Having watched Season 1 of the HBO series a second time – apparently the beginning of the next season is fast approaching (Apr 1st) it’s better than I thought the first time around. I’m not sure what saves it, if 15 years of maturation and writing, growth and rewrites, or just great acting make up the difference. I’m quickly working through the first novel, and it’s interesting to see what has and hasn’t been changed.
With the rise of comic book movies, it’s interesting to see a novel get the same treatment. Chop the book into tenths, lift the dialog waypoints (frequently verbatim), storyboard the main images and figure out how to connect the dots. Rather than internal monologue and explicit description of character relationships, most of the actors exhibit great restraint and subtlety that enrich the story in general. However, the character ages have been skewed upward (frequently directly) which makes some of the character’s progression far less believable. Characters adolescent fantasies and naive chumpery are far less believable/forgivable when character ages have been inflated 12-18%. Whether this is to avoid scandalous accusations of child pornography or to bring it more in line with current norms and expectations of the audience, it throws the writing temporally out of joint between character actions and ages.
The first book published 5 years after the first Wheel of Time book, the author learned from Robert Jordan’s mistakes and de-emphasized some of the weaker elements (pervasive magical system, avoiding power creep), develops some of the elements more strongly (character driven stories, court intrigue, more realistic/less silly tone), though they both share some flaws (poorly written women, less solid rules or magic, solid invocation of fantasy clichés). One personal pet peeve of mine is pushing the biological incest button to get people to physiologically react to the “bad guys”, once again it’s used in the context of monarchy/keeping bloodlines pure so sometimes it’s mentioned nonchalantly, and other times it’s explicitly demonstrated, when they’re going for audience reaction.
2 hour premier of Mad Men is on tonight, but being without cable, I’ll have to be patient.