Category Archives: TV

Game Of Thrones: How They Make the World’s most Popular Show

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

Decoding the success of ‘Game of Thrones’ (S1-6)

game of thrones

 

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?

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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!)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Related Links

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

 

 

 

 

‘Sneaky Pete’ S1: Perfect for Binge-Watching!

house of cards

 

A few years back, Netflix changed it all…with ‘House of Cards’.  All of the show’s episodes were available in a single bunch…it wasn’t just one-episode premiere, but the entire series-premiere. The numbers that followed, proved that Binge-watching isn’t just a fad, but it is here to stay.  And it was not just limited to old shows. Data and reports started appearing on Binge-Watching…and soon, it became obvious that for a show to get a hit status, binge-watching is one of the key indicators.

sneaky

‘Sneaky Pete’ has binge-watching written all over it…and it deserves the hit tag without any doubt.

Great cast, interesting premise, terrific screenplay and the twists ‘n’ turns…making it a must to be devoured as soon as possible. Most importantly, it isn’t a really high-production value show that has to be watched on a big, large HD TV. One can watch it on a tablet or a mobile, and still get ‘it’.

‘Sneaky Pete’ adds several themes to the mix like ‘crime and punishment’, ‘dysfunctional families yet together’, ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold’…and even picks up stuff from movies like ‘The Sting’, ‘Oceans Trilogy’  etc. These elements when played through a delightful set of characters, it is nothing short of magic. And this magic is carefully weaved with these characters representing all ages of audiences and even demographics. An aspiring con who is a coloured girl, Two grand parents at the helm of a bails bond business, A teen who thinks it is okay to hustle a bit, a card playing Indian millionaire…to name a few. As an audience, we are let into their world a bit abruptly at times, and a bit leisurely at times,  as the screenplay moves the story forward.

Bryan Cranston who is a co-creator  (and plays an important role), allows this show to take a completely different route and breaks away from the  large expanse ‘Breaking Bad’ (which is a hit and cult show in its own way). All the screenwriters and directors employed did a terrific job.  So did all the cast,  with a special mention to Pete aka Marius (Giovanni Ribisi ),  Carly (Libe Barer ), James Bagwell (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) , Marjorie (Alison Wright), Gina (Jasmine Carmichael) and Sam (Jay O. Sanders).

Sneaky Pete is a must watch and available on Amazon India Prime.

Tailpiece:
“I think the best-written films or television series have a measure of the opposite of what they are. We have some darkly comic moments sprinkled throughout Breaking Bad (2008), as we had some sweet sentiment or serious drama sprinkled throughout Malcolm in the Middle (2000). I think any good movie does that, any good play. You have to break it up. You can’t have one train going in one direction all the time. Audiences are more sophisticated than that.” – Bryan Cranston

Related links:

Indians are world champs at binge-watching says Netflix CEO Reed Hastings
Netflix’s Risky Strategy For ‘House Of Cards’
Giovanni Ribisi On Sneaky Pete, Working With Bryan Cranston, and Friends
Bryan Cranston Biography