Checking Out GoT

by Dave Schuler on April 9, 2014

Last week my cable provider had something they called “Watchathon” during which they offered full runs of a few premium cable programs at no charge on demand. I took the opportunity to check out Game of Thrones.

After watching a few episodes, I can understand how people could become obsessed by it. As some have characterized it, it’s sort of a mash-up between The Sopranos and The Lord of the Rings. Like any soap opera, you get involved in the characters and want to know what will happen next. It’s very lurid.

It has high production values, a mostly British cast and, consequently, solid acting, and great locations in Ireland, Scotland, Malta, Iceland, etc. The cast of regulars and extras is huge.

Although I can understand people becoming obsessed by it, it didn’t strike me that way, personally. Maybe I didn’t watch enough. Honestly, my tolerance for sex and violence in movies or television isn’t particularly high. I have a bit more tolerance for violence than for nudity and sex, simulated or otherwise, and there’s plenty of simulated sex in it of practically every variety.

My main issue with the program is that I just don’t care about the characters much. What some critics have characterized as “moral ambiguity” I see more as with few exceptions the characters are all shnooks. Either that or shlemiels. I have to care about the characters to watch episode after episode. I can’t imagine subscribing to HBO just to watch GoT.

It did make me more interested in reading the first novel in the series, though.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

PD Shaw April 9, 2014 at 4:27 pm

I think I saw the same promotion (Comcast) and thought about GoT myself, but I found out about the promotion on the late side and therw was something off-putting about the advertisement them of gorging oneself on TV. And in any event, I would like to read the series some day, when its finished.

I’ve been watching Vikings on the History Channel, which I think has some similarities, but with the possibility that some of it might be historic, though I think some of it is definitely not historic.

michael reynolds April 9, 2014 at 4:47 pm

I was a big fan of the first three books and watched the first season. But it was obvious in book 4 that GRR Martin had lost control of his story. Book 4 was a mess, and book 5 which he took quite a few years to write was a disaster.

This diminished my otherwise healthy interest in watching minor characters discussing trade disputes while naked lesbians cavort in the background on HBO. Like you, I lost interest because GRRM just cannot maintain a fix on major characters.

I have a couple of professional interests here. One being that had the pilot for GoT not been picked up, the producer’s next target was one of my series. So, sadly, GoT killed my TV series, at least at that point. (It has since been revived.)

Long-running series, or even trilogies, are very hard to pull off. In fact GoT was my ‘cautionary tale’ in writing the GONE series. I saw the bloat and the over-population of minor characters and learned from it. By book 4 of GoT the characters are just voguing — wandering around in search of a story.

I suspect GRRM writes the same way I do: create a premise, build a world, create characters, walk them forward scene by scene, figuring it out as you go along. It is extremely easy to lose your way, which is why if you look at his Amazon reviews he starts out with mid- 4.5 stars and declines to 3.5 as the series progresses. This is of course exactly what should not happen, since your launch book has no established reader base, but subsequent books do, meaning your reviewers are inclined to be more favorably-disposed.

I should say that I’m not speaking from schadenfreude or sense of superiority. We famously screwed up the ending to ANIMORPHS, so, been there, done that, hopefully learned a lesson.

PD Shaw April 9, 2014 at 4:53 pm

George RR Martin’s “Sandkings” was pretty good. A novelette, so not much room to wander.

michael reynolds April 9, 2014 at 5:18 pm

PD:

He’s a good writer and a really great world-builder.

Dave Schuler April 9, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Michael:

Do any of your series have enough naked lesbians cavorting in the background to make an HBO series?

michael reynolds April 9, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Sadly, no. I do more action (violence) than passion (sex.) I find sex scenes boring to watch and boring to write. There are some things in life that require direct participation.

Andy April 9, 2014 at 5:43 pm

Never watched the series, probably never will. I don’t watch much TV generally.

Andy April 9, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Oh, and if I happen to need cavorting lesbians – well, plenty of that on the internet.

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