Westeros, Take Me Away!

I don’t talk a lot about television. I don’t watch a lot of television…but as their long-running and successful marketing slogan says, "It’s not tv, it’s HBO".  There has been no better example of that than this past season. The Fall gave us "Boardwalk Empire" and in the Spring we were gifted with "Game of Thrones". 

Even if you don’t have HBO, you are probably aware of both of these exceptional new series. "Boardwalk Empire" dominated last year’s Emmy Awards and "Game of Thrones" is poised to be its only real competition this year.

Aside from their obvious differences, what these two shows have in common, other than their network, is that they are both made with high-gloss cinematic production values. Each episode is like a mini theatrical film, rather than episodic television. Both shows are worthy of one’s time and attention for the hour a week that they air, certainly, but they also inspire loyalty and devotion in their fan bases, "Game of Thrones" in particular. Not even the the long running entries in the Star Trek canon have developed as rabid a following, and in so short a time. After four years in development, the show was renewed for a second season after only its second episode.

"Game of Thrones" had a built-in audience certainly. George R. R. Martin’s books upon which the show is based, are extremely popular and his readers are some of the most loyal for any genre. When the latest book, "A Dance With Dragons", was released earlier this summer, people camped out days in advance for a chance to get into a signing.  Part of that was no doubt sparked by the popularity of the HBO series, but many had been doing that since just after the 2nd book was released. (There are currently five, of a planned seven, in print)

I have not read the books. I came to the series based on the cast, the subject matter and the previews that were shown prior to the premiere. I have neither the space, nor the inclination to rehash the whole of the first season. The plot is too dense, there are too many characters deserving of vivid description and there are countless places on the web for you to find all the information you could possibly want, including spoilers for the second season, if that’s your desire.  My intention was to provide just a little background before I show you this phenomenal special effects reel.

I don’t need a reason to listen to the soaring theme music (which was inexplicably overlooked for an Emmy nomination. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. The score for How to Train Your Dragon failed to win an Academy Award last year. No, I’m still not over it.  Although the show did garner an impressive 13 other nominations, one GLARING absence was Sean Bean for Best Actor in a Drama for Eddard Stark. Bean had the role of his career. After a lifetime of playing villains, with the possible exception of Boromir, Bean was cast as a genuine hero and he devoted body and soul to playing him. All of Ned’s joys and sorrows, the whole of his life, could be seen in Bean’s craggy and weathered visage. Would his fate have resonated as far and wide as it did, if he had given it less?) But I digress…back to the clip.

Basically it’s a little more than three minutes of something being created from nothing with the aids of CGI and green screens and the actors who are able to imagine that they see what we will eventually see, all set to the lush, majestic strains of that incredible music. It does what such music is supposed to do, it stirs the emotions and sets the "theme" for what we’re about to see and it perfectly compliments the incredible, evolving opening title sequence. (Which was nominated for an Emmy. They got that one right. They also got right, very right, Peter Dinklage’s nomination for Supporting Actor for Tyrion Lannister. Sorry, another digression…)

The opening credits:

Sean Bean talks about Ned (with that Yorkshire accent…*swoon*):

And did you honestly think I was going to do a Game of Thrones post with absolutely NO Khal Drogo? Pffffft.

Game of Thrones season 2 is expected to air in the Spring of 2012.

8 responses to “Westeros, Take Me Away!

  1. Can’t Wait for My DVD of GoT Season 1!!

    Gorgeous music, incredible visuals and an amazing cast. Wow. I guess I’ll have to sign up for HBO before the second season starts. Thanks for the terrific overview!

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