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[Book Spoilers] Two characters talking, not doing anything


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#1 aghrivaine

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Posted 24 May 2012 - 05:04 PM

It started in the first season, and has become essentially the whole of the show - scene after scene is just two characters talking, and not actually doing anything.

They talk about what they just did, or what they're about to do. They talk about all sorts of stuff, but they don't do much of anything. Once or twice an episode there's a scene where either something happens, or there's more than two characters talking about something.

When I watched the first series on Blu-Ray and listened to the actors and writers' commentary, again and again the majority of their comments had to do with "They have such an interesting relationship" or "This scene really explains their relationship."

Personally, i think it's gone too far - "show don't tell" is a fundamental rule of storytelling, and we seem to have fallen into a bottomless pit of "tell, don't show." I know in part it's budgetary, of course - but I think it also has to do with the storytelling method that Benioff and Weiss have chosen to adopt, which is to first and foremost create relationships between characters, and if a plot manages to emerge from that, well...

Dangit, I want to see some action!

#2 scurvy

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 06:48 AM

The books have tons of character rememberances of historical and immediate past events that I think such scenes fit with the story telling of the source material.

#3 SerMixalot

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 06:52 AM

Well to an extent that is the beauty of the story, the dialogue. In life we get to know eachother primarily through conversations with and about people. This series is not an action movie it is a fantasy drama. Unique for hte genre and why I consider it fresh

#4 Greywolf2375

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 07:09 AM

Sure, there are a number of scenes with just two talking, but without the PoV/inner monologue available, they have to get some exposition. Considering the level of acting, I'm plenty happy with watching Tyrion & Varys just chatting about what is to come on the walls of the Red Keep.

#5 RobertOfTheHouseBaratheon

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 07:43 AM

you need to cite examples so we can understand the issue. As far as I can tell 90% of great shows like Sopranos, Mad Men ect. is dialogue. I'd rather clever dialogue then series after series of action sequence like a Transformer movie

#6 Dolorous Nick

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 08:03 AM

I think part of the problem is that the writers have had a LOT of new characters to introduce and develop and not much time to do it. So far, Season 2 has had to acquaint viewers with Stannis, Davos, Melisandre, Xaro, Pyat Pree, Quorin Halfhand, Ygritte, Balon, Asha/Yara, Craster, Salladhor Saan, Roose Bolton, Brienne, Jeyne/Talisa, and a host of others while trying to include all of the major players from last season and flesh out characters such as Gendry, Hot Pie, Yoren, Bronn, etc. This involves a lot of conversation in order to provide back story, motives, characteristics, etc. as efficiently as possible. Simply put, Martin's books are Cleganish in size...which is why I'm glad that the writers have decided to spread Storm of Swords out over two seasons. One could argue that Clash of Kings has two seasons worth of material buried in its pages. Even as somebody who is really enjoying the second season, I get a sense of the writers having to rush the story along to fit everything into ten hours. At some points, I do feel like I'm listening to the characters tell Martin's story to one another.

#7 RobertOfTheHouseBaratheon

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 08:50 AM

At some points, I do feel like I'm listening to the characters tell Martin's story to one another.


I don't so much get that but I must admit I found the Stannis - Davos dialogue clunky in this episode. I liked that they were explaining the seige of Storms End but the way Stannis spoke it was like Davos didn't know anything about it before. I wanted Davos to but in and say, "I know that, I was there remember?"

Maybe like that some of the dialogue feels un-natural so you are noticing it more.

#8 Reposado

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 10:14 AM

you need to cite examples so we can understand the issue. As far as I can tell 90% of great shows like Sopranos, Mad Men ect. is dialogue. I'd rather clever dialogue then series after series of action sequence like a Transformer movie


yes but there is dialogue that doesn't come in one-on-one conversations. your example is mad men. that show features many conversations in which multiple characters are present. this enlivens things, provides variation.

the reason GOT has so many 2-person conversations is because its main cast is rarely in the same location. and to save on cost, they don't like to cast more roles than they need to and use as many non-speaking extras as possible.

does this make sense yes? does it make the show less dramatically interesting? yes, it does that too.

it's interesting because in the books, this doesn't matter. there's so much inner dialogue that scenes are interesting where the character is doing something that would be dreadful on the screen.

ETA: good examples of them not doing this in season 1. the scene where tywin is butchering a deer during conversation. the scene where the greatjon is interrupted by grey wind jumping on the table. not as much of that this year

Edited by Lanza Rota, 25 May 2012 - 10:16 AM.


#9 TheWrongKindOfSnow

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Posted 26 May 2012 - 11:00 AM

In the episode prior to this one, I actually noted the scenes of just dialogue (usually between two characters) as a positive thing. I generally would agree with you - I like action. (Although I'm sure if the series relied on little dialogue, it would be accused of being pure violence.) But I really enjoyed the talks between Jaime and Catelyn, Cersei and Tyrion.

Whether telling is inferior to showing all depends on what's being said. I wouldn't want the series reduced to just talk, but I've not seen that happening so far. The only scene where I thought talk went on too long was Talisa's account to Robb of her brothers rescue. It wasn't as emotional as it was intended to be, went on to long, and the reaction it inspired in Talisa and Robb seemed inappropriate to the nature of her dialogue (monologue?).

#10 teemo

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Posted 26 May 2012 - 11:23 AM

That's exactly how my boyfriend feels. He falls asleep half the time in the middle of the episode and I have to elbow him. He calls it the "medieval soap opera with rich aristocrats bitching and talking." However, he loves The Sopranos, which is mostly dialogue as well. I personally love dialogue-intensive shows, but like someone suggested maybe sometimes it feels like the actors are telling each other GRRM's story. Can't wait for Blackwater Bay tomorrow!

ETA: You do have a very valid point though. Many of the Unsullied are getting very bored this season, and I understand why. It's easier for book readers to get really into the dialogue, because we're sitting there comparing things in our head to the books and looking for things to happen and it's always exciting. However, from an outsider's perspective....they just see two people talking. I really hope the BBW episode is phenomenally action-packed to please some of the restless.

Edited by hk47, 26 May 2012 - 11:26 AM.


#11 boojam

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Posted 26 May 2012 - 12:25 PM

It started in the first season, and has become essentially the whole of the show - scene after scene is just two characters talking, and not actually doing anything.

They talk about what they just did, or what they're about to do. They talk about all sorts of stuff, but they don't do much of anything. Once or twice an episode there's a scene where either something happens, or there's more than two characters talking about something.

When I watched the first series on Blu-Ray and listened to the actors and writers' commentary, again and again the majority of their comments had to do with "They have such an interesting relationship" or "This scene really explains their relationship."

Personally, i think it's gone too far - "show don't tell" is a fundamental rule of storytelling, and we seem to have fallen into a bottomless pit of "tell, don't show." I know in part it's budgetary, of course - but I think it also has to do with the storytelling method that Benioff and Weiss have chosen to adopt, which is to first and foremost create relationships between characters, and if a plot manages to emerge from that, well...

Dangit, I want to see some action!


To me an interesting dialog is action!


#12 Jory

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Posted 26 May 2012 - 12:53 PM

While it can definitely result in some awesome scenes (Tywin/Arya, Davos/Stannis), it's totally overdone in the series. If I ever see three characters in the same room interacting for any length of time it seems like a miracle because one-on-one seems to be the only dialogue the show can write.

Edited by Jory, 26 May 2012 - 12:54 PM.


#13 wolverine

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Posted 27 May 2012 - 10:01 AM

It is totally overdone. But I think I might be able to be entertained by Charles Dance talking to a post, and him talking to Maise is awesome.

#14 Keep Shelly in Athens

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Posted 27 May 2012 - 02:31 PM

I don't mind talky scenes per se, but the criticism that rings true to me is that these scenes don't establish anything new about old characters. Essentially, they're having the same conversations over and over again using the same character traits that have been firmly established. So people are left bored asking "what was the point of that scene? we already know that hes a so-and-so and that she's a such-and-such."

#15 GoodGuyA

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Posted 27 May 2012 - 07:45 PM

It's fundamental to a drama, even with just two people speaking over things. It all depends on how its paced, acted, and shot. GoT does generally well with this (I remember the great conversation of LF and Varys, for example) though it can fall into "shoulder over shoulder" style, which is the least interesting way to shoot stuff like that. It allows your eye to take in the scenery though and hear the lusciousness of the conversation. I don't think it's overdone, considering the type of story it is. If you imagine more action, you are truly in the wrong place.

#16 Currawong

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Posted 27 May 2012 - 08:09 PM

It's fundamental to a drama, even with just two people speaking over things. It all depends on how its paced, acted, and shot. GoT does generally well with this (I remember the great conversation of LF and Varys, for example) though it can fall into "shoulder over shoulder" style, which is the least interesting way to shoot stuff like that. It allows your eye to take in the scenery though and hear the lusciousness of the conversation. I don't think it's overdone, considering the type of story it is. If you imagine more action, you are truly in the wrong place.


Exactly. In GoT, so much of the action IS dialogue - how else do you show all the KL political machinations, for example? The problem arises because (alas) many viewers these days, of both TV and cinema, are used to half-disengaging their ears and brain, and just watching, rather than listening to the detail and hearing what is being said. Or at least only concentrating for 2-3 minutes at a time. In many cases, they are also used to more simplistic dialogue, so that they can only pay half-attention and still follow the show or movie while doing other things. Like making dinner, texting to friends (how often does that happen in movies!) and so on.

#17 bloodofthedragonqueen

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 02:04 AM

I have watched season 1 at least 10 or 13 times (usually while painting for the last 7) basically more than the average person /tongue.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':P' /> and I can tell you that in season one there was WAY more action. Nearly each and every episode had something dramatic happen, while in season two they just waited for milk it out for as long as possible. I should watch and compare them right now actually, (I just need to find access to season 2 on the other computers hard drive) but I swear it was mostly talking season two.

The fact they made everything happen in the last two episodes... oh man that was PAINFUL.

Season one was going full speed from episode FIVE, when jaime attacks ned and Catelyn has Tyrion. Ahh, awesome fight scenes!
Before that there was still so much action- Clegane chopping the horses head ( I love it, looked so real ), the knight getting stabbed in the throat, bran getting pushed from a window, Ned finding Gendry, Arya fighting Joffrey, etc etc. So awesome ! Told you; EVERY EPISODE ACTION OCCURRED.

Season two had none of that!! all teasing. So I agree with season two (the painful scenes between Dany and Jorah which were actually repeated.. Where are my dragons, find them, okay, go on, yes princess... blah blah) but not season one.

Season one had scenes that added something. Season two did not. The writers of the second season hadn't even heard of the books, i kid you not.

#18 Kessell

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 11:17 AM

The main critisism one of my non watching friends has speaks to this point. As others have pointed out an interesting conversation can be enough 'action'. But the structure of far too many scenes (enough that it becomes easy to observe and find annoying) has to do with two or three people exchanging lines ( letting each other finish, speaking near perfectly) while the camera flashes from 1 face to the other. His point was that is what breaks immersion far more than any fantasy element, he discribed it as looking at a theatre stage instead of feeling in the mitst of the actors / story. Obviously this is an entirly personal critique that i don't happen to share, but the 'style' they often adopt in dialog scenes is clearly visible as focus on lots of single shots as opposed to long steady shots of the entire set or something inbetween (dispite the many directors, though for instance Nutter is far more guilty of it than others).