ARTS ISSUE: ‘Game of Thrones’ adapts complex book series into imaginative TV show

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When it comes to extravagance on television, “Game of Thrones” reigns supreme as one of the top examples. From the behind-the-scenes production to the complex narrative, “Thrones” represents a new type of show that displays an intense lack of restraint, and this helps to build the fantasy world of Westeros in a way that is unparalleled on television.

At its core, “Thrones” is based on rich source material that demands a committed amount of extravagance when being adapted. George R.R. Martin’s books aren’t much different from your typical fantasy novels — there are sprawling worlds and countless characters all dealing with supernatural forces. However, where Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” series differs is just how interconnected these characters become. Each character’s actions can be felt across the land of Westeros. This translates perfectly to television.

HBO truly doesn’t spare any expense when it comes to making this show. In order to cover the vast amounts of locations the show requires, HBO splits the production team into splinter units in order for them to shoot on multiple continents at any given time. During the filming of season three, there was a point where they were filming on three different continents simultaneously. This is a huge production that can only work when all limitations are removed — and this results in a TV show that is truly lavish.

The end result is a television show that is just as grand as the novels. The narrative spans continents and a huge cast of characters. Whereas other TV shows usually stick to a singular location or a collection of characters, “Thrones” expands the idea of long form narrative to the point that it’s redefining the medium of television. One only needs to look at the opening title sequence to see just how far-reaching an episode of “Game of Thrones” is — and while battle scenes may be toned down due to budgets and logistics, this is not reflected in the set dressings, special effects and locations.

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The only way to stay true to the source material is to approach this show knowing that it has to be unrestrained — and HBO did just that. “Game of Thrones” has ushered in a new era of no-holds-barred television where excess is best.

Chris Saccaro is a staff writer. Email him at [email protected]

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