Modern Medicine had to start somewhere, is the tag line for the first season. And it starts with a drug addicted and brilliant doctor getting out of a nefarious joint and heading to the hospital-The Knick. Directed by Steven Soderbergh and a terrific cast lead by Clive Owen, season 1 grabs you from the word go. As a concept the series just blows off your mind…as it unravels the various discoveries and inventions in medicine and set them against the burning topics of early 20th century like racism, abortion, feminism, immigration, contagious diseases etc.
Humanity is hard to cure, is the tag line for the second season, as the series takes more and more of a noir genre. It starts of with Dr.Thackeray in a sanatorium and far from treatment from his cocaine addiction, he now finds himself in peace with a new drug-heroin. Luckily for him, Dr.Gallinger brings him back to ‘The Knick’ and the field of medicine advances once again.
Blu Ray for the second season has a few interesting bonus features, like inside the body shop, under construction, inside the costume shop and invitation to the ball. Production designer gives an excellent brief about how the set evolved, simple color palette (almost black and white, should Steven Soderbergh decide to shoot sans color) and the space design facilitating the various interactions of the characters. The invitation to the ball reveals the long shots employed by the director. A nice little package that gives good information about the making and would have been even better if there were a few interviews with the director also.
One of the key features for me is characterization and the various pull and push factors employed in portrayal. Every character has a nagging weakness, a thrusting strength, a higher/lower calling, a haunting past and a future aspiration. All of these then are nicely woven into the period of that time, and some very strange and interesting themes. For instance, Mr.Barrow’s love for a young prostitute and Dr.Gallinger’s affection towards his mentally sicke wife.The structure is just too good to ignore and each character is a beauty!
Overall a must watch for anyone interested in a period drama, and do no mind the proceedings going a bit dark…a la noir!
Theory of Dramatica
Two middleweight novelists, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, had come to a similar conclusion and obtained Martin’s blessing at what the author calls “that famous lunch that turned into a dinner, because we were there for four or five hours” in 2006. The two writers thought Thrones could only be made as a premium-cable drama, and they walked into HBO’s office with an ambitious pitch to do so that year. “They were talking about this series of books I’d never heard of,” says Carolyn Strauss, head of HBO’s entertainment division at the time. “[I was] somebody who looked around the theater in Lord of the Rings, at all of those rapt faces, and I am just not on this particular ferry … I thought, This sounds interesting. Who knows? It could be a big show.”
HBO bought the idea and handed the reins to Benioff and Weiss, making them showrunners who’d never run a show before. Benioff was best known for having adapted his novel The 25th Hour into a screenplay directed by Spike Lee. Weiss had a novel to his credit too. The two had met in a literature program in Dublin in 1995 and later reconnected in the States. “I decided I wanted to write a screenplay,” Benioff told Vanity Fair in 2014. “I’d never written a script before, and I didn’t know how to do it, so I asked [Weiss] if he would write one with me, because he had written a bunch already.” It never got made.
More at TIME
Game of Thrones is a huge success not just in USA, but world over. It enjoyed record viewership on HBO and has an enormous international fan base. Critical acclaim, awards, controversies…the series had its share of all them including the dubious distinction of a Guinness World Record for the most most-pirated television program.
So, what makes this show so hugely successful?
- Universal themes and Canvas: Game of Thrones deals with all the time tested themes like revenge, raw power, redemption, hero journey, magic, survival of fittest, fate etc. And make sure the reveal of these is near perfect, all set against a fantasy landscape
- Amazing character arcs with unexpected twists: Most of the characters go through the typical Joseph Campbell Hero Journey. Key Characters from various houses–The Starks, The Lannisters, The Greyjoys, The Targaryens–all of them are displaced from their current comfort and forced on to a tumultous journey. Each season chronicles such journeys giving enough for the audience to identify, even when the characters take darker paths.
- Terrific Production values: Everything about the production is top notch when it comes to Production design, comparable to a big Hollywood movie. Making the fantasy lands come to life with all these characters is no mean feat…and the team pulls it off with aplomb. The Land of Braavos with its huge Titan welcoming the visitors, designs of all forts and fortresses and the title sequence, deserve a special mention. (Theme music by
Ramin Djawadi is out of the world!)
- Visceral elements and Suspense value: Sex, incest and violence are used liberally to move the plot forward, and sometimes even to create the mileu. Most of all, they are used to create a suspense and jerk the narrative forward. It’s almost like all Hitchcock worst fears have come true, in a grand scale, yet easy to consume.
- Great casting and acting: All the above wouldn’t matter if the audience did not fall in love with the actors. With a perfect casting in place, all the actors did a terrific job, essaying their true and hidden motives. From season to season they grow in their stature, when their characters continue, while the ones that meet an abrupt continue to linger in the audience minds.
- Fan following and content: Like all successful movies and TV shows, fans all over the world make sure that the legend lives on beyond the screening. Wikis, pages, discussions et al, contribute to the lore and mystery behind this series.
Game of Thrones on Wikipedia
George R.R. Martin explains why he writes on a DOS machine
List of Houses
Bank of Braavos
Joseph Campbell Hero Journey
When music and dragons meet