I posted a commentary from my re-read of GRRM’s A Game of Thrones a few days ago but did not include my thoughts of the HBO adaptation since my brain ran out of steam at that point. Anyways, it was actually this adaptation that prompted me to catch up with ASoIaF =) SPOILERS ahead if you haven’t watched the series/read the books (all 5 as I made a few allusions to later books)
When a series is being produced by HBO, you know that you’re expecting quality work. AGoT is no different—the detail is just exquisite. The locations they chose were amazing, from Winterfell to King’s Landing, to Essos; you really feel as if the drama truly is unfolding on Westeros. The sets were also equally amazing, as well as the concepts for the sigils, the armour and the costume design. I was particularly impressed with the shots involving the godswood in Winterfell and the throne room in the Eyrie. The title sequence alone just shows how much effort is put into this production (there’s an excellent “Making of” article about the title sequence over here).
The cast was beyond phenomenal. I can’t think of a single actor who was miscast in any way. Sean Bean as always is a wonderful actor to watch, he played the stoic, dignified Northerner with such grace. I wish he had received a nomination for his performance; it wasn’t flashy but his acting conveyed all the nuances that the character had. I thought Mark Addy was perfect as Robert, he portrayed the role exactly the way I had imagined the character. Peter Dinklage was amazing as Tyrion, I love the way he delivered all of the amusing lines. I’m happy for his nomination, Tyrion is a fascinating character from the moment you meet him. All of the actors portraying the children were fantastic; I know everyone’s talked about how amazing she was but Maisie Williams as Arya especially gave a wonderful performance. I wish she was nominated for an Emmy for this season because it was all sorts of wonderful. Props to Harry Lloyd for his portrayal of the cruel and desperate Viserys Targaryen; in the book Viserys was just downright mad and cruel but Harry Lloyd gave that nuance in the character that you can’t help but feel just a wee bit sorry for.
Plot-wise, I was quite surprised re-reading the book that the adaptation stayed rather faithful to the book. Normally there are a number of things cut in the books to the state of time and money and keeping the viewers’ attention but given the structure of the novel itself, it seemed like it was ready for adaptation. It was delightful to see that a number of good lines from the book ended up in the adaptation (i.e. most of Tyrion’s signature lines, Tywin’s “They have my SON!” (excellent moment btw, Charles Dance was cast perfectly too)). I know some people complained that the Gregor/Sandor story should’ve been told by Sandor instead of Petyr like it was in the book but I rather liked the change because it established the Petyr-Sansa story for ASoS.
The closest thing I have to a complaint would probably be the excess amount of sexposition throughout the series. I mean, some of it makes sense either in the context of the character or the location/action that the character is in at the moment but when you have a number of scenes featuring Ros just being there doing that stuff with no sort of result to the scene other than some new information about the character, maybe that information should’ve been provided in a different location and in a different context. I mean, I got nothing out of that Ros/Pycelle scene because I was too busy going all D= at the notion of Pycelle and…yeah, anyways, if this continues into the next season, they could at least even out the ratio of male/female nudity. There’s a lot of girls watching this series too, you know =P
The music is wonderful, it reflects the mood and locations of the show quite nicely. I love how epic the main title sequence is:
My favourite music sequence had to be the last scene from the season (“Finale”) but I also love the music they played during the scene where Cat was comforting Robb about Ned’s death (“We Will Kill Them All”) and when Robb was proclaimed the King in the North (“The King in the North”).
Finally, I admit, I still have not been able to watch the finale few minutes of episode 9, “Baelor”. It was a scene that truly killed me in the novel (and perpetually scarred me from picking up ACoK until last year). Heck, when episode 10 started, I teared up seeing the aftermath of that sequence and seeing all of the Starks’ reactions to it ;_; Just goes to show again how amazing this cast was.
Overall, the adaptation was phenomenal, both in its tranfer to the television medium and the overall execution of the plot. You can tell that there’s a lot of care put into its production and it really paid off. I hope the quality continues as the story expands and that HBO doesn’t freak out and go back on their pledge to keep producing the adaptation (a la what happened with Rome and Carnivale; still rather sore we didn’t get more seasons from either series).