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You guys, I have never planned my enjoyment of a television series so well: I just finished the season one box set of Game of Thrones like two weeks ago, yesterday I took advantage of a half-price special to add HBO to our cable services, and season two starts on Sunday. BOOM. Slovenly sofa-based media consumption: virtually uninterrupted.
I loved season one so much I'm almost resigned to a little disappointment with season two—I mean, it can't possibly be as good, can it? Then again, according to the (totally unbiased) showrunners behind the series, this season is going to be even more awesome.
DRAGONS. Here's where I confess I'm a tiny bit concerned about the potential for things to take a turn for the cheesy, because once you add in the visual element of CGI fantasy creatures ... well, I'm just saying. I thought the wee dragons perched on the Khaleesi at the end of last season were a little cartoony looking, but the one shown in this clip looks pretty good.
According to the writer/producers, the dragons will get their fair share of screen time ... but not to the point of losing their appeal:
Ideally you have enough of them and not too much of them. If you’re in a scene where you and I are talking and there’s a dragon sitting next to my water bottle, then you may as well be talking gibberish because no one’s going to see anything except the dragon. You have to be careful with that stuff and not use it when it’s going to be detrimental to what you’re trying to put across. (...) (This season is) a bigger fish to fry. It needs to be real battles and dragons and direwolves. And we’ve got all these characters that you’ve hopefully have fallen in love with that we need to keep vibrant. We’ve got all these new people who hopefully will be equally compelling.
PS: They're also going to use real wolves this season:
There’s a difference. Just those wolf eyes looking at you. Those dogs did a perfectly fine job last season but there’s always a little bit of, “That’s not really a wolf, that’s a dog.” You know when a wolf is staring at you and it makes a big difference, so that makes me very happy.
Characters with more screen time, and entirely new characters:
There’s more Tyrion, obviously, and there’s more Cersei. A lot more Cersei. The biggest increase percentage wise from last season is Theon. He has a major storyline and it’s one of my absolute favorites ... He’s kind of like Gollum. He’s the one who’s the most shadowy, like you don’t know is he’s good or not, but he’s not really evil, either. (...) (Melisandre) is a priestess of this religion who is ruthless. By her own admission she’s willing to do anything to advance her agenda, to get her religion moved to Westeros. And Stannis wants the throne — not out of greed or power-lust, but because he’s a man who’s always done everything by the book and the book now says, “I should be king” because he’s the rightful heir. So you have a man who’s completely righteous and we have a woman who’s completely willing to do anything.
A bigger budget, and more amazing scenery:
We went in asking for more money, a considerable sum, in order to shoot the battle scenes. We didn’t get everything we wanted. But [the conversation with HBO wasn't about] ‘Will this attract more viewers? Is this something that’s gonna pump ratings?’ It was all about why this story needs this big battle. And so it was really a long conversation about how the second season builds towards [a battle sequence].
The whole reason we’re going (to Iceland), of course, is to better portray North of the Wall. We were actually facing the unsatisfying, extravagant, expensive possibility of snowing up a field in the middle of Ireland and having people walk into green screens. Or we could go to the most beautiful scene on earth and stick people on a the middle of a glacier. It’s just so much more exciting than shooting with a green screen. (...) It’s always going to be better to start with a real foundation, whether it’s a castle or a canyon encampment, or whatever. In Iceland, there’s not a damn thing you need to do. It looks like no other place on earth.
Also to come: an amazing battle sequence (you probably know which one if you've read the books), which involved a solid month of shooting at night, someone has a nude scene in season 2 who didn't have one in season 1 (hmmmm), and a scene they're hoping to bring to season 3 that's "gonna be one of the greatest things ever on television or film.”
Okay, I'm sold. I mean, even more sold than I already was, which was pretty sold, considering this show got me to pay for freaking HBO.
Oh, and if you're wondering what the critics have to say about the new season, here's a blurb from a Los Angeles Times reviewer who got a sneak peek at the premiere episode:
As with the novels, this 'Game of Thrones' is breathtakingly ambitious, an ever-unfurling tapestry that threatens, at times, to overwhelm its frame. That it does not is a testament to the power of piecework — art is not defined by the space it occupies but by its details, the truth it captures. Many heads bend over this adaptation, each belonging to a master of his or her craft, and what emerges is a truly new, and miraculously accurate, definition of epic television.
SO EXCITED FOR SUNDAY. Are you looking forward to the new season too?
Image via HBO