When I was in 7th grade, I finished The Wishsong of Shannara, the third and final part of Terry Brooks' Shannara series. It was my first real trek into the fantasy genre, and I'd loved every moment of it. I loved swords and magic and elven archers. I loved the maps. Then, I gave it up.
My friend had finished the series and had moved on to Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. At that point, Jordan was five books in to what would become a 14 book series. The first three books were over 600 pages each. The fourth and fifth topped 700. The fantasy genre held enormous appeal for me, but it also seemed like it required an inordinate amount of time and energy. As strong as I felt the pull toward orcs and paladins, I had other interests, like baseball cards and comic books. From where I stood - a 12 year-old who loved to read and daydream - fantasy seemed all-consuming. Instead, I started in on Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy novels.
To me, fantasy is a siren's song. I can't tell you how many times I picked up World of Warcraft at GameStop, knowing I'd love every minute of game play, but also knowing I probably wouldn't do anything else. For some reason, my typically noodle-like will holds out. I'm like a coke addict who keeps passing on heroin, knowing there's no going back from there.
So Game of Thrones, HBO's highly anticipated drama based on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, seemed like a reasonable return to the genre I'd forsaken. I'm married and I've got a kid now, so a 10 hour long televised series - especially one on a network as concerned with quality as HBO - was far preferable to reading through the actual book, which runs 864 pages in its mass market paperback version and is only the first of what will end up a 7-book series. I'm not averse to reading, it's just I'd like to read other things.
That's all to say I know very little about the Game of Thrones storyline, yet by the time the final credits rolled, I was itching for more. Partly, this is due to a spectacular cliffhanger at the end of episode one. Partly, it's due to the anticipation of another HBO drama unfolding the way HBO dramas invariably do. Also, some of it was because Game of Thrones had a lot of boobs. A lot of boobs. It was like a cross between Lord of the Rings and Perfect 10. It's almost as if HBO is watching their growing competition over at AMC and has decided to up the ante. Oh, you want to air thoughtful, character-driven dramas, too? Well get a load of these tits! Let's see you copy that, AMC! Anyway, I was sad to see it end.
Over the last 10 years, I've come to appreciate the giddy promise of these new series. Even with its medieval setting and the lack of humor endemic to fantasy writing, Game of Thrones has that same feel The Sopranos and The Wire and Deadwood had, where you're about to enter a world you'll someday be crushed to bid goodbye. Right now, the characters and geography are a jumble, and according to what I've read about the intricacy of Martin's books, it may be that way for a while. But you know at some point the king's tomboyish daughter could be as dear to you as, say, Omar. Well, maybe not Omar. But dear just the same. I like so stay optimistic.
In other television news...
- Treme is back! I welcome the return of David Simon's New Orleans-based series, even if it repeatedly reminds me I'm not cool enough to watch it.
- Doctor Who starts another season on BBC America! I don't know which season, because I've never seen this show. Apparently, people love Doctor Who. I'm guessing it's the same people who liked Battlestar Galactica, which is not a dig. I just haven't gotten around to either yet.
- HBO debuts Talking Funny, a show where Chris Rock, Louis C.K., Jerry Seinfeld and Ricky Gervais sit around and talk about comedy. I do believe I'll write more about this next week.