Tag Archives: Game of Thrones

Reign: Addictive Fantasy Disguised As History

26 Jan

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Is it just me or is every new TV show this year staring an Australian. It’s almost as if Hollywood is bored with people from their own country. Pheobe Tonkin stars in The Originals, Sophie Lowe is Alice in Once Upon A Time in Wonderland and not one but two ex-Neighbours stars, star in Reign, the ridiculous new period drama from the CW. Reign is an incredibly cheesy and sexy tale of the early life of Mary Queen of Scots, played to camp and tasty perfection by our first neighbours alum Adelaide Kane.

Threatened by the English, from the moment of her birth, this attractive version of Mary has lived in a convent since she was 9. Then at 15 when another attempt is made upon her life, she is sent to live at the French court with her betrothed Prince Francis. Mary is happy to be back out in the world again and reunited with her four best friends and ladies in waiting, the sexiest of which is played our 2nd ex Neighbours alum the sultry Caitlin Stacey.

Things are looking rosy for Mary, until she learns from her future husband that their union is not certain. He will marry who he needs to, to protect his country and despite her extremely low cut bodices, it won’t necessarily be her. Things only get worse for Mary, as she realises the queen hates her and she develops a burning attraction to Francis’s illegitimate brother Sebastian. And of course no teen drama would be complete these days without a touch of the supernatural, so the show also has a bit of dark magic and fortune telling, the use of Nostradamus as a character, is a particular kind of cliched genius.

In another attempt to capture that ever fickle youth audience, Reign also takes a page out of Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, using modern music in the score, most bizarrely even at balls and dances. The costumes are also particularly drool worthy, if not completely historically inaccurate. Ranging from the 16th,17th,18th,19th and 21st Centuries, creating clothing from the time period is a deliberate non issue for this series and the result is perplexing and captivating. The clothes are so beautiful and flattering to each individual actor and actress, perhaps they decided that making everyone look hot was more important than any attempt at historical relevance.

While this show is clearly more fantasy than history, I admire it for not bothering with the elements of period drama that would stop it from being the excellent addictive trash it strives to be. This is a show that doesn’t want to be nominated for awards or garner critical acclaim. It doesn’t even want to accurately depict the history it’s based on. Mary Queen of Scots wouldn’t be wearing a Alexander McQueen gown.  She wouldn’t have smouldering sexual chemistry with the real life ugly and short prince Francis, and most of all she probably wouldn’t have been an extremely generous and giving person. But why let these facts stand in the way of some good trashy TV.

And that’s what this show is, excellent trashy television. There’s a new love triangle every week, the plot twists and turns enough to be unpredictable and the male leads are often shirtless.  This show is the perfect antidote to far too many series focused on murderous royalty with complex personalities, e.g. Game of Thrones, The Tudors and The White Queen. Sure those shows are perfect when you want intrigue, action and gore.  But sometimes I like my TV to be simple and my characters to be likeable and on those days I watch Reign.

Game of Thrones Season 2: The Problem With Adaptation

7 Aug

Now everyone knows that I loved season one of ‘Game of Throne’ but did season 2 live up to the hype. First let me say that season two is not up to the same calibre as season one but I don’t believe this has anything to do with its writers, I think the books are entirely to blame. Adaptation is always tough ask and the new trend of adapting book series into TV shows is untested and bound to hit a few hurdles. Given this would still say that adapting the 2nd book of George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire book series is almost mission impossible. The second book ‘A Clash of Kings’ brings in a whole new set of characters, largely ignores many of the old ones and has story lines taking place in over seven locations, not exactly adaptation gold.

First off let me start by stating for the record that I haven’t read the books. I have been told that the show is a lot easier to understand if you read the books and hopefully someday I will, however I am a firm believer that an adaptation should be able to stand on it’s own. It should not act like a petulant child and keep running back to it’s source material and yelling that if you’d read it, it would make sense. It either works or it doesn’t, there is no half way.

So lets begin with problem number one, too many new characters.  While it is customary to introduce a few new characters in a second season that amount is usually limited to around 3 or 4. Look at an older program like ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ new characters in season two Spike, Drusilla, Oz and maybe Kendra, clear concise easy to remember. But with HBO’s new generation of television with endless budgets and source material to keep in mind cast numbers have really started to multiply. True Blood for example introduced at least 8 or 9 new characters in its second season and the numbers are going up every year. However this year ‘Game of Thrones’ really took the crown and thanks to its insane source material was given the great task of introducing around 40 new characters. This number doesn’t include the numerous characters they put off introducing until season three since they thought it might be too much. I think it’s a little late for that.

While some of the new characters are great and well worth the introduction others I could have done without. I am sure they were vital to the source material but when if you can’t figure out what’s happening, does that really matter. It was getting particularly difficult to keep all the men of the Night’s Watch straight, yet I really enjoyed the Wildling Caster and his disturbing wives/daughters. Similarly Stannis Baratheon and his many followers were very confusing. Although the naked pregnant Red Priestess Melisaandre of Asshai was a bit of highlight even if occasionally I’d like to forget it.

While there are many many more characters the most memorable for me are Jaqen H’ghar and Brienne of Tarth. Jaqen’s  gruesome mentor relationship with my favorite character Arya was a pleasure to watch. While Brienne’s conversation in the last episode with Ser Jaime Lannister had excellent chemistry and can only mean great things for the pair in season 3. Unfortunately all the fantasy genre names don’t help matters when you are trying to remember who people are. This massive onslaught of characters made watching the program an exhausting experience and I was often only able to watch one episode before I gt tired and switched to less taxing material.

Big problem number two locations. Sewing together stories with so many locations is extremely difficult. The beautiful and mythical Quarth with Daenerys Targaryen, The Iron Islands with the very irritating Theon Greyjoy, Winterfell, King’s Landing and over The Wall in Wildling country, there are more but I can’t remember them. Again books are limitless and can tell stories from hundreds of locations but TV has a different format and the changing locations and short scenes so as to fit everyone in really got  grating.

By trying to fit all these stories in, the season never really seemed to get going, the flow was affected and the meat the story was never really gotten to. When you have too much material you spend too much time setting things up and not enough time exploring. This being said the most effective exploration of character this year was that of Tyrion Lannister his journey from a clever manipulator in season 1 into a great leader and hero in season two is the clearest and best written character arch of the season.

Ending off on a personal note I found it really hard to finish watching season two. Devouring season one is less that an week, I stopped watching season two mid way through full of confusion and irritation and couldn’t go back. Feeling lost and bored I wanted to give up, until both my brother and good friend encouraged me to keep going. I’m glad a I did and found the last couple of episodes particularly the penultimate great viewing. Keep that in mind when you feel like giving up but if you do, I don’t blame you, this adaptation is a lot to handle.

Game of Thrones

14 Dec

OK, OK, I know I’m a little behind on this one but hey the blood and guts put me off for a time. Sometimes I get scared to start shows so I never do, lucky in the case of “Game of Thrones” I over came my fear to find my favourite new TV show. The first episode almost convinced me I was right, there was indeed a lot of blood, fighting, boobs similar to the opening episodes of ‘The Tudors’ and ‘The Pillars of the Earth’. Neither which created a fan in me. But ‘Game of Thrones’ had something else, heart.

Unlike ‘The Tudors’ where I couldn’t care less what happened to Henry the 8th, I mean who, would he’s a womanizing power hungry douche, I cared about the characters in ‘Game of Thrones’. I understood Lord Stark, he didn’t want to leave his family, he loved his wife, but he had to honor his king. It was all very likable and relatable. Sure blood and guts but heart as well.

Another great thing about “Game of Thrones” is it has great female characters. A lot of medieval dramas lack in the heroine department, relegating women to the roles of sluts and mother sometimes both but not “Game of Thrones”.  Lady Stark and her daughters are strong women doing their best to survive in a brutal world with grace, individuality and a fighting spirit.

And who could forget ‘Game of Thrones’ crowning glory, Peter Dinklage, the best character in the entire show and the coolest, wittiest most insightful character on TV in 2011. If you don’t like anything else you will love Peter Dinklage. What it is like to be a dwarf in medieval times is fascinating. “Better to be a rich cripple than an poor cripple”.

My only complaint about the series is remedied early, as everyone up until the 3rd episode seems to have unappealing sex generally from behind but as the sex gets more personal and story driven, that is no longer the case.

So if you haven’t already seen it, get it now, get the DVD, download it, just do it, you won’t regret it.