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May 16, 2011 - Image 9

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2011-05-16

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Monday, May 16, 2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

9

.HBO winter makes a good summer

'Game of Thrones'
sets the hallowed
stage for epic battles
By KAVI SHEKHAR PANDEY
DailyArts Writer
When you purchase a premier
brand, be it a Rolex watch or Burb-
erry scarf, there is an assurance
that it will be a top-of-the-line
product because
of the consistent,
proven excel-
lence of their GamOf
brand names.
So when a new Throne
drama premieres Midseason
on ITBO, the review
most hallowed
of all televi- Sundays at
sion acronyms, 10 p.m.
it is expected to
*include a tremen- HBO
dous selection
of thespians, stunning produc-
tion values, enigmatic characters,
clever plot twists and a blitzkrieg

of bare breasts. And indeed, "Game
of Thrones" resoundingly delivers
on all these fronts.
Based on "A Song of Fire and
Ice," George R.R. Martin's series of
fantasy novels, "Game of Thrones,"
thrusts us into the action at the
fictional land of Westeros, where
the Hand of the King (the prime
minister) has died. King Rob-
ert Baratheon (Mark Addy, "A
Knight's Tale) convinces his child-
hood friend Ned Stark (Sean Bean,
"Lord of the Rings") to become
the new Hand, much to the ire
of the queen, Cersei Lannister
(Lena Headey, "The Sarah Connor
Chronicles") and her twin brother
Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau,
"New Amsterdam") who are qui-
etly making a power play for the
throne. On top of these internal
perils, the Targaryen family, who
Robertunseated in a rebellion, is
busy making strategic alliances in
exile, thirsty to reclaim the throne.
And oh yeah, a horde of mystical
woodland creatures are probably
going to come murder everyone
once the seasons change.

Needless to say, there's a
lot going on within "Game of
Thrones," and that's even exclud-
ing the dozens of crucial charac-
ters and subplots unmentioned
in the plot summary. It even begs
the question: Is such a sprawling,
labyrinthine story even capable of
being adapted for television?
The first episode certainly
didn't inspire much confidence,
introducing character after char-
acter and one new storyline after
another without any sense of con-
text - akin to walking into a play
in the middle of the first act.
But five episodes in, with all
the players established, "Game
of Thrones" has settled into an
impeccable groove: a hyper-seri-
alized structure demanded by a
narrative this dense. The episodes
now flow effortlessly from sub-
plot to subplot, shrewdly paus-
ing to allow tender moments and
extended dialogues, illuminat-
ing relationships that will predi-
cate the events to come. Take the
final scene of the third episode, a
lengthy sequence in which Ned

silently observes as his daughter is
trained in sword fighting. Beaming
with pride, Ned's simple expres-
sion encapsulates his boundless
love for his daughter, the kind of
scene that leaps a show from good
to great.
Adding to the greatness is the
bumper crop of captivating char-
acters that have metamorphosed
from their stock cocoons in the
initial episodes. Ned, the show's
de-facto protagonist, has had to
reluctantly place his duty toward
the king over the desires of his
family and himself. On the oppo-
site end of the moral spectrum is
Jamie Lannister (played by the
squarest jaw on television since
Josh Holloway), an avaricious,
murderous bastard that just can't
wait to be king and who has been
graced with motivations for his
nefarious deeds. But the magic
lamp in the Cave of Wonders has
to be Tyrion Lannister (Peter Din-
klage, "The Station Agent"), the
debaucherous dwarf brother of
Jamie and Cersei. Bursting with
charm, Tyrion compensates for his

vertical limitations with incred-
ible wit and surprising insight.
And of course, it's all very
pretty. HBO has quite obviously
thrown millions of dollars at this
production and the result is the
most lavish sets and costumes
since "Lord of the Rings" - one
can only simmer with anticipation
at how grand the inevitable battle
scenes will be.
Yet, these major expenditures
bring up a major concern. HBO has
anastyhistory ofcancelingdramas
thatwere too costly, no matter how
popular they were. "Deadwood"
was left unresolved and "Rome"
was rushed to the end, nearly ruin-
ing its legacy. Could a similar fate
befall "Game of Thrones" after
hours of emotional investment?
After a mild start, "Game of
Thrones" has reached its expected
excellence, more than living up to
the HBO name. Various characters
on the show ominously proclaim,
"winter is coming," and as we
delve into summer, don't miss out
on what winter in Westeros will
entail.

40

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