Game Of Thrones Proves HBO Still The King
By Chauncey Telese
Hi all, and to any and all my stoner readers, happy 420! Enjoy spending all day watching “Pineapple Express,”playing video games and ordering out for food several times a day and then hitting up Jack In the Box at four in the morning. While I don’t partake in those activities, I support those that do, so party on guys.
Editor's note: I know we've never had to say this before, but the opinions expressed in this piece are strictly those of our entertainment/sports/lifestyle writer, Chauncey Telese, and not those of KHTS AM 1220. Other than that, enjoy the column.
I’m celebrating in spirit because tonight’s keep me awake album is Sublime’s two disc greatest hits album. Today, my friend Justin, his friend Mikey and I hit an athletic low. We went to play basketball and there was this 11-year-old girl practicing jump shots with her mom and we decided to play around the world with her. To make a long story short after being a little behind us, she came back and beat us. We were twice her age and she beat us. I rationalize it by saying to myself that she practices it every day and this is the first time we’ve played in a year, but that doesn’t dull the pain.
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So, fun start to the NBA playoffs right? The Lakers realized that Chris Paul is an elite point guard and that if Pau Gasol and/or Odom have off games, they won’t win. Carmelo is showing that he has what it takes to be a leader except for the part where he as to involve Amare; after all it’s his team, too.
In that same series I told you Ray Allen still has some big moments in him, Dwight Howard found out that he puts up a 46-19, the Magic can lose, but if he puts up 33-19, they can win; Chicago is finding Indiana to be feistier then they thought, ditto Memphis for San Antonio, the Thunder Nuggets series is as awesome as I thought, and the Mavericks have proven that their demise was greatly exaggerated.
On the hockey side of things I learned that if the Kings have a four goal lead, they have no qualms about gagging it away. You’d think that after the Kings steamrolled the Sharks in the Shark tank that they could succeed at home. Anyway, it’d make more sense to have my 420 piece contain my review of “Your Highness,” but I’m still working on that piece and today’s offering will still work. After all, it takes place in a fantasy realm with ice monsters and possibly dragons, so it’s not too far off.
As I said when I reviewed the pilot of “Boardwalk Empire,” HBO has regained their rightful place as the king of premium cable. FX, Showtime, AMC, Starz, and Reelz have all taken shots at HBO, but to quote Omar Little, “You come at the king, you better not miss.” Reelz committed an epic fail with “The Kennedys,” Starz couldn’t quite capitalize with “Camelot” (which is a KMart “Game of Thrones”), AMC’s “The Killing” is good but ultimately hasn’t capitalized on the goodwill brought on by “The Walking Dead” plus they couldn’t get a fifth season of “Mad Men” in this year; Showtime’s “The Borgias” turned out to be dull, and though FX’s “Justified” is beyond excellent, FX couldn’t keep “Lights Out” on the air.
Granted, HBO has more money then they know what to do with but they also use that money wisely. If they invest in something, there is no messing around with them. HBO has proven that they can conquer any genre whether it is a cop drama, western, crime, vampires, melodrama, and now fantasy. Their latest series entitled “Game of Thrones” is an adaptation of the book series by George R.R. Martin. The first season is based on the novel “A Song of Fire and Ice” and is just as dense and full of characters as any other HBO program but just like any of their dramas, it is awesome and entertaining.
The pilot starts out with three men in the woods. It’s winter and one of them finds a tribe of people slaughtered. He brings his two cohorts to see the carnage but when they look, there is nary a body to be found. Then they are attacked by a race of ice monsters and kill two of the men; the third proves to be too cowardly to kill. He goes to the kingdom of Winterfell, a modest kingdom run by the benevolent Eddard “Ned” Stark (Sean Bean) who beheads the man for deserting the other two but is rattled by the news he brings.
Ned and his wife Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) have five children: the vain Robb (Richard Madden), the 13-year-old princess Sansa (Sophie Turner), her tomboy sister Arya (Maise Williams), the youngest child Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and the bastard son Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) who wants to join the guards of the ice wall that protect from the race of ice creatures that I mentioned earlier.
Ned receives a letter from the capitol kingdom of Westeros that king Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) is coming along with his wife Ceresi (Lena Headley) her brothers Jamie (a overly handsome warrior, and I can’t find the actor’s name) and the sarcastic genius dwarf Tyrion (the hilarious Peter Dinklage). Robert wants Ned to run the kingdom for him because his chief of staff has been murdered by people who want to take over the kingdom. Ned would rather not because he doesn’t want to leave his family but Robert convinces him to do so by the episode’s end.
Meanwhile, on an island slightly off the coast of Westeros, the king’s two exiled children Viserys (a sniveling Harry Lloyd) and Daenerys (a tortured Emilia Clarke) are setting other chaos into motion. Viserys sells his sister (well it’s called a marriage but she’s not exactly open to the idea) to the king of the Spartan-like tribe of Dothraki in order to get his army to help him take back Westeros. Whew, I know that’s a lot to take in but it flows well enough to not be that confusing.
The pilot is well-written and sets up the entire universe but manages to contain great moments of drama and comedy. The episode is well-paced by director Tim Van Patten of “Sopranos” and “Boardwalk Empire” and he manages to craft a totally believable world that utilizes CGI and awesome set designs to take you into a world of fantasy. The acting is amazing all around the highlights being Sean Bean and Mark Addy who bounce off each other so well and are able to make us laugh but also bring the emotional stuff when they need to. It may seem like a lot of names to remember and not exactly appeal to those who don’t like “Lord of the Rings-”style fantasy but it offers more then that. While yeah, it takes place in a fantasy realm, it is really full of all the political/family intrigue of “The Sopranos” or “The Wire.” Granted, those two shows are better then this, but it fits that model. Also, the violence is awesome without being gratuitous, and while there is a ton of nudity (of course, it’s HBO, right?) it isn’t as blatantly sleazy as it is on “Spartacus” or “Camelot.” I highly (no, that wasn’t a 420 joke) recommend those of you with HBO or at the very least those with access to Netflix, check this show out. It did well enough to get renewed for a second season on the spot and should continue to grow exponentially like “True Blood” did.
Thank you for reading and stay tuned as I bring you a long-delayed movie column.
“Game of Thrones” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. PST on HBO and this Sunday, season two of “Treme” kicks off; on Friday they air the special “Talking Funny” with Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Louis C.K., and Ricky Gervais and on Saturday, the HBO original movie “Cinema Verite” about the PBS documentary “American Family” will air, starring Tim Robbins and Diane Lane.