When was the last time a TV show or movie, really pissed you off? Proper lying in bed enraged, turning over events in your mind. How could they do it? Why? Thats how good Game Of Thrones has been thus far, a scintillating fantasy series prepared to twist its narrative knife so deep, you too will be wounded. In the trade we call it emotional engagement.
While it may not revivify its genre quite as The Wire and Deadwood renewed theirs, there is a gutsy HBO maturity at work in David Benioff and D. B. Weiss naturalistic adaptation of George R. R. Martins heroin-addictive fantasy books. A tapestry of family grievances sprawl across a pungent Borgias-meets-the-Roses quasi-Euro battleground named Westeros. The series dances like a soap opera, a saga not a plot, good and bad points on a sliding scale. At heart, its the Starks (honourable, naive, brunette) versus the Lannisters (ambitious, depraved, blonde).
Martins skill is to keep the fantastical at a distance (undead revenants stir behind a 700-foot wall of ice, and dragon eggs accompany an exiled queen) and delight in the rich, violent, unpredictable events. As brought to life, with a tincture of the modern, by the impeccable performances. Special praise to Peter Dinklages sardonic dwarf Tyrion, Michelle Fairleys Stark mother-bear Catelyn, and Sean Beans super-Beany silent glower as Ned Stark.