And now in evenings and on the tube I've just read Game of Thrones the book, since Monday. Quite a light read, actually. Don't think I'm going to bother with the sequels, though.
Some thoughts occur. I think I've managed to craft this so there are no actual spoilers, beyond merely the fact that Game of Thrones has characters called certain things who are related to each other in certain ways and are introduced in certain episodes. (None of this is presented as a surprise in the narrative.)
This must be the most crazy television show to cast in the history of television shows. There are what, 20 main characters in season 1? And yet that's with the cast pared down. There are lots of characters who appear briefly in Game of Thrones the book who will later appear in the TV show and then suddenly be really important; but whose introduction is delayed in the TV show. And there are plenty of characters who do get introduced at the same time as in the books, and then suddenly they are really important. And I've noticed that I consistently get confused by character introductions after season 1.
Let's look at Edmure Tulley, for example. In the books, he's established in Game of Thrones as Catelyn's brother, he gets a few lines. Lord Tully, his father, wants to marry him off, we know that. He'll later go on to have a more important part in book 3. In the TV show he gets no such pre-introduction. He appears in season 3 episode 3, and his first scene is one with the boat and the arrows. If you've seen it, you'll remember it. Now, I can see why they've not had him as a cameo in season 1 or 2. They want good actors in these roles, but if they had them in season 1 as a cameo they can't promise them much work yet but need them to be be available for season 3 or 4 or 5 (assuming it gets made?) Difficult. So instead they defer the casting process to when they actually have a decent amount of work to promise people. So, what would is actually a perfectly normal TV pattern of a guest star going on to become a more important regular as the focus of the series changes ends up not being used by GoT. People are suddenly thrust into importance when they are introduced. (This has happened before. I guess the next person it will happen to is Jeyne Pool.)
So, anyway, Edmure Tully's introduction. The problem is he's not named in that episode. I remember thinking "ooh, isn't it that chap from Black Mirror playing, oh, actually I'm not sure of the name of the character", thinking it was me. But now I look at the transcripts, episode 3 does establish him as Robb's uncle. But he's not called "Lord Tully", his relation to Blackfish isn't made clear, and the killer is he won't be named until episode 6. Now, maybe a previous episode did give a name to Robb's Tully uncle. But in a show with a cast this big nobody's going to make that type of connection. You need a name and face on screen at the same time.
And it's done this sort of thing time and time again. And it's just shoddy. If you're not naming a character as some sort of mystery or have a dramatic reason for doing it, fair enough. But this is blatantly not what's happening. They're just adapting cool bits from the source material without properly taking into account the basic narrative function of introducing the audience to the characters. Game of Thrones does this a lot, and not just with introductions. It doesn't earn its emotional weight, it just wings it based on the (usually excellent) performances. And that's without getting into its problems of telling not showing: for a TV series it's barely visual at all, it would work remarkably well as an audio play.
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