Inside Game of Thrones

December 12, 2010

Partly in anticipation of the HBO series coming out next year, and also because I just love this book, I am re-reading George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, the first book in his highly popular A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels.  Having seen the latest trailer for the series, which you can find here, it’s very exciting to see key scenes come to life.

I think now would be a good time to describe how I feel about this adaptation.  As much as I love the books, I am really trying to step back and look at this adaptation as a totally different project.  After all, television is a completely different medium, and I know that no matter how hard HBO tries to please fans of the books, changes are inevitable.  Characters will not match up exactly with the images in this readers’ mind, and I imagine the TV series will have to break from the shifting point of views in the books and taken on a more universal perspective.  That said, I am extremely impressed with what I’ve seen so far.

I think HBO has approached this series the right way, particularly in the casting.  There are just enough high profile actors and actresses, such as Sean Bean, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, and Aiden Gillen, to catch the attention of those who like to see a familiar face.  At the same time, HBO has selected a large cast of relatively unknown actors, particularly for the roles of the various children, who are really at the center of this story.  It is a wonderful opportunity for these actors and actresses, and the role may be the largest so far in their careers.  It is also a great way for viewers to come into this series without expectations.  Sometimes it can be difficult to see a beloved character from another TV series or movie as anything but that character.

Another way HBO has done right by this series is with the launch of the Making Game of Thrones website.   What makes this different than just a website with character and actor bios is it is extremely interactive.  The website is updated often, the staff often asks readers what they are interested in seeing, and it is clear from recent posts and the latest trailers that they are reading those comments and responding accordingly, giving fans what they want while attempting to introduce this new series to current and potential HBO subscribers who have never read a word of the novels.  I really think this is the way to promote new television series going forward.  With Twitter, TV blogs, and other online media outlets, people want a place to get together and discuss their favorite series in real time.  It’s great that HBO has recognized this and provided such a forum.

I think HBO has reached a point in the production of this series where now they need to increase the hype surrounding this project.  They should know by now that a majority of the fans of the book are already on board.  Now they need to market this show to the general public.  So far, the biggest obstacle I think HBO faces is selling this series to people who are not traditionally drawn to fantasy series.  Recent photographs and trailer footage have shown beautiful armor, swords, war horses, and other imagery that might conjure up memories of Lord of the Rings or HBO’s Rome.  These were both highly praised, but Game of Thrones is more different than similar to either of these stories.   It is up to HBO to prove it.  AMC’s The Walking Dead has proven that if handled correctly, even a a niche genre not typically associated with television, can become a huge success if marketed well.  The great thing about Game of Thrones  is that while there are brilliant elements of the fantasy genre (which I do not think should be ignored), at its core, the story is more about the characters, power struggles, political intrigue, the strength of family, and the struggle to survive, which are themes that are universal and appealing to a broad audience.   If Game of Thrones has kept those elements intact it is already a winning series and HBO need not worry so much about this being a fantasy.  In fact, they should embrace the genre because it allows this show to go places other dramas cannot go because of the restraints of reality.  Game of Thrones can really stand out as something completely unique.

As excited as I am about the actual launch of Game of Thrones, I am very interested in following the promotion of this series as well.  I will continue to post updates, as I expect more information to come in the months leading up to the premier.


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