Game of Thrones TV show quality decline in full swing
Game of Thrones TV show - in its present form - is no longer the same show that set it apart from others in immersion and storytelling experiences during the days of Seasons (1 - 5).
Current crop of producers have reduced this show from brilliance in TV adaptation [a combination of spectacular effects, enriched storytelling experience (with important twists and turns) and compelling characters into a coherent whole] to a completely (fan-servicing) exercise [ignoring details that enriched storytelling experience in the first place, poor dialogue, unrealistic enemies and a complete lack of sense of time and scale between events].
I see fans praising each episode of Season 7 blindly - without realizing how much this show have declined in quality since Season 5. Die-hard fans are only interested in watching Dany and Jon having an affair, Dany dethroning Cersei and the entire humanity banding together to defeat the Knight's King; a happy ending for the protagonists and long live Jon Snow archetypes. Unfortunately, fans are the reason why producers have lost touch with gripping aspects of the lore behind Game of Thrones TV show - a Song of Ice and Fire from its original author Martin.
Example of my critic of Season 7 of Game of Thrones:-
I haven't even touched the Little Finger angle.
Here is a brilliant piece of critic from one of the writers for Forbes:-
5 Ways 'Game Of Thrones' Has Changed For The Worse
As Game Of Thrones returns for its seventh season, I've decided to start over from the beginning. Alongside the three first episodes of Season 7, I've re-watched the first three episodes of Season 1.
One of the things I've noticed right away is just how many references to the first season are packed into the current one. For instance:
- Jaime and Cersei quarrel over Bran and Jaime says: "The boy won't talk. And if he does, I'll kill him, Ned Stark, the king, the whole bloody lot of them until you and I are the only people left in this world." There's echoes of that when Cersei tells Jaime earlier this season that they're the only ones left. Jaime's words ended up being a bit too prophetic.
- Jon goes south, as Ned grudgingly did back in Season 1, as his father did before Robert's rebellion. It never seems to end well. But Jon isn't a Stark, so...maybe he'll be the exception.
- Sam sees an illustration of the knife the assassin used in Season 1 in his botched attempt on Bran's life.
- All the little direwolf pups, including Nymeria who we finally see return in Season
- Magister Illyrio telling Viserys that the people of Westeros drink "secret toasts" in his name, something that Dany throws in Varys's face this season.
There are more references like this, of course, all to a season that aired over half a decade ago. You'd be forgiven for missing some (or most) of them, and it's kind of neat to go back and re-watch these early episodes to see how full circle the show has come.
On the other hand, watching the first season also helps underscore some of the problems the current season is facing---problems that I've written about before, but which I want to go into more detail about here, using Season 1 as a reference. Let's start with...
1. Things actually happened to characters as they traveled from one place to the next.
One of the best critiques of Game Of Thrones as it stands now is that there's no sense of time and distance. Characters, entire armies, and even entire fleets of ships seem to teleport across Westeros without any regard for time or geography.
But in Season 1, this isn't an issue. Even though characters move great distances even in just one episode, it's always anchored to a sense of time and distance either through events that happen along the way, or snippets of exposition.
For instance, in Season 1 we learn that King Robert and his retinue are traveling to Winterfell. Shortly after we learn this, they arrive. Why doesn't this feel like teleportation/fast travel? Because characters mention that Robert rode for 30 days to get there. We know that time has passed, and the chronology holds. We even see it in the growth of the direwolf pups. At one point Catelyn mentions how fast they grow, but the fact that they've grown at all suggests a passage of time.
Another thing that the show (based on the books at this point) does is convey passage of time through scenes along the way from one place to the next. When Ned Stark and his daughters travel south, we get at least two scenes along the way.
In the first of these, Ned and Robert discuss wenches, and Ned awkwardly refuses to discuss Jon's mother with the king. We see their friendship in this moment, which then spills over into the second, more harrowing scene.
Here Joffrey shows his true colors, tormenting the butcher's boy Arya is playing with. When he starts attacking Arya after she intervenes, Nymeria saves her, and the resulting horrors firmly establish Robert as a weak, pathetic man and Cersei as a horrible, vindictive woman. But beyond how these character moments establish the cast, these stops along the way to King's Landing give us a sense of time and distance.
I would also add that oftentimes these moments along the way are some of the best in the show. When Catelyn encounters Tyrion and arrests him on the road, she sets many terrible things into motion. If Season 1 had engaged in such blatant fast travel, Catelyn would never have even run into Tyrion; Joffrey would never have had the Hound kill the butcher's boy; and Jon and Tyrion wouldn't have sat around talking about books.
Last edited by S_W_LeGenD on Aug 1st, 2017 at 11:53 AM
Beyond these establishing shots, we get other small details that help us understand their scope and make these places feel alive. A crow flies and lands on the ramparts of Winterfell before the camera cuts to Bran scaling its walls. The shots themselves linger, allowing us to really soak them in.
Now, far too often, we cut from one place to the next incredibly abruptly. While the show still makes use of establishing shots, it does so in an almost cursory way. Highgarden is an example of how poorly Game of Thrones is doing in this regard. The castle is barely shown at all (and nor is the battle) and it hardly lives up to its description as the loveliest in all of Westeros.
In many ways this ties in with the first point in this post. These storytelling techniques and film-making techniques help ground us in the world, fleshing out and embellishing the fantasy. Without them, the show feels rushed, and events feel jarring. We have nothing to hang on to. One minute Jaime is making love to his sister in King's Landing; the next he's marching on Highgarden with the bulk of the Lannister's army. No scene establishes his departure.
Jon Snow arrives in Dragonstone with no sense of the time it's taken for him to reach it. No scene exists between the King in the North and Davos on the water to give us a sense of their voyage.
When I think of establishing shots I'm always reminded of the third Harry Potter film. One thing that movie did so incredibly well was establish what time of year events took place in by using establishing shots of the womping willow shedding its leaves, covered in snow and so forth. This kind of shot goes such a long ways when it comes to helping viewers understand when and where things are taking place.
3. Dialogue was more potent and character-driven.
My colleague Paul Tassi wrote a very important article about this last week, but I want to reiterate it here. The dialogue in Game of Thrones has suffered enormously since the show left the books behind.
Paul uses Tyrion's excellent line 'All dwarves are bastards in their fathers eyes' as an example of how the show's prose pales in comparison to earlier seasons (and the books) but there are so many others.
Take this scene between Ned and Cersei:
This is where we get the titular line "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground." One has trouble imagining such a line being written in Season 7 of the show.
Dialogue issues hit some characters much harder than others. When Tyrion is on fire (as he was in episode 3) he's still great, but far too often he's playing second or third fiddle to Daenerys. Dany herself has become something of a one-note character, unfortunately, constantly regurgitating her list of bona fides, her expression never wavering, her tone always utterly certain.
Perhaps subtlety is the greatest victim here---that and poetry. There are still great moments of dialogue, but overall the series has lost some of its beauty along the way.
I'll just quickly note that this last episode did have a couple beautiful moments of dialogue---credit where it's due. Lady Olenna, may she rest in piece, stole the show.
One reason the show has felt rushed lately is that it very rarely takes its time these days to just let the world exist.
In the first season, for instance, we have an entire scene with the Stark boys joking around with one another as Jon gets his hair cut. Later, we have Old Nan telling Bran stories in bed. In King's Landing we have a bunch of characters on the Small Council giving Eddard advice as he's made aware of the king's profligate spending habits.
It all feels much more populated and alive.
Now every place we go, every scene we enter into, feels uninhabited by comparison. Partly this is on purpose. The Red Keep is now the cold domain of Queen Cersei, stripped of its previous grandeur, its nods to the Seven, and devoid of other major characters and advisers. As her children and rivals died, so too did old customs, political positions and so forth.
But elsewhere it's a bit more unsettling. The same scenes keep playing out in Winterfell, which feels less like a grand castle now and more like a snowy courtyard and a stuffy interior where armored men and a plucky little girl stand around arguing. Those scenes that really established these places as living, breathing locations have all dried up. Maybe they weren't very important scenes, but they added color and life to the show in a way that is all but absent now.
The battle at Casterly Rock was neat, but so brief that it hardly felt real. Highgarden was even more rushed. Even with limited time remaining, I want to feel as though these places we visit are real, inhabited, rich with their own history and culture.
5. The story was smaller in scale and driven by human flaws and conflicts.
This last one is not necessarily the fault of the show and the showrunners, and may come down to something of an inevitability based on Martin's own narrative end-game. What made the books (and hence the show) so good early on was the political drama, the human-scale conflicts, and the way these had such huge repercussions to characters we cared about.
The scene I mentioned above that took place on the King's Road, when Sansa lies to protect Joffrey and her direwolf Lady ends up paying the price for it---that small-scale conflict of petty queens and spoiled princes and good, naive girls from the north getting in way over their heads---that scene is in some ways more powerful and more gripping than anything taking place in the show right now.
I mean, we ought to be more invested in Dany's invasion of Westeros or Jon's quest to save the world from the Night King, but frankly that's just not the case. I was much more involved in Arya's escape from King's Landing after Eddard was executed, or with Tyrion's wrongful imprisonment after Joffrey's death, or with Robb's betrayal at the Red Wedding. These human dramas were the heart and soul of game of thrones. The White Walkers made for a dark and mysterious backdrop, but that sort of high fantasy, high magic stuff was always somewhere off in the distance. We were never as absorbed by the White Walkers as we were by Jon and Sam's struggles with the more nefarious elements of the Night's Watch. Dany's terrible brother and her ordeal of being sold to the Dothraki was always more interesting than her desire to conquer Westeros. Meanwhile, the best moments with the White Walkers were still largely about human dramas, such as Hodor's tragic sacrifice, or Jon's attempt to save the wildlings. All-out-war seems much less interesting than these narrow escapes.
Now everything the show tries to do to get back to those heady days falls flat to some degree. There will never be another Red Wedding. Nothing Arya Stark can possibly do at this point will be as interesting as when she stood up to King Robert and Queen Cersei and Prince Joffrey and told them the truth. Nothing will ever be as horrifying as the Red Wedding, no matter how gruesome it is. The Night King will never be as interesting an antagonist as Tywin Lannister. The list goes on.
And what can the show really do about it? Nothing, I suppose. The die was cast long ago, and the stakes have been set. We are now in a fantasy world filled with dragons and wights and those days of human conflict have been replaced by heroes who are not only larger than life, but villains whose machinations are almost always perfectly executed. Cersei and Jaime expertly fool Dany and Tyrion and Olenna with ease. Euron lays a perfect trap for Yara and Ellaria and moments later lays a perfect trap for Grey Worm, too! Jon Snow is no longer the underdog, fighting his way from one impossible situation to the next. Now he's a king and his biggest struggle is convincing Daenerys about an army of the dead. That's just...not as interesting as Jon going undercover as a deserter and joining the wildlings, or Sam escaping the mutinous rangers at Craster's Keep.
I guess on a certain level it just means we have to accept that this is the end-game, and that things are going to be Epic and feel rushed as we plow forward towards a conclusion. That's a shame, but it's the direction everything was headed already and I'm not sure what, if anything, can be done. Hopefully the final battles aren't rushed or glossed over, at the very least.
Last edited by S_W_LeGenD on Aug 1st, 2017 at 11:54 AM
I hope you've read all this in the spirit it was intended. I don't mean to just complain, but I do want to express how and why the show feels so different now compared to its earlier seasons. Partly this is a writing issue, partly it's direction and cinematography, and partly it's just the inevitable way this series must conclude, as an epic battle between good and evil, Ice and Fire.
Nor is this meant as a comparison to the books---as in, how the show has made changes from the books that make it worse. That's another story for another day (and the show has made changes from the books that are both good and bad, in my opinion.)
Meanwhile, some things are better than before, like Tyrion's hair and beard. Even with a scar now he looks much better.
Game of Thrones is still one of my favorite shows on TV, even in its current state, and I'm always sad when an episode ends and we have to wait another week to see the next one.
I disagree on almost every count, but won't really get into with you because the majority of your points come down to subjective critiques of the show. Mixed in with a few strawmen (yeah, most are rooting for Dany/Jon, for example, but not all, and fans gravitating toward the heroes of the tale is nothing new, nor in itself a critique of S7). It's not that you're wrong, though, it's just that...it's an opinion.
I do agree on the mysterious transporting fleet of Euron. He's here, he's there, he's everywhere.
Not sure I agree that the dialogue is getting worse. Granted nothing has come close to Littlefinger's speech in The Climb but then nothing in the earlier seasons did either.
I think we're past establishing who is good and bad by action and intentions. It was interesting in earlier seasons seeing characters like Jaime, Varys, The Hound and others shift between good and bad. Short of one or two characters it's not really necessary anymore. I do think Arya and Sansa have changeable character arcs still to come though.
It'll be interesting to see how much of this "poor writing" is actually lifted from The Winds of Winter and whether some people will change their tune when they find out it wasn't from the show writers and was actually from GRRM.
Saying that this season is entirely pandering to fans who want to see Dany overthrow Cersi etc when absolutely everything has so far gone the other way is a bit of an odd criticism though. Cersi so far has hammered Dany at every turn. The total opposite of what everyone supposedly wants. Obviously I'm not naive enough to think that will continue once the dragons are out though
But....does anyone genuinely think that GRRM wouldn't have the Night King win the Game of Thrones. Is that really an outlandish possibility given how he doesn't seem to give a shit about killing people off and pissing off the readers.
Actually having the "bad guys" (or less than favorable characters) always win/have the upper hand or having likable characters killed off is pretty much the Game of Thrones formula in the early seasons of the show and the books.
Its pretty predictable by now that if there is a character that is well liked then horrible things will happen to them or they will get double crossed, etc.
Its actually a nice change of pace to to not have those kinds of outcomes all the time.
Doing the same thing over and over becomes predictable and stale.
And yeah most have already figured it will end in a "predictable" as fuq way of having the Night king winning or Westeros defeating the Night King but all the main characters dead.
A biter not so sweet ending is what has been hinted at for years now and everyone is expecting.
Having it end differently than that would actually be a surprise.
2. I admit that I find some aspects of Season 7 satisfactory - to say that it is complete horseshit is wrong.
3. Seasons (1 - 5) have their fair share of mediocrity.
4. Game of Thrones is undoubtedly the best show [of its theme] in existence.
5. Tie-ins and resolution of earlier developments are to be expected in Seasons (7 - 8).
6. Episode 1 of Season 7 is one of the best episodes of this show so far, IMO.
However, a holistic decline in quality is apparent to a critical mind [in Season 7] and producers should have done a better job with it. Purpose of a critic is to let the producers know that they need to do a better job and maintain the standards of the show in question.
Last edited by S_W_LeGenD on Aug 1st, 2017 at 06:04 PM
In fairness I can see his point. Some of the best parts of the last few seasons were characters getting from place to place. Arya and the hound or Tyrion and jorah as example. There's been none of that. I would've liked to have at least seen Jon and Davos at Eastwatch by the sea. Especially given the opening credits show the sea freezing over and that the hound's vision was of Eastwatch.
You are correct with those examples. Hound, Jorah, Tyrion, Davos are some of the best characters on the show. More of them is always good.
The thing is that there are only 10 episodes left until there is no more GOT forever. In this story arc at least.
It would be a waste to spend many episodes with armies traveling from place to place around Westeros just to give a correct sense of time and scale.
As far as the topic goes, I do think Thrones has slumped a little, but I don't think it was that utterly great to begin with. I mean, it's not a bad show by any means, but it isn't the equal of say, TWD when it comes to drops in quality.
"With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured... the first thought forbidden... the first freedom denied – chains us all irrevocably."