So far, everything we have heard about the script has been from people who are big fans of the books. It is good to know that Benioff and Weiss are committed to making a series that will please the fans. But HBO is going to need more than just ASOIAF fans to watch the show for it to be a success. So I was curious to find out how the script would read to someone who is unfamiliar with the books. To that end, I enlisted someone that hasn’t read the books to read the script: my wife.
Before I get to her thoughts on the script, let me just give you a little background on Mrs. Winter Is Coming. She is not a complete stranger to fantasy. She has read and enjoyed the Harry Potter series and Lord of the Rings. But she is by no means a fantasy nut. I think she is a good representation of the average viewer. Familiar with fantasy, but not a total fantasy geek.
So what did she think of the script? Overall, her impressions were mixed. At first, she said that it was “weird.” She also wasn’t too thrilled with all the sex. But she started asking me questions about who this person was, and what happened to this person, etc. and I think it started to grow on her. Now she wants to read the books!
She mentioned that at first it was a bit confusing as it seemed to be jumping around from place to place with no real connection between each scene. But as she progressed further it started to come together. The one thing she did notice though was how the prologue didn’t really connect with anything else in the episode. She didn’t really get the significance of it. But even in the book you don’t get the significance of it until much later.
She said her favorite characters were Jon and Bran and that she was sad when Bran “fell.” She mentioned she wouldn’t want to watch the next episode because of that. I had to tell her that Bran doesn’t actually die and that seemed to make her more interested to find out what happens next. It may be important to have the preview for the next episode include the fact that Bran survives the fall, so that new viewers aren’t turned off.
I was glad to hear that she was able to pick up most of the back story through the script. One of my concerns was the pilot may be too confusing to viewers unfamiliar with the story. But she was able to discern the basics of the back story just from the script narrative. Robert was in love with Lyanna, Jaime slew the Mad King, Robert became King afterwards, Dany and Viserys are the last of the remaining Targaryens, etc.
She also picked up on the “Lannisters are bad, Starks are good” stereotype that was alledgedly mentioned as a concern by one of the producers. I’m not sure what Benioff and Weiss could do about that though. In only one episode there isn’t much you can do to provide more greyness to the characters. You have to establish the characters first, later episodes will provide more depth.
Overall, I was pleased to hear she was able to follow the story, and pick up on the history of Westeros. I think it is important that new viewers not get too confused or else they will tune out. Also it needs to suck the viewers in. My wife seemed to be pretty interested in what happens next so I think it accomplishes that. At the very least, most people should be willing to give it a few episodes and I am sure by that time they will be hooked. Now we just have to hope there will be a few episodes to see!