Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Charles Dance
17 Apr 2011
Game of Thrones is a new television show by the HBO network which is being produced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. It is based on a New York Times best-selling series of books by George R.R. Martin, A Song of Ice and Fire. The name of the show comes from the title of the first book of the same name, and the first season is reported to begin and end with the events from that first book. This has led to some speculation on how the titles of the other books will come into play if it is picked up for future seasons. It is set to premier on Sunday, April 17th, but HBO previewed the first 14 minutes of the first episode on Sunday, April 3rd.
The show takes place in the fictional land of Westeros, which was made up of seven previously independent realms, until the Targaryens conquered and unified them into one kingdom, over 300 years before the start of the show. It is a land of kings & queens, lords & ladies, and knights & tournaments (a la Earth's middle ages), but it is also a land where Summers and Winters last years instead of months. The main focus of the show is the relationships between the great houses of the land and how they get along (or don't) under one unified king after thousands of years of ruling themselves.
One simplistic way to describe Game of Thrones is that it's an "adult Lord of the Rings." What differentiates it from other fantasy series, however, is that there is no clear cut "good vs evil" story, it is first and foremost a character drama, not unlike the Sopranos. Furthermore, magic is something that has not existed in the world for hundreds of years. That being said, the people of the North and the brothers of the Night's Watch have never forgotten the ancient supernatural threat from beyond the Wall, the white walkers. As the preview shows, this might be a very good thing.
The Baratheons are a relatively new, yet prominent house. Robert Baratheon is currently the king of Westeros, and resides in King's Landing. He is married to Cersei Lannister thanks to an arranged marriage after he gained the throne. They have three children, the crown prince Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen. Robert has two younger brothers, Stannis, the lord of Dragonstone, and Renly, the lord of Storm's End. Their sigil is a crowned stag. Their official house words are "Ours is the Fury".
The Lannisters are widely known as the wealthiest house in Westeros. Residing in the family's home of Casterly Rock, Tywin Lannister is the Warden of the West. He has three children, twins Cersei & Jaime, and Tyrion. Their sigil is a lion. Their official house words are "Hear me roar!". Unofficially, the saying "A Lannister always pays his debts" is widely known and sometimes mistaken as their official words.
The Starks ruled the North from their home castle of Winterfell for many thousands of years, and were the last house to submit to Targaryen rule. Ned Stark is the Warden of the North and is married to Catelyn (a Tully by birth). They have five children together, Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon. Ned has a sixth, bastard child, Jon Snow. Benjen Stark, Ned's younger brother, is the First Ranger of the Night's Watch. Their official house words are "Winter is coming".
The Targaryens conquered and unified Westeros over 300 years ago. Due to Robert Baratheon's rebellion, there are only two surviving members of the house, Viserys and Daenerys. They are currently exiled in Essos, the land across the narrow sea. Their sigil is a three-headed dragon. Their official house words are "Fire and Blood".
Jon Arryn is the current Lord of the Eyrie, and also the Hand of the King to Robert Baratheon. Jon is married to Lysa Tully, Catelyn Stark's sister. They have a young son, Robin. Their sigil is a white moon and falcon. Their official house words are "As High as Honor".
House Greyjoy is led by the Lord of the Iron Islands, Balon Greyjoy, who rose up in rebellion against King Robert Baratheon's rule approximately 7 years prior and was defeated by King Robert and Lord Eddard Stark. His son Theon is a ward of House Stark as collateral to prevent any further revolts. Their sigil is a golden kraken with a black field. Officially, their house words are "We Do Not Sow".
Led by Lord Commander Mormont, the Night's Watch is a sworn brotherhood that protects the northern border of Westeros from the dangers beyond the Wall. In order to join the brotherhood, one is required to take up "the Black", which is an oath of celibacy and sworn exile from your previous life. Ned Stark's bastard son, Jon Snow, takes up the Black and joins the brotherhood in the hopes of becoming a ranger.
Season One Controversies
George W. Bush head
In the commentary on the DVD of a Game of Thrones episode, the producers admitted that one of the heads on a spike in several scenes was that of former US president George W. Bush, albeit with longer, brown hair. The producers said in that commentary that it wasn't a political statement--they just were reusing old props. This event offended many people, who saw it as incredibly anti-patriotic. HBO quickly released a complete apology. It read:
“We were deeply dismayed to see this and find it unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste. We made this clear to the executive producers of the series who apologized immediately for this careless mistake. We condemn it in the strongest possible terms and have halted all future shipments of the DVDs, removed it from our digital platforms and will edit the scene for all future airings on any distribution domestic or international.” The scenes were first cut from all future copies and broadcasts of the show, and then later digitally reedited so as to no longer show Bush's features.
Brandon Stark deleted scene
In one of the early trailers for the series, one of the scenes briefly flashed seemed to depict the death of Brandon Stark, Ned's older brother. Brandon was killed while his father was burned alive in his armor. Brandon, a notorious hothead, was set up to watch his father die with a leather rope tied around his neck. A sword was placed just out of reach and Brandon strangled himself to death trying to reach it. The picture shows an unknown actor with a rope around his neck with the Iron Throne in the background. The scene was deleted, but did not appear in the DVD or Blu Ray, meaning it could possibly appear later in the show's run. As these events pre-date the first book, the scene would likely have been a flashback.