Despite the Grammy wins, I am not a fan a big fan of Boardwalk Empire. Steve Buscemi is miscast as the political boss with mob ties in historic Atlantic City. The production values and other actors are terrific, but the stories themselves aren’t very rich and are the weak link in what must have been a great pitch session. Clearly, my opinion is in the minority. Buscemi won the best actor Emmy.

When I heard there was a new original series from the network who arguably was ground zero for Television’s renaissance with The Sopranos, I was nervous it would be another Boardwalk Empire – a series that failed to live up to hype. Other original HBO dramatic series – while having their fans –  failed to reach the high bar begun with The Sopranos and extended by The Wire and Deadwood. Carnivale, Rome, Treatment, and even Big Love were all disappointments and never caught fire with viewers like some of their lighter fare has.

Worse, this new series involved Dungeons and Dragons.This immediately put me into a coma. I am pretty sure Peter Jackson’s masterful Lord of the Rings Trilogy was all of that genre my life required. More seemed like a another misfire from HBO.

I was wrong.

Game of Thrones, at least season 1, was simply fantastic! Unpredictable, visually stunning, intelligent with its morality, and at times shocking. The violence, completely justifiable and necessary to the storytelling, was at times enough to make your knees buckle. 

Hands down, the best, most promising series from HBO since Deadwood.

If you have not seen this – start watching immediately!

This series is available on demand through HBOGO.com and soon on DVD.

From the opening credits against Ramin Djawadi’s original and indelible score, you know this series will be epic. Benefiting from great source material, George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice novels, this series is a flawlessly executed other world with big-screen-worthy star turns by Sean Bean and Peter Dinklage. These two familiar faces get the roles of lifetime and deliver. Emmy’s await.

At the heart of the show is politically motivated morality that mirrors the backdrop of a very harsh and mysterious environment. This fantasy world is riddled with unsurvivable winters, ghostly nightwalkers, and dragons – to name a few. This world is compellingly fascinating. You can’t look away. The production designers and directors deserve some real credit here. Not since Lord of the Rings has such a mythical world seemed so immediate.

It makes no sense to recount the plot here. It would take paragraphs and still wouldn’t make sense. You need to watch it. I also don’t want to communicate any spoilers – there are a number of stunning plot twists that will leave you with an open jaw. 

Suffice it to say the plots involve loyalty and betrayal. Honor and deception. Virtue and Evil. You know, the stuff of all serious and great drama. 

If you invest the time to become comfortable with this world, and can stomach the violence, you too will be hooked.

HBO drama is back with a worthy successor to the Sopranos!