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A Short Love Letter to HBO

After waiting patiently and watching many an online teaser trailer, A Game of Thrones premiered on HBO last night. I will say that I was late to the fangirl party: I’ve only just finished the first book as of a month or two ago, while most people I know have read all of the series to-date, but in my mind, the timing was perfect. The characters and the world were still vivid in my mind, I’m easily excited by the prospect of seeing it all rendered on the small screen, and when the first season wraps up, I’ll have the remaining books to get me through the endless wait between seasons.

That said, I always go into this sort of thing with at least a *little* trepidation, because, well, Hollywood loves to take its creative liberties. Those liberties weren’t completely absent here, but all told, this series has me pretty wildly excited to see the rest of the season. It was beautifully and not-at-all-disappointingly rendered, and the visuals and the acting came together into a truly enjoyable piece.

I’m not the pickiest of humans, and there are plenty of other SRS reviewers on the Intertubes who are more than happy to throw their much-more-comprehensive opinions at you, so I’ll just toss out a few bits and snatches of things I loved:

Sean. Effing. Bean. Okay, I’ll admit it: I’ve had a penchant for this fellow dating back to his turn as Alec Trevelyan in Goldeneye, so his involvement in a project is enough to at least pique my interest. He’s also proven that he can pull off this type of role, having played Boromir in Lord of the Rings, and he’s an awesome choice to play Ned Stark.

And really, all of the characters are all well-played. Jon Snow throws down angst effortlessly, Tyrion Lannister has the right cheeky swagger to his style, and I think there are now more than a few budding man-crushes on Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who makes a ridiculously pretty Jaime Lannister.

Otherworldly lighting. My photographer brain did the happy dance during more than a few scenes–the opening north of the Wall, and the sequence with Eddard and Catelyn in the Godswood particularly comes to mind–because the light added so much to mood of each scene. The production staff clearly made a concerned effort to create beautiful light that gave the characters a crisp and otherworldly quality that says, FANTASY!, and that’s exactly what I want from an epic series like this one. When you find yourself amazed at the beauty in a close-up of a wonky-toothed member of the Night’s Watch, that’s some damned pretty lighting.

Look at this freaking intro. No, really. LOOK AT IT.

It’s absolutely gorgeous, it actually gives you information about the world, and it sets the tone for the series. I watched the premiere with a group of friends, and every last one of us in the room gasped at how beautiful the opening sequence was, at one point or another. If you’re a fan of the series and don’t love this opening sequence, there’s probably something wrong with you, full stop.

Additionally, a day or two before the premiere, I’d also learned that HBO is developing Neil Gaiman’s American Gods as a potential series. Are they trying to corner the geek market with beautifully-rendered, plot-rich stories? If so, uh, it’s working.

HBO, you have won me over. Well played.

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