Supernatural creatures thought to be only myths attack at the northern walls defending a kingdom. A lord must struggle to balance protecting his wife and five children and serving his monarch who calls him to duty away from his family. Meanwhile two other houses plot to usurp the throne and seize power for themselves to rule over the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
If that sounds like a feast-sized portion of character introduction and scene setting in the first hour of HBO’s new series GAME OF THRONES, it is indeed. Yet the premiere episode plays well, establishing backstory and current conflicts effectively if only a bit shy on the promised action ahead. Having recently started reading the Song of Ice and Fire novel series by Martin, this premiere episode roughly encapsulates the main plot and action of first novel’s opening 140 pages, so there is a good deal of condensing evident in the HBO drama for running time sake. Still the series sets up all the central houses and their main characters’ allegiances and animosities , focusing mostly on House Stark and Eddard Stark’s precarious struggle for balance between duty and family.
The cast is quite solid and believable throughout, lead by Sean Bean as the commanding yet human Stark, stout Mark Addy as the ravenous King Robert Baratheon, Lena Headey as his calculating wife Cersei Lannister, and Peter Dinklage as her outcast brother Tyrion. The remaining cast including the many young actors prove engaging and earn the trust of viewers who will invest many weeks ahead following their exploits in GAME OF THRONES.
D.B. Weiss and David Benioff‘s premiere episode script embodies the gritty, unglamorous existence had in Winterfell, mixing political strife with family conflicts both crucial and mundane. This opening episode certainly maintains HBO’s reputation for adult drama, a bit shorter on strong language and of typical quantity of sexual situations, though some instances like Tyrion’s whorehouse debauchery are much more character driven than Daenerys’ multiple unveilings at the hands of her brother or future husband. While it’s early in the series, if GAME OF THRONES exhibits a fault it may be Timothy Van Patten‘s rather subdued direction of this debut, despite the lavish, epic-scale production value which adds welcome authenticity to this fantasy drama.
Episode one of GAME OF THRONES, Winter is Coming, is a fine start to another very promising series for HBO, with expectations for the political power plays and backstabbing to ratchet up the drama and danger for these many characters. Read our full episode review and explore our video, photo and download galleries online now at FilmEdge.net.