First look: Game of Thrones

Not your usual swords and sandals affair

I love it when a decent TV show sneaks up on me. So often I look forward to a new genre TV show only to be disappointed.

I was recently given a few episodes of HBO’s medieval fantasy show, Game of Thrones, to take a look at. I’ve noticed that the show is generating a fair buzz on the internet, but live-action swords and sandals generally leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. Ever since those films of Sir Pete’s did marginally well a few years back there has been an overpowering desire for film-makers to deliver “epic” fantasy, which usually ends in tears (Clash of the Titans).

Today I got around to watching the first episode. Holy crap. The show is a long way from what I thought it would be. I expected it to be some sort of Yankee take on medieval England with a load of mumbling actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company, hamming it up in tights. It’s not.

The show starts as it means to carry on. A lone swordsman on patrol in a snow covered forest comes across the frozen, dismembered limbs and bodies of men, women and children strewn about. When he returns with his patrol the bodies are gone. Without going into details, it doesn’t go well and, after an ambush by a barely glimpsed supernatural creature, only the original lone swordsman escapes. His escape is seen as desertion by his lord who promptly dispatches him by means of a beheading. The lord brings his ten year old son along to watch in order that he “man up”. Tough love, indeed.

It isn’t just the violence, which isn’t really gratuitous but at the same time doesn’t hold back, that is graphic. It seem back in the day folks where a little more liberal that they are now with the need to stay clothed. Like a moving Frank Frazetta painting, the show isn’t shy to show off a cheeky nipple, a full on pair of jiggling boobies, a bit of ass or, if necessary, a complete full frontal disrobing. Then there is the barbarian wedding, with what was either a simulated copulation dance, or knowing barbarians, a bona fide floorshow. Again, nothing to over-the-top, it all generally seems in keeping with the plot (although there were a few seemingly lingering camera moves) .

Game of Thrones is an adult show with an adult theme backed that is up by a well acted intelligent tale of political intrigue set against a fantasy backdrop. Unlike Russell T Davis’s Torchwood- which seems to suggest that the only difference between a kids show and an adult show is the amount of times you can day f**k in a sentence and talk about sex, especially sex with aliens or with others of the same gender.

Unfortunately, Game of Thrones with its no hold barred storytelling (and T&A) will mean that it is unlikely that the show will get a decent airing in New Zealand, especially given the NZ networks tendency to buy US genre TV shows that get cancelled (Bionic Woman).

I’ve got a couple more episodes to watch. Maybe I’ll return here and spill the beans properly later.  In the meantime take a look at the trailer.