While HBO certainly has a long and storied history of creating top-notch television full of compelling characters, many of their home video releases have been shockingly underwhelming, especially when you consider the hefty price tag that most HBO collections tend to carry. With the first season of Game of Thrones hitting Blu-Ray, I kept my fingers crossed in hopes that the network’s best series in years would be given the treatment it deserves, and I’m happy to report that this release not only lives up to my expectations, but raises the bar considerably for all future television Blu-Ray releases.
Nominated for 13 Emmy awards, Game of Thrones is television at its absolute finest, featuring a superbly written narrative brought to life by an incredible cast. Don’t be fooled by the medieval fantasy setting – this is a character-driven drama with a remarkably complex plot that never fails to surprise the viewer, and the constant scheming, backstabbing, and political maneuvering is nothing short of fascinating. The award-winning performances will keep you riveted to the screen, and the shocking final two episodes will ensure that you’ll be tuning in for the new season.
Game of Thrones is filmed in high definition, and the Blu-Ray transfer is absolutely stunning. From the elaborate costume designs to the breathtaking landscapes, this show is absolutely gorgeous. Colors are bold and rich, and the level of detail is extraordinary, allowing the viewer to appreciate every aspect of the show’s production design – and trust me, there’s a lot to appreciate.
The audio fares just as well, with a perfectly balanced mix that allows dialogue to remain crisp and clear without getting lost in the show’s sweeping, majestic score. Whether it’s the clamor of a crowded marketplace, the thunderous galloping of horses, or the distinctive ringing of a sword being drawn, the sound design helps to further enhance the feeling that the world of Game of Thrones actually exists.
HBO has packed this release with an extensive collection of supplemental materials, the most entertaining of which are the seven audio commentaries, featuring a diverse group of contributors from the cast and crew. There’s also a 30-minute “Making of Game of Thrones,” which offers a comprehensive behind-the-scenes look at everything from set construction to animal training, and a handful of smaller featurettes that detail the process of adapting the source material, the design of the show’s opening sequence, and the creation of the Dothraki language.
Another excellent feature of this set is the “Complete Guide to Westeros,” a fascinating interactive guide to the locations, characters, and mythology of Game of Thrones, with each section being narrated (in character) by a cast member. There’s also an “In-Episode Guide” on every disc, which allows the viewer to explore the characters, locations, and history of the current episode via an optional sidebar, and integrates with the “Complete Guide” to allow for more detailed explanation. There is an unprecedented amount of information to absorb here, giving fans an opportunity to flesh out the world and truly appreciate the vast scope of George R.R. Martin’s creation.
Game of Thrones is the best thing to happen to television in a very long time, and HBO has followed it up with a fully-loaded Blu-Ray collection that does a remarkable job of enhancing the experience. This is one of the best television releases we’ve ever seen, and is truly a must-own for fans of the series.