HBO Home Entertainment has built a reputation delivering some of the most dazzling TV series, offering up exceedingly high production values with plot lines and characters that simply glue you to the television screen. "Rome,""Band of Brothers" and "Boardwalk Empire" were past examples, and now the studio dishes out its next mega addictor, "Game of Thrones."
Based on the novels by George R.R. Martin, "Game Of Thrones" takes us into the fantasy world of the Westeros. This is not your traditional high fantasy setting with elfs, orcs and dwarves. Instead, the world resembles much more medieval Europe with a bit of witchcraft and a lot of superstition thrown in. While on the one hand, this makes the world a tad less colorful than Middle Earth, let's say, it makes for a very realistic backdrop that immediately rings true.
Ned Stark (Sean Bean) is lord of Winterfell, an area in the North, away from the politicking of the throne. But one day, his old friend and former brother-in-law, King Robert calls upon him to serves as the "Hand of the King," his right hand man. Upon arrival at the court, Ned is immediately pulled back into the sickening web of intrigue, a play of politics where each participant has only one goal, to further their own power, wealth and interests.
Meanwhile, the Lannisters prepare their succession to the throne. Once King Robert should die, they feel it is their right to inherit the reign, as the current Queen is a Lannister with a son fathered by King Robert. But they are not the only ones with ambitions for the throne.
The Targaryen siblings, Daenerys and Viserys, feel they should be rightfully sitting in power, as the throne has been taken from their family in a bloody war. Viserys is so determined to recapture the throne that he offers up his sister Daenerys to Khal Drogo as a wife. Drogo is the leader of the Dothraki of the South, an uncontrollable, wild horde of warriors that have never been defeated. Viserys plans to buy Drogo's allegiance and control over his army of horsemen to re-enter the realm of the Westeros and take the throne by force.
All the while, there is a dark horror approaching from the North. Unseen and silent, it begins to descend upon Westeros. Only the men of the Night Watch, an elite force guarding an gigantic wall that is designed to keep the old-world evils of the icy North out, realize that something is remiss and they prepare to battle whatever is coming their way.
Going into all the details of this multi-layered story would be far beyond the scope of this review, but I am sure from the brief summary above, you can already see that there is plenty of room for intrigue, scheming and the occasional collision of forces. In fact, there is a lot of it. The series thrives and feeds off the energy that is created by friction between the various key characters. It gradually builds the friction to a boiling point and then lets it explode in such an unexpected manner that you will be left wanting for more. Each of the ten episodes features a cliffhanger that will make you immediately reach for the next disc to see how it plays out.
HBO Home Entertainment is presenting "Game of Thrones" in a marvelous 1080p high definition transfer on this set. The image is bold and features incredibly deep blacks, which help to bring to life the gritty and harsh medieval world of Westeros, where there is no mercy. Colors are fabulously rich, bringing out every detail in the costumes and the breathtaking landscapes. All the while, the level of detail in the transfer is rendering every little speck of dirt, every pore and every little detail in the image with impeccable clarity.
The release is accompanied by a DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio track, as well as a selection of DTS tracks in a variety of other languages. The sound production is equally as impressive as the rest of the show with a dynamic presentation that offers a wide frequency response and incredibly dynamics.
"Game of Thrones" comes filled with bonus materials, including commentary tracks on various episodes. Each episode also features an In-Episode Guide that reveals background information on the story, the books, the characters and more. In addition, the set contains a good number of featurettes, looking at various aspects of the production including things, such as the creation of the Dothraki language, the adaptation of the story from the novel to the screen and many other things.
"Game of Thrones" is another television highlight from HBO. Easily on par with major movies in terms of its production quality, looks and the performances, there can be no doubt, that this show is a remarkable feat. I should warn viewers, however, that "Game of Thrones" is not for children. It is is extremely violent and gruesome, featuring detailed scenes of decapitation, disembowelments and other mutilations, along with numerous moments of full frontal sex.
While I felt the first two episodes were a little slow - the nature of the beast of establishing such a rich and large world, I suppose - even those episodes were always intriguing. The show took off soon enough, though, and before I knew it I was captured by the events and the characters. The only bad things I can say about "Game of Thrones" is that it is, perhaps, ending too soon and that I now have to wait a year to get to see the next season. Without a doubt, if you love this genre, you have to get yourself a copy of "Game of Thrones."