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"Game of Thrones" - (Season - (1) - {Blu-ray}
Wayne Klein
Studio: HBO
TV - Series
Release Date:
Special Features:

See Below


Set in the imaginary Seven Kingdoms protected by an eight hundred foot wall where the Night Watch monitors the wild north for ancient, deadly creatures called the White Walkers, "Game of Thrones" nicely captures the feel of George R. R. Martin's popular fantasy series of novels. Lord Stark (Sean Bean) finds himself pulled unwillingly into the court intrigue of King Robert (Mark Addy)who Stark helped put into power after the Mad King Targaryen executed Stark's grandfather along with thousands of innocent women and children. The King insists that Stark take on the role of Hand of the King to administer and protect the Seven Kingdoms from, among other things, the heir apparent to the throne Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd)who pimps out his own sister (Emilia Clarke)for troops from Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa star of the forthcoming "Conan The Barbarian"). Stark finds himself at odds with the Queen's (Lena Headey)wealthy family including her brutal brother Jaime Lannister(Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who, interestingly enough, appeared in the film "Night Watch")cunning Tyrion (Peter Dinklage)who must survive by his wits because he is a dwarf in a world of warriors. ***

Series developers David Benioff (novelist and screenwriter of "The Kite Runner" and "Wolverine")and D.B. Weiss manage to stay true to what made Martin's marvelously detailed novels so popular with readers while making the show visually appealing to viewers. ***

I'm hoping that the show continues to develop in popularity so it doesn't face the same fate of "Rome", "Carnivale" and "Deadwood" all three shows that were rich in character development, plot and visually stunning shows that HBO cancelled without allowing them to fully develop. The ten episodes of the first season are filled with enough twists and turns for a 24 episode normal TV show. ---

Image & Sound:

The Blu-ray transfer looks marvelous with a detailed, sharp transfer. The depth to the images are remarkable. The colors range from cold to sunny and warm depending on which of the main characters and lands the sequence is set in. This is a demo quality transfer (there were a couple of minor issues that occurred banding but it's pretty minor and only occurs briefly in a couple of episodes). ***

Audio is outstanding with a strong lossless transfer. We also get subtitles in English and Spanish.

Special Features:

The special features are quite good--we get seven commentary tracks (there are ten episodes of the show)and, unlike a lot of commentary tracks, there's plenty of good information both on the shooting of the episode, how the episode fits into the season and the development of characters, etc. We also get "Episode Guides"--they provide a bit of trivia. "The Complete Guide to Westeros" gives us detailed information on the various families, maps, etc featured in the series. It's a nice interactive feature. ***

The "Character Profiles" features the actors playing the roles discussing their characters. *** "Anatomy of An Episode" gives us considerable insight from the beginning until the conclusion of production on the episode "A Golden Crown" one of the pivotal shows from the ten episode first season. ***

"Making 'Game of Thrones'" clocks in at around 30 minutes and is a good "behind-the-scenes" glimpse into the production of the series. As I recall much of this is repurposed from material available from the promo pieces and stuff at the website. ***

"The Night's Watch" gives us background on these characters and their mission to protect the realm that is drawn from the novels. ***

"Creating The Title Sequence" and "Creating The Dothaki Language" are interesting featurettes on the creation of the wonderful evocative opening sequence of the show as well as the langauge for the fierce Dothaki that will, later, be so important to the series. ***

We also get quite a few Easter Eggs included as part of this set.

Final Words:

The strong performances from Bean, Dinklage, Headey and others in the case make their characters rich, appealing, appalling and sympathetic at turns. The stylish direction and visually rich production design only add to the appeal of the series which has just begun to develop more of the fantasy elements towards the end of the first season. ***

I can recommend "Game of Thrones" based on viewing the HBO series and although I have no idea what special features HBO has for the Blu-ray or DVD set yet, even without those extras, this show is essential viewing.


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