"I am at a loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be truly disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man."

06 March 2012

Winter is Mine

Game of Thrones: Series 1 Bluray Review

First off, I want to praise the shipping processes of release date guarantee sites. My blurays got here in record time. Record. High praise indeed.

I was so excited when these got here, I may have scared my co-workers...

If you want links to in-depth analysis of the discs and their features, I recommend Tower of the Hand or Winter Is Coming. Generally, I recommend those sites for any and all wishing to gain further knowledge of the ASoIaF universe.
If you want a fangirlish assessment by someone currently head-over-heels for the series who is chomping at the bit for series two to arrive on screens, I'm here for you.

For ease of following my general squeals of delight, Imma break this down into sections:
1. Episodes
I don't have swanky HDTV. Yet even in standard definition the blurays look gorgeous. From Bran's freckles to swirling snowstorms at the Wall, to gruesome blood-spatters, it's all there in detailed glory.
1.1 Commentaries
I haven't made it through all the commentaries yet (I know, I suck for not being able to devote every waking hour to watching these, but sadly my life and soul-sucking day job do not allow me freedom to watch my favorite shows for money, twenty-fours hours a day). However, I did watch episodes three (Lord Snow) and four (Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things).
Episode three starts with the actors who play Bran, Arya and Sansa doing their own version of the opening titles (including the HBO logo), which is just damned adorable. Especially Isaac (Bran), who just won't let it go. The kids are sharp (especially Maisie / Arya), but still silly and obviously learning -- and in genuine awe of how good their adult castmates are. They definitely play up a bit trying to make sure they all get their comments in on everything, even if it's just one of them adding, "yeah, I know."
Episode four delves in with the writer for that episode (who started off as the showrunners' assistant) as well as swoon-worthy Kit Harington AKA Jon "You Know Nothing... Except How to do the Lord's Kiss" Snow. Huge points for both lauding the Sharpe series during one of Sean Bean's scenes. There's a remark made about Sean being the anchor for series one, which he absolutely is. Makes me wonder, though, who will anchor the series this season. Also, random factoid: Kit Harington has a phobia of things touching his neck which we learn from the extremely unpretty death of Sir Hugh of the Vale.

2. Character Profiles
These little snippets were, I believe, shown on HBO(.com) leading up to and during season one. It's nice to have a little examination of each major character from the perspective of the actors playing them. I would have liked a bit from either of the Mormonts and/or Maesters Luwin, Pycelle and Aemon, but none of them play significant roles in the first two episodes so I sort of get it. For anyone who's read the books, Richard Madden speaking of Robb's relationship with Jon Snow is quite powerful. Hopefully, there will be more of these as the seasons go on and we get introduced to yet more major characters.

3. Guide to Westeros
NERD ALERT! These little featurettes done in motion comic style provide the uninitiated with some of the very detailed history of GRRM's world. From the long ago to the events that start episode one, from history to religions to the great houses and beyond. As one delves further into these snippets, many are narrated by characters from some of the major houses, relating the perspective of that house on the events of the past. Particularly interesting to note are the POVs regarding Robert's Rebellion, and Tywin Lannister's less than favourable opinion of the Wall and the men of the Night's Watch. For those who have read the books, it's a convenient review of events and information disseminated throughout the books in piecemeal bits.
The only piece which lacks are the sections on the houses and their members / lieges / households / etc. These are just paragraphs of description where I feel like they could have devoted short 1-2 minute segments to each character either with video or a combo of that and the motion comics.

4. In-Episode Guides
The only feature so far I'm not a fan of... had it been illustrated or video cutaways or inserts during the episodes, I might have enjoyed it. As is, the couple sentences of exposition given on any selection isn't of much note, and I think only folks with a 55+ inch HD telly would be able to easily decipher the tiny writing.

5. Anatomy of an Episode: A Golden Crown
It's like in-vision commentary on crack. A toned-down version of this is what the in-episode guides needed. There are occasional full-stops in the episode to talk about the location or the set which seem a bit odd but are understandable as they don't have to do with the action at hand. Still, the concept of a making-of special / episode commentary within the episode itself is really cool. I hope they do more of these as the seasons continue.

6. Making of Game of Thrones
Fun little making of special overview. Nothing astonishing in terms of knowledge, though the interviews with GRRM are cool. Hearing the cast reactions to the sets, locations, costumes, and overall depth of the production makes my fangirl heart soar knowing they're as awed by it all as us uberfans are.

7. Creating the Dothraki Language
A neat little bit on the creation of the language. Jason Momoa, imho, should only speak Dothraki. Also, Iain Glen somehow slips into sounding like a chav when he says 'really crap.'

8. Creating the Show Open
A cool piece on the ideas behind crafting the amazing title sequence.

9. From Book to Screen
Basically a shorter edition of the Making Of special, but with more GRRM.

10. The Night's Watch
I love me some black brothers action. This is a nice acknowledgment of the one place in the seven kingdoms where EVERYTHING is different in terms of weather, adversaries, class standing, fighting, friendship, and loyalty.

The title menus for each disc are exactly the same, and other than the starting episode there's no indication on the disc menu of how many episodes are on a particular disc. This makes navigating the special features pretty aggravating. This would be a lot more tolerable except there's no guide in the enclosed booklet either. The only indication of what episodes are on each disc is printed on the discs themselves, which doesn't help much when you're over excited to see all the special features and have a two second memory for anything not related to them (or if you toss all the discs in a multi-disc player). At least with similar collections (I'm gonna just use the extended LotR DVDs as an example), even if navigating the features with the disc menus is a bit difficult, there's a guide map in the booklet to show you what features each disc contains and where to access it.
As stated before, the guide to Westeros section is amazing, except where it decides to just be written paragraphs. If you're going to go for it on these bits, then go for it like you did with the other sections.
While the making of specials are cool overall, it would be nice for a little more behind the scenes action in them. There's a lot of talking head bits, but not much of the off-screen interactions between actors, crew, directors, designers, etc. which, to me, is always more fun than just everyone talking about how they crafted this cool thing, and how grand it is to be working on the series. This would be a point where the crafters of special materials for the DVDs could take note of behind the scenes stuff from LotR and a myriad of British series (see Merlin and Doctor Who for two good current examples).
The only other minus, and I get that while filming these there was probably a gag order on everyone not to reveal major plot points, is that it would be nice to hear more from the cast and creators about their thoughts on some of those events. No book spoilers needed (and I actually love the decorum both Sophie (Sansa) and Kit (Jon Snow) show when talking about certain scenes during the commentary and speaking of events in the book without really giving anything away. I just happen to be one of those wacky people who assumes if you buy a movie or show on DVD that you've seen it before you start delving into the special bits, so a bit of a nod to those of us who know what's going on would be appreciated.

Dragon Eggs:
They're here... somewhere. I'm too lazy to sift through arrow buttons to find them (I tried a bit on a couple discs, to no avail), but when someone wants to point me to them I will happily seek them out.

All in all, it's a really good set and I encourage anyone who watched the series or hasn't seen it yet to get it. The show itself is so well crafted and the entire collective of people working on it show genuine love for the material and the work they do.

No comments:

Post a Comment

More Like This: