Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"A DAY OF THRONES" -- An EXCERPT From a Billiant Crictic on GAME OF THRONES


Sunday was the premiere episode of Game of Thrones Season 5. And the first episode did not disappoint, even with my high expectations! But rather than reading the words from a GOT fan excited to have the series back, I thought I'd highlight how I prepared for the GOT season premiere. 
Followers of my blog know that I've been a subscriber for more than a decade of the DVD-Laser Disc Newsletter, authored by media critic, Doug Pratt. His monthly periodical covers a selection of recent movies and TV shows released on Home Video, and his reviews focus on both the creative and technical quality of the content. My previous interview with Mr. Pratt can be read here. 
What I probably admire most about Pratt's thoughts on movies and TV content is the complete absence of cynicism in any of his reviews, despite the fact that he's been a professional critic for a long time. Ranking #2 on the Pratt admiration list would be his ability to write concise, but deeply thoughtful and insightful reviews.  He gets more impact from a dozen words than almost any writer achieves with three times the word count. I was reminded of his talent when I read his April, 2015 Newsletter, which led with his thoughts on GOT Season 4, excerpted below -- 

A Day of Thrones

          A sword is removed from its sheath and its metal is so fine that the ‘twang’ reverberates, with great subtlety, for several seconds, beneath the other sounds. There is the most beautiful fork in a path that you will ever see. You never know which character is going to die. The camera begins on the ground as marauders are about to attack a fortress, and it moves high in the air, far above the eight-hundred-foot wall behind the fortress and to the other side, where another, more

massive army, is gathering to attack the same fortress. A conqueror frees the slaves of a city, only to learn that the elderlyslaves want to go back to their masters because they know of no other life, and the younger slaves have no understanding of the discipline required to live in a liberated society. 

Every year we spend a day watching Game of Thrones. It is one of the most transporting, most blissfully relaxing, and most exciting days we can have. Television and movies have been merging for quite a while now. Television was originally the repository of the ‘B’ film productions, augmented by what was left of vaudeville and what was thriving on radio. It took a long time to mature. With a few exceptions, TV had to wait for the financial development of pay cable, where the impositions of censorship 
could be relaxed because it was no longer being broadcast everywhere. It was only then that the maturity of content could quantitatively enhance the literary qualities of the program material. The next great advancement was more directly a spinoff from feature films, the development of relatively inexpensive but persuasive special effects. The special effects on TV may not be quite as elaborate as they are in the movies—an establishing shot in Game of Thrones seems to last about one-third to one-half the time that an establishing shot lingers in the Lord of the Rings movies— but they are good enough to set the tone and the fantasy without pulling the viewer out of the magic. 
The magic of special effects has been applied with great success to period dramas and to contemporary action programs, but just as viewers tend to number a few fantasy motion pictures as their most cherished movie experiences—such as Star Wars or Lord of the Rings—so, too, is the cable TV series, Game of Thrones, which is still busily unfolding at a year per fold, is going to be numbered among the greatest and most compelling motion pictures in everyone’s memories.
             No matter how perfect a TV show will appear, there always seems to be a couple of things that should have been fixed before they were shared with the public. Since a movie is a complete work, the makers can afford to tweak it and get it as right as they can before releasing it, but since these shows are being written as they go along, a dead end or unwise choice will occasionally get past the guardians of such matters. 
As with the previous seasons of Thrones, there are creatures, basically very large, wolf-like dogs, that follow and protect the heroes, but their presence is highly erratic. They seem to disappear when the writers don’t want them around (even though the heroes could have greatly benefited by their presence) and then suddenly show up when the writers do need them. 
There is also another point, specifically in Fourth Season, where two characters, who have not seen one another in a long while, are about to meet near the end of one episode, but then do not appear to have met or even come close to having met in the next episode, something, obviously, you wouldn’t notice as much if you’d waited a week between watching the two. A simple additional line of dialog to explain why they change their course would have stopped the change from being so jarring. But these minor flaws are greatly outweighed by the magnificence of the plotting as a whole, based upon the novels by George R.R. Martin. As we mentioned, no character is safe. The show never settles into an easy or repetitive story device. Characters rise to power in some kingdoms, and fall from power in others. To summarize Fourth Season for the sake of mnemonic brevity, Peter Dinklage’s character is arrested and placed on trial for a murder. The dragons enter adolescence and become more unmanageable. And the forces in conflict in the north sort themselves out in the face of a greater threat, culminating in an episode-long battle similar to the battle episode in Second Season (Jun 13). The show’s visceral satisfactions are enormous—there still is plenty of sex, as well as totally gut-spilling violence, the many special effects and action sequences, and so on—but it is equally rich in well-considered reflections on power, relationships, inner spirituality, obligations, romance and every other aspect of existence. If you love movies as much as we do, this is what you live for.