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Game of Thrones/Borgias Throwdown

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Dan Fienberg and Alan Sepinwall discussed Camelot and The Borgias on their weekly TV podcast. No comparisons to Game of Thrones, but I thought their impressions were interesting. Neither critic seemed keen on the first few episodes of either show: Camelot was compared to Spartacus (but not in a good way) and The Borgias to The Tudors (but not in a good way). They seemed much more enthusiastic about The Killing on AMC, which they compared to Rubicon (in a good way).

I'm looking forward to their discussions of Game of Thrones (which will almost certainly be on the weekly podcast), especially since Sepinwall hasn't read the books or sought out any previews of the series.

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Jace Lacobs has now remarked on The Borgias -- not a fan. Loving the first three episodes of GoT, though. He also notes his wife (who has not read the books) has been watching with him. She saw the original pilot (Lacobs is, as far as I know, the only critic to have done so -- he has some deep contacts in the industry) and liked it ... but she loves this one, finding it much more exciting, especially noting that Emilia Clarke is really good, and apparently preferring Michelle Fairley's performance to Jennifer Ehle's. How much of this is in the direction, how much is in any retooling of interpretations of Cat (when Ehle left, it was said by an HBO insider that they were going in a different direction), and how much is in the actresses themselves is, of course, a mystery.

In regard to the original pilot, he also mentions that he thinks McCarthy's an amazing director of character-driven indie dramas, but that this was the wrong project for him on several levels, from genre to scale. McCarthy seems to have agreed, as he's said in interviews that he didn't really enjoy doing it -- he doesn't regret doing it, it was a useful experience, but he probably wouldn't try it again.

First episode, he says, has a cold open -- no title sequence. Title sequence starts with ep. 2.

Syrio is introduced in ep. 3, and Lacob recently tweeted that he loves it.

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Dan Fienberg and Alan Sepinwall discussed Camelot and The Borgias on their weekly TV podcast. No comparisons to Game of Thrones, but I thought their impressions were interesting. Neither critic seemed keen on the first few episodes of either show: Camelot was compared to Spartacus (but not in a good way) and The Borgias to The Tudors (but not in a good way). They seemed much more enthusiastic about The Killing on AMC, which they compared to Rubicon (in a good way).

I'm looking forward to their discussions of Game of Thrones (which will almost certainly be on the weekly podcast), especially since Sepinwall hasn't read the books or sought out any previews of the series.

The podcast was delicious, very funny and informative and the two reviewers were very humorous!

I completely agree with them on "Camelot": visually uninteresting, over-sexed and with awkward performances from Joseph (Ralph's brother, as they call him) Fiennes (although I found the writing of the role of Merlin strangely original, like a Machiavellian powerbroker). The concept of the show is not original but what a reviewer should really be the judge of is if the writers take a well-known legend and turn into something contemporary and original and, in my opinion, "Camelot" attained a level of originality that deserved further viewing, but only marginally. Eva Green is a commanding presence, the reviewers concluded and I of course agree,she is oddly compelling and seductive.

On "The Borgias", I personally thought that they gave a fair and favourable review. They said Jeremy Irons was his usual brilliant self (although they thought he was not invested in the role, while I found him just trying not to overact) and they also praised Colm Feore, Holliday Grainger and Sean Harris (the latter gives a very layered performance that renders him quite sympathetic, if you take into consideration we are talking about a cold-blooded murderer). They consider Francois Arnaud "unbearably bland" (I will have to disagree but it is a perfectly acceptable opinion) and from what I gather they liked the humour in the series (which isn't a lot but it is there, at least in the pilot), the kind of subtle, British phlegm, which doesn't hurt at all.

*Very excited about the "Game of Thrones" opening credits, I wonder what they will be to receive such praise.

**20 days to the premiere!

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Urquhart, did you say you didn't read the books?

That's awesome, you get to see the series without any preconceived notions of what to expect.

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Urquhart, did you say you didn't read the books?

That's awesome, you get to see the series without any preconceived notions of what to expect.

except that he's treading in dangerous waters here on the spoiler board

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That's true, but he seems to have enough sense not to go in many of the threads, given that i haven't seen him in them.

Unfortunately, I already know some things (for example, I know how the first episode will end and a very important death) and certain general events only from the first book though, but I know almost nothing of characters (except their general relations to each other) and I am oblivious to how most storylines play out. I am, I think, one of the fortunate tv watchers to enjoy the series purely on its own basis.

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which death is that?

Oh and now that i know you haven't read the books, i will be extra careful every time i see you around to warn if i'm writing any spoilers.

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which death is that?

Oh and now that i know you haven't read the books, i will be extra careful every time i see you around to warn if i'm writing any spoilers.

MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT!

Ned Stark's (Sean Bean).

*Thanks, I wouldn't want to disrupt this forum's day-to-day activity with my ignorance of basic plot details. But a SPOILER ALERT every time something spoilery is mentioned here at least (where I stay confined) would be much appreciated.

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Urquhart, well...okay, better I don't say anything about what you know. Heh!

On Borgias, the French Canadian guy playing Caesar Borgia - the younger son - was hardly in the first episode, so I couldn't judge him. Maybe those reviews are based on later eps.?

The guy playing the elder Borgia brother was excellent, I thought. I will have to keep track of his career. The girl playing Lucretia, hard to say. She has an interesting quality, for sure, but she's playing a 14 year old who somewhere between wide-eyed Sansa turning onto a kind of clever Arya (but maintaining her femininity). I dpnt know yet if she's good.

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Unfortunately, I already know some things (for example, I know how the first episode will end and a very important death) and certain general events only from the first book though, but I know almost nothing of characters (except their general relations to each other) and I am oblivious to how most storylines play out. I am, I think, one of the fortunate tv watchers to enjoy the series purely on its own basis.

in all honesty, its your loss. IDK why anyone would spoil choose to spoil such events for themselves being that this board is specifically marked for spoilers. Oh well

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Urquhart, I think that if you were familiar with the books, you would be more at peace with Michelle Fairley playing Catelyn. I can understand why one would prefer Ehle but after my initial negative reaction I've had some time to reflect and of course I've seen photos/clips of Fairley and I think she's cast excellently.

I'm still waiting to get my hands on the Borgias pilot btw, I've only seen Camelot.

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Urquhart, I think that if you were familiar with the books, you would be more at peace with Michelle Fairley playing Catelyn. I can understand why one would prefer Ehle but after my initial negative reaction I've had some time to reflect and of course I've seen photos/clips of Fairley and I think she's cast excellently.

I'm still waiting to get my hands on the Borgias pilot btw, I've only seen Camelot.

Perhaps I am biased because Ehle is a more famous actress and I guess she added an element of star quality to the casting of the character. But she is also a lovely actress and a very earthy kind of beauty, so I thought she was ideal for the dark, gritty and natural (if you don't count the fantasy element of course) tone of the series.

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Urquhart, I think that if you were familiar with the books, you would be more at peace with Michelle Fairley playing Catelyn. I can understand why one would prefer Ehle but after my initial negative reaction I've had some time to reflect and of course I've seen photos/clips of Fairley and I think she's cast excellently.

I agree. While Ehle is good looking, I am very confident in the character that Fairley will play. From the clips we have seen she seems to have captured Catelyn's true emotions very well. I'm not saying that Ehle wouldn't have, but since we have never seen her in action as Catelyn we can not judge. Fairley isn't just "a good second choice" she is a very good choice to play Catelyn. One of the better selected characters, IMO. I don't think "level of fame" really should factor into who can play the part well, and Fairely certainly can.

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I just got my hands on the pilot of The Borgias. I like it, but I'm not too excited about it, perhaps because I had very high expectations. At this point I think GoT will be better even though I am familiar with the plot.

For an hour and a half I think it's safe to say I got a good grasp of the show. I haven't seen The Tudors or most of the others that people compare it with. So far it looks like Rome, but visually better. It is true that the focus is maybe too much on the Borgias, but that's understandabe.

What surprised me is that Rodrigo doesn't seem to be the center of attention, which for me goes to Cesare and the assassin (don't want to bother looking up how the name is spelled).

There is plenty of murder, plotting and a modest amount of sex. Yet, it looks as though they [borgias and cardinals] are not trying too hard, it's all pretty straight forward. Quid pro quo, buying of votes, clear enemies and attempts to find a reason to remove Rodrigo from the throne or kill him (unsurprisingly failed). It lacks a certain level of complexity I know GoT will have, along with the fantasy elements. It also fails to impress with the actors as Irons is the only one that caught my attention as portraying the character vividly, as a complicated person. The others all seem somewhat static.

Of course, one episode is not very much to judge a show, but I'll definately watch it and hope for more development of both plot and characters.

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What surprised me is that Rodrigo doesn't seem to be the center of attention, which for me goes to Cesare and the assassin (don't want to bother looking up how the name is spelled).

Actually, that was all the older brother, Gioffre Borgia. Caesar is the younger brother who was all about martial stuff and had a pretty small amount to do in this first episode. No doubt he'll be a lot more involved as the series continues.

Edit: never mind, I was wrong. Got the brothers confused.

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Camelot at the moment has a 69 average on Metacritics, which is pretty good but so far it's based only on six reviews so I'm assuming it will go down once the show airs.

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(crossposted from Winter is Coming with additions)

I too caught the Borgias' pilot. I found it very very good, too good for TV. Neil Jordan is doing his usual good job, but (judging only from GoT's promos) Borgias is much slower than GoT. It plays like a movie; it can only go downhill from here. The endless debates between cardinals are enjoyable because of the excellent actors and the dialogue; however I wonder how it will fare in the long run, compared to the much briskier GoT.

For the rest, I really liked it. I'm not sure about historical soundness because it's not one of my favourite time periods, but the scenery and the costumes are dazzling. And see all these shavings of wood here, it's what remains of the scenery after Irons' passage. I loved his interpretation of the power-mad Borgia, half-bedazzled, half-tongue-in-cheek. The scene of the CHAIR is hilarious. I've come to appreciate Irons and his humorous vein more now than when he was younger (yes, as a possible Blackfish too).

The rest of the cast is very interesting too. Colm Feore in particular as Della Rovere, the

future Pope Julius II (Michaelangelo's employer)

. Pity he's American, or he might find a place in GoT too. And how about a suitably uglified Joanne Whalley (Vannozza) as Lady Maege Mormont? She's British.

As for the younger cast, I'm looking forward to see their characters develop, especially Lucrezia.

Despite all this, I think GoT is superior for pure entertainment. As personal tastes go, they are two entirely different products; I like them both, but I think that the average viewer might be more attracted to GoT. Heck, I hope so, if it means we'll get S2.

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(crossposted from Winter is Coming with additions)

I too caught the Borgias' pilot. I found it very very good, too good for TV. Neil Jordan is doing his usual good job, but (judging only from GoT's promos) Borgias is much slower than GoT. It plays like a movie; it can only go downhill from here. The endless debates between cardinals are enjoyable because of the excellent actors and the dialogue; however I wonder how it will fare in the long run, compared to the much briskier GoT.

For the rest, I really liked it. I'm not sure about historical soundness because it's not one of my favourite time periods, but the scenery and the costumes are dazzling. And see all these shavings of wood here, it's what remains of the scenery after Irons' passage. I loved his interpretation of the power-mad Borgia, half-bedazzled, half-tongue-in-cheek. The scene of the CHAIR is hilarious. I've come to appreciate Irons and his humorous vein more now than when he was younger (yes, as a possible Blackfish too).

The rest of the cast is very interesting too. Colm Feore in particular as Della Rovere, the

future Pope Julius II (Michaelangelo's employer)

. Pity he's American, or he might find a place in GoT too. And how about a suitably uglified Joanne Whalley (Vannozza) as Lady Maege Mormont? She's British.

As for the younger cast, I'm looking forward to see their characters develop, especially Lucrezia.

Despite all this, I think GoT is superior for pure entertainment. As personal tastes go, they are two entirely different products; I like them both, but I think that the average viewer might be more attracted to GoT. Heck, I hope so, if it means we'll get S2.

I agree with all of the above posters about the comments on "The Borgias". If I was a U.S. resident and had both Showtime and HBO I would be very glad because my Sunday night would be a night full of quality and entertainment TV. "Game of Thrones" seems an exhilarating show to start your night of tv-watching at 9 pm and then move on to "The Borgias" for more slow-moving, subtle, political/religious affairs.

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