what i watched last week
i need to pick up a few more diseases

game of thrones and a little borgias

Only just now catching up with two highly-promoted new series. Both of them do a good job of representing their respective channels … Game of Thrones is a complex character drama with action set in a detailed fantasy world that is nonetheless quite believable, The Borgias is history in the Cecil B. DeMille tradition of fucking, violence, and more fucking.

The Borgias is the new Tudors, which hopefully means it will be compulsively watchable in a trashy sort of way. Jeremy Irons plays Pope Alexander VI as if he were channeling Boris Karloff, Derek Jacobi gets killed off far too early, and lots of young ladies turn up in various states of nakedness. There will be intrigue, and fucking, politics, and fucking, religion, and fucking … well, you get the idea.

Game of Thrones, on the other hand, overflows with ambition. As others have noted, the series must accommodate two types of audiences, one comprised of people that love the books, and one comprised of people that had never heard of the books until the series commenced. I’m in the latter category, which means I expect to be confused about who did what to whom. But the first episode did a fine job of getting newbies started (I have no idea how it played to those already familiar with the story, although the reviews are generally positive at worst). This is not my genre … I don’t know if I’ve ever read a fantasy novel, not even Tolkien (but that didn’t stop me from loving Peter Jackson’s take on those books). But HBO has a track record of making superb genre studies: The Wire, The Sopranos, Deadwood, Rome, Treme, Sex and the City, Oz. They get the benefit of the doubt at the start. I found the premiere intriguing, and I look forward to future episodes. It has the potential to be one of the top series of its time. Having said that, at the moment, I’d probably only call it the second-best TV series on Sunday nights, after The Killing.

Comments

Divinity

Nicely said. I'm only taking on one epic at a time right now and Game of Thrones was the only candidate for that spot this season. Added HBO just for the series. As a member of the book-loving camp, it was the ideal adaptation. Casting, script, set, atmosphere and pace was perfect. They were able to introduce the various plotlines and characters in meaningful ways. Lena Headey makes a weird-looking blonde to me but I can see how they are trying to delineate between the Lannister blonde and the Targaryen white-blonde trait. And I could've predicted the scene they would end the premiere on from my first reading of the book. I clearly remember I put the book down at that page and called my friend (long-distance) who had recommended the series to me and asked him what the hell had compelled him to send me in the direction of this series.

Steven Rubio

One review I read (I'd link but I've forgotten which one it was, there were so many!) noted that scene as one way TV series are different from books. If you read the book, and the scene occurred and you wondered what happened next, you just turned the page. On TV, we have to wait a week.

Divinity

True but I think I've always equated "page-turner" and "cliff-hanger" in my head since books and tv were equally responsible for my formative years' entertainment. As a reader, I guess I feel less anxiety and more curiousity. I think the book-lovers might be looking for little in-jokes as the show unfolds as well.

I'm loving the casting. Dani's my absolutely favourite character and although they're playing her younger (and Sansa is visually more mature) it's working for me.

Divinity

Breaking news: Game of Thrones officially renewed for Season 2. :D

Patrick Ellis

ok, I guess I'll have to check it out. I'm not one for bombastic historical costume dramas, and that's the way I read the trailers, but given HBO's track record I was wondering if I wasn't being too harsh. This is enough for me to tip me over to give it a try.

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