Game of Thrones

I’ve started watching HBO’s Game of Thrones. Season one is now available on Amazon Instant Video. At three bucks a throw, the season should roughly cost the same as George RR Martin’s hardcover, lo those many years ago. One nice thing, each throw buys the episode and not just rents it. In this respect the movie is like the book. Each is bought and paid for and then owned in perpetuity. Except, I think that I gave away the book. Each episode will reside at Amazon Central forever, at least until I can figure out how to download the video to my PC. Don’t ask.

Yea, I’ve read George JRR Martin’s “A Game of Thrones”. I started his book on the rebound. I had had a long and ultimately unsatisfactory affair with Robert Jordan and his “Wheel of Time” series of fantasy novels. A fantasy world, where almost nothing occurred and it took three years, each time, to find this out again. The damn bastard died before concluding his series. I had given up on Jordan and switched to George R×R Martin by then.

I loved the book and the one after, but lost interest on the third. I blame Robert Jordan. I met him once. Maybe though it was George R Martin’s propensity for murder. He loves killing off his characters, especially, my favorite ones. After many years and a few more George RRR Martin novels, his world is now portrayed upon the small screen.

For all my snark, I am a fan. I was in print and I am now on video. After many years since reading, the movie seems as true to the book as I can remember. The TV series puts paint to canvas, of what I once only imagined. It fleshes out memories of scenes in the book that have slipped away.

I’ve watched the first four episodes and at the beginning of each episode is Angus Wall’s Emmy wining title sequence. Here is an interview with him at the Art of the Title. Wall gives a very Steampunk like overview of the mythical world, Westeros. I dream that my son Dan, will someday create a similar work. It’s a tall order, but it is in his vein.

Pundits from the NY Times to my beloved Slate, have pilloried this HBO series. Count me not in their company. Having watched four episodes, I am now calculating how I shall expend the remaining seven. I feel like a stranded sailor, picking over his last seven smokes.

The Times and Slate criticized the series as being suitable only for boys. That is to say it is juvenile fare that is most suitable for adolescent males. There is much gratuitous sex and violence. The original episode did air right after “Rango”, but that’s HBO. All of HBO’s great series, have purveyed gratuitous sex and violence. It is HBO’s competitive advantage over the rest of American television.

The Game’s Afoot

On Sunday night, the PBS show Masterpiece Theater debuted in America the first episode of the 2010 BBC One series, Sherlock.  This modern-day adaptation of the classic Sherlock Holmes genre brings Mr. Holmes presumably kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

Did you know that according to the International Motion Picture Database (IMDb) that the character of Sherlock Holmes has appeared in more movie productions than any other fictional character, beating out even Santa Claus?  Anne and I learned this, to our chagrin, last Friday night, at the charity trivia night contest that we attended.

Sherlock’s Dr. Watson is a veteran of the War in Afghanistan, just as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s one was (the 1878-1880 one).  Like the original version of this character this one is troubled by his war experience.  Can you say post-traumatic stress syndrome?  This one can.  He is a wounded British Army doctor, discharged and left to wrestle with his own personal demons.  It is through Watson that we first meet Holmes.

Sherlock’s Holmes is a self prescribed sociopath and not a psychopath as one of his many enemies on the London police force claims.  He has no friends, is not interested in sex, is a drug addict and really only lives for the hunt, “Four serial suicides and now a note, it’s Christmas!”  Any Sherlock Holmes production will always rise or fall upon the quality of their detective.  Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch is a worthy contender.  American audiences might remember Mr. Cumberbatch, or might choose not to, for his role in Atonement, as that most unwelcomed of all house guests.  His shock black hair, pale complexion and watery eyes combine to create a Holmes that the entire London police force aptly refers to as “The Alien”.

21st century London not only penetrates this Conan Doyle ethos, it permeates it.  Sherlock is alternatively, texting, losing, borrowing or finding a cell phone.  Our century’s manners have also overtaken this incarnation of Mr. Holmes, mores the pity for that.  One of the worst concession to our modern times though is the rewriting of that famous line, “Come on Watson, the game’s afoot” to “Come on Watson, the game is on”.  Even with its flaws, it is television worth watching.  At least, it is television that I’ll still be watching.

Graphics with this post come from the exhibit, Home Lands: How Women Made the West, which Anne and I saw on Sunday.  Include are works from Georgia O’Keeffe, Eve Drewelowe and Aki Sogabe.  Aki Sogabe’s work is one of a set of five in the exhibit that she used to design a mural for Seattle’s Pike Place Market.  These three work’s protective glass coverings have caught reflections in my photographs that only somewhat detracts from their beauty.