As there’s not much to talk about this week I thought I’d draw your attention to a show that I’ve caught up with and quite enjoyed that being Game of Thrones.
The fantasy programme, whose second series kicked off on Sky Atlantic last week, is based around the challenge for the Iron Throne of the kingdom of Westeros. The first series saw the throne being ruled by Mark Addy’s Robert Barethon while children of the former king Viserys and Daenrys were attempting to win it back with the former having the latter marry the barbarian Khal Drogo in order to form an alliance. Hand of the King Ned Stark, played by Sean Bean, discovered that Robert’s son Joffrey was in fact the product of an affair between his wife Sersei and her brother Jamie. With Robert dying after a hunting trip and Ned executed for treason we find the petulant mummy’s boy Joffrey on the contested throne as we head into season two.
There are more claims this season with Daenrys still desperately trying to make her way back to King’s Landing to challenge for throne she is now without her brother and Khal Drogo both of whom died in the last season. She now only has a few hangers on, including Ian Glen and Louise from Hollyoaks, and three dragons which will obviously contribute to her story going forward throughout the season. Following Ned’s death his family are also challenging the throne with his oldest son Rob being proclaimed King of the North and being supported by his mother Catelyn as well as many others who despise the Lannister family. The other Stark children are scattered about the kingdom with older daughter Stansa being promised to Joffrey she is essentially a prisoner at King’s Landing at the mercy of the ruthless Joffrey and the scheming Sersei. His daughter Ayra has managed to evade capture by posing as a boy and at the end of the first episode we see her leaving King’s Landing in her new disguise. The second season introduces another claim for the throne, as we are introduced to Robert’s older brother Stannis who has rejected his God and has fallen under the spell of high priestess Melisandre, who promises to help him reclaim the throne that is rightfully his.
Like any show produced by HBO, Game of Thrones has many things going on at once with up to seven plot strands occurring at any one time so sometimes it’s a struggle to understand who’s who especially in this episode which introduces a handful of new characters. With Bean and Addy both gone the best character by far is Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion Lannister who returns to King’s Landing to become the new Hand of the King and instantly proves that he’s a force to be reckoned with despite his diminutive stature. Dinklage seems to be having a ball playing Tyrion especially delivering some of the more scathing lines such as telling his sister that her only redeeming feature was the love for her children… and her cheekbones. Aiden Gillen is also great as sly brothel owner and court’s purse master Peyr Littlefinger who believes he has more power than he actually possesses. The beauty of the cast is that British acting legends like Charles Dance and David Bradley sit alongside promising newcomers such as Kit Harrington and Maisie Williams.
Game of Thrones has all the nudity and violence you would expect from an HBO show especially one that includes a brothel and a blood-thirsty young king who in this episode has all of Robert’s illegitimate children slaughtered although he misses one in Gendry who escapes with Ayra. Game of Thrones also looks fantastic thanks to its many exterior locations most of which are in Northern Ireland however some are now shot in Croatia. Overall season two sets up a lot of new plots such as Arya and Gendry’s journey, Rob’s attack on King’s Landing and Stannis’ attempt to get back the throne he feels is his. I think this is a fantastic drama which is both an escapist fantasy programme but also has a lot of wit, drama and violence to keep you hooked throughout.
The only terrestrial programme of note this week was The Undateables Channel 4’s latest reality experiment which follows a group of people with various disabilities who struggle to find love. The focus this week was mainly on 37 year old Richard who’d never managed to get through a date before due to his Asperger’s syndrome which makes him struggle to speak in awkward situations. Richard’s first date was indeed a nightmare as he meets the lovely Dawn in a pub where she is enjoy a meal and although he’s already he starts to munch on her chips an act which she sees as so vile that she leaves the date early. Thankfully Richard has more luck with French lady Patricia and they have a nice afternoon date though this time it is him doing the rejecting as he felt there was no chemistry there. Then we met Penny who had to use a wheelchair due to having brittle bones but had a fairly interesting life as a circus performer when she wasn’t training to be a primary school teacher. The dating service that all three of our subjects used matched Penny up Max who seemed to enjoy her company but again she didn’t think much of him. The sweetest story of the three was that of Tourette Syndrome sufferer Luke who had several successful dates with the lovely Lucy and for the most part he seemed to keep his condition under control with the two sharing a kiss towards the end of the show. Though only Luke found love the other two had gained confidence and life experience from their dates and it would make them more willing to go on dates in the future. The show has been criticised for portraying people with disabilities as undatable but to me it was celebrating them rather than berating them. I thought all three were great subjects and I connected with them all my only issue was that we didn’t get to see what they’re all up to since the programme ended.. It is true that Channel 4 could’ve picked a better title for this series however this was a sensitively handled portrayal of people looking for love who, due to their conditions, just find it a little bit harder than the rest of us.
Next Week: Derek, The Matt Lucas Awards and Not Going Out