Game of Thrones or Greek Tragedy?

Game of Thrones Season 4The latest season of the HBO series Game of Thrones arrives this week. Global anticipation has ramped up to its highest point since the series began three seasons ago. Many of our favorite characters are back, but for how long?

The Red Wedding traumatized fans last year. Most brutally hit were those fans who had not yet read the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. Many of those fans still have not read the books.

I have read all of the amazing novels and know what twists and turns wait for them. No, I will not be spoiling the surprise for you here. I’m someone that rarely watches movie trailers because they show you all the good bits before you see the film. Likewise, I stay clear of spoilers for such things as the Game of Thrones, even though I already know where it’s headed.

Or do I?

Making a novel into a movie can be a tricky thing. Making a series of novels into a television series can be even trickier. Filmmakers have such things as budget and translation to consider

By translation I don’t mean translating dialogue to Dothraki or French or German. I mean adapting the story from a page to the screen. In the books there are many pages filled with inner dialogue, backstory, and history. Those don’t always translate to the screen.

Dan Weiss and David Benioff
Dan Weiss and David Benioff

The show runners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss have expertly translated the story. In the process they have added their own touches to Martin’s tale by creating new characters and changing existing characters.

From the beginning they understood the need to court the core fans of A Song of Ice and Fire. One way they succeeded in this is by keeping George Martin connected to the project. Sadly, we can count on both hands the number of times an author’s brilliant work became nothing more than branding for a misguided production.

Martin is fully engaged. He promotes the series, writes one episode a season, and was even set to do a cameo in this season’s filming until his schedule prevented him.

Perhaps the most intelligent thing that the show runners have done is to create surprises for all of the fans—even the ones that have already read the books three or four times. Subtle shifts in the storyline have even caused the most diehard fans to leap from their sofas when the credits roll.

Red Wedding
True love at the Red Wedding.

The Red Wedding was a tremor felt across the internet. What made it even more powerful were the extra twists that Dan and David slipped in that were new to everyone.

So now we return to the new season that is almost upon us. What shifts in the story are waiting to surprise even the most studied Maester of the Citadel? The clock is ticking. Anticipation is growing.

In the previous three seasons, the producers have chosen to place the most shocking moments in the ninth episode. This year, rumors whisper that at least three or four episodes will compete for the title of most shocking.

New characters will be arriving on screen for the first time. Will they be the same as the ones we know from the books or something entirely new?

If you are reading this and have yet to check out the first three seasons, there is still time. Rush out and sign up for HBO. All the previous seasons can be found on HBO Go. They also available on DVD. You can get your cram session in before Sunday.

Last year, nearly twelve million people watched each episode in some legal form. Around five million downloaded it illegally. It is one of the most pirated shows of all time. Quite a dubious distinction.

Now a short word about pirating. If five million people had watched the show legally and twelve million people had pirated it, we may never have reached season two. If you truly appreciate the show, support it. We will only be treated to such masterful production as long as it remains profitable.

What would our world be like if all the science fiction and fantasy movies and television shows went away? We would have to return to the dark ages of Hollywood—a world filled with situation comedies, romantic dramas, and police shows. While these are not all bad, science fiction and fantasy make the world go around.

Maybe if there had been seventeen million paying viewers instead of twelve million, HBO would have upped the budget to include all the big battle scenes in their full glory.

George R. R. Martin and HBO probably don’t need to get any richer, but I’m greedy. I want the biggest budget effects money can buy.

Martin is working on the next book in the series. If you’ve read the previous novel, A Dance with Dragons, you know the scenes just keep getting bigger and grander. I can only imagine what he has in store for us in the Winds of Winter.

Greek Mask

Maybe we should look at it like a Kickstarter project. If we can get two million more legal views and two million fewer illegal views, we can unlock the massive battle scenes in A Dance with Dragons.

I get that wallets are thin and HBO is expensive, but where there is a will, there is a way. I’m excited about season four. I have my phone on the ready. I will be signing up for HBO the day the show starts, and I will be cutting it the day the show is over.

I’ve read many Greek plays. You know the ones where all the action happens off stage. The characters just talk about the action on stage in the past tense. I don’t want Game of Thrones to turn into a Greek Tragedy. I want my special effects and my drama.

I’m investing in season five and beyond. I hope you do too.

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