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[Book & TV Spoilers] Insightful interview with writer Bryan Cogman


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#1 Arya The Assassin

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 08:06 PM

I found this interview by Alyssa Rosenberg with Bryan Cogman to be very interesting and insightful. Actually, it's one of the best GoT-interviews I've read so far. They discuss season two, the characters, the challenge of adapting the books and the rationale behind the writers' decisions.

‘Game of Thrones’ Story Editor Bryan Cogman On the Second Season, Adapting Books He Loves, and the Show’s Secret Main Character

Here are a few quotes from the interview:

Game of Thrones is in this interesting interim place where it has fans who haven’t read the books and will never read the books, but you have fans who are obsessive scholars of the text. I imagine you feel you can’t just please one group or another, you have to please yourself.

It is a delicate balance. We love these books. If we didn’t love these books none of us would be here. At the same time, the show has to be for everyone. It’s also not even a question of where the information is, but even adapting the story, the present-day story of the books. When you’re mapping it out for television, or even thinking of the fact that is hopefully going to be several seasons, you have to pick and choose where you want to do certain characters, where information’s going to be most effective. An offhand remark about a character in the second episode of the first season that doesn’t pay off until season five might not be the best use of that time in the second episode of the first season. That is a very tricky thing. And we’re constantly trying to figure out how best to serve all of these threads. It’s very, very challenging.

[...]

You have to be Marwyn the Mage, the rogue Maester of the Citadel!

It is something that has definitely evolved for me. In the pilot of the first season, I was the one sounding the alarms more when things were changed. Part of my job at the beginning was to read the books over and over. There was a view of “that can’t happen because that doesn’t happen in the book.” And I learned as we were writing season one, and working with David and Dan in adapting this thing, that they have to be two separate universes. And of course these books are the Bible. If you go back and look at season two from beginning to end, it’s essentially the second book. There were a lot of detours on, and things that were cut and shifted around. But it follows if not all of, most of the story beats and emotional beats of the second book. We saved things for later. Certain things had to be cut. Certain things had to be shifted. But we’re pretty much going into the third season where you are when you finish the second book.

[...]

[Arya], in the books, she’s at this point much more of a killer, her body count’s a lot higher than it is in the series. We’re slowing that journey down a little bit because we’re thinking of several years of a TV series. I think, while it works great in the books, it would have been very strange in my episode, in that final battle, for her to be killing those Lannister guys who are fully armored. In the context of our show, it wouldn’t have made sense. In the book, the way the scene is staged, it does make sense.

[...]

And I love that people have such strong feelings about it and are so passionate about it. Those are the kinds of stories that are worth telling…I’m really looking forward, now that the show has found its audience and is doing well for HBO, the idea that we might really be able to tell this whole story for television, from beginning to end, is such an exciting thing. I really hope we do get to. When it was me and David and Dan in a room plotting out the first season before we left for Belfast for the pilot, the idea that we would be getting to adapt some of the scenes that we’ve just now adapted for season three, that we’ve gotten that far, is astonishing. There was a lot stacked against us. Nothing’s ever been attempted on this level, in this genre before, on this scale for TV. And I’m so gratified that it’s found an audience that’s at least for the time being that’s going to allow us to tell these stories.



#2 protar

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 05:03 AM

Not a particularly informative interview if you look below the surface. Cogman talks about the changes they made from the books but he doesn't really explain them. He says they wanted Robb to actively fall in love rather than making a grief-ridden mistake, but they don't explain why they thought this was better than what was in the books for TV, and nor do they explain why such a story required Talisa. He rightly states that there is a time and a place for dropping cryptic background hints, but he doesn't say why the producers didn't feel the HOTU was the time and place for this. He says Arya making her first kill wouldn't have worked in the context of the show, but he doesn't explain why this is the case. So while I'm glad people are finally starting to ask these more probing questions, it still seems to me that they're dodging around giving satisfactory answers.

Edited by protar, 09 June 2012 - 05:07 AM.


#3 Currawong

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 05:54 AM

*sigh* Some book purists will never be satisfied.

There is no right or wrong adaptation of the books. Frankly, I thought this was an excellent interview explaining how these writers and producers were approaching the adaptation, and trying to get through to book purists about the various issues in making changes, including why they are doing certain things (no, not all, but certain things). Including why they omitted the Reeds from Season 2, a matter that generated many loud screams from book purists.

Please - can't people stop all the bitching and griping about changes, and demanding "explanations". Start appreciating the TV show for what it is - a different medium to the books, made by people who actually love the books and are doing an amazing job in providing us with an adaptation that works for the widest possible audience.

If you don't like it, or find that all you can do is complain, then don't watch it.

Edited by Currawong, 09 June 2012 - 05:54 AM.


#4 protar

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 06:26 AM

*sigh* Some book purists will never be satisfied.

There is no right or wrong adaptation of the books. Frankly, I thought this was an excellent interview explaining how these writers and producers were approaching the adaptation, and trying to get through to book purists about the various issues in making changes, including why they are doing certain things (no, not all, but certain things). Including why they omitted the Reeds from Season 2, a matter that generated many loud screams from book purists.

Please - can't people stop all the bitching and griping about changes, and demanding "explanations". Start appreciating the TV show for what it is - a different medium to the books, made by people who actually love the books and are doing an amazing job in providing us with an adaptation that works for the widest possible audience.

If you don't like it, or find that all you can do is complain, then don't watch it.


Funnily enough I completely agree with their postponing of the Reeds thank you very much. And I do enjoy the show on its own merits, but I also get frustrated with it from an adaptation perspective. Venting my frustration here is probably all that lets me enjoy the show as a separate piece.

And why should we not want explanations? We are all very dedicated to these books, and some of the people here (though I'll admit I'm not one of them.) have been devoted to this series for decades. I think we deserve to be treated with a little respect and informed on the whys of these changes not just the whats.

And as for whether they "love" these books, I'm not really seeing it. If anyone has evidence to the contrary (like D+D having signed up and contributing regularly to a fansite.) feel free to correct me, but while I'm sure they all like the books, I don't see how they can be fans. The level to which they misinterpret certain aspects of the books just makes me doubt this very much.

Take for example their idea that Jon Snow lacks a father figure, something that simply isn't true. Now you can see were they might be coming from: Ned refuses to tell Jon about his mother and sends him off to the less than hospitable NW. But you'd have to ignore everything else to come to that conclusion. Ned clearly cares about Jon and thinks about him often. He likely has good reason not to reveal details of Jon's parentage and the NW was genuinely the best place for him (not to mention the fact that Jon asked for it in the first place.). So while there is some logic to that assumption (and other similar assumptions.) it requires a large misinterpretation of the books. A misinterpretation only a casual reader could make. So therefore I reject this notion that the producers of GOT "love the books".

#5 Mediumjon Umber

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 06:41 AM

I agree with everything in the interview and Currawong's post.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no what some people are starting to call 'apologist'. I can, to some degree, understand what 'purists' find troubling about the show, and I relate to how straining it can be for nonreaders to follow all the various subplots and the multitude of characters. An adaptation should be as true to its source as possible, but a TV show shouldn't be laborious to watch. As far as the TV show is concerned I see myself as a rationalist and realist. Both the books and the show have their strengths and weaknesses, and some of those aspects are so specific that they can't be translated from the page to the TV screen. This has been repeated untold times, but shows and literature are so fundamentally different media, that there will never be an adaptation that can please everyone. Changes have to be done, be it because of the budget, the limited screen time or because of the longterm planning (I especially agree with what he said about how pointless it is to put a scene in episode two, which will pay off four seasons later).

Take it for what it is. The books are good books, the show is a good show. Nowhere is it written that based on this logic, the literary source in its unmodified version should be a good show.

#6 protar

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 06:45 AM

I agree with everything in the interview and Currawong's post.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no what some people are starting to call 'apologist'. I can, to some degree, understand what 'purists' find troubling about the show, and I relate to how straining it can be for nonreaders to follow all the various subplots and the multitude of characters. An adaptation should be as true to its source as possible, but a TV show shouldn't be laborious to watch. As far as the TV show is concerned I see myself as a rationalist and realist. Both the books and the show have their strengths and weaknesses, and some of those aspects are so specific that they can't be translated from the page to the TV screen. This has been repeated untold times, but shows and literature are so fundamentally different media, that there will never be an adaptation that can please everyone. Changes have to be done, be it because of the budget, the limited screen time or because of the longterm planning (I especially agree with what he said about how pointless it is to put a scene in episode two, which will pay off four seasons later).

Take it for what it is. The books are good books, the show is a good show. Nowhere is it written that based on this logic, the literary source in its unmodified version should be a good show.


I don't think anyone's asking for an entirely unmodified adaptation. But there are an awful lot of changes that seemingly can't be explained by time, budget or even just making the show easier to digest or more dramatic for TV. Talisa comes to mind.

#7 Ran

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 06:47 AM

There is no "purist" who wants an "unmodified version" who anyone need give any credence to. It is a very weak canard, just as it would be a canard to claim "apologists" want a completely different and unrecognizable story from the novels. Everyone has a line, there's very few indeed who have that line at "NO CHANGES EVAR", and they're not the people you're talking about.

The vast majority of fans of the novels who were more disappointed with this season than they were with last season want an adaptation that lives up to the source material. Changing things doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't do that. Changing things badly does.

For many readers, this season was further from that ideal than last season was from AGoT. Some of it is scope. Some of it is the reality of TV making.

And some of it is because of bad adaptation choices.

Edited by El Ranatico Loco, 09 June 2012 - 06:50 AM.


#8 dtones520

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 08:59 AM

There is no "purist" who wants an "unmodified version" who anyone need give any credence to. It is a very weak canard, just as it would be a canard to claim "apologists" want a completely different and unrecognizable story from the novels. Everyone has a line, there's very few indeed who have that line at "NO CHANGES EVAR", and they're not the people you're talking about.

The vast majority of fans of the novels who were more disappointed with this season than they were with last season want an adaptation that lives up to the source material. Changing things doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't do that. Changing things badly does.

For many readers, this season was further from that ideal than last season was from AGoT. Some of it is scope. Some of it is the reality of TV making.

And some of it is because of bad adaptation choices.


Answer me this, purely from a tv show standpoint, is it a good tv show or not? In my opinion, despite the changes, it is a great show. One of the best on t.v. Yes, it is making changes from the book, no question about it. But the overall story is still being told to us and, more importantly, non book readers.

#9 protar

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 09:29 AM

Answer me this, purely from a tv show standpoint, is it a good tv show or not? In my opinion, despite the changes, it is a great show. One of the best on t.v. Yes, it is making changes from the book, no question about it. But the overall story is still being told to us and, more importantly, non book readers.


Yes, it's great TV despite the changes, not because of them. Without them (or atleast without many of them.) it would be even greater TV. This is a testament to the strength of the source material, not the skills of D+D.

#10 Currawong

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 09:51 AM

Yes, it's great TV despite the changes, not because of them. Without them (or atleast without many of them.) it would be even greater TV. This is a testament to the strength of the source material, not the skills of D+D.

How do you know that it would be even greater TV? You don't.

The writers have to cater for the many millions of viewers who have never read the books. If some of them go on to read the books afterwards, so much the better, but they also have to tell - and sell - this story to people who are not readers, and will never, ever bother to plough their way through 5 enormous tomes so far, possibly up to 8 by the times the series finishes. I can't blame them actually - ADWD in particular is very heavy going, which even many diehard book purists admit. There are many TV viewers who are just happy to watch a great TV series, and who don't want to read these, or indeed many other far shorter books.

#11 AegonTheUnlikely

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 09:58 AM

I don't think anyone's asking for an entirely unmodified adaptation. But there are an awful lot of changes that seemingly can't be explained by time, budget or even just making the show easier to digest or more dramatic for TV. Talisa comes to mind.


I think Talisa can be explained by those things. First, she provides an opportunity to drop some info about Volantis, which will ultimately be, at least, useful. Second, they said they wanted Robb to actively fall in love, not make a grief-ridden mistake. From a story-telling perspective, if you're going to set up the 'unlikely love' angle, it needs to be actually unlikely. Jeyne Westerling was exactly the sort of person Robb would be expected to end up with; a Volantene nurse of questionable parentage is not. Thus, she provides the bigger contrast, and works better in a t.v. setting. Further, by excluding the Westerlings, you can trim down the complexity of Tywin's Red Wedding plot- economy of story telling is big. Granted, the many levels of complexity make the plot exceedingly bad-ass. But, lets be honest- the Westerling's role was minimal. So minimal, its never even directly spelled out. Tywin rewards them some land after all is said and done, and its left to the reader to suss out at what point they go involved. As long as the Red Wedding accurately conveys the Lannister-Frey-Bolton treachery, we're good IMO.

Just my two cents.

#12 Ran

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 10:02 AM

It's a good show. It could have been much better if bad adaptation choices were not made. 12 focal stories in the finale? Bad. Arya Stark in character development stasis for 6 episodes? Bad. Repetitive Ygritte come on-insult scenes replacing exciting desperate chase and action sequence? Bad.

They were the wrong choice to make. That's not because of the source material, however, it's because of the showrunners making some poor decisions in how they were adapting it. Or possibly because Rose Leslie's agent negotiated four episodes, and by god, one of them had better be a two-hander with Kit Harington. And maybe Charles Dance's agent did the same.

But twelve foci in the final episode? Bad, bad, bad. Just silly. Some of these stories should have been left to eight to wrap up.

(And no, that's not the only bad choices. I'm just picking out three which I think are particularly notable.)

Jeyne Westerling was exactly the sort of person Robb would be expected to end up with


The daughter of a very minor house loyal to his enemies? Not really.

Edited by El Ranatico Loco, 09 June 2012 - 10:02 AM.


#13 CrypticWeirwood

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 11:13 AM

It's a good show. It could have been much better if bad adaptation choices were not made. 12 focal stories in the finale? Bad.

This is the one that I most especially do not understand.

With “Blackwater”, they showed how much better it works out when you focus on a limited set of characters instead of trying to shoehorn everyone and his dog into one episode, the way they tried to do with “Valar Morhulis”. How can you ever get meaningful character development when it’s strung out in five-minute vignettes?

The best episodes are those with fewer plot arcs to cover, not those where everyone gets token face time. Otherwise it just feels like shallow and ultimately meaningless cameos.

How can they “get” how important this is for one episode, then turn around and totally blow it on the next one?

#14 protar

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 11:27 AM

How do you know that it would be even greater TV? You don't.

The writers have to cater for the many millions of viewers who have never read the books. If some of them go on to read the books afterwards, so much the better, but they also have to tell - and sell - this story to people who are not readers, and will never, ever bother to plough their way through 5 enormous tomes so far, possibly up to 8 by the times the series finishes. I can't blame them actually - ADWD in particular is very heavy going, which even many diehard book purists admit. There are many TV viewers who are just happy to watch a great TV series, and who don't want to read these, or indeed many other far shorter books.


I think we can safely say that for example Robb's COK arc shown on screen would be better than his cliche romance with Talisa. I've hardly seen anyone say they liked that story. The only people I've seen defend it a apologists who blindly defend the show no matter what.

The rest of your post is hardly even relevant. Yes, the show must cater to a wider audience to the books. So? Why does that mean it cannot also be faithful to the books? Most of the stuff in the books would work perfectly on TV. Please explain how Jeyne Westerling wouldn't work on TV. How Jon's relationship with Qhorin wouldn't work on TV. How Reek wouldn't work on TV. I'll wait.


I think Talisa can be explained by those things. First, she provides an opportunity to drop some info about Volantis, which will ultimately be, at least, useful. Second, they said they wanted Robb to actively fall in love, not make a grief-ridden mistake. From a story-telling perspective, if you're going to set up the 'unlikely love' angle, it needs to be actually unlikely. Jeyne Westerling was exactly the sort of person Robb would be expected to end up with; a Volantene nurse of questionable parentage is not. Thus, she provides the bigger contrast, and works better in a t.v. setting. Further, by excluding the Westerlings, you can trim down the complexity of Tywin's Red Wedding plot- economy of story telling is big. Granted, the many levels of complexity make the plot exceedingly bad-ass. But, lets be honest- the Westerling's role was minimal. So minimal, its never even directly spelled out. Tywin rewards them some land after all is said and done, and its left to the reader to suss out at what point they go involved. As long as the Red Wedding accurately conveys the Lannister-Frey-Bolton treachery, we're good IMO.

Just my two cents.


1. Why do we need info on Volantis now? We don't. The Volantene culture is something we can be immersed in when we get to it. It's not a background reference like the visions in the HOTU were it's a one shot opportunity.

2. Yes, they wanted Robb to fall in love rather than making a grief-ridden mistake. Why though? It makes him less sympathetic and this "unlikely love" angle they're pushing has been poorly executed, turning it into a cheap cliche.

3. The Westerlings could've still been included without including their part in the RW if that was necessary. And as you say, their involvement is rather implicity rather than explicit. So why not include it as a bonus for extra-observant viewers? It would go over the heads of the more casual viewers and make no difference whatsoever to their enjoyment of the show.

#15 protar

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 11:34 AM

This is the one that I most especially do not understand.

With “Blackwater”, they showed how much better it works out when you focus on a limited set of characters instead of trying to shoehorn everyone and his dog into one episode, the way they tried to do with “Valar Morhulis”. How can you ever get meaningful character development when it’s strung out in five-minute vignettes?

The best episodes are those with fewer plot arcs to cover, not those where everyone gets token face time. Otherwise it just feels like shallow and ultimately meaningless cameos.

How can they “get” how important this is for one episode, then turn around and totally blow it on the next one?


Wait, even you are complaining about the show now? Things must be bad. /tongue.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':P' />

I kid, I kid but yeah I agree with you. While the first episode of each season should catch up on every arc to refresh the audiences memory, their is no such need in the season finale. For example:
  • With some shifting around, Robb's story could've been finished up in episode 8. For example Theon could've killed "Bran and Rickon" halfway through episode 7, not right at the end. This could then be followed up by Robb and Cat's reactions causing them to do their stupid things. Then in E8, we have Robb and Cat confronting one another, and then Robb's marriage.
  • The Stannis scene was unnecessary. They left Davos' fate uncertain they can do the same with Stannis.
  • The Jaime and Brienne scene is the same. If they weren't going to have Jaime losing his hand in this episode, there was no point in showing them.
  • The Ros/Varys scene could go and be replaced by something meaningful.
With some other adjustments i.e moving HOTU to episode 8 so Dany needs less screen time in E10, this would allow them to really focus on the other stories.

#16 Punchslap

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 11:51 AM

*sigh* Some book purists will never be satisfied.


I'd just say that some people will never be satisfied. That doesn't bother me--nothing is universally loved. The opinions about the books themselves are just as strong. I would be interested in seeing what people think of Cogman's opinions in the article, particularly his interpretation of the Hound (as a contrast to Brienne), or Tyrion.

#17 Mediumjon Umber

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 12:01 PM

I don't think anyone's asking for an entirely unmodified adaptation. But there are an awful lot of changes that seemingly can't be explained by time, budget or even just making the show easier to digest or more dramatic for TV. Talisa comes to mind.

Because starting the next season with Robb telling his mother by the way that he married Lady Generic Young White Woman - who we've never even seen before and who we'll in all likelyhood see maybe twice more because Robb isn't a POV - when nobody was watching wouldn't add more confusion to the maelstrom of characters and subplots it is for nonreaders? No, but you're absolutely correct. Slowly introducing us to a character over the course of numerous episodes so that we will get used to her and not be confused when she's vital to the plot is the dumbest thing any producer of any TV show can think of.


There is no "purist" who wants an "unmodified version" who anyone need give any credence to. It is a very weak canard, just as it would be a canard to claim "apologists" want a completely different and unrecognizable story from the novels. Everyone has a line, there's very few indeed who have that line at "NO CHANGES EVAR", and they're not the people you're talking about.

Truly?
Because whenever there is a deviation from the literary source in TV show, there is always an angry rant about this to be found on this forum. Don't get me wrong, I don't generalize, I suppose the number of purists who scream at the top of their lungs about how the show sucks and how they ruined absolutely everything is low compared to the number of people who silently shake their head in disapproval at the TV show (the same way the few rabid fans of various video games, films, bands etc are heard way more than the silent masses), but if the writers would have to listen to all people who hold to these books like the bible, they would have to tell the unmodified story. Writers and producers must generalize when it comes to the audience. Because otherwise there would always be someone who isn't satisfied. And don't tell me I'm wrong. If you think I have no idea what I'm talking about, look at how friendly the TV show section of the forum has been of late. I agree that there isn't any fan who would want a straight from the book adaptation, but I repeat, if they'd want to satisfy every fan, they would have had to make a show that is straight from the books. There will never ever be an adaptation that will please everyone.

Edited by Mediumjon Umber, 09 June 2012 - 12:03 PM.


#18 protar

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 12:22 PM

Because starting the next season with Robb telling his mother by the way that he married Lady Generic Young White Woman - who we've never even seen before and who we'll in all likelyhood see maybe twice more because Robb isn't a POV - when nobody was watching wouldn't add more confusion to the maelstrom of characters and subplots it is for nonreaders? No, but you're absolutely correct. Slowly introducing us to a character over the course of numerous episodes so that we will get used to her and not be confused when she's vital to the plot is the dumbest thing any producer of any TV show can think of.


Ah, the old question dodge tactic. Very clever of you.

Yes, I agree that we needed to see Robb's COK arc on screen. That still doesn't explain why they had to change things so drastically. Why could they not show Robb and Jeyne's relatioship on screen? No reason is why.

#19 AegonTheUnlikely

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 12:33 PM

1. Why do we need info on Volantis now? We don't. The Volantene culture is something we can be immersed in when we get to it. It's not a background reference like the visions in the HOTU were it's a one shot opportunity.

2. Yes, they wanted Robb to fall in love rather than making a grief-ridden mistake. Why though? It makes him less sympathetic and this "unlikely love" angle they're pushing has been poorly executed, turning it into a cheap cliche.

3. The Westerlings could've still been included without including their part in the RW if that was necessary. And as you say, their involvement is rather implicity rather than explicit. So why not include it as a bonus for extra-observant viewers? It would go over the heads of the more casual viewers and make no difference whatsoever to their enjoyment of the show.


1. We don't, really- as far as we know. There are a bunch of cities in Essos, it may be they are planning on cutting/condensing that. If that means 2 cities in Slaver's Bay, with the Volantene being Dany's primary antagonist after her rise to power there, then it might make sense to start introducing that now. Without knowing how the showrunners plan to deal with Essos, it's all conjecture to this point.

2. Agreed, for the most part. Robb being more affirmative makes him a less sympathetic character, as far as traditional tragedy goes. I think they probably decided to go that route because in making Robb a more visible character, they need the audience to relate more to him. As a result, they want the [modern] audience to identify with the love v. duty conflict, and they seek to develop in the viewer a greater hope they True Love Will Prevail. Personally, I don't think the Red Wedding is any less significant for being the result of a mistake of passion, as opposed to a mistake borne of grief.

3. I also would have preferred that. But, economy of story is huge in film. George can throw an extra page in if he needs, the show only has so many minutes per episode, and so many episodes per season, to convey as much information as they can. Even an oblique reference to the Westerling's possible involvement would necessitate: A) The rest of the Westerlings as cast-members (father, mother, several younger brothers to serve as squires, if I recall), and sufficient background/exposition on the family /cool.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt='B)' /> At least one scene of mother Westerling subtly slipping Jeyne "something" in some tea, C) A scene where the audience is given enough information to know what was given Jeyne (probably post-RW), and D) a scene with Tywin granting them their reward. Without those necessary elements, the reality of the collusion is vague at best. I suspect they either need to make it a clear and important enough part of the plot to dedicate the screen time to it, or cut it and simplify.

I'm willing to bet that ultimately they made the change to Talisa simply to avoid having to cast the rest of her family, and find a castle to call The Crag. I actually agree it'd be nice if they had been a bit more faithful to Robb's Western Campaign, but I don't have the problems other do with it, I suppose.

#20 Khal Pono

Khal Pono

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 12:40 PM

Yes, it's great TV despite the changes, not because of them. Without them (or atleast without many of them.) it would be even greater TV. This is a testament to the strength of the source material, not the skills of D+D.


oh boy.... do you really mean that?

You're essentially saying that the books are so darn good (and they are good, of course) that any old producer or director could take the source material and spin them into a show as good as GoT, so long as he/she follows the books.

D&D have no great talent of their own? everything good about the show comes from the books? give me a break. you're really minimizing what they bring to the table.

how about the actors? the music? the costumes? the stunts? the FX? does everything good about their contributions come directly from the pages of the book as well.

i do actually agree that some of the changes are inexplicable and frustrating, but I would never say that the TV show in and of itself is less than superb and that the creators of the show are less than wildly talented