As we gear up for the premier of HBO's Game of Thrones and our weekly coverage partnership with Westeros.org, we'd like to get you started with the Westeros editorial team's first impressions of episodes 1-6! That's right, they got to see them first, and we can all bleed jealously. The following review is spoiler-FREE, so proceed with reckless abandon!
The following review was originally posted on Westeros.org on April 3
Before we launch into our general impressions of the first six episodes of Game of Thrones, some disclaimers.
First, the episodes are not complete—ADR, color grading, VFX, music, and sometimes even credits are still temporary—though the very first episodes seem much nearer to complete than the final episode.
Secondly, as “superfans”, Linda and I have been in some fashion involved in the fan community, the re-reading, the discussion, the news reporting and article writing, almost every day of our lives for the past twelve years or so—we have been about as immersed in the books as anyone not named George R.R. Martin can get. This gives us a perspective that is certainly very different from that of the new viewer unfamiliar with the books, probably very different from all of the professional critics (who have, none the less, been very positive so far about what they’ve seen), and even rather different from that of many other devoted fans of the novels. It’s very hard to divorce our views from our knowledge of what the story is in the novels, to try and imagine how it plays for those unfamiliar with it, so we’ll not make much effort to do that.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: visually, this is a feast for the eyes. From the stunning main title (bank on an Emmy award nomination next year) to the closing credits, you’re treated to the epic, expansive sweep of Westeros; the tall castles, the knights in armor, the glittering courts, the rugged landscape, its all there. The production has not been afraid to put their own stamp on things—their conception of the Red Keep is a fantastical construction, the Eyrie is even more incredibly sited than what’s described in the books—but there’s definitely a real sense of this place being a world of wondrous vistas.
We might quibble about some details, about some of the general choices made in regard to arms and armor, or clothing (this is probably the area of the production where we have the most reservations; it’s well-done, but it has the strongest feel of changes having been made for the sake of the changes), but on the whole it’s simply amazing that so much effort was put into those details in the first place. There are tiny details that 95% of the viewing audience won’t even notice, but they’re there because the production believes they ought to be. The visual effects are eye-popping, as you can imagine, as are the practical effects (expect blood pumping out of a few severed throats here and there).
Musically, we can say less at this stage. Combined with the amazing title, the main theme by Ramin Djawadi is our favorite of the pieces of the music for the show. It, too, captures the epic sweep of the setting, and so is a perfect match for A52’s title design. One thing we believe we’ve noticed is that one common idea fans had—that each character should have a distinctive theme, something as a nod to the POV structure of the novels—does not seem to be Djawadi’s approach. Pieces of music are much more tied into the events happening rather than the characters they involve.
There are some events that don’t seem to be getting any music at all—the fight on the high road was one that stood out—but because of the incomplete nature of the episodes (particularly the later ones), we’re not sure if this is how it’ll be when these episodes actually air. So far, the music that does happen within the episodes is generally more atmospheric, and we have to say, nothing other than the main title has so far struck us as particularly memorable; but then, music that helps set an atmosphere isn’t necessarily intended to be remembered, but to support the action, so this may be a good thing depending on your perspective.