Let The Games Begin: Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones is HBO’s new series, a medieval fantasy based on a series of books by the name of ‘A Song of Fire and Ice’. The story follows the actions and reactions of seven families living amidst seven kingdoms that make up Westeros. We primarily focus on four families in particular; The Starks, whom protect the North of Westeros; The Baratheon, who rule the kingdom through King Robert Baratheon of the Seven Kingdoms; The Lannisters, a family married to King Baratheon silently seeking control of the throne, and finally The Targaryens, previous rulers of the seven kingdoms now living overseas and plotting revenge and a means of retaking the throne for themselves. Having enjoyed HBO’s Rome I thought I’d give this series a go, and I can’t say i’m disappointed. The opening episode sets the tone for the series well, showing us that the world of Westeros is far from stable, housing various families each with their own agenda even if allied with another in some way.

The cast is strong, led by Sean Bean as Ned Stark in what I believe to be his strongest role to date. He’s accompanied by a range of actors including Charles Dance (Alien 3) and Lena Hedey (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles). The shows characters are as strong as the cast which make for interesting scenes. The outcast characters John Snow (Bastard of Ned Stark) and Tyrion Lannister (Dwarf brother of the Queen) for example work really well together and provide the show an element of satire. Tyrion ends up instructing Snow to carry his title of Bastard as a shield so that he might be invulnerable to its use against him in the future. I look forward to the development of many of the characters found in Game of Thrones but I seem to have grown attached to the bastard and the dwarf.

I can’t help but see a few similarities to characters from others shows/films. The Stark children seem to have a close bond that’s so similar to how I remember the kids in the British series Shameless, this may be HBO’s intention as they’ve recently made their own version of Shameless. The similarities gets weirder, do the Targaryens remind you of the character Luna and Lucious Malfoy from Harry Potter? Or does the Lanister prince remind you of Draco Malfoy…surely I can’t be the only one to see the likeness to them.

I was surprised to find that this series was different to past HBO series in the bedroom department. Being a fan of True Blood, Californication and Rome I’ve been accustomed to quite graphic sex scenes, however Game of Thrones seems to have toned things down a little. I don’t mind this in the slightest it just feels odd that HBO seem to have changed their approach to sex scenes. I wonder if they’re trying to change their image, if this is a one off or if they’ll ramp up the sex in later episodes.

The opening scene of the first episode features three night watchmen being slain by some sort of inhuman being (White Walker). Whilst this scene clearly shows all is not normal in the world of Westeros we hear nothing more than a whisper relating to such things other than that scene. I assume we’ll see more of these things further into the series, perhaps when visiting ‘The Wall’, either that or HBO feels that the paranormal aspect might put viewers off the series.

I’ve really enjoyed the series so far and look forward to seeing further episodes. With a second season already confirmed and an interesting start to the series this is definitely something to watch during the summer.

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Being an American Being Human

I’ve watched the British Being Human since the first episode, it’s witty humour and dark themes have kept me coming back for more each year.  Now nearing the end of its third season means having to wait another year for any more, or so I thought. The Americans have hopped back across the pond with another British show. I saw the US version of Shamless earlier this year and noted never to watch it again and if you check out the American Red Dwarf on youtube, the top comment sums things up about how people usually feel about these remakes: “I’m american and even i think this is sh**ty. The british version was fu**ing hilarious and ingenious!” History aside, they’ve created something fresh for you to sink your teeth into.

The American Being Human stays close to it’s British counterpart to begin with but seems to be slowly moving in its own direction. The werewolf Josh in the American series for example has had a member of his family see him for the first time since he ran away from home, the British show doesn’t deal with this concept until its third season. The writers of the American show have said they’ve watched the first season of the British show but “..made a point of not watching Season 2 when it aired on BBC America…We didn’t want to be swayed by it. I don’t think we ever will“.

Sam Witwer (Smallville/Star Wars: The Force Unleashed) plays vampire Aidan and whilst the characters name comes from the British vampire’s actor not much else does. This character seems darker, especially during episodes where he falls to the dark side of his vampric nature. Witwer only watched the first episode of the British version stating that he’s:

“…looking forward to seeing the original. I saw the first episode and, once I recognized how good it was and how good Aidan Turner is in that role, I really wanted to stay away from it while we shot our season. I didn’t want to subconsciously mimic anything that he did.”

I’ve been a fan of Witwer’s since I saw him in Smallville and give him kudos for voicing ‘The Son’ in recent Star Wars: The Clone Wars episodes. Whilst I’m not familiar with the actors playing the Warewolf Josh (Sam Huntington) and Ghost Sally (Meaghan Rath) they’ve each added their own feel to a character I’ve already fallen in love with.

What really makes the American Being Human work for me is its dark guitar-infused score emphasising the theme of the series in a unique way to that of the British version. The soundtrack isn’t bad either and is definitely a playlist I’ll be listening to soon.

Overall this is a series for any Being Human, vampire, werewolf or ghost fan should be watching and it’s certainly a show I’ll be keeping an eye on. My only concern is the show being on Syfy, I’m still left in pain over them cutting both Caprica and Stargate Universe and don’t wish to find Being Human in the same boat. With thirteen episodes, seven more than that of the first British season, I’m hoping that they can use that extra time to build upon their own distinction and take the story into new directions.

The Rocky Horror Glee Show

Halloween approaches and all manner of horrors are lurking, even rocky ones. Musical laden show Glee has a Rocky Horror themed episode to touch-a touch-a touch-a touch on your Rocky Horror Show obsessions whether you like it or not.

First off I’ve never seen an episode of Glee but I’m enough of a Rocky fan to check it out regardless. The basic premise for the episode has a guy liking a girl, who in turn likes Rocky Horror. Said girl is seeing someone else however that doesn’t stop said guy from being jealous enough hearing about them attending a Rocky midnight showing (still need to try that out!) that he announces his Glee club’s next performance is you guessed it, Rocky Horror. Of course this is being performed for a school so they end up with issues regarding the content, but that’s all addressed within the episode. As for how it holds up let’s do this western style with the good the bad and the ugly.

The Good: It’s Rocky! More? Fine, it’s got both Barry Bostwick who played Brad (asshole!) and Meatloaf who played Eddie in the 1975 film guest starring. Whilst they don’t sing for us it’s always nice to see original cast members nodding their heads to the parody. We get 7 songs which have also been released as a soundtrack including the famous Sweet Transvestite and of course the Time Warp. The cast might be young but they’ve made an effort to look like the characters, whilst Eddie isn’t up to standard n my opinion we’ve a pretty convincing Riff Raff followed by a nice effort for Magenta and Rocky.

The Bad: A few songs have been modernised and sung like a glee club…go figure. But it isn’t that bad really; if you were hoping for a carbon copy of the films soundtrack you’d have watched the film or tracked down CD. They attempt the Brad (asshole), Janet (slut), Dr Scott thing but it doesn’t come off well.  The episode’s cheesy as hell and plays out like Greece meets Rocky Horror but has a few funny moments if you lighten up about it.

The Ugly: This might have lived up to the Halloween theme as something feels like it’s been slashed by Freddie Krueger and that thing would be Frankentfurter. In a perhaps too modern move they’ve cast a girl for the role. This was off putting before she sang; when she did I was just plain scared.

In summary the show’s worth a watch if you’re a fan of Rocky but they killed it for me by murdering Sweet Transvestite. Still it could be worse, MTV could have come out with their version of the film, let’s hope that never see’s the light of day! Here’s a clip of the time warp to relieve the tension.