HBO has a history of producing shows that became entertainment events. And like The Sopranos and True Blood before it, the hit fantasy series Game of Thrones has garnered the kind of buzz usually reserved for top-line movies. Watching the show’s first season via this spectacular Blu-ray set, it’s no wonder the program has caught on like it has. With cinematography and effects rivaling big-budget films, Game of Thrones (based on the epic fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin) shows HBO knows how to execute genre shows right.
Set on another world with strong echoes of medieval times here on measly old earth, the show follows a royal family (headed by Sean Bean of Lord of the Rings fame, turning in a strong performance as Edard “Ned” Stark)—rulers of one of seven kingdoms in this land—and the price they pay for power.
I’ve heard GoT referred to as a Sopranos with knights and dragons instead of mobsters, and the comparison’s apt in many ways; both shows were based around the themes of balancing personal ambition with family obligations, the sacrifices one must make to ascend to positions of power, and the betrayal that goes hand-in-hand with such ascensions. Of course, Sopranos featured Italian guys from Jersey; this show features knights and dragons… and lots of characters! You may need a scorecard as you watch the first few episodes to get the different people in the show straight. Overstuffed with characters and plotlines, Game of Thrones is one of those shows that requires your full attention; it’s not for casual watching while you do something else. Focus please. You won’t want to miss the sumptuous visuals.
Oh yeah, this being HBO (and “not TV”), there’s plenty of no-holds-barred sex and violence. Expect multiple beheadings and frequent couplings and you’ll be on the right track.
Well-crafted scripts filled with twisty plotlines keep the show consistently fresh and interesting, as do potent performances from a masterful cast including Bean, Kit Harrington as his soulful bastard son Jon Snow, Mark Addy as the indulgent King Robert Baratheon, and Peter Dinklage as the crafty dwarf Tyrion. But the visuals and superb sound mix and music presentation (not to mention the amazing bonus features–including a few hidden ones) make Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season a Blu-ray set you’ll want to have on your shelf for generations to come.