Is Game of Thrones worth the hype?

Last updated 08:32 01/11/2011

SoHo channel was launched yesterday, with a double episode of flagship show Game of Thrones airing at 8.30pm. Did you watch the first episodes of this incredible show? What did you think? Were they as good as you'd been led to believe they would be?

20111101Yesterday afternoon I started to notice that Game of Thrones was getting mentioned often on Facebook and Twitter, with the uninitiated excited to finally watch the series and existing fans proclaiming its brilliance and telling anyone who'd listen to make sure they tune in.

I've been one of those enthusiastic fans. I've lost count of how many times I've recommended Game of Thrones to friends, family and anyone else who'll listen, since watching the series earlier this year.

From the first episode, it's clear that this is a show like no other, packed with political intrigue and the threat of war; series creator David Benioff jokingly described the show as "The Sopranos in Middle-Earth", but even that does the show a disservice. Not to mention strong performances from stars like Sean Bean, Emmy winner Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke, and the fact it's airing in HD ... its appointment viewing, at least at my house.

However, there is a dark side to recommending a favourite show: what if it is so hyped that it simply can't measure up to expectation?

I'm always being asked "have you seen this show" and being told that I "absolutely have to watch that show". For example, a friend told me to watch Eastbound & Down every time I saw him ("serious, bro, it's the funniest show ever"), so I recorded a handful of episodes on Comedy Central and settled down one Saturday afternoon to watch them.

I think I made it through an episode and a half before turning it off. It wasn't bad, but it certainly wasn't as good as I was expecting, and the fact that it didn't meet those expectations was affecting my enjoyment of the show.*

Still, I'm more often confronted by the opposite side of this conundrum. As a reviewer, a blogger who focuses on television, I'm always questioning how far I should go in praising - or disparaging - any particular show. The answer is to be honest, to make sure I only say exactly what I mean; it's no good if I write that a show is brilliant and you all roll your eyes and think "he always says that".**

I found myself thinking last night about how much I had talked up Game of Thrones, about all the people I had recommended the show to and wondering whether they were enjoying it. Had I oversold it?

I'm reasonably confident that everyone who watched Thrones will have enjoyed it; it is a truly remarkable show. But there is still a small part of me that thinks I may have gone too far in telling people it was the best show since the dawn of television and threatening to abduct their cat if they didn't watch it.

Okay, that only happened once.

Anyway, for today's blog, I'm interested in your thoughts: Was Game of Thrones as good as you were expecting? Who recommended the show to you, and did they over- or under-sell it? And can you remember any instances where a show failed to meet your expectations?

Please, remember the no spoilers rule here at On The Box; that goes for both future episodes of the show and any future details from the A Song of Ice And Fire series by George R. R. Martin on which the show is based.

(*) I've watched both seasons of Eastbound & Down since, and enjoyed them both, but not as much as that friend does.

(**) It's actually a family joke that whenever I'm asked for my thoughts on a recently released film, I always start by saying "it was the best movie I've ever seen, a legitimate 10 out of 10!"

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smugfop   #1   08:39 am Nov 01 2011

Game of Thrones is a stunning series, I thought that HBO would have a hard time beating their efforts with The Wire but GoT is well up there. I'm glad we have quality shows like this in a time where we generally suffer a seemingly endless spew of mindless rubbish like cooking shows, reality TV and talent competitions, Thank the TV gods for HBO.

Mark   #2   08:44 am Nov 01 2011

Best show in a long long time. The production values are sky high, the acting is very very good, and the story line is unique, which is hard to find these days.

I've recommended it to lots of friends and family, they all have enjoyed it and couldn't stop talking about it. Its definitely not for the faint of heart, so maybe don't recommend it to your grandparents....

jasonb   #3   08:46 am Nov 01 2011

YES!! awesome tv series and I agree with smugfop, this is a shinning light in the dark world of reality tv and cooking shows.. haha

Dean   #4   08:48 am Nov 01 2011

Great show ..pity I am going to miss the whole series I cant afford to mpay the extra 8 BUCKS A month for SoHo channel....hopefully it comes on free to air in the not to distant future.

Makk   #5   08:50 am Nov 01 2011

It was good, very well done for what was a difficult story to put onto the screen. Acting was quite iumpressive as well. However in terms of the books, the series peaks halfway through the first book. At that point it is very well set up and the rest of the book is still pretty good if not as good as the first half. The second book was OK, the third book was rubbish, not sure what the fourth book was like. The story might actually turn out better for TV if they prune back the padding and focus a little more on main events.

Trevor   #6   08:51 am Nov 01 2011

As I love the books I'm VERY impressed by the first 2 episodes, it also looks amazing on my 51 inch HD TV.......I love HD :)

Smin   #7   08:52 am Nov 01 2011

I read the series in anticipation of the show but not disappointed - its a very good adaptation of quite a complicated book series. Didn't have to explain too much to hubby!

sneeble   #8   08:54 am Nov 01 2011

Having seen the entre first series, I was astonished on the grittiness and the lack of polish oon the nasty bits, the nasty bits were nasty and not glossed over, the scenes were played as they should be and not dumbed down for the benefit of sensibilities, jiggly bits are not inferred or implied they are seen. It's worth hanging in there for. They have not attempted to make it pretty or clean - and it's not.

There are shows out there that promise to become something great and turn out to be a queasy mess of bad acting and wierd stuff. "Chemistry" is probably the top on my list. Incredibly bad acting by two bit actors from another part of hollywood, with opening, middle and end scenes that would make Outrageous Fortune writers blush, enveloped in a marketing campaign designed to break erotic porn into mainstream television.

Darnoc   #9   08:54 am Nov 01 2011

The series gets better as it goes on and I was hooked about half way through (similar to Season 1 of the Wire). The booka however are truly epic, so I suggest reading them if you like the show.

westbound   #10   08:54 am Nov 01 2011

Epic Masterpiece, the first season has done the books justice. Looking forward to the next season currently being shot in Iceland and Croatia. So you know they are going all out to make it follow the books, lets just hope they don't try and change what is already massivly awesome. Sex, Tyranny, Intrigue, Murder, War, all the good bits plus more!

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