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Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)

2 Mar, 2012 By: Chris Tribbey

Street 3/6/12
Five-disc set, $59.99 DVD, $79.98 Blu-ray, NR.
Stars Mark Addy, Alfie Allen, Sean Bean, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Fairley, Aidan Gillen, Jack Gleeson, Iain Glen, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner.

After wrapping up season one of “Game of Thrones” on DVD or Blu-ray Disc, you’re likely to do two things: subscribe to HBO if you haven’t already, and go out and buy the “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels on which the series is based.

The first would happen because waiting until 2013 for season two on disc will be really hard; the second because waiting to find out what happens next is close to impossible.

Set in the medieval-like kingdom of Westeros, “Thrones” centers on the schemes and ambitions of two noble families: the righteous Starks and the rich, scheming Lannisters. Eddard “Ned” Stark (Sean Bean) — patriarch of his clan, right hand to the king (Mark Addy) and lord of the northern land of Winterfell — discovers treachery and a potential power grab on the part of the queen (Lena Headey) and her family, the Lannisters. Close by a series of sly noblemen use both Starks and Lannisters to achieve their own goals, and distantly the exiled children of the former king attempt to raise an army of savages to help them reclaim the throne.

The story seems straightforward: a gory struggle for power, with blurred lines of good and evil, set among defined adversaries. A wide swath of characters, big and small, are introduced to the audience from the start, and it’s a bit overwhelming trying to track everyone and their goals. But stick with it — even if it takes starting from the start — and you’re rewarded with the opening threads of an incredible tapestry, a weave of constant intrigue, betrayal, violence, sex and humor.

But there’s much more going on here, only hinted at in the first season. To the north of the land lies a giant wall, separating the kingdoms of Westeros from a forever-winter land supposedly filled with ice monsters, giants and otherworldly children.

HBO absolutely stacks the season one Blu-ray with bonuses, the best being an in-episode guide to the world of “Thrones” that offers information on characters, the royal houses, the history of the lands and more. Some sections are lightly animated featurettes narrated by the actors, and the amount of detail is stunning. (For example, information about even the servants of the royal houses is included.)

A full-length anatomy of episode six is a nice treat during a second run-through of the season, while a 30-minute making-of featurette is lighthearted, offering quick bits about the actors, costumes, locations and even the trained animals on the sets. A book-to-screen feature is a bit of a yawner, borrowing heavily from the making-of, though a featurette about the making of the Emmy-award winning opening is greatly enjoyable. 

It’s hours of entertainment to keep you busy this last month before season two premieres.

So much is left only hinted at after the 10th and final episode of season one of “Game of Thrones”: The horrors beyond The Wall, winters that are supposed to last decades. So much is left unresolved: Armies gathering everywhere, a lord’s young child on a path to revenge, a forgotten, bastard son of a former king, and an exiled princess of a former king, waiting in the wings.

And, oh yeah … dragons.

“Winter is coming” … and April 1 and the premiere of season two can’t come soon enough.

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