I figured that it was about time that I check out Game of Thrones. So I got the Complete First Season and watched the first two episodes. These things are always nice in seeing old character actors who I admire, like Mark Addy as the king, and Iain Glen as some other guy who seemed okay until I learned he was caught selling slaves. Of course, I’m sure Addy is not long for the series, because the queen is having an incestuous affair with her brother. And the heir apparent seems like he came from the brother and sister and not the king and queen. And then there is Sean Bean, who is, as usual, marvelous. We can assume that he is not long for the series either, because he’s a star. But there’s something else: I saw a joke, I think on The Colbert Report, about how George R R Martin, the writer of the novels, takes a perverse thrill in killing off characters you like. So I’m sure the heir apparent is likely with us to the end.
Other than just feeling that I can only avoid popular culture for so long, I also watched the show because I’m a big fan of Peter Dinklage. And I know that he survives because he’s become the symbol of the show, the same way that Maggie Smith has for Downton Abbey. In the first two episodes, he is what pulls the whole thing along. He seems to have a great interest in Sean Bean’s bastard son, because, as he put it: dwarfs are always bastards to their fathers. I remember James Cameron mentioning that audiences like smart characters, and Dinklage is that. But because he is also a freak (he mentions that if he had not been born to royalty, they would have just left him in the woods to die as a baby), he has to be smart to keep alive. Oh, I guess I didn’t mention: he is the brother of the incestuous sister and brother.
Now if this all sounds very I, Claudius to you, then I’m with you. I’ve made it a point not to research Game of Thrones to find out what will happen and what Martin was thinking. But the heir apparent seems an awful lot like Caligula, there is very much the same kind of palace intrigue, and Dinklage is playing very much the Claudius role: the smart guy who everyone stupidly underestimates because of a birth defect. But unlike Derek Jacobi playing the stuttering Claudius, Dinklage gets the best lines. For example, in the second episode, the bastard son asks him why he reads, and Dinklage responds, “My brother has a sword, and I have my mind. And a mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone.” In addition to everything else, there’s a double entendre there because he clearly knows his brother is having sex with his sister the queen.
But the dialog is worth noting. Much of it is dreadful. But maybe it’s just me because more and more I find dialog wanting everywhere. It annoys me when I know how a sentence or a speech is going to end. And that’s also largely true of the plot. After an altercation between the heir apparent and a little girl who is basically the same character as the one in Brave, I thought, “Now you throw the sword in the stream.” Of course, she then did just that. And the end of the second episode was cut in such a cliched way. There is a little boy who was thrown from the window of the castle because he saw the brother and sister in flagrante delicto who is somehow in a coma for a month without food or water. His father is forced to kill a blameless wolf. So I thought, “Boy in bed with eyes closed, cut to father slitting the wolf’s throat, cut to boy whose eyes open, fade out.” Of course, that was exactly how they cut it. It’s effective, I’ve just seen this so much that I’m getting tired of it.
The art direction, costumes, lighting are all really good. And the acting is really great. Of course, it needs to be because it is all pretty silly. What’s more, many of the characters are cartoonish. The heir apparent, is especially so. At least with Richard III and Iago, you had actually brave men who were willing to do their own dirty work when necessary. Even Caligula wasn’t a coward. This character is over the top. And then there’s the incestuous couple, who have been copulating for decades and who still go at it like they are teenagers in love for the first time.
I can see why people love the show though. I’m not sure if I will watch any more of it. I already have a low opinion of human nature. Game of Thrones does not help.