DVD/Blu-ray Review: ‘Game of Thrones’ The Complete First Season
What can possibly be said about Game of Thrones that hasnt’ been said by nearly everyone already? Well plenty actually. Despite what you have heard, this show is filled with surprises and is the kind of great show that warrants multiple viewings in order to absorb it all, and you’ll still probably miss a few things. It’s the kind of show that has something for everyone. Like “talky” political drama? Check. Intense romances and betrayals? Check. Ultra violence? Not your run-of-the-mill bloodshed and blood and gore, but heads being slashed like they’re high prices at Wal-mart? Absolutely check! This is arguably the best show on television right now, and apart from high end blu-ray box sets, this is without doubt the highest priority must-own blu-ray of the year.
Based on a series of medieval fantasy novels called A Song of Ice and Fire written by George R. R. Martin, the show takes place in the Seven Kingdoms of the Westeros, where different noble families struggle for control of The Iron Throne. Each family has their own ways, and each goes about their business very differently. One of the most important positions in the kingdom is that of the King’s Hand, and that title has just been bestowed upon the head of the Stark family, Eddard “Ned” Stark played beautifully by Sean Bean. The new king is Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy), a womanizing drunkard and longtime friend of the Starks. His wife, the new Queen of Westeros, is Cersei Lannister, who is as manipulative as they come. Her only desire is to see her young, impetuous (read: VERY annoying) son, Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), sit atop the throne. Cersei, is also engaged in an incestuous affair with her twin brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a member of the Kingsguard who assassinated the previous king, Aerys II Targaryen, and made it so that Robert could claim the crown. Lastly, this brings us to Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd and Emilia Clarke), Aerys’ arrogant son and daughter. Viserys pledges his sister to a fierce tribe of nomadic horsemen led by Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa), a quiet brute who has no interest in seats of power, only power itself. With Daenerys married to Drogo, Viserys hopes to reclaim Westeros and see the Targaryen banners hoisted high on the castle walls once again.
That may seem epic, and even spoilery, but all of that is introduced in the first episode!Those who haven’t seen the show are lucky to have the opportunity to delve into it at their own pace on DVD or Blu-ray. This show is immense, the cast is large and the events are epic. The brilliant twists and turns of every episode cliffhanger make it a wonder that people didn’t go insane from anticipation week to week when the first season aired.
For the technophiles out there who are interested in the video and audio quality of a set, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything better. The kingdom of Westeros is very distinct in that every different area has a different look to the terrain, which makes for a very vividly colored show. The snowy areas create beautiful pale skin tones, and the deserts of where the Dothraki tribes roam give everyone an amazing brown skin tone. Every frame of this show is stunningly beautiful. The audio is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, and it too, is immaculate. There is sound everywhere, and everything from the rustling trees to the sound of a blade piercing skin is clearly evident to go along with perfectly audible dialogue. It’s a perfect set to show off your home theater if you want to impress.
The Special Features are as follows:
Audio Commentaries Seven of the episodes have a commentary from various members of the cast. They are each thorough and informative. George R. R. Martin is even included on a few of them.
In-Episode Guides (Discs 1-5, HD): Each episode offers an interactive guide that provides on-screen pop-up facts about the characters, locations, and histories featured in Game of Thrones. There’s an option to go further into what is called The Complete Guide to Westeros.
The Complete Guide to Westeros These are very cool. They are each narrated by a character from the show discussing each families history, religious beliefs, etc. It also has interactive maps of the kingdom that feature gorgeous artwork.
Character Profiles Profiles of fifteen characters — Ned, Robb, Arya, Bran, Sansa and Catelyn Stark; Cersei, Jaime and Tyrion Lannister; Daenerys and Viserys Targaryen; and Jon Snow, Khal Drago, Petyr Baelish and Robert Baratheon
Anatomy of an Episode: A Golden Crown (Disc 3, HD, 61 minutes): Thrones‘ sixth episode, “A Golden Crown,” features a Picture-in-Picture track, complete with cast and crew interviews and behind-the-scene footage. It would have been nice to have one on each episode, but there’s already so much on this disk it’s hard to really complain.
Making Game of Thrones Not anything that has any new information at this point, but it doesn’t make it any less captivating.
From the Book to the Screen Most of this is a shortened version of the previous special feature, just specifically geared toward the book adaptation.
The Night’s Watch A feature on one of the coolest sets in the show, the Ice Wall.
Creating the Show Open An overview of how the ultra cool opening credit scene was created.
Creating the Dothraki Language
Hidden Dragon Eggs: Of course there’s hidden dragon eggs.
Trust me when I say that there is not a better blu-ray season set out there. Period.