5. Game of Thrones

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This is another one of my favourite shows and was happy to include it on the list.  What started as a big budget fantasy drama, largely supported by fans instead of critics has developed into everyone’s favourite water cooler conversation.   Season three ended with such a devastating blow (or at least one episode before the finale) that fans are still discussing it months after it went on hiatus.  This medieval fantasy world about seven families vying for the Iron Throne has everything: character, wit, performance, treachery, betrayal, violence, nudity, unpredictability and impeccable editing and design.  I envy those who have yet to watch, because waiting until 2014 for the next episode is torture.  May Season 4 live up to the hype!

Rating:  It seems, it took a minute for critics to get on board.  Season 1 provided the floor plan for where we are today and the show’s Metacritic score has soared from 79% in its first season to 90% after it’s third.

IMDb: 9.4       metacritic: Season 1, 79%

6. Walking Dead

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I have no idea how I missed this show.  I heard about it for the first time after Season 3 came to a close in March.  Granted, despite great casting, a fantasy drama about a small group of people clinging to life in a world of zombies is not really my bag, but the ratings are high and everyone I’ve talked to  loves it.  Quite honestly, I’m disappointed with myself.  Look for a Can You Tell A Story review before season 4 gets underway in October.

Rating: This is the second AMC show to reach my top ten.  Metacritic rates season 1 at 82%.  Not bad.

IMDb:  87%      metacritic:  Season 3, 82%

Game of Thrones (2011 – )

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Created by: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss

Starring: Sean Bean, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Fairley, Maisie Williams, Emilia Clarke, Alfie Allen, Iain Glen, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, Jack Gleeson and a host of others.

Game of Thrones is the most talked about drama on television.  Almost every comedy or late night talk show I’ve watched in the last six months has mentioned it, at least once, not to mention friends, strangers, family members etc.  So, naturally, when Showcase started airing Season 1, I decided the join the party before any major plot points were ruined.

Quite simply, had I been one of the first to discover it, I would be making a gift of the DVD set for at least a year.  As it stands, everyone is already in the know but at least they humour me with first season discussions and remind me that it only gets better.

Based on George R.R. Martin’s novel of the same name, the series is about a medieval fantasy world where seven noble families battle to claim the Iron Throne.   There is violence, intrigue, plotting, romance, sex, nudity, charm, wit, humanity and intelligence crammed into every 55 minute episode.

What I like:  The show is executed like a film divided into 10 parts. The exceptional quality of the filming, directing, and staging transported me to a  fantasy world that feels real down to its language and landscapes.  Strong editing drives the story forward with force as we jump from family to family and scene to scene constantly wondering what will happen next.  The casting is perfect and the performances are complex and driven which provide depth and a touch of sympathy to almost every character.

What I don’t like:  It’s amazing how fast you can go through ten episodes.  Only two weeks after I invested myself in this program, I’m almost at Season 3.  Thankfully the show has been renewed for a 4th Season so there will still be more to look forward to once I catch up. Mainly my complaints are directed at Showcase, the network that airs Game of Thrones in Canada.  For those of us who don’t have HBO, I highly recommend renting or buying the DVD set.  I appreciate Showcase’s effort to bring critically acclaimed programs to the masses, and I would have been a lot longer to the party  without them,  but a 6 min commercial break is more than I’m willing to put up with, even if PVR’d.  Going on hiatus after Season 1 was also not the best choice when it was quite easy for me to get my hands on Season 2 without waiting.  My suggestion: If you’re going to start three seasons behind, then play them all back to back.  Finally, promoting Season 3 during Season 1 episodes was a nice idea in theory but they should have been more aware of revealing crucial plot points in the execution.

My rating: Two enthusiastic thumbs up for the show; one thumb down for Showcase.

IMDB:  9.4  (I am not providing a link to IMDB as it ruins plot points for those who have yet to start from the beginning)

Metacritic: 79%

Airs:  Showcase: Season 2, ??
HBO USA & Canada: Season 3, Sundays at 9pm