Last night HBO aired a 15-minute preview of its upcoming fantasy series, Game of Thrones. The full preview is now available on the web for the poor and the gentry alike.
Game of Thrones is easily the most anticipated TV series of the spring. Based on the first novel in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, it follows the various clans and nations of the fictional Westeros as they vie for control of the country. Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring) plays Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell and the King's new Marshal.
The long Game of Thrones clip is the latest and best in a steady stream of info on the project, including trailers, posters, and behind-the-scenes specials. After so much build-up, it's gratifying to finally see some real footage in context to better gauge the final product.
The preview reinforces the info on the series that's come out so far: Game of Thrones is a gritty and uncompromising adaptation of its source material. In just a few short moments we see a scouting party eviscerated and its sole survivor graphically executed. The premiere airs in just two weeks.
That said, there's human drama here too - the play between Stark, his would-be archer son and (presumably) his daughter is particularly appealing. Despite the fantastic setting, it appears that HBO's reputation for character-driven drama is quite safe.
I've said it before, and the new footage bears it out - Game of Thrones has the best production values of any fantasy series I've ever seen (and arguably far better than than many Hollywood movies). Every detail of the each scene is meticulously and lovingly placed. It puts fare like Sky's Terry Pratchett adaptations or even Starz' new series Camelot to shame.
Watch the preview below, and see for yourself:
I can't wait for Game of Thrones to start, and that's high praise from someone who's never picked up one of the novels. HBO's proven that they can create awesome period pieces with Boardwalk Empire, Deadwood and Band of Brothers. If they can bring that talent and keep the series true to what's earned the books millions of fans, they've got a winner on their hands.
And for the Song of Ice and Fire fans worried that their favorite fantasy series will be corrupted, take note: Martin himself is on the production team. He's been consulting with the creators on plot, story and the like for the entire production run of Game of Thrones, now years of time and millions of dollars in the making.
The only thing that worries me about the new series is pacing. Fantasy novels are famously long-winded, and Martin's books are no exception - the book that the first season is based on is about 700 pages long. While ten episodes should be more than enough to cover it, it could be challenge for the writers to keep up with the faster pace demanded of modern audiences.
Winter is coming, and so is Game of Thrones. The premiere airs April 17th on HBO.