Monday, March 31, 2014

COLUMN: Game of Thrones

After my recent well-documented scientific experiment to determine conclusively whether or not a human ankle can spin 360 degrees (answer: nope), I've had five weeks to spend on my living room sofa in a prone position with my foot elevated. This was a perfect time to take stock of my life, do some intensive inner soul-searching, and create a comprehensive action plan in order to lead a healthier and happier life from this moment on.

Instead, I watched "Game of Thrones."

And not a little "Game of Thrones" -- a LOT of it. All three seasons of the hit HBO series, in fact. I know, I know... what's a pop culture junkie like me doing waiting four years to get into a show this good? I have no answer. I watched the very first episode way back when it debuted, and I yawned my way through it. It's the same reason I never got into "The Sopranos," "The Wire," "Mad Men," "Breaking Bad," or any of those other critically-acclaimed dramas that are supposedly the best things since sliced bread -- if a show doesn't make me laugh or fall in love with one of the characters right out of the gate, I have limited patience.

But in the case of "Game of Thrones," I clearly messed up. Out of boredom, I re-watched the first episode, and then I let it roll on to the second. By the time I hit episode three, I was hooked. And now, after watching all three seasons in a week? I'm a "Game of Thrones" MEGA-fan. It's all I want to talk about, all I want to think about -- and if you're not into it, there's just no room for you in my life at the present moment.

If you haven't seen it, though, no worries: I can fill you right in. Other than featuring the most complicated plotline that's ever existed on modern television, things are super easy to understand. (Minor spoilers ahead.) It's your standard medieval fantasy world, and at the center of it sits an iron throne clearly stolen from Alice Cooper's prop closet. And every character wants to sit in it -- but who's it going to be?

Maybe the plucky family from the north with hearts of gold. Perhaps it'll be the southern incestuous aristocrats with their masochistic son. It could be the guy from the east who's being controlled by an evil sorceress, or maybe it'll be the dude from the west who just pretty much has bad hair. What about the tribal wildlings from over The Wall, who could all use a good scrubbing? And don't forget the hot babe lurking in lands afar with her army of Conan the Barbarian lookalikes.

Oh, and about that Wall? They built it to keep out the hordes of monstrous White Walkers and their legion of blue-eyed undead minions, all of whom are headed down south to join the party. Everybody hates everybody else, and all they do is fight, fornicate, and stab each other in the back both figuratively and literally. So, essentially, it's just like "Days of our Lives," except with more dragons (which, as we all know, is something "Days of our Lives" has been in dire need of for years now.)

After immersing myself in this world so heavily, I can't help but find myself wondering how I'd fare if I lived in Game-Of-Thronesland. Would it be easy for Lord Shane of House Brown to fit in? All signs point to a resounding no.

For one, there's just a few too many beheadings for my taste. On this show, if you make it to age 30 with your head still attached to your neck, you've pretty much won and can claim a personal victory for leading a long and fully intact life. Talk bad about the government? Off with your head. Leave your post? Off with your head. Look sideways at the King? Off with your head. My only advice to new watchers? Do NOT fall in love with ANYONE on the show, because even the bravest of heroes stands about a 10% chance of his or her head rolling across your TV screen by the end of every episode.

Plus I've paid careful attention to every set on the show. I've looked in the darkest dungeon and the most opulent castle, and I've yet to see a single thermostat on any walls. I don't care if I've got a harem of servants and a legion of knights to cater to my every whim -- if there's no climate control, I'm not having it. In Throneland, they don't even appear to have windows. The best they can muster are square holes cut into walls, presumably allowing any ol' bug, bird, beast, or undead blue-eyed zombie to come a-creepin' at their leisure. If it were MY castle, there would be ZERO window holes. Sunlight, shmunlight. They called it 'The Dark Ages' for a reason. I'm in no hurry to meet medieval mosquitos.

But the worst thing came to me while watching a third season episode. In it, the hero half-son of So-and-so was over The Wall hiking with a posse of wildling warriors. He hooks up with a she-wildling, and -- since it's HBO -- within minutes, they're naked and making medieval whoopee on a cave floor. A few scenes later, she finds a hot spring, and -- since it's HBO -- within minutes, she's naked and having a splash. But then she turns to the guy and is like, "Come, Jon Snow! When was the last time you had a bath?"

Umm, eww. Think about that for a second. During the heavy love scenes, the music swells and love is in the air. But wait -- that's not love that's in the air, it's the ripe funk of two people who haven't bathed in weeks. If medieval science can't invent a window, something tells me they haven't quite come up with Right Guard yet, either. And take it from me, nothing kills the romance quite like a date who smells like a fertilized onion field strewn with sour dishrags.

So I'll stay right here, thanks, in the land of air conditioning, Axe Body Spray, and a justice system free of human heads on spikes. Still, it's a nice place to visit from time to time, provided the blue-eyed zombie things keep their distance. And hey, look -- Season 4 starts up April 6th. It might almost be spring, but winter is coming.

No comments: