For no other program do I so greatly anticipate each new episode as I do Game of Thrones. For those unfamiliar with the series, it is the TVification of George R R Martin’s A Song of Ice And Fire series of novels, with each fairly-chunky book being massaged into 10 hour-long episodes.
The novels cover the fictional world of Westeros (clearly based on medieval England) and has two main plots – the first covers the various factions fighting for supreme leadership of the country, and the second covers the impending long winter and the perils that it will bring. Within these plots we follow the personal tales of many, many characters, from the royalty to the prostitutes. It gets incredibly complex at times, trying to remember all the various names, faces and events, especially as there is a whole heap of history that predates the period covered in the books/TV series, which you are expected to memorise.
It’s intensely rewarding watching though, partly because there are frequent untelegraphed plot twists which leave you reeling. No character is immune, not even your favourite, and I fully expect the whole shebang to finish with a solitary unnamed farmhand stood over a continent of corpses, King of Westeros by dint of being the last man standing, before a tree falls on him and kills him.
There was some criticism about the frequent, gratuitous nudity in early series, so this has been reigned in a bit. Which is a shame. However, every now and then you get an episode that’s positively brimming with boobs and cocks and arses, so consistency clearly isn’t the goal here.
Thanks to the huge number of characters, there are a wide variety of themes running throughout. Some people are at war, some are playing the political game, some are out for revenge, some are just trying to look after their family. Some are spoiled, some are poor, some are free, some are captive, some are learning to be brave, some are learning to be humble. This is a program that would be quite difficult to jump into halfway through.
One of the main challenges with Game of Thrones in the UK is getting hold of it legitimately. If you have Sky Atlantic, then you can watch it the day after it is broadcast in the US, otherwise you have to wait for the DVD release. And then, of course, there’s always the other way.