Genre television shows have been stepping up their game, no pun intended and are finally earning a place as well respected as a series like Mad Men. Just last year Game of Thrones won the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series, something just 10 years ago would seem illogical. However, with brilliant writing, and outstanding acting genre shows like Game of Thrones, Vikings, Bates Motel and more have redefined what it means to be a part of the Fantasy/Horror genre.
It’s hard to discuss Game of Thrones without giving away crucial plot points, so if you haven’t seen the series, feel free to skip down to the special feature section now. If you’re still here than you’re either a masochist or have seen the hugely popular HBO series based on the novels of George R.R. Martin. There’s been a lot of worry in the fan community that the series would catch up to the novels and that George R.R. Martin can’t keep the pace up due to his painstaking writing process. In season five this does occur slightly.
The opening begins with a flashback, the first in the series history, showing two unidentified little girls and then we see Cersei (Lena Headey), Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau)and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) Lannister dealing with the demise of Tywin (Charles Dance). They are all in different places with Tyrion is holed up in a posh island getaway after making his way there in a small crate with holes punched out so he can breathe. Cersei and Jamie are still dealing with their romantic relationship and the child that has come out of their union.
Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) is still trying to do the “right thing” even if it means squaring off against Mance Rayder (Ciarán Hinds). It’s always interesting to me that when it comes to Jon Snow, he always seems forced to do the “right thing” even when the consequences of his actions are often so horrifying. Yet, he continues to go on seemingly unabated.
For the first four seasons with the author’s source material to draw on, the series seemed to be introduce and kill characters for sport, often times before the audience could get to really know them or feel attached to them. There was so much happening, if you stopped paying attention for a second, you missed an important crucial piece of the plot and were lost for that whole sequence. This season, perhaps because the show’s writers sensed that without George R.R. Martin’s text to draw on, they could relax a bit and allow the show some time to breathe. This really has helped the series and given so much more time to the characters we love and love to hate and really fill in the blanks as to their motivations and those small moments that really enhance any series.
If you take Cersei for example, her character is allowed so much more time to explore her layers and it gives Lena Headey time to really show her skills as an actress. She starts off with cunning and laying the groundwork for what scheme she’s planning but the final scene in the finale is nothing short of amazing. The amount of sheer bravery that Lena Headey shows is jaw dropping and she does it with such strength. It was heartbreaking to watch and awe inspiring just the same.
Again, it’s hard to discuss such a rich and dense show like Game of Thrones without giving much of the plot away. I know this season was criticized for it’s slower approach but to be honest, I thought it was a great way to really let viewers in who couldn’t keep up in previous seasons. There’s still so much going on, to say the least but I’m a sucker for character moments.
This isn’t to say that everything was great this season. A friend of mine pointed out that the show often times uses the woman in danger cliche, which to be honest before he pointed out, I didn’t catch. This season Sansa (Sophie Turner) deals with a shocking attack that puts her front and center in the “damsel in distress” category. The same thing happens with Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) who ends this season in an almost literal cliffhanger. It would be nice to see plot points like this handled a little bit better because to be honest the characters deserve better.
Game of Thrones The Complete Fifth Season arrives on Blu-ray in a stunning transfer thanks to the folks at HBO. The series has quite simply never looked better. This is a great example of a series that soars on Blu-ray as compared to the broadcast version. The fine details just pop off the screen and when the series switches to more natural tones as compared to the gray-like color scheme it’s known for, the series is warm and vibrant. Even if you watch Game of Thrones week to week like so many people, you need to see it in high definition, it’s a totally different viewing experience.
Special Features on this set include:
In Episode Guides on all discs
Audio Commentaries for episodes 1-6 with select actors and producers. Episode 9 features two different commentary tracks one with director David Nutter, Peter Dinklage and Iain Glen and the other with executive producer Bernadette Caulfield, director of photography Rob McLachlan, and camera operators Ben Wilson and David Worley. There is also an audio track for episode 10 with D.B. Weiss, David Nutter, Lena Headey and David Benioff.
A Day in the Life – This is a half hour promo featurette that previously aired on HBO. It has some behind the scenes footage and includes interviews and other EPK type materials.
New Characters/New Stories – This seven minute featurette talks about the cast and the new members of the ensemble joining the series.
Anatomy of an Episode: Mother’s Mercy – This is a look at the season finale and while really interesting contains tons of spoilers so beware not to watch this before finishing the season.
The Real History Behind Game of Thrones – This is a two part feature with George R.R. Martin discussing the real life inspiration behind the series.
Histories and Lore – These are seven small animated shorts on several of the houses and background on the show.
The Dance of the Dragons – This is a really interesting 20 minute look at… Well… The dragons!
And there are about Seven minutes of deleted scenes.
I know it’s hard to break down a show like Game of Thrones in an overview like this, however all you really need to know is that you should be watching it. It you’re new to the Game of Thrones camp, start at season one and power watch to catch up. Once that’s done, when you get to season five you’ll understand what I mean. In an ever expanding television landscape, Game of Thrones continues to reinvent not only itself but the fantasy genre. There’s no higher praise I can give a series. It’s stunning on so many levels that even a minor quibble or two this season doesn’t tarnish the luster of the Emmy winning series. Start watching it now.
Game of Thrones The Complete Fifth Season is out now on Blu-ray!