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Historically, TV generally doesn’t do ‘epic fantasy’ well: Merlin, Robin of Sherwood, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. All noble efforts, but ultimately flawed in vision and execution. Heck, outside of Jackson’s Rings trilogy, even the movies often fail to get the genre right. Game of Thrones Season One Blu-ray Thrown in …

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Alien

Best ever?

While still reading the books, and never having seen this epic on a screen yet, I think that to try and capture the pictures the words portray could be a pretty tall order.

I still think the baseline to be beaten is B5 - considering it's age it's still pretty good, visually and story line.

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Re: Best ever?

I think you will be very pleasantly surprised when you get a chance to see the TV version. Martins style of writing it in chapters from the viewpoint of a single character makes it particularly easy to translate to the screen. Series 2 started transmission last Sunday, so they'll be on a torrent near you soon.

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Happy

Re: Best ever?

Since the author was one of the producers, I think you will be happily surprised.

Capturing the world that George Martin has created is a very tall order, and in my opinion, they have not just succeeded, but excelled.

Well done HBO and everyone involved with the show!

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Happy

Re: Best ever?

"Best ever" is worth taking seriously IMO. I'm a huge B5 fan but if the later series live up to the first then I think this will have it beat.

Production values are higher (no insult to B5, but its true). It doesn't try to fit itself into a strict episodic format the way early B5 series do. The story arc will be at least its equal if later series live up to the first - to be honest the amazing thing about the story arc in B5 is simply that it exists, if you were feeling churlish it wouldn't be hard to poke a few holes in it here and there.

If you haven't watched it, it is absolutely amazing. As you would expect it doesn't contain everything from the books, but dedicating an entire series to the first book means that there is a lot there. I watched the series and then read the books, so I'm not the best judge of this, but in my opinion it truly does bring the world to life. Its the same way I felt about Lord of the Rings - it seemed impossible that they could bring that world to life, and then they absolutely nailed it.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Best ever?

Don't forget, folks, if you want to talk about GoT - or any other fantasy show on telly or on film - you can create your own threads in El Reg's brand new Reader Forums:

http://forums.theregister.co.uk/

See you there.

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Happy

Re: Best ever?

cool. i never knew about this... a great way to kill some more time at work! :)

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Re: Best ever?

I agree with mike2R. I'm a big B5 fan, but Game of Thrones takes the whole on-going story arc to a new level with deep plotting and excellent acting combined with absolutely stunning visuals.

This is definitely a series on the "Don't Miss!" list.

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Also wrote some episodes

He wrote the screenplay for 'The Pointy End', episode 8 of season 1, and 'Blackwater', episode 9 of season 2.

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Mushroom

Re: Best ever?

Get back in your basement.

No one likes B5.

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Does anyone else think that Jaime Lannister looks like the prince from Shrek?

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re: Jaime Lannister

You're not the first to notice...

http://totallylookslike.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/prince-charming-of-shrek-totally-looks-like-jamie-lannister-of-game-of-thrones.jpg

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Trollface

Re: re: Jaime Lannister

That's what royal intermarriage will do.

Royal intermarriage will, in time, lead to inbreeding. The Lannisters just skipped a few steps in the process. One might say they were quite progressive with this "the future is today" mentality.

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Undoubtably a good series

But at £45 for one series (10 episodes) which is unlikely to get more than a couple of viewings, are they seriously expecting people to splash out for this rather than download the episodes. They may claim that piracy is killing the industry, but this is arguably a fine example of price-gouging doing a better job of it.

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FAIL

Re: Undoubtably a good series

I got it for £37 off the shelf at Tesco, which is perfectly good value and does everything I need to do to encourage HBO to commit to many more of the same. If you're too miserly to drop that much, go and download it and I'm sure you'll be back here later moaning about the lack of quality TV.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Undoubtably a good series

Rent it off iTunes then ? Great if you're only going to watch it a couple of times surely ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Undoubtably a good series

45 quid for 6 Blu-Ray disks? Seems pretty good to me.

Yes, you could download them (which is why they are sat on my NAS right now...) but to be honest you are paying just as much for the extras, which may be be hard and painfully slow to get as torrents...) than the episodes.

So, yes I'll probably go out and buy it, and it is a set of disks I can see being lent to friends that have not seen it in the future too...

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Re: Undoubtably a good series

I wouldn't put iTunes on my computer if you paid me. My partner is unfortunate enough to have this crapware on her laptop and has to deal with its foibles on a near-daily basis.

I'm sure HBO deserver to make a profit from this series. I suspect they have already made their money back several times over. I haven't so far been able to (legally) watch it, as I don't give my money to the Murdoch family. If it were priced more reasonably (you might think £39 in Tescos is reasonable, I don't), then I would buy it.

The evidence from the games market indicates that if you lower the price of the product, you make more sales and more profit. A number of games on platforms such as Steam illustrate this point. The 'piracy' problem pretty much goes away. I'm not saying they should give it away, but a price that is much closer to the manufacturing cost seems fairer to me.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Undoubtably a good series

Apple TV. No PC required. £99 and it'll last for ages (all hardware).

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Re: Undoubtably a good series

How about £31.99 from Amazon? Price is dropping... and personally I thought it so good I might - for once - buy a boxed set. Agree about the Murdochs too... They're actually in GOT - metaphorically speaking.

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Re: Undoubtably a good series

Okay, at £31.99 it is sounding more reasonable. If it drops to £25 I think that is a fair price point and then I may well buy it. £45 is still, in my opinion, price gouging.

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WTF?

Re: Undoubtably a good series

If you were to read some of my other forum posts, you might twig that I have a dislike of Apple. What on earth makes you think I would want to spend my hard-eanend on Apple TV? I already own a PS3 which has much the same functionality.

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Re: Undoubtably a good series

The DVDs are £26 from amazon.

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Re: Undoubtably a good series

Then by all means watch it on your PS3

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Undoubtably a good series

I paid $35 at Target, the first week it came out. Prices have gone up though and I wouldn't pay what they're asking. I'd wait until it went on sale again.

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Re: Undoubtably a good series

As far as I know, there is no evidence from the games market that if you lower price you *will* make more profit - publishers tend to be pretty cagey with their data. Gabe Newell's (Steam) oft-cited interview is actually about *promoted discounts* improving *gross revenues* not lower pricing in general improving profits.

Certainly it would be more difficult to have discounts if the day one price was near the manufacturing cost (aside from the fact that no-one in between the manufacturer and the customer would bother getting out of bed).

Perhaps some people forget there is a large capital investment in making a videogame and putting it in a box, which is a cost that must be recouped otherwise the business goes under - therefore there is a relatively high day one price (that inevitably decreases over time).

The excuse for piracy here is "I want this game now but I don't want to wait until next month when it will be half the price".

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FAIL

@Loyal Commenter. Steam? Really?

>A number of games on platforms such as Steam illustrate this point.

Yeah? Like when my Shogun 2, solo mode, stopped working because it couldna call home on Steam servers?

And like when I looked up the Steam "support" page related to my error message and it looked like a bored dev had slapped together a few paragraphs of "re-install, check Direct X, disable your firewall" hocus pocus and dead chicken administration rites.

Rather than a serious user-friendly troubleshooting guide explaining how I would get my $59 value from a game legally purchased, after the stupid anti-piracy network connectivity goes tits up.

Give me a £39 BD over that anyday ;-)

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Re: Undoubtably a good series

"I'm sure HBO deserver to make a profit from this series. I suspect they have already made their money back several times over."

I wouldn't be so sure. GoT cost them an absolute assload. It's probably, overall, done well enough that they'll make the money back, but it was a hell of a gamble. And it'll definitely need significant non-broadcast sales (discs, iTunes rentals, what have you) to make a profit.

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Definitely brilliant so far

But I must admit I wonder how the series is going to follow the books - the later ones spread the story so wide, following so many different characters, that progress is only made in the tiniest of steps.

I love the books but I find that one of the two flaws, that they don't progress apace. The other is that the story is unfinished and the bugger only releases one every five years... Still, that leaves him another four or so before the telly catches up with the novels.

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Pint

Oh, also -

Anyone else reckon that five books of 'Winter is coming!' followed by apparently a single one that deals with it, after build-up from word one, is a bit unlikely?

I forsee more than the proposed two more books in this series, and a very, very long wait for completion.

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Re: Oh, also -

Agreed.

One of the biggest sucess measures for the series will be if it manages not to get sunk in the somewhat turgid mire the books have ended up in. Individually they are still good books but Mr Martin is more concerned with his characterisation than progressing the story - its passed frustrating at this stage.

At this rate the series will be over before the books are.

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Re: Oh, also -

That's my biggest worry too. I only found out about the book series as a result of the TV show, but from maybe episode 3 in the first series to about now I've read GM's entire output, and judging from previous form, can't expect the next book for another 5 years.

I also worry that GM hasn't really grasped how he is going to finish this. Book 5 just spreads the story wider and wider, without getting particularly close to anything you might consider a conclusion.

If you have read them all, you may have also noticed that time slows down massively as the books go forward, with each book taking up less and less 'wall time', but the stories growing wider in scope, and the books getting chronologically out of order (parts of book 3 happen after parts of book 4, similar in 5).

Having said that, the show barely holds a candle to the books. It has some wonderful visuals, but the detail that the books go into is what really envelopes you. Compare and contrast the events at 'Crasters Hall' as shown in the most recent episode with what is in the books - nothing that stops the story from progressing, but the flavour and character of Craster and his wives comes through much clearer in the book.

Still the best thing on TV though.

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Re: Oh, also -

I think this is why he has started killing off characters every other chapter. He's woven an overly complex web of plot lines with no easy way out other than to abruptly "resolve" the plot line at the end of a sword.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Definitely brilliant so far

Have you seen Mr. Martin ? I hope he doesn't do a Robert Jordan and kick the bucket before finishing it all off. It all very well writing an epic series but you need to take your own mortality into account. Especially if you're in late middle age and fat.

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Re: Definitely brilliant so far

Apparently he's fleshed out the major plot arcs with the tv producers just in case. But no one would continue writing the books.

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Meh

Kinda dispels the fantasy when scenes are filmed 'round the corner & I can see the machinations at the crew base from the kitchen.

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Mushroom

Robin of Sherwood - Flawed?

Heathen!

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Oh dear, spoilers

I'm only half way through the second book, but I second the concerns that things seem to be slowing down a bit - sad if it gets worse in later books. One of the things that hit me about the first book was that quite a lot happens in it; I'm less surprised that the TV adaptation worked than that they managed to fit most of it in. On the other hand, at least some of the characters come across without the "comedy dwarf" tweaks that Jackson felt the need to make to LoTR.

The thing that really put me off the first series was that some of the early acting - even by relatively experienced actors - seemed incredibly stilted. Some of it was very good, but Littlefinger's need to orate everything really grated; even Lena Headey (who's been good in plenty of other things) didn't seem very comfortable. It's possible it got better as the series progressed, or maybe I just got used to it.

I'm also not all that impressed with the need to age the entire cast (because it stops some of them acting their age and the shock of what they go through is lost a bit), but I guess they'd have had problems broadcasting it if there was really the requisite amount of child nudity.

Here's hoping that the pay cheque persuades the author to find a way to finish the story.

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Re: Oh dear, spoilers

I agree with you about aging the cast, it really breaks the impact of what they are doing. I'll try to avoid too many spoilers for those who haven't read the books, but Rob is supposed to be 14-15, which makes the reactions of the adults to what he's doing make more sense.

Aria is about 10 in the latest book. I think she was 8 when she killed her first person! Daenerys has her 14th birthday after starting to build her army. Making them all older takes something away from it., as well as making some of their decisions and actions seem foolish.

That said, I do understand the reasons for it, I can't imagine it having been made at all if they were all kept to their supposed ages, It would have been extremely difficult to get the required performances in a reasonable amount of time.

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Silver badge

Re: Oh dear, spoilers

Cmon, they did it for western sensibilities. Daenerys is listed as 12 when she marries Drogo in the book, and even HBO won't show kiddy porn.

Having said that, there is no acknowledgement that a Westerosi year is the same as an Earth year, so say each Westerosi year is a 1.5 Earth years, she was 18. So all cool.

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Happy

Re: Oh dear, spoilers

Actually, with their winters seeming to come long and far apart ("you've never seen a winter, young grasshopper"), it could very well be that a Westorosi year is 8 or 10 of our years. So Daenerys is like totally geriatric.

Eeek.

Good thing the show fixed that then.

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iTunes not an option

and no, not an apple-hater. iTunes not an option because it hasn't been released on iTunes UK. A problem I'm already heartily familiar with as a brony without piratical instincts... :-) But in this case I'm actually a bit surprised given it is being shown in the UK and - as this article notes - the bluray is out.

(I'm renting them from lovefilm; seeing it for the first time.)

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The best

I have to say that the books of A Song Of Ice And Fire are in my top 3 fantasy book series, the other 2 being Lord of the Rings and Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time. All three are excellent, although so different I cannot choose a favourite.

However, Game of Thrones is most definitely my favourite fantasy TV/Film. They have portrayed the world wonderfully, keeping in so much detail I haven't noticed anything missing yet (which is what spoiled the Lord of the Rings film for me), and yet it also hasn't spoiled my enjoyment of the books. Even better, my SWMBO likes it too, and has even started reading the books because of it!

I am seriously considerring buying a Blu Ray Player just for this. I can call it my Game of Thrones player, and it can sit in the corner until I want to revisit this fantastic Epic.

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Re: The best

I bought the Lord of the Rings Blu Ray set a while before buying an actual player! Only a bog standard Panasonic 80 quidder. The GoT discs do look amazing though: the prologue scene of episode one in the snow looks absolutely gorgeous.

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My only complaint

is an overuse of the phrase "head on a spike"

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Ru
Flame

"even the movies often fail to get the genre right."

I would say that even the *authors* fail to get the genre right. As a group, fantasy authors show a crippling lack of imagination which is tied oh so very closely to Tolkien and Dungeons&Dragons (which is also tied pretty closely to Tolkien).

At least this time round we're spared Elves and Dwarves, but there's no shortage of medieval stasis and dragons.

More authors like China Mieville, please.

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Re: "even the movies often fail to get the genre right."

This.

I tried to watch the first episode, but got bored and switched off after 10 minutes.

This was unoriginal Tokienian rubbish. If this is the best George "Ronald Ruel" Martin can do, I'll pass, thanks. If I want to watch a bunch of Shakespearean thespians chewing the scenery like an overacting Doctor Who villain, I can always watch Doctor Who.

Why in the name of buggeration do so many people equate "fantasy" with "orcs, elves, dwarfs, trolls, dragons, etc."? It reveals a distressing lack of imagination—not least because the very first recognised English novel* was not only a fantasy, but was also rather more original. It's bad enough that readers do this, but the sheer number of writers cranking out these undisguised rip-offs of Tolkien is astonishing. (And it's even worse in the games industry, where every feckless twit seems to want to make an MMORPG with the same damned list of highly unoriginal tropes.)

Tolkien wasn't as good a writer as his hagiographers make him out to be. He was an academic at heart, and it shows in his writing style. Pacing is all over the place. The plot—such as it is—wanders wildly. The protagonists don't act, but react to events that just happen to them. Gandalf is killed and resurrected for no adequately explored reason**. And, worst of all, his characters all sound very similar; he clearly didn't have the same ear for dialogue as many of his peers, like Wodehouse or Christie.

Meh. Wake me up when HBO spends their money on something a bit more original than a western, a cop show, or a Tolkienesque fantasy novel.

* "Gulliver's Travels", by Jonathan Swift. Terry Pratchett is arguably the closest modern equivalent, using his fantasy settings to send up Tolkien and society itself. Pratchett's earlier novels are very much straight parodies, but his later novels have cranked the satire lever all the way up to 12. And Swift was a lot more original about it too.

** The only way to get to their destination was to go through a dangerous disused underground citadel, full of nasty creatures? Presumably no trading was ever done between the two regions on either side of this mountain range.

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Re: "even the movies often fail to get the genre right."

Nice troll.

Game of thrones features some walking undead, a couple of eggs that hatch eventually, and a whole lot of men. Not an elf, orc, troll or dwarf in sight, other than normal human mutant Tyrion.

You may not like the series, but please try and at least read the show description next time.

And as for your criticism of Tolkein - you may have missed the part where they had to avoid going through the *very large open gap in the hills* where the main trade route went on the grounds that the big enemy army held the fortress in the middle of it. You may have seen the battle in the second film with the Ents recapturing it, it was fairly prominent.

The second side trip (through the paths of the dead to summon the Deus Ex Machina army) was done because there was indeed no trading between those two realms and hence no other way.

Oh, and as I understand it the oldest English novel is generally considered to be Robinson Crusoe from 1704, though Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur goes back to the fifteenth century.

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Re: "even the movies often fail to get the genre right."

"Game of thrones features some walking undead, a couple of eggs that hatch eventually, and a whole lot of men. Not an elf, orc, troll or dwarf in sight, other than normal human mutant Tyrion."

Whatever. I watched the first 10 minutes. I thought it sucked. At that point, my interest and commitment to researching this series ended; I see no point in debating the exact details of its fantasy universe; I know it's got dragons, it's magic, and the clichéd Medieval Costume Drama setting. That it's swapped orcs for some zombies is hardly anything to get excited about. Tolkien's Orcs were much the same thing anyway.

As for the trolls: referring to that tired old codswallop as the best tele-fantasy ever is trolling. Especially as it is well known that "The Clangers" > *. There's more charm, character, wit and—above all—originality in the first 10 minutes of that low-budget children's TV animation than I saw in the first ten minutes of "Game of Thrones".

"you may have missed the part where they had to avoid going through the *very large open gap in the hills* where the main trade route went on the grounds that the big enemy army held the fortress in the middle of it. You may have seen the battle in the second film with the Ents recapturing it, it was fairly prominent."

Riiiight. Because, of course, mountain ranges only have one end, going on forever and ever in the other direction. And going around the other way therefore wasn't an option, despite—you know—having access to horses. And elves. And Gandalf's flying friends. (You know: the ones who rescued him from Saruman, and the two Hobbits from the side of an exploding volcano at the very last minute like some wingéd Deus ex Machina.)

Or did the mighty Gandalf the Chromatically Challenged not consider any of those options?

Granted, the guy's only a 2000-year-old wizard. Maybe he had dementia.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "even the movies often fail to get the genre right."

"Whatever. I watched the first 10 minutes. I thought it sucked."

One of my mates has been going on about this programme for ages, and how good it is, and that I would love it. I finally, after a year, sat down to watch it in HD (and I like fantasy). I watched the first episode and thought the production was amazing (i.e. movie quality) - but when finished I just said - Meh! and haven't watched another one since.

It is down to taste I suppose - I don't think it sucked - I just didn't enjoy it at all, even though it is very well made.

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Stop

Re: "even the movies often fail to get the genre right."

Sean,

You don't like a lot of popular fantasy; fair enough.

You seem to want to:

a) convince the world that things they enjoy actually suck

b) redefine a genre into something less popular / different.

Telling people that, essentially, their tastes suck and yours are awesome isn't really a winning strategy. Nor is it going to make you any friends.

I guess my point is: grow up.

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