I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was to finally receive this package in the mail! And it arrived promptly on March 6th, the official release date. Since when has Amazon shipped something on time? And even more curious, the US postal service delivered it on time. No doubt you are just as dumbfounded as I with this information, but on to the good stuff.
The complete blu ray set is gorgeous. I work with paper a great deal and trust me this was no cheap package to produce. The slide-off cover features the ever-popular image of Ned sitting on the Iron Throne, holding his legendary sword, Ice. The image is inlaid with embossed art very reminiscent of the opening credits for season one. The case for the discs features beautiful stills of Ned and Tyrion, Cersei and Robert, and Daenerys and Jon, respectively as you unfold the casing. You may think that all this is unimportant, but I think that presentation is important with such a long awaited season set. If you are a true fan, I believe you will really appreciate the art that went into the packaging, as I did!
The five discs themselves feature the sigils of the great houses of Westeros: Stark, Lannister, Baratheon, Targaryen, and Arryn. Episode numbers are listed on each disc for reference. Each disc also says, “Bonus Features,” but doesn’t mention which features in particular. Now this wouldn’t be an issue for me if the location of the titled bonus features were referenced in the companion pamphlet, but they aren’t.
The companion pamphlet outlines the contents of the package as a whole, but doesn’t list where to find the episodes or special features. Instead, when you pop in disc one and choose a bonus feature it tells you to insert another disc where that feature is located. Now, it’s very possible that this won’t bother anyone else, but it really bothers me. It seems like a small detail, but I think it makes the set a little less user friendly. It certainly makes browsing from the couch a big pain the ass.
That being said, the fold out pamphlet is well done in terms of art. It has a handy guide to the members of the houses of Westeros mentioned above, along with pictures of the cast. It finally unfolds to show a really nice map of Westeros. It’s a great reference for those viewers who don’t already have George R. R. Martin’s world geography memorized… or just some nice art for those of us who really enjoy maps!
The menus on the DVDs themselves are well done and easy to navigate. The home screens loop video of the main characters. One thing I particularly enjoyed was the busy icon. If the disc is ‘thinking’ you will get an image of a Weirwood with its red leaves swirling around it. Nice touch, HBO!
Blu Ray Quality
I’m no expert, but this set gave all the quality you’d expect from a blu ray. I found it odd that the first images you see, the previews from HBO, seem to look grainy. I was a little worried, but my fears were calmed once I saw the menu. Very clear picture throughout all the episodes of course. Naturally, some of the special features aren’t filmed in quite the same quality as the show, but still considerably nicer than I’ve seen elsewhere.
Blu ray gives you great picture quality, but it also gives you some seriously crisp sound. This disc set is no exception. You will get to hear each sword clash, each witty quip, and each Littlefinger whisper in pristine blu ray sound. So turn up the surround sound!
I’m assuming you’ve all seen season one, so I’ll spend the most time of the bonus features. So here is the really exciting part! New stuff to hold you over until April 1st… if you can make it last that long!
The Complete Guide to Westeros is one of the best features of these discs, in my opinion. You can learn more about the Children of the Forest, The Doom of Valyria, The Seven, etc in the Histories and Lore section. Or if you are more interested in great houses of Westeros, take a look at the Houses section to learn more about the Targaryens or the Tyrells, or whichever family interests you most. And for those of you who are still having trouble with the geography, check out the Lands section that includes the handy map on the right side of the screen to put it in perspective.
I was so happy to see they did the Anatomy of an Episode on one of my favorite episodes, “A Golden Crown.” This is the episode in which the companion pamphlet so aptly describes, “Viserys receives final payment for Daenerys.” This segment really gives you some perspective on how much goes into just one episode.
One of the coolest additions of this disc set is the hidden dragon
eggs. You have to search through the discs to find these eggs and unlock more unseen content. I guess you might be able to fill your time till April 1st after all! I’ve only found a few, but I won’t spoil for anyone!
Making of Game of Thrones is a full 30 minutes of unseen on set footage and cast/crew interviews. If you don’t have time to watch all the bonus features, I would recommend watching this one. This segment kind of sums up a lot of what is covered in some of the other features, plus some. You hear from the Stunt coordinator, Buster Reeves, about training each actor a little differently to reflect his or her character’s fighting style. You also hear from the Northern Ireland Location Manager, Robert Boake, who just happened to have a file of “sexy trees” on hand when they were looking to design the weirwoods. I was also really interested to hear a little more about the animals in the series, the dogs, ravens and horses, and how they were trained.
The opening title sequence for Game of Thrones has become quite iconic, so much so that it won an Emmy, and even more impressive, The Simpson’s imitated it for their own opening sequence. Creating the Show Open gives the viewer insight into how this popular sequence was created. Again, amazing to see how much went into every aspect of this show! Check it out!
From the Book to the Screen was of particular interest to me, as I assume it will be for those viewers who are also readers of the ASOIAF series. It gives some insight into how or why things had to be changed. Without ruining too much for you, it seems that the majority of changes from the novel had to be made because George R. R. Martin’s world is just too expansive (and
expensive) to be able to have everything make it on screen. This is understandable of course, but it starts to make you wonder what else will be deemed “too big” in the subsequent seasons. Luckily, Martin has been involved with everything from casting to costumes so we can be sure that he will protect his “baby.”
Character Profiles were cool, but I believe many of these had already been available on youtube or elsewhere so they may be old news to many of you. Still good to watch if you have the time! They have profiles on everyone from Khal Drogo to Petyr Baelish.
And now my watch begins… If you are a true Jon Snow fan, The Night’s Watch bonus feature isa must see. You get some details about the Wall and Castle Black. If that’s not all that interesting to you, at least you get to see a little extra Kit Harington!
I am obsessed with language creation for fantasy series. It adds such realism to a completely fictional people. I loved that HBO invested the money to give the Dothraki people a language all their own. You must watch Creating the Dothraki Language in the special features. I’m no linguist, I just appreciate the time and effort that went into giving Khal Drogo’s people their own voice. The actors had to first learn their lines in English, to understand the meaning, and then learn them in Dothraki. That is serious dedication. If you are especially interested in the Dorthraki language, there’s a website where you can learn it yourself! And then teach me!
The disc also includes seven Audio Commentaries from several members of the cast and crew, the directors, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and even from the legend himself, George R. R. Martin. My favorite so far was Lena Headey, Mark Addy, and Nickolaj Coster-Waldau commenting on episode two. Lena is hilarious, commenting that Viserys is “a shit.” She also calls Joffery “a shit” but says that Jack Gleeson plays this character so well. I love hearing the actors’ takes on their fellow actors and the show in general.
Aside from the content listing debacle, this Blu Ray set is worth your money! Amazon has the Blu Ray set for only $34.99 right now and the DVD set for just $29.99. Buy it, don’t download it illegally. Aside from the obvious moral and legal reasons, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to experience all these special features that HBO worked hard to provide for their fans. And as Jacob mentioned, we want this show to go on for many, many seasons to come… help make that possible by purchasing the season set! Support good TV!!!
Leave a comment below with your own thoughts on the DVD or Blu-Ray set!
What did you think? Did I miss anything important? Have you found all the hidden dragon eggs?
Let me know!! I want to hear the rest of the fandom’s opinions.