Warning... A Game of Thrones
and The Princess Bride SPOILERS
Tezz, thanks for the thread. My friends and I have been debating since January whether the series will be able to survive Eddard Stark. I've wanted to talk to you all about this, but I was unwilling to start this thread without spoiling the story before episode nine.
From the linked article from examiner.com in the OP:
“Most of you who think this was some sort of brilliant move or something don’t understand the difference between a book audience and a TV audience,” argued EW reader Tamcamry. “TV audiences need to invest in characters. Most of the other characters I don’t care much about. While the show will probably still appeal to the ‘wow’ crowd, it’s mass appeal just got beheaded.”
I think that the readers of the books understand very well the difference between the two.
Personally, I've watched every episode of AGOT, LOST, Cheers, M*A*S*H
(I think), Veronica Mars
(admittedly, a guilty pleasure), and Life
. I've seen at least half (if not almost all) of Legend of the Seeker, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, ROME, The Sopranos, True Blood
, and Law and Order
. And... I must have seen upwards of thirty thousand sporting events on TV.
I understand about becoming emotionally invested in characters. But is emotional all there is? What about time? AGOT in ten episodes, including the repeated credits, total about nine hours and ten minutes. Reading AGOT takes each reader a different amount of time, but it's probably eighteen hours, on average. The investment in time is definitely more for the reader than the viewer.
Here's an analogy: People always talk about spending qualtity time together... especially with their children. I think this is a fallacy. Mandating quality time can be done, but with irregularity. Other peoples emotions should not always be forced into another person's desires. To get quality time with loved ones, a person needs to spend a large quantity of time. Teachable moments can be created, but most times they just happen. One does not know when a child or lover will be hurting... and that time of comfort cannot just be made up later. Time investment is emotional investment. I think this can be transferred to reading versus viewing.
After fifteen chapters out of the first fifty-nine in AGOT, all readers are invested in Eddard. We've read about his love for Catelyn. We've read of his love for his children. We've read about his loyalty to his friends. We've read of his unwillingness to sully his family name and his honor. And we've read much about his memories and dreams of his father, brother, and sister. I've not yet seen or heard mention of Lyanna on the show except for Robert's visit to her tomb. What do viewers know of "Promise me, Ned"? What do they know of the woman in the bed of blood and roses? What do viewers know about the quarrel between Eddard and Robert after the sack of King's Landing? What do they know of the Sword of the Morning, the White Bull, and Ser Oswell Whent? What do they know of Howland Reed? What do they know of Eddard's silent promises to tell Sansa and Jon about his decisions? What do they know of his faithfulness to Catelyn in turning down Cersei's sexual favors?
And what about the Arya and Brienne POVs? These chapters specifically show the plight of the common people. These chapters show the ins and outs of family, religion, and social hierarchy in daily life. GRRM has something to say on social justice.
So Eddard lived a good and honest life. He's probably in Westerosi heaven. But what about Littlefinger, Cersei, Tyrion, Sansa, the Hound, Arya, Dany, Bran and Jaime? What of their ambitions and desires? Will Eddard's children suffer or succeed? Will they follow in his honorable footsteps or become what he despised in their desire to avenge him? Will any of Eddard's enemies be inspired by his life and death enough to renounce their wicked ways? Is redemption possible?
And for those who loved Eddard, I must ask, What about Robb? What about Jon? How will his teenage sons trained to command soldiers deal with his murder? Aren't their stories compelling?
Personally, I feel that reading requires more of my attention, imagination, and memory than viewing the television. The only way I have a greater investment in the show is monetary. A used paperback version of AGOT is $5 while three months of HBO is running me around $200.
So the readers are the "wow crowd"? Personally, I think there is much less gratuitous nudity in the books.
So... the "mass appeal just got beheaded"? When the going gets tough, should we quit reading? All of Eddard's loved ones are now in jeopardy without him to protect them, but they must be the characters that Tamcamry doesn't "care much about". If Eddard was all the story had going for it, then I'd agree whole heartedly with Tamcamry. But really, don't the characters who manipulated and outfoxed Eddard seem interesting? Shouldn't viewers desire to see them get theirs? I think the boy from The Princess Bride
had a better concept of stories than this...
Grandson: Grandpa, grandpa, wait. Wait, what did Fezzik mean |
"He's dead"? I mean, he didn't mean dead. Westley's
only faking, right?
Grandfather:You want me to read this or not?
Grandson: Who gets Humperdinck?
Grandfather:I don't understand.
Grandson: Who kills Prince Humperdinck? At the end. Somebody's
got to do it. Is it Inigo, who?
Grandfather:Nobody. Nobody kills him. He lives.
Grandson: You mean he wins? Jesus, Grandpa, what did you read
me this thing for?
Grandfather:You know, you've been very sick and you're taking
this story very seriously. I think we better stop
Grandson: No, I'm okay. I'm okay. Sit down. I'm all right.
Grandfather:Okay. All right. Now let's see, where were we. Ohhh,
yes. In the Pit of Despair.
The questions are whether the viewers find the rest of the plot and characters interesting and whether they trust the author who has given them such a treat up tothis point.
That being said, will the series survive the death of Eddard? I'm not sure.
I'm also not sure if HBO really has intentions of finishing the series. Unless, the show's second season is a sensation, then I think that HBO will seriously think about shutting it down. HBO is in business to make money. Amen. So AGOT will not need to be a critical success, it will need to be a viewing success. If it becomes a water fountain conversation mainstay, if Matt Groenig parodies it, if tens of millions of people worldwide only have HBO for the express purpose of watching AGOT (i.e. me and my friends), then HBO will judge it to be a show worth finishing.
Thanks for your investment of time in reading this post.