Monday, November 29, 2010

Game of Thrones: Sci-Fi for Non-Virgins

I am a nerd.

To most of the people who read this blog, that isn't exactly a surprising revelation.  Most of you know me pretty well.  That is to say that you have probably heard me openly discuss my enjoyment of the Star Wars saga, debate different theories of the symbology in LOST, or you saw me playing Magic: The Gathering in middle school ...

... and possibly even in high school.


Like I said, I'm a nerd.  So when I express my excitement about a sci-fi drama that has been in production by HBO, you might be skeptical of my assessment.  I get it: my track-record of appreciation of things considered 'cool' isn't all that great.

But the buzz surrounding this show has been huge.  Don't believe me?  Check out Winter is Coming.  Fans of the novels (like me) have been checking that site for daily updates about the drama for a couple of years now, ever since news broke that HBO was interested in the franchise.  And HBO hasn't just picked up the series, they've put everything they possibly could behind it, spending $5 million per episode for what they think could be their replacement for The Sopranos.  In fact, Thrones has the 4th largest series budget in the history of HBO, behind only John Adams, Rome and Deadwood

Why did they do this?  Because Game of Thrones is not going to be like most sci-fi shows.  It will be, in many ways, much more like The Wire than Lord of the Rings.  It's not going to have the traditional LOTR type of storyline in which good defeats evil despite having enormous odds stacked against it.  The heroes aren't always going to win.  In fact, a lot of the time you're not even going to be able to tell who the heroes are. 

Unlike many of the sci-fi movies and television shows of the past, the characters will have complex personalities.  They will make decisions based on the politics of the moment, not on their worldviews - as real people are forced to do every day.  There will be characters of utmost moral aptitude, and others with absolutely none - and you will sometimes find yourself cheering for the demons, and sometimes against the saints.

My only issue with the series is whether or not the drama of the first four books will translate to the television set.  In fact, I don't even think that's possible.  Its just going to be hard to capture the complexities of George R.R. Martin's characters in an hour of t.v. every week.  But expect great things, because if anyone can do it, its HBO.

We'll get our first glimpse of the show this Sunday at 8:45.  HBO is doing a 15 minute preview of the series, which is set to debut this spring.