GAME OF THRONES (HBO, Sundays, 8pm CST)
Over the years, many books have been made into movies. Most pale in comparison because the movie versions lack the details that provide most of the meat in the literary form. The film maker is forces to pick choose what details and even whole scenes are important enough for their picture. Often, these inevitable cuts end up watering down the book as a whole. Figure in the often inexplicable changes the film maker decides to go with for whatever purpose, and the movie is sometimes barely recognizable in comparison.
There are film makers who work very hard to remain as true to the books as possible. The biggest hurdle to this is that it is very difficult to trim an 800-page book into two or three hours. Typically, one page of a screenplay roughly equals one minute of film. The math is simple; there is too much content that has to be eliminated. That is why the movie is seldom better the book.
What would be the result if a film maker had ten hours to work with? This is an intriguing question and one that HBO and creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss had an answer for. The result is brilliant. Benioff and Weiss took a best selling fantasy classic and made it into an HBO series.
The book A Game of Thrones is actually the first book in an expected 7-volume fantasy series called A Song of Fire and Ice by George R. R. Martin, but the creators wisely ditched the unwieldy series name and went with the more popular designation, Game of Thrones. Benioff and Weiss decided to make that first book into 10 season one episodes. Armed with the luxury of time, they produced a visually stunning, brilliantly filmed, superbly acted, true-to- the-book masterpiece.
The HBO series took its time telling this rich story of political intrigue, friendships, betrayals, villains, heroes, sex, and violence in stunning detail. The television version follows the book faithfully, with only a few scenes invented. Most of these are not so much invented as maybe extended or expanded. Most are to highlight a fact merely hinted at in the book. As with most popular science fiction or fantasy books, this series has its far share of “fanboys” who jump all over any details changed from the books. I imagine that even the most rabid fanboys have to be thrilled with this series.
The first season was incredible and I have watched it a couple of times already. I have been impatiently anticipating the second season, based on the second book Clash of Kings, which picks up right where the first book and season leave off. The second book is longer and even more textured, layered, and detailed than the first, with more battles and more intrigue than the first book. The scope is wider and more intense as well. The creators have their work cut out for them to use their editing power as precisely as a surgeon wielding a scalpel. At this point, I have complete trust they will get it right as they show as much love and dedication to the books as Peter Jackson did with The Lord of the Rings.
Game of Thrones is filled with knights and kings, battles and wars, sibling rivalry, lies and truths, life and death, and dragons. These are all key ingredients to the classic fantasy genre and this is one of the best written series of all time. George R.R. Martin is a brilliant author whose imagination is without limits. His eye for detail is precise and there are never dull or slow parts of his books. The one annoying flaw Martin has is that he is an unforgivably slow writer. It took him 11 years to write the 3rd and 4th books, and they take place simultaneously and cover a myriad of characters and places. While I sincerely hope HBO is able to continue this undoubtedly expensive project through to the end, I harbor major doubts that Martin can keep up. I am hoping that the production of the show will quicken his writing.
If you get HBO, the series is must viewing. If you don’t, at some point, buy the DVD set. It is worth the money. It has everything anyone could want in entertainment – action, drama, horror, comedy, sex, blood – on top of perfect acting, writing, and production. As can be expected of an HBO series, it is not for children and would carry an R rating in the theater. As a fan of the books, I couldn’t be happier with the results of the program. Season two started just this last week and I am eager for the next episode. You can catch up On Demand. This is must watch TV if ever there was such a thing.
Catch up with my sports blog at jawssportsandstuff.com and read up on small market baseball teams at bigbrotherbaseballproject.com and follow me on twitter to get updates for all of the blogs.