Disclaimer: There’s no video at the bottom of this post. But critics at press tour just watched a private screening of 15 minutes from HBO’s Game of Thrones and I can at least give you some impressions.

Overall, it was good news: Thrones feels very similar to the book. Boosted by temp music from Gladiator, Lord of the Rings and The Dark Knight, the series had a sprawling, expensive, epic quality, with most of the cast seeming more-or-less like George R.R. Martin’s characters. My confidence that this project can become a hit keeps growing — especially after the stellar performance of AMC’s The Walking Dead, which proved very male-skewing, genre concepts can deliver big breakout numbers on cable if they’re executed with enough passion and talent.

The rest of this post won’t make a huge amount of sense to non-Thrones readers, but here’s what the preview showed:

Picking up where previously released trailers left off, we saw a brief glimpse of The Wall (very cool, like a craggy vertical glacier), we saw Iron Throne (gray, lumpy and ugly) and an attacking direwolf (looking pretty much like a normal-sized wolf).

I know some fans were concerned about Mark Addy as King Robert Baratheon, but he seemed spot-on. We saw very little of Peter Dinklage as scene-stealing Tyrion Lannister, but what was there likewise conveyed confidence. I’m less sure about Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, whether there’s enough weight there, but he did deliver the pilot-concluding “things I do for love” moment (yup, they showed it) in a terrific, throw-away fashion (pun, accidental). The writers have also (added, I think?) a scene with Lannister getting in Stark’s face very early on, setting up an antagonistic relationship from the start. Very little was shown of the Stark kids.

Much of the footage followed Daenerys and her sniveling brother Viserys and, perhaps because that thread is a simpler storyline, I found myself getting drawn into those scenes more than the rest of the drama. The writers have wisely taken steps to firmly tie that distant storyline together more tightly with the main drama at Kings Landing.

I was also initially concerned about the visual style of Thrones after the first couple teasers since all the footage looked gray and dreary. Turns out, that’s the color palette for certain scenes in Winterfell, but the rest of the action set in other parts of Westeros had more vibrant appearance.

That’s all for now. Come back to the Inside TV blog on Friday, HBO is presenting its Game of Thrones panel at press tour and we’ll have producers and the cast taking questions.

Episode Recaps

Game of Thrones

HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series A Song of Ice and Fire.

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