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“Game of Thrones” phenomenon begins a new season

Posted on April 23rd, 2012
Posted on April 23rd, 2012

by Coop Cooper

A year ago, the first season of “Game of Thrones” premiered on HBO and thus began a phenomenon, leading up to several season finale cliffhangers that had fans salivating for more. Now the second season (based on George R. R. Martin best-selling book series) has begun and so has the well-deserved hype for this outstanding series.

Like the series of books, the TV series takes place in a fictional Medieval world in which mythical creatures have vanished and the lords of “Westeros” battle to take over the “Iron Throne” after an insane king’s assassination causes a power vacuum. Many make claims and form alliances, but in this Machiavellian world, no one can be trusted. Only the Starks of Winterfell are honorable beyond reproach but murder and treachery from the more ambitious houses destroy and scatter their family. As these houses cut each others’ throats over power, an exiled princess plots to retake her kingdom with the help of exotic armies from the Far East… and once extinct dragons who obey only her commands. All the while a neglected, desperate order of monk soldiers guard a massive frozen barrier in the North in an effort to keep feral men, deadly mythical creatures and a zombie plague from invading the kingdom.

No character is safe in this series. Heroes are tortured or beheaded, innocent children are killed, women are violated and the bad guys often win. “Game of Thrones” has a cruel storyline that easily earns its “Mature Audiences Only” rating. Villains become heroes and heroes become villains, often making it hard to decide who to root for. However, when a favorite character narrowly escapes death or a vile villain (and there are many of them) meets a well-deserved end, the show becomes more satisfying than most feature films.

There are many characters to savor in this series: The cruel boy king Joffrey Baratheon who has a thirst for murder and his despicable mother Cersei who tries to restrain him. The illegitimate prince Jon Snow who becomes a swashbuckling warrior monk, fighting monsters in the North. The tomboyish pre-teen princess Arya Stark who escapes assassination to go on the run with thieves and pirates. The scheming prince Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf who has more cunning and honor than his entire corrupt family combined. The exiled teen heir Daenerys Targaryn who must train dragons and conquer an entire continent before she can return home to claim the throne… and many more.

The show juggles multiple story lines and characters which only increase in number as the series progresses. Because of this, characters are put on hiatus for frustratingly long periods of time. This isn’t as evident early on in the series, but will become more problematic as many more characters are inevitably added to the epic. Since each season of the show represents one book in the series, the producers and writers of the show will have an important decision to make in seasons 4 and 5 when the books, in turn, put half of the characters on hiatus. I suspect they will decide to merge these two novels and split the amalgamation into 2 seasons in order to follow all of the characters at once. Readers were disappointed with this baffling executive decision in the books, so the above scenario seems likely.

Game of Thrones” has already won 11 out of 41 major award nominations, including a “Best Actor in a TV series” Golden Globe for Peter Dinklage who plays the clever, womanizing dwarf Tyrion. Since the show has a very large budget and critical acclaim, I expect even more prestigious actors will join the already bustling cast of recognizable players in the seasons to come.

Even if you don’t have HBO (I don’t), now is a good time to catch up on “Game of Thrones” since the first season is now available on DVD.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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