Is Game of Thrones worth the hype?

19:32, Oct 31 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?

Yesterday 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.

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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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