Tuesday, March 02, 2010

HBO + 'Game of Thrones' = awesome?

Okay, I know I said in the previous post I don't write much about development, but I've been getting so many questions over the last year about HBO's attempt to adapt George R.R. Martin's "Game of Thrones" that I figured HBO's decision to greenlight the series (which Mo Ryan has more details on) deserved a post of its own.

I'm not much of a fantasy reader, but Mo and James Poniewozik effectively tag-teamed me (during our pizza summit) to give the books a try at some point soon. Maybe after I finish the two combat diaries that "The Pacific" is using as source material? (And no, not all of my reading choices are based on what HBO is up to. It just seems like that some months.)

43 comments:

syrin said...

Can't wait to see this show on tv! :D
Thanks for the great news!

PY said...

These books are great and should translate well to episodic TV (much better than if they tried for a movie or miniseries). Just hope they don't screw it up!

Craig Ranapia said...

Well, HBO certainly deserves a ten out of ten for ambition. Then again, I said the same about Carnivale and look where that ended up...

kosmonaut said...

I really enjoy the books, and as others have said, they are exceptionally well suited to episodic television. The fact that the author used to write TV is probably not a coincidence in that.

All that said, if you are absolutely not someone who enjoys fantasy fiction, I would say wait to watch the show. As good as the series is, it is still very much a product of what my wife mocks as "Swords books," and it benefits from prior reading of Tolkein,etc.

The TV show will be different of course. And the fact that they were able to actually get Dinklage is a dream come true. Maybe the best casting of all time.

Cajunman said...

HUGE HIT in the making!

Jen said...

I've finished the first two books and am working my way through the series, so I find this news really exciting.

Due to the way the novels are structured, it makes me wonder if the narrative set up for the show will be something similar to Lost, with episodes focused on particular characters within the larger scope of the story. I realize this probably won't be possible given the tightening that must naturally happen when translating from a novel to a series, but it would be an interesting option.

Hatfield said...

Ahh, I loved Carnivale. Not Knauf's fault he didn't get to finish his story. Well, except the content that caused the show to not be popular enough and/or renewed, since he wrote it all. But that's not important right now.

Daniboy said...

Yeah, by all means read the books. They're the best fantasy books I've ever read (and have ruined fantasy for me as a genre).

Don't read them too quickly, though, because the wait for the next book in the series might get a bit depressing.

Andy L said...

Don't worry, Alan. I spent the summer of 2008 reading "Homicide", "The Corner" and "Generation Kill". There are worse sources for all of your reading pleasures.

belinda said...

I think this is one of those ventures that could be great or horrible, but it's certainly intriguing to see what kind of a show they'd make out of "Game of Thrones". Risk taking is a good color on HBO.

I'm actually a little less enthused about The Pacific, if only because of the subject matter (marines, soldiers, wars, yet again, and for me, my stupid inability to tell the characters apart because they all wear a similar uniform/hair/hat/all covered up, and in addition war shows generally means a lack of complex female characters). But I will watch it to see what all the fuss is about amongst pretty much all critics. At least for the first few episodes!

David said...

Be warned -- The author, George R.R. Martin, has been working on the "latest" book since the beginning of time. My guess is best case scenario you love the fist few books, and only end up with half of a fantasy series

jen said...

I've gotten up to the third book, and I think they are freaking amazing. I especially love how ambivalent the charcters are. No one is a cartoon of evil or a paragon of virtue- All the characters are rounded and have many shades to them even when they don't seem like it at first.

I have high hopes for this, and part of it is the casting. When I began book one, there was one character who I immediately thought of being played by a particular actor=- I couldn't imagine anyone else in the role. And then HBO actually did cast this person in the pilot. I think this means good things. I'm hoping...

Sister T said...

I'm interested just to learn the correct pronunciation for several characters' names.

Karen said...

Mo Ryan's recommendation got me reading the first book, and now I'm into the second one, and loving them. I haven't read any fantasy since high school (late 1970s), when I read Tolkien and Zelazny, but Martin is such a good writer that I feel like I'd enjoy these no matter what genre they were.

Great news about the pickup!

Karen said...

P.S. Sister T: Hear, hear!

NancySC said...

Thanks for letting us know about the greenlight for GoT! When I saw the picture, I immediately thought of it, but thought I was reading a post from GRRM himself.

The books are well worth reading, especially the first two. Now we're waiting and waiting for the next one...

Anonymous said...

wow this is awesome

Jonah said...

Great news. I've always described the books to people as "what if HBO did fantasy" even before I heard about the TV series.

I'm wondering how they'll swing the timespan of the show, the actors, and the books. I mean, considering the number of child actors the show requires, they're going to hit the Walt from Lost problem badly within a year or two.

And if it's successful, the show's plot will catch up to the books within five or six years. Even if the fifth book is published soon, the sixth will take a few more years, and there's going to be at least one more after that.

So we could be left with the young actors too old for their parts and no more material to adapt.

But hey, I'll be glad if the TV show even gets that far. Let's just hope for the best.

Andrew said...

On the page, Song of Ice and Fire reminds me as much of a sprawling HBO series more than a series of novels.


After a fairly lackluster period where AMC took a lot of the cable mojo with Mad Men and Breaking Bad, HBO seems to be moving full steam ahead in developing intriguing new series, with The Pacific, Treme, Boardwalk Empire, Luck and now Game of Thrones, that's a healthy amount of stuff from creators with solid track records and/or interesting adaptations. This may not be the second coming of BoB/The Sopranos/Deadwood/The Wire, but a tremendous amount of laudable ambition. I'm going to be subscribing for The Pacific, and it certainly seems like it'll be worth subscribing for a while.

Kirchhoff said...

The books are fantastic. The characters are vivid and human, Martin is able to avoid the cliches of good/evil that plagues so much of fantasy writing and create fascinating gray areas (characters you thought were supposed to be villians turn quite sympathetic as the story continues, and the same goes with the so-called heroes).

The only hesitation I have in recommending the series is I don't hold out much hope that they will ever be finished.

Col Bat Guano said...

Don't read them too quickly, though, because the wait for the next book in the series might get a bit depressing.

I am about ready to assemble a torch and pitchfork bearing mob to get Martin to release the next book.

Kenrick said...

I love the books, so I'm super excited about this.

My only reservation is we have no idea if GRRM will ever finish writing the series.

I think I read somewhere that he keeps track of everything in his head, so if something ever happens to him....

Alyssa said...

I am so excited for this, too bad we have to wait a whole year! Luckily, GRRM fans are used to waiting.

Can't recommend the books highly enough - you won't regret picking them up.

groovekiller said...

Hey Alan -

Is one of those 'Pacific' books - Helmet for My Pillow? If you like his style, you might want to check out the war histories he's written.
Of all of them 'From Sea to Shining Sea' is my favorite since it covers a period not overly represented in American History (post Rev War, pre-Civil). However, I did read it as a teen, so I wonder if I would still find it appealing...

(I left the author's name ambiguous since I don't want to spoil history for 'Pacific' viewers. If it was good enough rationale for Hanks & Speilberg not to reveal the elderly soldiers' names in BoB until the last ep, it's good enough for me.)

Josh said...

I don't know if it'll work as TV, but this is by far the best fantasy series I've read (and I'm a huge nerd that's read a ton of them)

Anonymous said...

the only regret you will have if you read this series is it has taken a billion years for Martin to finish the 5th book with 2 more after that.

Craig Ranapia said...
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Craig Ranapia said...

I am about ready to assemble a torch and pitchfork bearing mob to get Martin to release the next book.

You think Martin is holding 'A Dance With Dragons' hostage, cackling manically at his diabolical cunning, or something?

Sareeta said...

Belinda, you're not the only one... I, too, have trouble telling characters apart in war series and films. Actually, in a lot of shows. It took me 2 seasons to figure out who was who in The Wire...
As for GOT----YES! I started reading the books because of the HBO buzz. It's never too late to get into this magical series. HBO is the perfect network for the series. WINTER IS COMING!

PY said...

If you're wondering why people keep bring up whether Martin is going to finish the series, you may want to Google what happened with Robert Jordan and the "Wheel of Time" series.

Vic DiGital said...

Best fantasy series out there, bar none (even Lord of the Rings... blasphemy, I know!). There are so many characters that I know will become iconic when brought to life. Tyrion especially will likely become the breakout character who seeps into mainstream consciousness.

I've read the screenplay to the pilot episode (it's easily findable with a simple google search), and at least from that one script, this show is going to be a solid adaptation. Nothing of importance left out, and a couple of cool new things brought in. For those that have read the books, the pilot episode ends on the line "The things I do for love!" So that should give you a good idea of how much ground a typical episode can cover. And unlike the novels (where each chapter is told through the POV of one of the dozen or so main characters), the screenplay reads like a straightforward story, jumping from scene to scene and character to character as needed.

But bottom line, if you've never read a fantasy series, this is the one you should give a shot. It's absolutely an HBO story.

It's going to be a long 12 to 18 months before this series finally arrives.

Pandyora said...

Can't wait to see Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister. An absolutely sublime piece of casting.

GregM said...

Just on the whole is-Martin-going-to-finish-where's-book-five:

http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/05/entitlement-issues.html

Craig Ranapia said...
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Craig Ranapia said...

Greg M.:

Thanks for that - Gaiman was far from the only author who was (quite rightly) pissed off about the toxic entitle-itis being thrown in Martin's direction.

Let me put it this way: HBO has earned a reputation for being supportive of creators, and I'd rather enjoy a series where they've taken the time to get it right, rather than get it done right now. It's not as if television is suffering from a mediocrity deficit.

The simple truth is that writing a thousand pages of readable prose fiction (or producing the equivalent of between six and eleven feature-length movies a year that makes us a season of television) is too damn hard and risky not to want to do the very best work you're capable of. I'd respectfully suggest that George RR Martin knows that better than most, given his near forty year career as an author, editor and screenwriter.

Daniboy said...

Craig Ranapia said...

Gaiman was far from the only author who was (quite rightly) pissed off about the toxic entitle-itis being thrown in Martin's direction.

The simple truth is that writing a thousand pages of readable prose fiction ... is too damn hard and risky not to want to do the very best work you're capable of. I'd respectfully suggest that George RR Martin knows that better than most, given his near forty year career as an author, editor and screenwriter.


Absolutely right. That being said, however, Alan did write "I'm not much of a fantasy reader, but Mo and James Poniewozik effectively tag-teamed me to give the books a try at some point soon." His unspoken question was "well? Should I believe them and give the books a try?"

Every poster who gave an opinion wrote about how good the books were and that they were frustrated about the delay in the next one coming out. There was no "toxic entitle-itis" - perhaps with the exception of the tongue-in-cheek "torch and pitchfork bearing mob" comment. Just people giving their honest opinions. No one was saying "Martin sucks!" and no one even went as far as quoting the "s**t out of luck" remark GRRM is supposed to have given when asked a few years back about what would happen if he were to pass away before finishing the series.

If someone asks you whether they should commit to a long series of books, shouldn't you give them your honest opinion? And wouldn't the very real possiblity of the series never being finished be one of the factors you'd have to weigh?

I'd whole-heartedly recommend the series - the Red Wedding chapter will probably stay with me until my deathbed - but I'd also make sure to give an appropriate warning. Is that unfair?

belinda said...

:D Sareeta! Glad I have company. Woo! :D For some reason, I didn't have this same problem with The Wire at all (maybe because the characters get very distinct after a short time)- for me, it's almost exclusively war movies/shows. I remember watching Black Hawk Down and not being able to tell the guys apart throughout the entire movie, because they were all wearing identical uniforms and have a similar voice.

I guess it just takes a huge huge amount of concentration for me to really watch a war story just to tell the characters apart, and yeah, that really isn't too enjoyable at all! I am hoping that isn't the case with The Pacific, but I'm excited enough for Treme and Boardwalk Empire to watch instead.

Craig Ranapia said...

If someone asks you whether they should commit to a long series of books, shouldn't you give them your honest opinion? And wouldn't the very real possiblity of the series never being finished be one of the factors you'd have to weigh?

Perhaps, but if Stephen King had been killed by that hit and run driver ten years ago instead of seriously injured I would still say that the first four volumes of The Dark Tower were still worth reading. And while it's a damn tragedy that Kage Baker -- who died a few weeks ago -- is never going to write any more tales in her 'Company' universe (and a final volume will be published by Tor next month), I'll still treasure every word she has written.

But, in the end, while I'm not the biggest fan of the 'Game' series, I've got to give HBO mad props for even attempting something as dense and ambitious as this. Even if the end result turns out to be a FlashForward level disappointment, that doesn't change -- because I'd sure love to see the oft-rumoured adaptation of Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos (my favourite SF series of all time) get out of development hell and into production.

Kenrick said...

I have to agree with Daniboy. I strongly recommend the series, but I always have to make the disclaimer that there's the possibility that the series won't ever be finished. It's a risk I want my recommendee to know about.

If one day we find out definitively that the series won't be finished, I won't regret having read the first several books, but I would not necessarily recommend newcomers to read a series that will never be finished.

Much like I would be hard pressed to ever recommend LOST if the series ended at season 5, with no final season 6.

PY said...

Part of the reason readers are frustrated with "delays" is not necessarily entitlement, but the fact that Martin explicitly framed the series initially as a trilogy (and the first two books seem to read as if they are building towards a conclusion in the third). It's now been expanded to seven planned books (and counting). So it's not necessarily a one way street here in terms of wrongly set expectations.

The same thing happened with Robert Jordan and the Wheel of Time (originally announced to readers as a series of 6, expanded to 12 over time, author passed away before completing final book). So it's not an entirely baseless concern.

Anonymous said...

"(and the first two books seem to read as if they are building towards a conclusion in the third)"

Not at all. The series was proposed as a trilogy, was already concieved as four by the end of AGoT, and early in ACoK GRRM stopped all work, did a new outline, and decided it'd be six. It's now seven, but has remained at that count for 7 or 8 years.

But in any case, ACoK should have read to you as the second part in a series of six novels, not the second part of a trilogy. Or, perhaps, as the second part of the first trilogy of a longer series.

I do really recommend these books. GRRM applied the lessons he learned as a screenwriter in Hollywood to his already-notable talents.

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit concerned they cast the guy that plays Ronin on Stargate for this. Really?

Anonymous said...

I love the books,and I'm very excited for the series. That said, I too share concerns that the series will not finish.

Also, I believe Steven Erikson's series "Tales of the Malazan Book of the Fallen" is every bit as good as ASOIAF. 1A and 1B in IMO.