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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Holly: “Game of Thrones”…no verdict yet

Let me start by saying I did not read the books. Please don’t write to me and explain that if I’d only read such-and-such I would understand such-and-such. I didn’t, and I bet HBO is assuming 97% of its audience hasn’t either. If a book can’t stand alone as a movie, it shouldn’t be a movie. Having said that, the show did a decent job introducing the players, even if I couldn’t tell you any of their names.

The premiere opened with a lot of promise as a dark medieval drama. That would have been a great show and we’d be having a very different conversation right now. There’s a lot of period drama out there right now, but not much period suspense. The show opens with a snowy, spooky forest, monsters, and plenty of legitimate scares. I actually did my patented “mute the TV because it’s not as scary that way” move which is reserved for the best fright moments.

And then, just when I’m ready to set my DVR to record the series permanently…we get a completely different show. Somehow we go from medieval horror film to Camelot soap opera. We meet Noble Viking Family #1, Evil Lanyard Ken and Barbie, a very disturbing white-haired duo, and of course, the always entertaining Peter Dinklage.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love period soap operas, I really do. But I’m already watching several of those. I was excited for something different, and when that hope shattered in the second scene, I was disappointed only because they’d raised my expectations. So now that we know it’s a standard medieval soap opera, let’s deal with it on its level.

I can support Noble Viking Family #1 and they’re probably the reason I will try Episode 2. The shocking end to Episode 1 will change the dynamics for this loving family. This could either elevate the show or destroy it depending on how they progress. And yes, I know the illegitimate son thing has been done a million times before, but I’m still a sucker for the earnest outcast even if the show felt it necessary to remind us 15 times that he’s a bastard child. (We figured that out from the first lingering gaze between him and Step-Mom. Then confirmed it with the wolves. Then, just in case you still didn’t get it, we discussed it another 10 times to make sure we got the hint. Don’t worry, I’m still cool with it and cheering for our strong-but-melancholy-young-man-who-just-wants-to-make-something-of-himself.)

I could do without the creepy white-haired duo though. As if their incest moment right out of the gate wasn’t uncomfortable enough, they decide to cast an actress that looks like everyone’s 14-year-old niece. Look, I get that we were SUPPOSED to be uncomfortable with that storyline. I get that we were supposed to be disturbed by her “wedding night scene” with the
“Baywatch” guy. Just because I get it, doesn’t mean I want to see it. I have a pretty open mind and strong stomach when it comes to stretching my perceptions for fiction done well, but this pair could be a deal-breaker for me and this show. I’ll give it another shot and see where they’re headed, but if I have to watch barely pubescent doe-eyed girl get graphically used and abused by everyone around her much longer, we will have a problem.

I know this review seems unfocused and void of strong opinions either way, but that’s actually the perfect reflection of my feelings on the show. The verdict is still out on this one. It didn’t immediately capture me like “Camelot” did; it didn’t repel me with surprising indifference like “Boardwalk Empire” either. I’ll give it another shot and hope for more Peter Dinklage. Speaking of which, if you’re curious about the incredible acting chops of this recognizable star, check out “The Station Agent.” There’s no indifference about that movie.

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