Friday, September 01, 2017

Game of Thrones - The James Bond series of TV

(Obligatory spoiler alert)

I read Game of Thrones, the book by George R. R. Martin (GRRM), back in 2010. Cersei Lannister's famous "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die." to Ned Stark is an all time favourite quote of mine. But, sadly, the book isn't. I hate it as I love it, I hate GRRM for having made my life hell by killing Ned Stark off. It was with a sad heart that I ended the first book in the 'A Song of Ice And Fire' (ASOIAF) series. What a beautiful book, how beautifully grey, how so unforgiving of the good men, how so unforgiving of the bad men, how so unforgiving of humans in general, how so unforgiving of any living being in general, I would argue with my friends who were hell bent on finishing the series. As to me, I somehow finished Clash of Kings (ASOIAF #2), but Storm of Swords (ASOIAF #3) was just too much for me. I stopped after a few pages, something I hardly do to any book, let alone a series I hate as much as I love, and went right off to Wikipedia to catch up on the story. Reading about the Red Wedding even on Wiki was too much for my tender heart and many are the nights I have spent brooding over the losses of the Stark family, because of Ned Stark, that honourable fool. 
I was never a TV series person, so when HBO made GoT into a TV series (that all my friends again raved about), it took me many years and some serious encouragement from Internet memes to get to the series. 
To be honest, I have enjoyed the TV series - even after they started making their own story up as Mr. GRIM (sorry GRRM) is terribly behind schedule on the books. It is great TV, and when characters you like die on TV, they don't really die. Remember, they still are alive in the books since you haven't got around to reading those parts yet (reading about deaths on Wiki doesn't count). The dragons look amazing, Dany turns out in great costumes, Cersei walks about with her lovely sneer as if she was born with it, Tyrion gives out punch dialogues,  Jaime has grown up to be more of a man and handsome as ever, and Jon Snow... ummm.... well... Jon Snow looks good, nothing more, nothing less. And, after actually visiting Dubrovnik (where the King's Landing scenes are filmed), it is kind of exciting to keep seeing the place on screen again and again.
But, of late, the book snob has been waking up and kicking around, feeling really sorry for the book fans who have been subjected to this tripe on TV. 

  1. Did the last few episodes of the last season (S7) feel like "Mission Impossible" and "James Bond" in one to you? They certainly did, to me. The only solace is, for a change, we have a lady rescuing all the menfolk after they take stupid decisions and get stuck in the middle of nowhere. That feels empowering. 
  2. The whole idea behind ASOIAF is the grey - who you think is right isn't always right, who you think is a villain isn't always a villain. There are times you start empathising with the guy who threw a 7 year old kid off the walls of the window for having witnessed his incest. And, that's not because he looks good or because he has suddenly turned over a new leaf and performed some good deeds on screen. It's because you learn to empathise more with the character. For a book to be able to do that is where its victory lies. And, I can't blame TV, it is difficult to bring these nuances out on screen in detail. Then we will need billions in budget and many decades of screening, and TV fans might not even be interested in such attention to detail.
  3. A good book ties up its loose ends, not in a hurry, as if it is a budget package tossed through India post, but like a beautiful present wrapped up in the choicest of gilded gift paper, hand delivered by the most professional of handsome people. That's what GRIM does. Which is his boon and bane. Which is why he is lagging so terribly behind, much to the wrath of his now-lost-hope fans. And the TV series is on the other end. "Oh, the Night King needs a dragon. Let's do these a, b, c nonsensical things and he will have a dragon", seems to be the name of the game.
  4. I can understand that TV comes with certain liberties, like racing timelines, whirring ravens, flying peoples across continents etc. but it does irk me that enough focus hasn't been given to the detailing of the costumes. Why is Jon Snow wearing heavy winter clothing down South in King's Landing? Is it because he is strapped for cash, because sister (cousin) Sansa used up all the money to procure rice and grains for the long winter?
  5. And, that whole pandering to the audience is driving me nuts. It is almost like every week's story is written after looking up a few internet memes, fan theories and fan fantasies about who should be having sex with one another. GoT started off, true to its mastermind GRIM, a series where anyone can get killed anytime. Now, it is a series full of James Bonds who don't get killed, only the sidekicks get killed as some collateral damage under dragon fire. 
HBO, you are almost tempting me to get back to the books. The only thing stopping me now is, there is a >90% chance that GRIM will kill himself off (due to old age) before he finishes the books and he might leave some specific instruction to steam roll the drafts left behind, like Terry Pratchett did. And, then, where will I be? 
This keeps me happy, seeing mindless TV, looking up random memes, speaking in GoT code words and irking the non-GoT world, and not getting emotionally invested in the characters and their lives. 
Will the makers of the series ensure the Night King kills off all the living peoples in Westeros by end of S8, if, for nothing else, but to stay true to GRIM's grim outlook towards life?

Exclusive breastfeeding - a special bond of forever

You were a scrawny little monkey when you came to me the first time. Your eyes weren't fully open, your fingers were tightly closed, your neck was inexistent, your head required full time support, and your entire body was invisible, having been wrapped in a thick blue swaddle cloth. When the nurse gave you to me, I didn't know what I was supposed to do, to you, with you, and of you. And, I was terribly scared that I would crush you by holding you too tight, or I would let you slip away if I held you too loose. Would my breath on your face disturb you, would my lips on your head fluster you?

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