HBO aired a special preview of the pilot for Game of Thrones – the highly-anticipated adaptation of George R. R. Martin‘s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series - Sunday night, two weeks ahead of the full episode premiere.
The preview, made up of the first 15 minutes of the pilot, only included two scenes, but it was enough to prove this is a show that’s ready to deliver the epic TV fantasy we’ve all been waiting for.
(Spoiler-ish things ahead. If you’ve never read the books, you might want to stop reading here until you see the thing.)
Directed by HBO veteran Tim Van Patten (he directed 20 episodes of The Sopranos), the pilot carries the chill-inducing (pun intended) title “Winter Is Coming,” and covers the arrival of King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) at Winterfell, home of the Stark family, where he asks Lord Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) to take up the position of Hand of the King. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, get off the internet and read a book.
Unfortunately, all the preview shows us are the screen adaptations of the first two scenes from the book, in which a mysterious and evil force stalks a trio of men beyond the Wall in the North (again, go start reading if you’re confused) and Lord Eddard executes a deserter of the Night’s Watch as his young son Bran (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) looks on.
It’s only a glimpse, but it’s more than enough to prove that series creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss mean business. This isn’t a cushy TV adaptation that will never compare to what you see in your mind’s eye when you read. This is the real deal. Apart from a few minor changes in the staging of things, and a little blunting of the fantasism of Martin’s prose to add a kick of realism, everything is as it should be. Van Patten’s visuals are mighty and rough-hewn, like a blade of Valyrian Steel, and the cast is exactly what you want them to be (so far). It might just be fanboy energy projecting positive things on something that’s flawed, but it really seems that the fantasy series we all deserve has finally come to television, laced with the brutality and uncompromising weight that only HBO can bring.
As an added bonus, for those of us who don’t get HBO, the preview is now available on their website, for free, for anyone to see (probably in the hope that you’ll go buy a subscription after seeing it). Or, you could just watch it below: