Friday, 16 March 2012


Honour and bloodshed abound in the first season of GAME OF THRONES- out now on Blu-ray and DVD. Images: HBO 


Available on Blu-ray and DVD from HBO

Reviewed by Scott Weller

Possessing enough sophisticated sex, swordplay and blood-thirsty savagery to make J.R.R. Tolkien shudder, the impressive series GAME OF THRONES, the true flip-side of THE LORD OF THE RINGS, created by George R. R. Martin, begins its game of power and dark destinies anew as its makes its first season debut this month on Blu-ray and DVD from HBO. And the always risk-taking company certainly give it their all with the kind of lavish presentation that fans of the saga, lovingly created by Martin since 1996, and breathtakingly adapted for the screen by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, both expect and deserve.

It’s in the Blu-ray format, though, that you’re closer than ever before to being a part of that incredible world of fantasy, intrigue and adventures that is Westeros: experience it’s opulence and decay, and feel the joy, kinsman ship, power, pain, ambitions and heartbreak of the shows diverse and intriguing characters. Feel every sword clashed and every tear dropped.

Sean Bean shows his star quality once again as sword-wielding Eddard Stark.

I could go on all day waxing lyrical about this first series, and I have, and did, here:  and and and it’s Blu-ray set is the perfect compliment to this stunning series, possessing an equally compulsive set of behind the scenes extras handsomely complementing the twelve part series, produced with the kind of pride and attention to detail that fans will lovingly want to return to again and again, and a perfect mood setter for what's to come with Season Two starting in the UK and US from April…

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and her loyal servant Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glenn) prepare for new challenges.

You’ll find that the bulk of the show’s impressive extras can be found on disc five where, amongst the main menu’s mighty chords of Ramin Djawadi’s music for King Baratheon’s descending upon Winterfell, you’ll enjoy an incredible and immersive box of delights that masterfully cross and blend the lands of superior literature and innovative TV.

Peter Dinklage excels as Tyrion Lannister, here quickly learning to kill and not be killed!

From the winter wiles of House Stark to the Mediterranean seas, and the power building revenge of the outcast Targaryen empire, the literary saga breathtakingly conceived and written by Martin is lovingly detailed and expanded on with the disc sets beautifully developed and highly informative visual and text guide to Westeros: the houses, nations and structures that become so important throughout the first season, outlined with histories, maps, diagrams and character narration that prove most helpful for viewers wanting to get up to speed with the huge realm and used to all the events (past, present and future), plus the wide range of iconic characters and backdrops in the opening episodes, assembled from what is still an evolving imagination from the author in his continuing book series. Want more? There's also the complete In-Episode guides that track the on-screen drama with further detail on the evolving story and characters, additional biographical info and history on every aspect of the series. You will be totally immersed and loving every minute of it! Clip: Game of Thrones Blu Ray Clip - YouTube

And going into the series proper, there’s a short but sweet documentary featurette charting the challenging but positive skill required in bringing GAME OF THRONES literary depth and imagination to the TV screen, where creator Martin and show producers/writers Weiss and Benioff outline their dedication and hard work in getting the series transferred in the way it should and had to be, as well as creating something that would make it uniquely landmark to HBO and please both the dedicated worldwide fan base for GAME and win over new converts. No easy task, but one that was pulled off better than anyone could ever have expected. Though this mini-doc is far too brief, perhaps we’ll get a longer version of it nearer towards the series ultimate completion.

Lena Headey as the embittered Queen, Cersei Lannister.

A further interesting half hour (again too short!) companion documentary on the making of the first series continues to chart the challenges of bringing GAME to TV screens. Alongside sweet interview snippets, the documentary showcases some of the highest creative standards ever seen for television with its making, using the finest actors and behind the scenes craftsmen from across the globe (the United States, the UK, Ireland and Malta), alongside beautiful location filming and sterling CGI work. Such behind the scenes names seen here will surely become more familiar and celebrated as the series continues.

From watching this documentary it’s clear to see that all involved love and admire the breathtaking scope and continuing potential of the books and the series, which is so nice to see.

Anatomy of an Episode continues the behind the scenes live-action coverage, and is a Blu-ray experience that delves ever further into the creative talents and shows us what it takes to get one episode of the show to the screen, specifically highlighting Episode Six, whilst exhaustive, informative and amusing commentaries by Martin and selected cast and crew from seven episodes (sadly minus Sean Bean), create a perfect and fascinating mini film and TV school in your living room. Who needs classes?!

The loyal Jon Snow (Kit Harrington, right) learns the hardships of being part of the Knight's Watch.

Delving into one of the series core plotlines, there’s a nice featurette concerning the once proud guardian warriors of the Night's Watch at Castle Black, their plotline soon to advance in the upcoming Season Two. A harsh and challenging place where third sons could find their place as honorable men in defending their realms, it’s now a forgotten environment, with its once noble ranks now shored up by rapists, thieves and murderers as they guard the mighty North Wall of ice and cold so as to protect Westeros from the dark and insidious dangers that lay in its snow capped forests beyond (glimpsed in important and scary sequences populating Season One, most notably its scary prologue/scene setter), and featuring important contributions from Martin, Weiss, Benioff, the cast and supporting players that form the brave group, and the imaginative production designers who skillfully crafted it all into reality.

We also get an impressive look at how the shows innovative title sequence was realized, showing us the organic flow of the world of Westeros- an inverted and evolving globe conceived by the talented visualists at the Elastic company, where its CGI craftsmen discuss the influences of George R.R. Martin’s imagination fuelled universe and beyond, from elements of our own real-life history.

Jason Momoa makes a larger than life impression as the savage Dothraki leader, Khal Drogo. 

Finally, there’s Creating the Dothraki Language: a look at the unique, guttural, verbally violent and expressive language created for the series barbarian warrior horsemen (the GAME OF THRONES equivalent of Genghis Khan and the Mongolian Hordes), originally developed by Martin and fully expanded into a believable dialect for the series by talented linguist David J. Peterson of the Language Creation Society. It’s a fun examination of the believable and comprehensive language/frame of reference for the warriors, of which the actors playing them also relate to the challenges of adapting a new and special language. Watch out Klingons, your day in the cult TV language sun may be over!

Tyrion wins some much needed mercenary support!

The man with the plan (and the hat!) George R. R. Martin’s groundbreaking and spirited spectacular, and just thoroughly addictive fantasy saga, is the perfect gift to treat yourself to this Easter in the build up to what will surely be an even more ambitious and pulse pounding second season of blood and thunder to shake the world of Westeros. As dragons fly the sky once more and previous betrayals, defeats and other misdeeds are rectified by its warring family clans, war is indeed coming. (And who doesn't want that little snot new King Joffrey to get his comeuppance!)


With the series currently blazing high in the US sales charts, if you haven't already got a Blu-ray player then this addictive release proves that you no longer have an excuse not to get one. No more delays in experiencing this true visual feast...

KOOL TV RATING: A simply stunning 5 out of 5

Look out for KOOL TV’s upcoming and comprehensive coverage of GAME OF THRONES Season Two very soon…

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