Sunday, April 24, 2011

Masters, Slaves, and Better Ideas

And the bunny takes her place on the foretold day to witness The Birth of the thing from the water.

Twitter Sonnet #255

Red air crushes coats millions of years past.
Three decades of stale white cake pills vanish.
Frosted web makes dehydrating repast.
Irradiated rubber jams English.
Lead pipes beat the crap out of nukes to-night.
Blood stained faucets ruin the tap water.
Plumbers throw up mushrooms after they fight.
Three hundred cows rotted in the larder.
Sushi fate selects a fatted blowfish.
Glowing autumn wounds drop from a grey limb.
Avocado dip shines in radar dish.
Pear man wonders if apple man sees him.
Two moustaches make a hairy face X.
Luna orbits the blue egg of kleenex.

HBO has a new fantasy series, A Game of Thrones, based on a novel by George R.R. Martin. I've never read the book, but I saw someone on a forum a while ago call Venia's Travels a George R.R. Martin ripoff, which kind of made me wonder if I'd like Martin's books. Having watched the first episode, I'm guessing the person who made the comment is probably one of those people who think that fantasy fiction that's any darker or more violent than a Disney movie is a novelty. I know this isn't the case, which is probably why I found the pilot episode of A Game of Thrones more boring than a lot of people will.

I have nothing against shock value, except I'm pretty jaded, so shock value alone just isn't enough for me. A Game of Thrones does have a lot more than that, but it's lacking one very important element--characters who aren't dull as dirt.

The show starts off badly with a long opening shot of three unknown guys in uninteresting clothes, a shot that's not even framed or angled in any particularly interesting way, and we stay with this shot for what seems like a minute before switching to a shot behind and above the guys riding into a conspicuously cg corridor. How about a little water on your porridge.

But things improve as the riders enter a really lovely, snow covered forest.

Unfortunately, this is followed by some fairly standard tracking shots of guys running in a forest as a blurred monster rushes by in the foreground. By the time two of the guys are dead and we move into opening credits, I know we're meant to be thinking, "Wow, what an opening!" But all I thought was, "So I wonder if this thing will ever get off the ground."

There are lots of great visuals in the episode. Though I suspect future episodes will, like Boardwalk Empire, relegate things more and more to smaller and cheaper sets and less interesting locations due to time constraints on those scouting the locations. There won't be as much scheduling for weather like in this pretty shot;

The very fact of a fantasy show with explicit violence and sex kind of made me want this show to be good. And I love both Sean Bean and Lena Headley, though Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles convinced me she's better off playing a female Clint Eastwood badass than some aloof Queen. But so far everyone's playing a type rather than a character. My favourite sequence involved a young, delicate little princess forced to marry a huge, beefy savage king. Though neither of them received any characterisation--it's porn. Instead of a cable guy and a housewife in lingerie, it's a pretty princess and a brute who ravishes her. Though I guess the fact that she has a moustache is kind of a twist.

Probably not something that was intended. Once I saw it, I couldn't stop seeing it. Together with her dark eyebrows, the obvious wig did nothing to diminish the porno quality of the sequence.

I may well watch the second episode, though, to see if there are more good visuals, and because I know Jane Espenson writes a later episode. Who knows, it could get better.

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