that fix.

But it all does seem to be building to something, like the action is taking place on a massive chessboard across Westeros leading to that inevitable (but still yet to be seen) check mate. And that hope that the epic Fire & Ice showdown and ultimate crowning of a winner in this Game will eventually happen is what sustains us through the pain of having to sit through so much dirt and blood, fantasy nonsense, over-ripe political maneuvering, questionable performances, Samwell Tarly (seriously, the worst character ever) and soap. Winter finally came at the end of last season…it had been coming forever. But eventually, this to, shall end (apparently after this seventh season and then the eighth). And if that end delivers the epic showdown we’ve all been waiting for (along with some requisite twists and shocks), Game of Thrones will have earned its rightful spot in the grand pantheon of greatest serialized epics.


(USA/UK HBO 2011-2018) DVD/Blu-Ray

p. David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, George R. R. Martin, Guymon Cassidy, Frank Doelger, Vince Gerardis, Christopher Newman, Greg Spence, Carolyn Strauss, Oliver Butler, Bernadette Caulfield, Lisa McAttackney, Annick Wolkan, Erika Milutin, Bryan Cogman, Alan Frier, Snorri Porrison, Ralph Vicinanza   d. Alan Taylor, David nutter, Alex graves, Mark Mylod, Jeremy Podeswa, Daniel Minihan, Alik Sakharov, Michelle Mclaren, Miquel Sapochnik, Brian Kirk, Tim Van Patten, Neil Marshall, David Petrarca, Michael Slovis, Jack Bender, Daniel Sackheim, Matt Shakman   w. David Benioff, D. B. Weiss, George R. R. Martin, Bryan Cogman, David Hill, Vanessa Taylor, Jane Epenson  developed for TV. David Benioff, D. B. Weiss  ed. Katie Weiland, Frances Parker, Crispin Green, Tim Porter   ph. Anette Haellmigk, Jonathan Freeman, Robert McLachlan   m. Ramin Djawadi   art. Philip Elton, Paul Ghirardani, Hauke Richter

Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Kit Harrington (Jon Snow), Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen, Lena Heady (Cersei Lannister), Nicolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont), Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Isaac Hempstead Wright (Brandon Stark), Aiden Gillen (Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish), Conleth Hill (Varys), Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), John Bradley (Samwell Tarly), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth), Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei), Jerome Flynn (Bronn), Rory McCann (Sandor “The Hound” Clegane), Julian Glover (Grand Maester Pycelle), Carice Van Houten (Melisandre), Jacob Anderson (Greyworm), Natalie Dormer (Margaery Tyrell), Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark), Hannah Murray (Gilly), Kristian Nairn (Hodor), Richard Madden (Robb Stark), Finn Jones (Loras Tyrell), Iwan Rheon (Ramsey Snow-Bolton), Michael McElhatton (Roose Bolton), Natalia Teena (Osha), Ellie Kendrick (Meera Reed), Donald Sumpter (Maester Luwin), Gemma Whelan (Yara Greyjoy), Indira Varma (Ellaria Sand), James Cosmo) Jeor Mormont), Jack Gleeson (Joffrey Baratheon), Thomas Brodie Sangster (Jojen Reed), Kerry Ingram (Shireen Baratheon)Paul Kaye (Thoros of Myre), Gethin Anthony (Renly Baratheon), Will Tudor (Olyvar), Harry Lloyd (Viserys Targaryen), Kate Dickie (Lysa Arron), Pilou Asbaek (Euron Greyjoy), Bella Ramsay (Bella Mormont), Tom Wlaschiha (Jagen H’ghar), Dean-Charles Chapman (Tommen Baratheon), Joe Dempsie (Gendry), Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane), Daniel Portman (Podrick Payne), Ben Crompton (Eddison Tollett), Richard Dormer (Berric Dondarrion)

With guests:

Sean Bean (Ned Stark), Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister), Diana Rigg (Ollenna Tyrell), Stephen Dillane (Stannis Baratheon), Rose Leslie (Ygritte), Jonathan Pryce (The High Sparrow), Peter Vaughan (Maester Amon), Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo), David Bradley (Walder Frey), Ciaran Hinds (Mance Rayder), Jim Broadbent (Archmaester Ebrose), Mark Gattis (Tycho Nestoris), Ian McShane (Septon Ray) and Max Von Sydow (The Three-Eyed Raven)




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