Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A Game of Thrones Series Two Review

      So the dust has settled on a Game of Thrones series two and we have been left with another dramatic final scene to keep us in anticipation for its return with series three, and what an ending it was. But how has this second series turned out and did it match up to what we saw in the first series?

      Returning to the Game

      Series two adapts A Clash of Kings, the second book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, and indeed a lot of kings do seem to clash during the tale.

      With this new series we get the introduction of a lot of new characters, most of who seem to be shaggy haired men with beards, or women with not much dress sense for cold climates, yes we are talking about you Lady Margaery. At some points this becomes a bit overwhelming, identifying who these people are and remembering just who was that guy again?

New presenter of the Voice for the BBC ?

      The book is a thick, tightly packed novel, and obviously a challenge to squeeze into a ten part series, and might have benefitted from being a twenty four part one instead. The increase in characters and story lines with this second series must have been something the makers quickly realised was a problem as we soon got a recap section at the start of each episode just so we could keep track of what was going on.

      The series gave us all the story and action we had seen in the first one as the various factions play the game of kings, but as the story expands it comes across as the edited highlights of a much more detailed story, which would be the original novel. We don't spend too long on an individual scene before we are spun back to another part of the story, and the only time we really spend any time in one part of the story is the battle for King’s Landing, a whole episode in fact.

      I have not read the second book yet but I had read the first one before seeing that series and in the novel we had long chapters spent in the company of individual characters, an hour or two developing their scenes and personalities. Obviously the TV series could not do this, and maybe it wouldn't have been so exciting to that type of audience. So we get the edited highlights of an epic story, and if we want to experience to full story then there is obviously the novels waiting for us out there.

      Memories of the Game

      We again got some outstanding moments during this series, and watching parts like the northern mountain scenes you realise the cost that must have been put into this series. The birth of the shadows was an interesting visual, and the ships advancing on King’s Landing was also a visual treat that showed the epic qualities of what we was witnessing and made you realise there probably isn’t anything like this on TV at the moment.

      But there were also some weak moments. The heavy handed mention of a farm having two boys pretty much killed the apparent death of the two princes, but was thankfully only one of a few let downs. On the other hand how many of us were worried when Tyrion seemed to be killed? I think I can safely say that was a large portion of the audience who hadn't read the novel, but I think this could be a weakness of the series.

Not good at the fighting stuff

      Tyrion is a scene stealer, when he comes on our screen he lights it up with his personality and pretty much puts everyone else into the shadows. You can see why his family hates him so much. And this is a problem, if he does get killed off who do we have left to entertain us as most of the others don't come anywhere near his level of character. He is like us, a person who doesn't really take all this pompous stuff seriously, and is eager to show what he thinks of it all with a sarcastic quip of gesture of defiance. He isn't very good at the fighting thing, but that doesn't stop him trying. He is a character we love to see on the screen and without a doubt the best thing in the series.

      Leaving our short scene stealer aside for now the other character who kept our attention was Daenerys, but this is where the edited highlights opinion comes into play. Her story arc in this series seems to be very short, and I would imagine there was a lot more to it in the book. We was given only brief glimpse of this new city and the characters within, but not really allowed to spend much time in their company before being whisked back to other tales.

Where are my dragons, you fiend?

      Summing up the Game

      The series has a lot to pack in, and reflecting upon what we get it all comes across as a very skimmed affair, some parts of the story seem to be left out as we stride forward with the epic tale, and it will be interesting to see how it all develops as I imagine it isn't going to get any simpler as it carries on. There is very much a feeling that other characters are doing interesting things when we are somewhere else and I am intrigued to read the book to see how it all played out there in greated detail.

      So the second series continued where the first left off and gave us more great action and intrigue from this world, and of course a whole lot more scene stealing from a very big actor. If we want to experience the full story then I guess we will have to turn to the books, but maybe this is what the author wants us to do. The TV series works within the constraints of that medium, and forms a sort of trailer for the fuller novels.

      Bring on series three and please don't kill Tyrion as I wouldn't like to think what that will do to the ratings.

Smug, me?

Tyrion gets five out of five stars as always, but for series two as a whole it gets -

Four Stars


  1. I agree with most of what you have said; I do think that Tyrion and Daernerys are the most interesting characters, the others tend to be very much stereotypes brought in for the plot's sake rather than 3-D people like the former. Apart from the attack on King's Landing very little seems to have happened and I am struggling to recall much of it. I am still glad that there is a major fantasy series on TV at the moment but either the action needs stepping up a few gears or a fewer characters need focussing on.

    1. Maybe I was wrong to use the word highlights, as that implies the series was an endless stream of unforgettable moments when it obviously wasn't as you said.

      Many scenes were like all the action was going on just over the hill, a bit like in the first series when Tyrion was going into battle and we thought great now we get to see some action and all we got was him being knocked out and waking up after it was finished. Great for budget but not viewers.

      Maybe they should just dump the others and give Tyrion a show of his own :)