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Venardhi

A script review. - SPOILERS

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A friend in the biz passed a copy along to me last night and I just finished reading it for the second time, trying to let it soak in a bit before I unleash my opinion upon the subject.

Overall it is well paced and the extra scenes are fine if somewhat forced. They're one of the most talked-about subjects on the board so I'll start with them:

Cersei's scene seems only there to throw suspicion on her before it is necessary or really interesting, Tyrion and Jaime's is fairly charming but a bit corny and could be done without. The confrontation between Ned and Jaime is forced and just makes Jaime look like a spoiled little boy and Ned has a truly groan-worthy line. Another short scene between Robert and Ned at the end is a horrendous example of needless foreshadowing/in joke involving the mention of the boars down south being more difficult to hunt.

Some of the things I really "felt" missing or changed for the worse:

The Rangers scene was cut down considerably for time, but that was to be expected. The change in Gared's character (or rather, taking it away) makes it hard to explain why he wouldn't have gone straight to Castle Black. They also make no mention of his ears, though they do mention him wearing a hood. I missed him talking about the cold, really made you feel what the watch was up against and made Jon's "choice" to join all the more heartbreaking to read.

Gared and Ned chat about the Others apparently, and later Ned and Bran speak of it too in place of the far more deserving (and later recalled) conversation about fear and bravery. It is pointless and never mentioned again.

Robert's line about Lyanna deserving to be on a hill surrounded by flowers (something like that) is changed to something about sunlight and clouds. Considering how often she is associated with flowers, it seems a pointless and negative change.

The conversation about the handship is fairly intact, but it feels off somehow. They also changed "The King eats, and the Hand takes the shit" to "The King shits and the Hand wipes." another change that feels like the writer is trying to leave his mark in a place it really isn't needed. Ned dropping to his knee when offered the handship seems wrong, don't recall if that is how it went in the book but it feels wrong, especially coming between all the personal stuff about Lyanna and later their kids' marriage.

Benjen is older than Ned?

"Sire a few bastards of your own" is changed to another groaner: "Dip your wick a few times" leaving us with a distinct lack of Jon's angry response, instead he just gets needlessly upset and runs away.

The scene in the bedroom where they receive the letter from "Lysa" feels very rushed and badly paced, the one example in the script of a scene that needs to be fairly seriously altered instead of just tweaks (which I'll come to later)

I think that is about it. Minor changes, but ones I felt as I read through, and it was even worse on the second time through.

As I said before, the pacing is good for the most part, and the characters are all mostly spot-on. Ned is written a bit more "leading-man" IMO, but it isn't a bad change. The biggest issue I have is with the dialogue. Lines changed for no apparent reason, lots of repeated or unnecessary information. I hate it when people tell other people things that they both know that they both know. How many times do we have to have Jon or someone else mention his bastardy when it has nothing to do with the conversation? Things like Jon explaining to Ned how many children he has, then their genders. . . it just reads as very awkward from my perspective both as an actor and just as someone who reads a lot.

considering the source material this is pretty hard to fuck up, but parts of it read like amature night on the fan forum, at least in the draft I received. A good cast and director could raise it to a higher level, but it will be the bottleneck of the production, keeping it from being as good as it could be. Some guys just don't have a talent for dialogue, but I really hope this goes through another writer before it hits the set. Hell, give me a hundred bucks and a steak dinner and I'll do it myself. The changes needed are minimal, but important.

I've been mostly negative because well, I wouldn't be here if the basic story and characters weren't good to begin with. I am unimpressed but still optimistic. They pretty much nailed the characters other than a few little quibbles here and there and that is by far the most important aspect of adapting the material. I wish them the best of luck and still think this can be one of the best shows of next season/spring/decade/whenever it comes out, but the pilot will be a hard sell to the execs and the audience if the actors can't rise above the dialogue.


- Devin

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the only thing that really bothers me there is the no Bran and Bravery chat, since it is after all one of the most quoted lines in the book. and Jon's basterd bit, which i can't understand why they'd do that to a line that doesn't make sense in his respones.

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[quote name='Venardhi' post='1676970' date='Feb 6 2009, 13.27']Benjen is older than Ned?[/quote]
They aren't really making Benjen older than Ned are they? I hope that's just a mistake that will be changed because if Benjen is older than Ned then Benjen should be the Lord of Winterfell and married to Catelyn Tully, etc. If Benjen is older than Ned then Benjen is the central character to start the series, not Ned. Deliberately changing their ages doesn't even remotely make sense! :stunned:
[quote name='Venardhi' post='1676970' date='Feb 6 2009, 13.27']Things like Jon explaining to Ned how many children he has, then their genders. . . it just reads as very awkward from my perspective both as an actor and just as someone who reads a lot.[/quote]
Are you talking about when the dire wolf pups are found and Jon points out to Ned that he thinks they were meant for the Stark children because the number and gender of the two groups is exactly the same? I hope they don't screw that up because, imo, that is an early glimpse we get into Jon's character (remember he left himself out of the equation as they hadn't found Ghost yet) and I also think it gives us some insight into Bran's and Jon's relationship.

Great! Now I'm gonna have to start biting my nails... :)

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The problem is more in the way that he says it than anything. It feels forced and awkward and not at all like someone would actually say it. Film requires much more precision than written fiction and a line like: "Lord Stark... There are five pups. Three Male, two female. You have five trueborn children. Three sons, two daughters. The direwolf is the sigil of your house..." isn't anything that Ned doesn't already know. It should be short and to the point. e.g: "Lord Stark... there are five pups. Five direwolves for five trueborn Starks..." Have Robb jump in with the genders or something if you must address it, but as written it is very clunky, just try saying it aloud as if talking to your father without rolling your eyes.

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The script says Ned is 40 and Benjen is 45. Could be a typo, could be ignorance on their part.

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I feel that because GRRM is (supposedly) working very closely with the producers on the series, mistakes like age will be cleared up fairly easily IF they get in the way of the story.

But really, Benjen's age doesn't matter[i] too[/i] too much--wait before you 'dracarys!' me--since [b]a)[/b] we only see him a few times before his disappearance, so by the time he comes back 3 or 4 seasons later (if ever) he could very well be portrayed by a different actor and [b]b)[/b] it's conceivable (though not canon) that Benjen, if he were older than Eddard, took the black before Brandon's death and therefore removed himself from the succession.

Also, [b]c)[/b] only book-fans, and relatively devoted book-fans, will know Benjen's true age and more importantly why that matters. So HBO may or may not change it, or care.

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[quote name='UnCersei' post='1677210' date='Feb 6 2009, 15.15']I feel that because GRRM is (supposedly) working very closely with the producers on the series, mistakes like age will be cleared up fairly easily IF they get in the way of the story.

But really, Benjen's age doesn't matter[i] too[/i] too much--wait before you 'dracarys!' me--since [b]a)[/b] we only see him a few times before his disappearance, so by the time he comes back 3 or 4 seasons later (if ever) he could very well be portrayed by a different actor and [b]b)[/b] it's conceivable (though not canon) that Benjen, if he were older than Eddard, took the black before Brandon's death and therefore removed himself from the succession.

Also, [b]c)[/b] only book-fans, and relatively devoted book-fans, will know Benjen's true age and more importantly why that matters. So HBO may or may not change it, or care.[/quote]
Actually, the birth order of Ned and Benjen Stark is [i]incredibly[/i] important in a setting where the rules of primogeniture are followed as I stated above:
[quote name='PotN']They aren't really making Benjen older than Ned are they? I hope that's just a mistake that will be changed because if Benjen is older than Ned then Benjen should be the Lord of Winterfell and married to Catelyn Tully, etc. If Benjen is older than Ned then Benjen is the central character to start the series, not Ned. Deliberately changing their ages doesn't even remotely make sense![/quote]

ETA: I agree with you that George will clear up a mistake like this right quick! :)

ETA II: I didn't really see your point about how they could make Benjen join the NW before Brandon's death thereby taking himself out of the succession. That's a great point but I just don't really see the need for such a change at this point. :dunno:

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Please, folks, we shouldn't take this age thing too seriously.

Ned's age is given 40 in the script. Benjen in his 40s.

But who cares? The viewer won't recognize it, while watching it on screen as long as the actors are around the same age. The ages won't be mentioned directly by someone. It's just a script-direction.

Nobody of us ever get to know, if Lucius Vorenus or Titus Pullo was the older one, eh?

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[quote name='Prince of the North' post='1677348' date='Feb 6 2009, 22.31']ETA II: I didn't really see your point about how they could make Benjen join the NW before Brandon's death thereby taking himself out of the succession. That's a great point but I just don't really see the need for such a change at this point. :dunno:[/quote]

Perhaps it was included to reinforce the idea that joining the NW means that you have to potentially give up a lot (if Benjen should have been Lord of Winterfell) and there's no way to go back on it and that joining the NW means you can't inherit a lordship or crown (which does eventually become important in the plot). I don't think it's a change that really adds much to the story (after all we will meet other characters in the first series who have also removed themselves from the succession in Maester Aemon and Lord Mormont), but because Benjen being in the Night's Watch removes him from the line of succession it doesn't really introduce any plot problems.

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[quote]They also changed "The King eats, and the Hand takes the shit" to "The King shits and the Hand wipes."[/quote]
I dislike this not because the words changed but because it's now Ned saying the crasser version, and it really should be Robert, that's their personalities. Also, Ned did drop to his knees in the book, and it actually felt a little overdramatic to me in the book too, but it is accurate.

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Something resembling a script is definitely out in the wild. :unsure: ... :leer: ... best not... :uhoh:

I kinda agree with the original poster. The changes to the dialog seem like clumsy attempts to distill the George's words into modern English (if the books are like the King James Bible, the script reads like some Easy Reading edition)--a lot of the nuance, symbolism, and meaning is lost. Which is odd given HBOs track record with, well, every other show. It's ok to give the audience a bit of a learning curve to help pull them in, and the language should be a big part of that. I'm a little worried that the Lannisters come off as uncouth louts in the beginning of the series... not the proud nobles they are. The Starks are supposed to be the uncultured bumpkins (relatively speaking).

It does have all the boilerplate "Hello, I am a first episode of an HBO show" elements... sex, language, violence, and tough guys posturing (but this time with castles!) I don't think that will be good enough. It's a fantasy... they need show right off that this is a world is unlike our own. That's what directors, actors, costume, locations are for, I suppose. And revised scripts. More length would definitely help. It follows the books closely, but the feel was lacking.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents. I have zero expertise at reading scripts.

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I had to stop reading it after Ned explained why he doesn't fight in tourneys...that was really bad. Hopefully I can get back to it later.

Wasn't so into "I care about the smallfolk" being one of Tyrion's first lines, either.

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Sounds like most of the dialog additions and some of the switches are pretty much exposition. Expository dialog seems to be one of the biggest hurdles many films and TV shows have. It almost never flows naturally, always feels awkward and out of place in an actual conversation, and its too geared towards the dumbest member of the audience. I understanding trying to get the LCD engaged, but you shouldn't have to force the other viewers to cringe through clunky and forced dialog in order to cater to the idiot. For whatever reason demanding a bit more of the viewer is an anathema and working in smooth, non-obvious exposition is a lost art.

The frustrating thing is that this is HBO. They typically don't bother clubbing the viewer over the head with the obvious. They're not afraid of more demanding shows like the Wire and Deadwood. Nor is their audience looking for the simpler fare. They can watch networks for that if they want.

On the flip side, it is a pilot. This is the introduction to a whole new world, countless characters, conflicts, and concepts. Unlike a novel you can't always take your time laying the basic foundation. Not all of it needs to be up front, but enough to know whats up and where things are going needs to be established. And its not like a modern day piece (or even some period pieces) where you already have a basic understanding of how things work. So who knows.

Reading this sub-forum has unfortunately killed alot of my hopes that this series will get picked up. Me sad.

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No discussing pirated materials, folks.

Obviously, I can't say which of you might have this via an authorized source, so I'm not going to shut down discussion. But no discussing or providing tips for illict methods of getting ahold of these things.

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[quote name='EHK for a True GOP' post='1677954' date='Feb 7 2009, 02.31']Reading this sub-forum has unfortunately killed alot of my hopes that this series will get picked up. Me sad.[/quote]
Well to be fair, the script has already been approved...so regardless what a few devoted fans might think, HBO is satisfied with the script they have. There was also plenty of good to be found in the script, most of us only took the time to point out the bad.

That said, I'm no longer certain as to the authenticity of what I read, so this is the last I'm going to comment on it.

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[quote name='williamjm' post='1677484' date='Feb 6 2009, 17.33']Perhaps it was included to reinforce the idea that joining the NW means that you have to potentially give up a lot (if Benjen should have been Lord of Winterfell) and there's no way to go back on it and that joining the NW means you can't inherit a lordship or crown (which does eventually become important in the plot). [b]I don't think it's a change that really adds much to the story (after all we will meet other characters in the first series who have also removed themselves from the succession in Maester Aemon and Lord Mormont)[/b], but because Benjen being in the Night's Watch removes him from the line of succession it doesn't really introduce any plot problems.[/quote]
But that's just it! If they make Benjen older just to accentuate the sacrifice of joining the NW then they take away much of the impact of the "reveal" of Aemon Targaryen as Maester Aemon. That, in turn, would lessen much of the punch of Jon's and Aemon's conversation about oaths, honor, etc. I think, when we learned just who Aemon is, that's the moment when we are supposed to say to ourselves "OMG, this guy could have been King and he gave it up!!!"

I still maintain that possibly making Benjen older is a huge mistake and is VERY important in a medieval culture where birth order determines so much. Personally, I think Benjen joined the NW for reasons concerning Jon and not just because or in addition to "it's the right and honorable thing to do for a northman". So, I'll just keep my fingers crossed and hope they don't make a completely unnecessary change in Ned's and Benjen's ages. :)

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the one thing that seemed off was that everyone in the script took for granted that jaime and ned were two best fighters in the land...
the impression i got from the book was that ned's main military strength was his ability to command and inspire loyalty in people, not his sword...

some dialogues were a bit weird, but you can't expect the tv series to be 100% accurate to the book...
from what i've read in the script they are not even close to making a LotR-like mistake, though and that's good enough for me...

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