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HBO's Game of Thrones: Does the new trailer do the show justice?

Last night, HBO gave us this new Game of Thrones trailer. Unlike the last trailer -- which I adored, by the way -- this one's got dialogue! And swordplay! And sexy naked ladies! And dudes hitting other dudes in the face! As a fan who's read the original series by George R. R. Martin, I'm ... concerned.

Don't get me wrong. I'm aware that Martin's series has lots of naked ladies (and dudes), lots of swordplay, and even occasional face-punching. But when I think about what I love about the books, I think about the Sopranos-esque intrigue, the backstabbing, the political plots, the fact that you can never really tell where anyone's allegiances lie, plus any number of twists and surprise deaths -- or suprise massacres! -- that I could spoil. (But, don't worry, I'll be good.) That intrigue and suspense doesn't necessarily translate well into a one-minute trailer. Or at least, it's not showing up much in this one.

An HBO producer jokingly described the series as "The Sopranos in Middle Earth," but that sells the story short. Yes, there are dragons, if you're willing to wait around a while for them. There's not much magic to speak of. There is a long-lost princess, royal twincest, and plenty of jousting, but all of the above (dragons included) are wrapped up in a powerplay that spans a huge network of unlikely alliances between political powerhouses. A, uh, game of thrones. If you will.

One of the favorite parts of the series for many fans is a conversation between Catelyn Stark and Walder Frey. That's all it is -- a conversation. It's a great chunk of dialogue, and a revealing moment for both characters, but it's a conversation. It's not a swordfight. It's not a sex scene. It might not even need music backing if it were filmed. And yet this is a scene that, if removed, would provoke a lot of fan ire. These are people who really care about these characters' debate techniques. Even more than they care about the inclusion of naked ladies. Hard to believe, I know.

Is it possible to distill a show like that into a television trailer? Not really, but we have an honorable attempt here. I like that the editors showed us a piece of Eddard Stark's character at the trailer's beginning, but after a couple lines of dialogue from him, we get a monologue from Nan to young Bran Stark juxtaposed with Dany's story. This makes very little narrative sense, by the way, since Nan isn't talking to Dany, and that's not made clear in the trailer. Then, there's a shot of Dany in bed with one of her handmaids; this is clearly fan-service, since the solidly heterosexual Dany only briefly uses her handmaids in the books as dildos (that is to say, objects made to serve her royal needs). Again, if you hadn't read the books, maybe you'd think this show would involve a lot more lesbian action than it actually will. The trailer's climactic finish involves quick cuts to a sword fight and Tyrion hitting Joff in the face. Great moments, all -- but this isn't supposed to be a sex-packed action show. Or, wait. Is it?

I want this to be The Sopranos. But this trailer seems to be giving the internet a very different impression. Cinemablend, for example, said in their write-up of the trailer that "Game of Thrones is like Lord of the Rings if Gandalf made sexy time with the fine ladies of the Rohirrim." Oh, lordy.

Are audiences going to bother sticking around when they realize that this plot is a lot more Sopranos than pornographic Middle Earth? Or, George R.R. Martin forbid, is this show going to somehow end up being a pornographic Middle Earth? I can't decide which outcome depresses me more.

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  • JCB said:

    I wouldn't worry too much about the trailer.  Even the Sopranos didn't try to advertise the subtleties early on (and honestly I think people forget how much casual nudity there was in that show) and the point of the trailer is to draw in the rest of the audience, those people who haven't read the books (or any fantasy novel at all for that matter.) If they sell only to Martin's fans, the show will die very quickly (seen a plan for a Serenity sequel lately?) but if they can rope in the equivalent to the True Blood audience, people who'd never have described themselves as horror/vampire fans but got hooked by the sexy, they'll have a decent chance of running long enough to do the series justice.  

    December 1, 2010 10:18 AM

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