Focus group members report
By Hear Me Roar on in Marketing, News.

A focus group marketing research for Game of Thrones conducted by Schlessinger Associates took place yesterday in NYC, and our reader The Winter Rose was one of the participants, together with her husband. They have a full report over at their blog, The Princess and the Warlock. The participants were divided into two groups of 9 females and 8 males, all screened beforehand to be real fans of the series. The main interview was conducted separately for the two groups, which were not shown any footage or concept art, but rather discussed their opinions of the series as a whole, the characters, their likes and dislikes. Specifically concerning the adaptation were questions about the necessary elements to retain, and what extra materials the participants wish to see included in the DVD’s or on HBO’s website. Here follow a few extracts of the most interesting bits:

  • Both groups mentioned that the detail in the world was a big factor in what makes the series stand out. Everyone seemed to agree that the wealth of history really helped make it a believable setting. The stylized POV chapters were another huge draw for everyone since they allow for multiple perspectives and the chance to get inside different characters minds. Other things mentioned in both groups were the witty dialogue and dynamic characters. As for characters, it appears that Tyrion was the favorite in both groups. Both groups spent a decent amount of time speaking about him, followed by Sansa, who divided the groups into Sansa fans and Sansa haters. For both Tyrion and Sansa, there was a lot of discussion generated on their motivations and what makes them so interesting to the readers.
  • After characters were discussed, our focus group leader asked us what kind of extra features we would like to see included in either the DVDs or extra feature section on HBO. Both groups mentioned features on fight choreography, costume design, character histories, family trees, character profiles and flashbacks (though the guys said that they would actually prefer to have the flashbacks in the actual show and not as extras). The guys also requested maps while the ladies mentioned detailed looks into the Wall and the various castles.
  • The ladies group was also asked for words of wisdom on things we felt must be present in the show or things that should not be present in the show in order to make the adaptation work. The ladies mentioned that the most important thing was for the overall tone and theme to remain the same as well as the characters personalities and motivations. All the ladies agreed that changing core parts of characters would really upset them. Additionally, the ladies also requested that the appearance of the characters be consistent with the descriptions in the book since families and bloodlines are an important factor in the series.

The Winter Rose let us know that Winter Is Coming was mentioned as everyone’s favorite source of information for the HBO series. Very nice to hear that, very nice indeed.

Hear Me Roar: We are glad to have this great report which gives us some idea as to what HBO’s marketing strategy may be for the show. Looking forward to see which suggestions about the extra features they are going to use. I can say the focus group seems to have been well chosen – they definitely represent my opinions about the series and the adaptation, and I dare say reflect the general consensus on these issues shared by the ASoIaF fandom.

Thanks again, The Winter Rose!

UPDATE: Our friends over at Westeros provide another report with some additional info.


165 Comments

  1. izakmo
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    first?

  2. tek
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    izakmo,

    congrats…. you win an eCookie

  3. House Tully
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    The POV approach would be nice, but I wonder if it isn’t too late to change gears that way.

  4. John Engedal
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Oh wow, I had never heard of this kind of marketing research, but I see now that it is a very useful tool:) And it seems to me that this shows HBO is caring strongly about fans opinions, since you had to answer questions about ASoIaF to get in, although, I guess they do this with every show of this type. Very cool!

  5. propermind
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    I’m not that fond of focus groups, but if it’s all about fans, I don’t mind

  6. Nymeria
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    So if the show and the DVD extras suck, we now know who to blame :) jk

    And they debated over the love and hate of Sansa and totally forgot to mention how awesome Arya is? I’m so disappointed! :(

    Joking aside, 17 isn’t a lot, but hopefully they browse this site to get a more complete picture of the fans opinions :)

    And I’m glad they emphasized the history and Rheagar’s storyline.

    I’m curious to know if anyone mentioned short Web episodes as an extra…

  7. eilwen
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    didn’t know they did this kind of thing either. But it’s a great thing.

  8. SA_Avenger
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    it’s a great thing, a bit too limited to get a real sense of things viewers want but definitely a good thing to get a first opinion.
    As of extra It’d like to see a blooper sequences and definitely a “bringing the world to life feature” (a bit like the video they did for john adams for special effects).

  9. The Winter Rose
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Nymeria,

    We did get to talk about Arya a bit when we touched on how us ladies enjoyed the presence of strong and realistic female characters in the series. It was a bit split on how people felt about her. For the most part I’d say the groups seems favorable for her, although myself, my husband and a few others felt she was the most unrealistic character in the story despite being a fan favorite. Sorry I didn’t get to mention this. I had to glaze over a few parts as it was a two hour session and there was so much we covered. We wanted to keep the report concise and focus on what topics we felt got the most discussion.

    Web episodes were only very breifly touched upon. The guys mentioned at first that they wanted to see extras of flashbacks like that and then quickly changed their minds and said they’d prefer to have the flashbacks actually in the show itself. I think both groups were more focused on having a behind-the-scenes/making of feature.

  10. winterqueen
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Just read the whole post on the Princess and the Warlock blog. Very interesting stuff. Perhaps she didn’t write about it, but I was surprised Daenerys, Arya and the Hound weren’t a bigger part of the discussion. Another surprise for me was Cersei as a bigger villain than Mel. Maybe this focus group for AGOT only? We don’t meet Mel until ACOK.

  11. The Winter Rose
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    SA_Avenger,

    Oh darn! A blooper reel would be great. I don’t think either group mentioned that though. Ack!
    Well I got the sense that they were familar with this blog, so maybe they will read this and add it in :D

  12. Nymeria
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    The Winter Rose,

    Thank you so much for your report and for taking the time to answer me here!

  13. Nymeria
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    I vote for an interview with WiC and Elio as an extra!

  14. Hear Me Roar
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Nymeria,

    Hear hear!

  15. The Winter Rose
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    winterqueen,

    Both groups touched on a number of different characters during each two hour session, including Arya, Dany and the Hound, but for the sake of giving a concise report, we had to glaze over some things.

    For Arya, check out my response to Nymeria, as for the others you mentioned…

    We said we felt that Dany was also someone who we would consider a “main hero” (if we had to choose), but both groups seemed more favorable towards Jon. For the ladies, the consenus seemed that she was too remote and not as relatable. Some of the grils felt they often forgot about her because she’s so removed from the action in Westeros and that due to her storyline not featuring as much intrigue that sometimes her storyline doesn’t feel as much is happening as with the others. But we did discuss about her story arc and character development.

    I will have to ask my husband about what his group said about the Hound, but for us ladies, we really only talked about him in relation to Sansa. We all found their relationship as interesting and someone brought up how Sansa is practically his therapist. The girls seemed very symapthetic to him and were hoping that the dynamics of their interactions would be captured on film.

    Mel was mentioned in our group (but I’m not sure about the guys, another thing I’ll ask my husband on) as being considered a “villain”, but we felt that we just didn’t know enough about her to really say for certainity. We felt we’ve had the chance to know Cersei better and that we’ve really seen the ground work for her manipulation play out, so that’s why she was our front runner.

    Although I will point out, I do believe that the focus group leader really got that the characters were very complex and “shades of grey”. We all got the sense that she understood there really wasn’t any clear cut “heros” and “villains”.

    Also, the group focused on the series as a whole, not just AGOT.

  16. The Winter Rose
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Thanks guys! So happy you all enjoyed the report.
    It seems that WiC has alot of love from both HBO and the fans.

    Both groups were two hour sessions so we weren’t able to cover everything in the report. We tried to keep it concise and focus on the main things that were discusssed, but if anyone has any specific questions, I will be happy to answer them.

  17. Linayus
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Glad to hear they are looking to the fans for ideas, especially considering the size and scope of this project. And I’m totally with the ladies on seeing detailed looks at Winterfell, the Wall, Kings Landing, etc.

    Thanks for sharing, Winter Rose!

  18. winterqueen
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    The Winter Rose,

    Thank you for your reply and sharing more tidbits from the focus group. All of us really appreciate it!

  19. ogbebaba
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    The Winter Rose,

    thank you for the info and i am very glad Tyrion got the overall vote as favorite character. Can you ask your husband if there was any talk about best fight scene or biggest bad ass.

  20. Bloodraven
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Hi all,

    This is The Winter Rose’s husband of ‘Warlock’ fame. I’ll try to give a little more info from the guys group. Regarding the webisodes most of the guys didn’t like them, and wanted an “additional” content put into the show itself. We talked a bit about the Hedge Knight/Sworn Sword ect. in relation to what good webisode material would be, and people said they would rather that have more time devoted to it instead of short changing it as a short. Yeah Arya was discussed a bit more, I kinda think of her as a Mary Sue, but she had some fans in the guy group. She was mainly discussed as a foil to Sansa. Dany was discussed in a similar way with the guys, but kinda lost ground to Jon for the focus. Both her and Melisandre were discussed more about their relation to magic, and how in ASoIaF magic is so real, gritty and taxing and how important that was to keep in a fantasy novel, and consistent with the rest of the world. But Mel wasn’t really talked about as a villain. The big three for us were Tywin, Joffrey and Littlfinger. In part because of their morals, but more because of their place as instigators rather than reactors like most of the rest of the characters. Although in retrospect I suppose she should have been. Cersei also got some villain time, but we discussed her more as an example of someone you hate but still think is a well thought out character. We did also stress the’ shades of grey’ with everyone, and how all the characters were “The Hero of their own story” which is what made them great. The Hound sadly got little more attention than any of the other knights/kingsguard which they were mentioned but not really gone into too much. Hope that helps.

  21. Brude
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    I was in this focus group as well. I may yet write up something for Westeros.org about it later. Been emailing with Ran about it, not sure if he’s planning on posting about it too.

    It was certainly very interesting, but I was very disappointed that we didn’t get to see any footage. I really hoped they planned to show us the original pilot or something, so we could comment on whether we thought it was on the right track.

    I was pretty impressed by the level of discussion in the group. Everyone there was clearly very well educated and had very strong opinions about literature, character, dramatic interpretations, etc.

    When asked to compare the series to other TV shows, “The Wire” was the clear favorite of most in the room. “Rome” too, a bit more obviously like it. I also brought up “I, Claudius.”

  22. Liesie
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    This is also my favourite site for news about Thrones =)

  23. Lex
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Very exciting. I’ve been a part of focus groups in the past, but being involved in a Game of Thrones focus group would be amazing!

    I’ve always been paid for participating in focus groups before. I’m just curious as to whether they paid you guys? I’m also wondering if they might do another session with another group of fans, or if this was a one time thing.

    The only thing I’m disappointed about is the Arya stuff. She’s always been a HUGE stand-out favourite character for me, but it sounds as though the focus group was fairly neutral about her. Hopefully HBO realizes how much some fans love Arya.

  24. Phoenix_torn
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Great report Winter Rose.

    I still can’t believe the HBO/Fan connection for this project. Is it silly of me to think that WiC and Westeros are their own little (maybe not little) focus groups?

  25. Lex
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and I LOVE that they’r already asking about DVD extras. In my experience, HBO DVDs are usually fairly light on the extras. When the facilitator asked what you wanted to see on the extras, I would have said “as much as possible!”. Interviews with all the actors, insight on the casting process, costume and makeup design, etc. I’d gladly watch hours and hours of extras, like on the LOTR DVDs.

  26. Bloodraven
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    ogbebaba,

    The fighting wasn’t delved into as much, though I wanted to. We did bring up the Kingsguard as a whole, and discussed the contrast between the great fighters, and bad knights within it, and the kinda “Back in my day” stories of the old Kinsguard being better knights. I did discuss how realistically bad-ass some of the characters were like Jamie and the Hound, but a big discussion around them never came up. I also mentioned wanting a fight choreography extra, kinda like Troy or something especially for those characters.

  27. Chris
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Very cool!

    You should have said the most important thing to you is to get a new trailer and some promo shots ASAP – the rest is just superfluous. :)

    And seriously, GoT needs a blog that is regularly updated with content from HBO, similar to AMC’s The Walking Dead. What better way than for HBO to just pass information to WiC and make this blog an official affiliate of HBO.

  28. The Winter Rose
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    One quick thing… I had to add a brief edit to the report, because there was something I forgot to mention that we both felt was a pretty relevant: They asked us what taglines we felt worked in addition to “Winter is Coming” which can be seen on the trailer. “Win or Die” seemed to be the big one we liked, though we all really liked “Winter is Coming” already. We also mentioned “Don’t wake the dragon” and “Life is not a song” as well as Cersei’s full quote of “In a game of thrones, you either win or you die”.

  29. ogbebaba
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Brude,

    I really hop you write up something over at Westeros

  30. Bloodraven
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Lex,

    Yeah we were paid, which was nice to be paid to talk about something you love, and Don’t worry Arya did have some love in the room, even if it wasn’t from Winter Rose and I.

  31. The Winter Rose
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Lex,

    Yep, we got paid $150. There was a raffle too, so one person in each group got an extra $50. Sadly, neither myself or my husband won that. But hey… money for talking about something we love – SCORE!

  32. The Winter Rose
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Brude,

    Oh Brude I didn’t know you were there! Darn I would have said hi if I had known.

    Yeah, they asked us ladies what our favorite shows were too. Everyone like “Rome” and seemed to be fans of Joss Whedon’s shows and “Deadwood” was mentioned too. We didn’t bring up “The Wire” though.

  33. Lex
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Just read the full report. I’m so jealous! Even the pre-interview on the phone sounded so fun! :D

  34. Brude
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    I do wish we’d talked about Dany more. I think she got short shrift in our group, and she’s pretty much my second favorite character in the story. I found it a bit hard to remember the various points I wanted to make as the 9-way conversation ebbed and flowed…and there simply wasn’t enough time for everyone to get all of their views in. It’s a conversation that easily could have lasted another two or three hours, at least, I think.

  35. Brude
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    The Winter Rose,

    The audience for “The Wire” seems to be mostly men. I do know women who love it too, but there are many who just can’t get into it or can’t get all the way through it, even if they do love it. Hard to say why.

    I think The Wire was a near universal consensus in our group. Other shows people mentioned they loved (not necessarily that were like Thrones) were “Arrested Development,” “Buffy,” “The Simpsons” and I said “The Prisoner.”

  36. pualo
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Where did this all take place (country/city)? Were you all local, or did they fly people in?

  37. Lex
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Brude: I do wish we’d talked about Dany more.I think she got short shrift in our group, and she’s pretty much my second favorite character in the story.I found it a bit hard to remember the various points I wanted to make as the 9-way conversation ebbed and flowed…and there simply wasn’t enough time for everyone to get all of their views in.It’s a conversation that easily could have lasted another two or three hours, at least, I think.    

    Well, hopefully the facilitator sensed the huge enthusiasm and excitement you guys had, and could tell that you would have gladly talked for several more hours. I’m sure they realize that there wasn’t enough time to cover all the topics and characters. This is much better than if you guys had run out of things to say!

  38. Lex
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    pualo: Where did this all take place (country/city)? Were you all local, or did they fly people in?    

    The first sentence of this post says it was in NYC.

  39. The Winter Rose
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Brude,

    Yeah, my husband was soooo happy that he not only was he in the company of ASoIaF fans… but also The Wire fans XD

    I tried to get into it with him, but yeah… I couldn’t connect with it. The one time I sat down to give it a good watch and the first thing that happens is a little boy getting killed. I got all teary eyed and quickly went back to my computer. But from everything I have heard and can tell, I can understand why people like it so much and see the appeal even if it’s not my thing.

    I’m failing to remember what everyone said as their favorite shows in my group. The only thing I remember was Rome, Deadwood and Buffy. I said Firefly. There were a few others mentioned, by others. I think Fringe and Battlestar Galactica were mentioned, if I’m not mistaken.

  40. Vohdre
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Winter Rose, Bloodraven thank you so much for sharing this with us. Brude, look forward to your writeup, I’ve always enjoyed your insights we think a bit alike.

    Interesting to me that Jon Snow would be seen as the “main hero”. As people who have read all the books and who can kind of see what might be coming for Jon and Dany we know they are our “Ice and Fire”. For viewers who have never read the books and are just learning these characters (and only GoT for now) I have a feeling Jaime, Cersei, Viserys, Joffrey will be the “villains” and Ned, Caetlyn (yes, Caetlyn), Dany, and Rob will be there “heroes”. Jon’s story doesn’t really get heroic until season 2 except for his dealings with the bullies in The Watch.

  41. Brude
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Ran has made a blog post about the focus group, which draws a lot from my email discussion with.

  42. ogbebaba
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Bloodraven,

    thank you

  43. ogbebaba
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Bloodraven
    Brude

    thanks Bloodraven

    did anyone bring up Gregor or Bronn?

  44. winterqueen
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Bloodraven and Brude,
    Thank you for adding your thoughts from the male focus group. Glad to hear there was some Arya love in the room.

    Quick question – Did the group talk about Sandor’s role in the storylines of Sansa and Arya ? This is just my opinion, but I think Arya’s travels with Sandor are just as important as Sandor’s time with Sansa.

    If HBO ever wanted to do a ASOIAF focus group in San Francisco, I would so be there!

  45. Two Feathers
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Hi all, just to let you know after many weeks praying in the godswood, my phone finally rang today and my prayers answered. I have got a days work {first of many hopefully} on the show. I go for a costume fitting on monday and will be on set {probably the Paint Hall} end of next week. Dont know which exact character I will be playing until I see my costume, but it is an honorable role for sure. I was going to wait until monday night before posting so I had a few more details, but I am so excited I had to tell someone. Oh and many thanks to The Winter Rose for sharing.

  46. Katran
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the reports, Brude, Bloodraven and Winter Rose.

    winterqueen,

    Me too!

    Psst– If you want to meet other local fans, we have periodic NorCal BWB get-togethers, usually in SF or the East Bay, a few times a year, which are announced in the Brotherhood Without Banners forum on Westeros. And we are hoping local-ish fans will come out in force for next year’s Worldcon in Reno.

  47. pualo
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Lex,

    You expect me to read that far?

  48. winterqueen
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Katran,

    Thanks, Katran!

  49. pualo
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Vohdre,

    I think Jon was set up as the central character right from the beginning. In the first chapter (Bran), he’s definitely the most insightful and sympathetic character, besides Ned who is basically the main character of the first book but not the series obviously. He guides Bran through the difficult experience, one-ups Robb on making an insightful comment about Gared, and does the whole thing with convincing Ned about the wolf pups. After all that I was expecting him to be a big thing.

  50. Brude
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    ogbebaba, Gregor and Bronn didn’t really come up too much, though Gregor’s fight with The Red Viper was mentioned at one point, I forget the context though.

    winterqueen: ogbebaba

    I don’t recall much Sandor/Sansa or Sandor/Arya talk. We didn’t get the “who is the most romantic character” question, and I know there’s a contingent of “San/San” fans out there, among the female fans of the series (never quite got that…).

    The questions tended to be more broad, like “who is your favorite character,” and there really was only really time for each of us to talk about one, maybe two at most.

  51. ogbebaba
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    Brude,

    thanks

    You guys are so lucky, how exactly did you get in the focus group

  52. The Winter Rose
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    ogbebaba,

    Bronn wasn’t mentioned at all in the women’s group, but we briefly mentioned Gregor. I defended Gregor and called him a hero for helping to rid the Martells for being in the Targaryens bloodline. What can I say? – I support the Targaryens idea of keeping the line pure XD There was much laughter for my support of infanticide.

  53. Brude
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    ogbebaba,

    The focus group people contacted Ran at Westeros.org and he posted a notice about it there and twittered and facebooked it, too. I contacted him for more details and then called them. They were specifically looking for rabid fans of the series, people who could discuss all of the characters and storylines, not just casual fans. We had to answer quiz questions over the phone, a couple of which definitely would weed out more casual fans (especially the question “How did Tywin’s wife die?”) They also had other questions to weed people out, like “do you have cable/HBO?” They also wanted only people currently working (which made it weird that they originally scheduled the focus group for the middle of a work-day, and so had to reschedule).

  54. The Winter Rose
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    winterqueen,

    The women’s group talked about the Sansa-Sandor relationship a bit. We all found it interesting but none of us were into the whole San-San pairing thing, though we mentioned that we found it a bit odd how that was one of the biggest ships out there. We did all feel it was an important relationship that we hoped would be shown in all its complexities on screen.

    Arya-Sandor was not discussed at all in our group, to my recollection.

  55. The Winter Rose
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Two Feathers,

    That’s great news Two Feather! Congrats!
    I’m looking forward to hearing your report.
    Specifically about the costuming. I’m really interesting in the costume design for this production.

  56. Mouk
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    Two Feathers,

    Congratulations!!! I hope you keep in contact and tell us what exactly are you (and everyone’s) doing…as far as you can, of course.

    Enjoy it!! (I’d do!)

  57. winterqueen
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    The Winter Rose,

    Thank you again for your reply!

    As for Sansa/Sandor, I feel the same way. Every interaction between them is very interesting. The last San/San scene in ACOK was so emotionally charged and creepy. In the end, Sandor didn’t harm Sansa -thank god. Lots of big emotions swirling around in Sandor’s head regarding Sansa. He’s just so scary in his approach! I just can’t be part of the Sandor/Sansa bangwagon at this time.

    Too bad Arya and Sandor didn’t come up. I feel the Arya/Sandor storyline is just as meaty(in very different way, of course) as the Sansa/Sandor storyline. In AFFC, Sansa is daydreaming about him as Arya is having nightmares about him.

  58. Lex
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    I find the Arya/Sandor dynamic 100 times more interesting than San/San.

  59. T. R.
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    Whew, finally got home and caught up on this thread. Now I can chime in too.

    I was also at the focus group, sitting right next to The Winter Rose, actually.

    I would say that we discussed almost every major or significant character at least to some small extent. There was definitely a lot of love expressed for Renly (and his “Sorry. No one wants you for their king” line). We did talk about Melisandre as a villain, but as we don’t know all that much about her yet it’s hard to guess her motivations. I think I said she has good intentions but goes about everything in the wrong way. Littlefinger was mentioned briefly in our discussion about Sansa. Mostly that he needs to die. We spent a while talking about Catelyn too. The consensus seemed to be that she is a very sympathetic character who makes some really bad mistakes. There also was a lot of love in the room for Arya despite some issues that were brought up.

    Another thing we discussed in detail was what we thought was the theme of the books. Power and politics were mentioned; the ways in which war effects the poor; the contrast between fantasy and reality, between the what the characters want to be or want their world to be or the way the see the world and actual reality. I also mentioned that I think many of the characters are motivated by family and home: trying to preserve their homes and families or try to find or create of home and family.

    We were also asked if we had any thoughts on promotion for the show. I immediately jumped on the because I’ve had an idea for a trailer for ages. Everyone seemed to like it too.

  60. OldGran
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    The Winter Rose,

    I join you in congratulations to Two Feathers, in fact your coments took the words right out of my mouth! I too am very interested in the costumes for GoT.
    There is so much rich detail in the books regarding clothing for both men and women, I wonder if they will try to reproduce any of these costumes or just go with the general “feel’ of the times. I am most curious about Cersei’s, Sansa’s and of course Danerys.
    Tkank you, too for your post.

  61. Brian
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    If HBO is looking for leading man in the ASOIAF universe, Dunk the probably has the most “hunk” potential of anyone we’ve seen. Seven feet of combat-honed tanned muscle, and charmingly shy around women. His strangely well-bred squire Egg with his bold headstrong attitude and those unusual family features definitely has “teen hearttrob” potential.

  62. Knurk
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Wow, major major thanks to all the people in the focusgroup sharing their experience!! You did a great job. HBO gets more and more respect from my part.

    But come on, the next best tagline after Winter is Coming is a huge poster of Arya which says: Stick’em with the pointy end!

  63. Grinbomb
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    T. R.:
    We were also asked if we had any thoughts on promotion for the show. I immediately jumped on the because I’ve had an idea for a trailer for ages. Everyone seemed to like it too.    

    Could you tell us what your idea for a trailer would be?

  64. WhoIsJacopoBelbo?
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    i cannot believe nobody else thinks of Littlefinger as more than a villian. he is personally one of my favourite characters. he is stepping into a world of muscle and brawn and violence and using intelligence and guile to play it better than the others. along with arya and brude he is definitely one of my favourite and i find myself rooting for him to “win” in the game of thrones. does that make me a bad person?

  65. Lex
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    WhoIsJacopoBelbo?: i cannot believe nobody else thinks of Littlefinger as more than a villian.he is personally one of my favourite characters.he is stepping into a world of muscle and brawn and violence and using intelligence and guile to play it better than the others.along with arya and brude he is definitely one of my favourite and i find myself rooting for him to “win” in the game of thrones.does that make me a bad person?    

    The fact that he is so arrogant, almost singlehandedly responsible for triggering the chain of events that caused the War of The Five Kings, as well as many cold-blooded murders, not to mention the fact that he seems to be a creepy pedophile is what makes me hate Littlefinger and yearn for his death.

  66. T. R.
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    Grinbomb,

    Sure. Take the scene of Jon & Sam reciting the Night’s Watch oath, or just use it as narration, and put it over scenes that compliment the words ironically and appropriately. Go read the oath and think of it with some stirring music… Could be totally badass.

  67. WhoIsJacopoBelbo?
    Posted August 27, 2010 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    WhoIsJacopoBelbo?: i cannot believe nobody else thinks of Littlefinger as more than a villian.he is personally one of my favourite characters.he is stepping into a world of muscle and brawn and violence and using intelligence and guile to play it better than the others.along with arya and brude he is definitely one of my favourite and i find myself rooting for him to “win” in the game of thrones.does that make me a bad person?    

    i of course meant Bronn not Brude .. not that i don’t like Brude too but he isn’t a character in the book. at least not yet.

  68. Grinbomb
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    Lex:
    The fact that he is so arrogant, almost singlehandedly responsible for triggering the chain of events that caused the War of The Five Kings, as well as many cold-blooded murders, not to mention the fact that he seems to be a creepy pedophile is what makes me hate Littlefinger and yearn for his death.    

    Yes, but besides that what stops you from liking him? :P

    Kidding aside, I too find I like the character myself. I just find him to be so interesting and its always fun to try and guest what his next move will be. He’s like a champion chess player who’s playing against a whole bunch of people who think the game is checker.

    That being said the whole pedophile thing does creep me out.

  69. Grinbomb
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    T. R.: Grinbomb,
    Sure. Take the scene of Jon & Sam reciting the Night’s Watch oath, or just use it as narration, and put it over scenes that compliment the words ironically and appropriately. Go read the oath and think of it with some stirring music… Could be totally badass.    

    Thanks for sharing. That sounds great!

    It would work especially well if HBO planned to do another two or three promos (which they usually do) that focus on other characters or plot lines, such as Ned, Tyrion, The Starks or the Kings Landing bunch.

    I really like your idea though, that oath gives me chills when I hear it. I can just imagine them starting off kneeling in the Gods woods starting the oath and then we keep hearing them recite the words as we see different bits of footage of the Black Brothers, Castle Black and The Wall.

  70. Zack
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    Too bad I don’t check westeros.org as often as I do this site. I would have loved to be a part of such an event. I don’t know if I would have been shut out due to my relatively recent discovery of the series, but such has its advantages as well (I could have said without hesitation how Tywin’s wife died…) But regardless of the horribly disappointing missed opportunity, this has been one of he most entertaining threads so far, and I thank each of you for posting your experiences.

    T.R., that could indeed make for a memorable trailer.

    Forgive me for perhaps misunderstanding, but the way people speak about Sandor and wanting to see his relationship with the Stark girls developed, makes me wonder if I missed something. I thought the monk or whomever it was that Brienne and her companions met basically flat out said he watched Sandor die. Are we meant to doubt what he said? Or is it just that these speculations and hopes are being carried over from a time before readers knew his fate?

    I’ll be sad if Littlefinger dies, but not because he wouldn’t deserve it. He’s a great character. I’m not so much buying into the pedophile argument as reasoning though, otherwise I’d almost have to hate Tyrion for his inner thoughts on her wedding night with Sansa, about how much he wanted her, and wanted her to want him…

  71. Zack
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    Obviously I mixed up my pronouns above. Hehe. Sorry about that.

  72. Lex
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    Grinbomb,

    Don’t get me wrong, Petyr’s skill at the Game is definitely impressive and bad-ass. I can admire that, but I still dislike the guy as a person.

    I tend to hold grudges, however, especially against anyone who ever betrayed Ned!

  73. Lex
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    Zack,

    But Tyrion stopped himself. Littlefinger clearly wants a piece, and would not refrain. And I think it’s even creepier with Littlefinger, though, because he’s pretending to be her father. The whole “come give your father a kiss” thing makes me feel nauseous.

  74. Zack
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    Lex: Zack,
    But Tyrion stopped himself. Littlefinger clearly wants a piece, and would not refrain. And I think it’s even creepier with Littlefinger, though, because he’s pretending to be her father. The whole “come give your father a kiss” thing makes me feel nauseous.    

    Ew, good point. I think I had mentally blocked out that scene in AFFC where she goes to dutifully kiss him on the cheek and he’s like, “That’s the best you can do?” before forcefully kissing her again, direct on the lips…

    I can empathize with him for trying to see Cat in Sansa, he clearly adored Cat. (And yet betrayed her and Ned for the Lannisters, for some reason I still can’t puzzle out…you’d think someone as smart as he is would be able to see how he might possibly be placing Cat on the path that could lead to an ugly end)…but you’re right. Feeling attracted to someone, even for logical and heartbreaking reasons, doesn’t mean forcing oneself upon them is acceptable. [/b]

  75. dizzy_34
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    Why are Fridays always the crazy news day? Wow, congrats to you folks (Ran, Brude, The Winter Rose, Bloodraven etc…) who were part of this. It must have felt really cool to know you’ll have some kind of impact on the making/marketing of the series, I’m happy for you guys and gals. It looks like we all were well represented.

  76. Adam
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 1:32 am | Permalink

    I would have spent the entire two hours trying to convince them to make sure to include the ‘dwarves and bastards’ from Tyrion and to highlight appropriately Syrio’s ‘Arya child … be gone now’.

  77. Avalanche3319
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 1:40 am | Permalink

    Adam,

    I forget, was the “dwarves and bastards” line from Tyrion in the leaked pilot script? I believe it was, but can’t remember for sure…

  78. sumdum gai
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 1:47 am | Permalink

    They should do like the Master and Commander Blu-Ray, where you had that feature that showed a map in a PIP window, to show you distance traveled, etc. Like a flyout map that anybody could bring up to see where in the world the scene takes place.

  79. sumdum gai
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    The monk meant the “old Sandor” died. Sandor was there in disguise at the time. Technically in hiding because someone else took his helmet and impersonated him while commiting atrocities.

  80. Lex
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 2:33 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I missed the whole monk/Sandor thing on my first reading, but when I heard about it online, I went back and re-read… and Sandor is clearly alive and living amongst those monks. The head monk is VERY careful only to say that the Hound is dead, not Sandor. Sandor is probably the big hulking gravedigger living amongst those brothers.

    Go back and re-read the passage, and it becomes pretty obvious. Thank god for the internet, though, or I would never have noticed. I don’t think I would have ever speculated about Jon Snow’s parentage either, for that matter.

  81. Maester_Tcost
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 3:06 am | Permalink

    The pedophile problem is the single biggest reason I wanted a Littlefinger in his 20s; it’s an inescapable problem for Tyrion, too. In the society of Westeros, Sansa has arrived at an age where she’s appropriately desirable for a grown man. This can be overlooked much more easily on the printed page than it can be in a TV show, where at all times we’ll be seeing Sophie and thinking eww, she’s too young, because by our own contemporary standards, she is.

    There are lots of reasons to hate Littlefinger apart from his lust for Sansa, which is at least partly transferred from her mother. It’s entirely possible that he’s the big bad guy, or close to it on the chain of command, having done more than any other single person to contribute to the civil war; his true motive could just be nihilism, although by this time I would think that we’d have had a hint of that from Sansa’s chapters. Rather, I think he’s got some other overarching purpose, something at least a little bit beyond the effort to advance his own cause. There have been easier ways for him to do that; if he were in King’s Landing right now, given the power vacuum there, you know he’d either be Hand or the next thing to it. No, I think that he’s after something more than personal aggrandizement. I just wish that I knew what it was.

    Just as he might be the ultimate villain, so too could he be the ultimate hero, the only person sufficiently adept to rally all of the disparate elements in all of Westeros together to face the ultimate challenge from the Others or Coldhands or whoever the true Enemy might be. He is without doubt the most fascinating character in the story to me, and I wish that we saw a good deal more of him.

  82. Miss
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 3:11 am | Permalink

    Thanks to everyone who reported, this is fascinating stuff and make me so thrilled and excited about the show! One annoyance, not with any of the fans involved, but its annoying that they asked the women the romance/sex question and not the men. How typical!

    I would like to know what was said about Ned. Did either group speak of him a lot? Seems like he hasn’t been brought up much despite being a big character. Also what about Bran and Cat? I heard somewhere else that Jaime was the women’s unanimous pick for the sexiest character ;)

  83. Dolorous Dave
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    To be honest, I am completely satisfied that the show will stay true to the details of the book. I mean, Martin is heavily involved in it, and look how many characters they have cast. They’ve even taken care casting tiny characters like Masha Heddle and Hugh of the Vale.

    A bigger issue for me is just to capture the powerful, emotive, epic quality of the series. This just comes down to how good the writing (should be easy given the script), the pacing, the direction, the score, the tone is etc.

    Sometimes the makers of movie/tv adaptations get so caught up in getting every detail right that they neglect the quality of the end product. Watchmen is an example: the movie took great care in staying (mostly) true to the details of the plot, but for some reason the end result was an awful, ridiculous mess.

    The most important thing is to get the balance right between the cynical, brutal realism of the books, and the sympathetic, poignant character stories. Too heartless and cynical (a la Rome) without that thoughtful emotive aspect will produce a harsh result and turn lots of people off.

  84. Cristian Far Arnedo
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 6:07 am | Permalink

    Hear me roar, I think you posted the wrong link of the westeros report. That link is a video (quite funny btw) of a naked farmer doing weird things hahaha

  85. Hear Me Roar
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    Cristian Far Arnedo: Hear me roar, I think you posted the wrong link of the westeros report. That link is a video (quite funny btw) of a naked farmer doing weird things hahaha    

    Ha, a funny and honest mistake. Fixed by WiC, thanks :)

  86. John Engedal
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    T. R.: Grinbomb,
    Sure. Take the scene of Jon & Sam reciting the Night’s Watch oath, or just use it as narration, and put it over scenes that compliment the words ironically and appropriately. Go read the oath and think of it with some stirring music… Could be totally badass.    

    Grinbomb:
    Thanks for sharing.That sounds great!It would work especially well if HBO planned to do another two or three promos (which they usually do) that focus on other characters or plot lines, such as Ned, Tyrion, The Starks or the Kings Landing bunch.I really like your idea though, that oath gives me chills when I hear it.I can just imagine them starting off kneeling in the Gods woods starting the oath and then we keep hearing them recite the words as we see different bits of footage of the Black Brothers, Castle Black and The Wall.    

    Sounds like the perfect teaser to me! Everything involving the Nights Watch wins. And I pray to the seven gods that we will get a season 3, and my second favourite scene of the whole series: The black brothers standing around the pyre after, I think his name is Darren, dies at Crasters, and they all chime in: “And now his watch is ended.” Magical.

  87. Knurk
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Hear Me Roar,

    Hah, would that be the naked farmer transforming himself in a live haystack?

  88. Cristian Far Arnedo
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Knurk,

    Yeah, that one!! haha

  89. Rimshot
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Two Feathers,

    Well Done Two Feathers! I’m glad you got some work.

    I’ve just finished 6 days work on GOT (the Tourney) and it was amazing. I spoke with a couple of King’s guards and Gold Cloaks who said they were in again next week in the Paint Hall so I suspect you’ll be there too. From what I have seen so far, you will have a great time!

    Have fun!

  90. Winter Is Coming
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Some great info. Many thanks to The Winter Rose, Bloodraven, T.R. and Brude for their reports!

    Also, I feel I need to step in here and defend my boy Littlefinger. Yes, he’s one of my favorite characters as well. And why not? He’s risen up from nothing to become one of the most powerful men in the realm. All because of his wits. Is he a paragon of excellence and virtue? No, but few characters in Martin’s world are. He has done some heinous things for sure, but he hasn’t done deeds as evil as other fan favorite characters such as Sandor or Jaime (both of whom murdered children in cold-blood, or in Jaime’s case, attempted to).

    As for the charge of paedophilia, I believe labeling Petyr thusly is a little unfair. First off, we’ll just ignore the fact that technically Petyr is NOT a paedophile since we know for a fact that Sansa is not pre-pubescent. We’ll also dismiss the reasoning that others here have put forward, that girls were wedded and bedded at a young age and this was just the way society was in the time period that Martin’s world seems to emulate. While a young girl marrying an older man wasn’t always the case during these times, it certainly wasn’t unheard of, and in fact it has already happened to Sansa!

    But we’re just going to ignore those two perfectly legitimate arguments and assume that you still find Baelish’s attraction to Sansa “creepy.” How then do so many people who call Littlefinger a “creepy pedo” not say the same thing about Sandor? Not only do many people not find Sandor’s attraction to Sansa creepy, they actually hope that he ends up getting together with her! I don’t think you can fault Littlefinger for his attraction to Sansa while giving other fan favorite characters such as Tyrion and Sandor a free pass.

    So to sum up, Littlefinger is a fascinating character who has risen well above his station using only his wits. He isn’t the most honorable character but neither is he the most despicable. He, like many others, falls somewhere in the middle. And yeah, he’s attracted to Sansa, but so are many other characters and yet they somehow escape being called a “creepy pedo.” So I don’t really understand all the hate Littlefinger gets. He’s a great character and one of my favorites.

  91. Zack
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Thanks for filling me in regarding Sandor. You’re right, the monk was being vague in just the right way to Brienne’s questioning, and then as he speaks of his own “death” in a spiritual sense it all clicked.

    Anyway…are you guys worried about HBO perhaps being too squeamish to attempt to portray the complexities of Sansa’s relationships with these older males?

    Doing justice to the printed word in this case might be asking too much of Sophie. I would understand if they end up glossing over the creepy stuff with those three guys in regard to Sansa. I’m not quite sure how they would approach a more tasteful film depiction…

    The bedding with Tyrion is the least questionable, because he’s clearly a good man; despite some internal struggling, we are pretty sure he’ll do the right thing, where with Sandor and Petyr we can never be quite sure how far they’d go. Still, I think the sexual tension with Sandor and Petyr ought not be ignored COMPLETELY. It adds wonderful intrigue to their character arcs.

  92. paulgude
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Not much to add other than thanks so much for sharing this! Very interesting reading!

  93. Phoenix_torn
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Winter Is Coming,

    I find Littlefinger a little Creeepy, not because he’s attracted to Sansa in general, but because of the Cat transference. I love him as a character and think he’s one of the most interesting people in Westeros. But I hate him too, and that’s what makes him great.

  94. ScazzaSofija
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this report! Sooo good to hear consensus on so many issues close to my heart. Loved that Tyrion was a fav (him being one of my faves & GRRM’s favs doesn’t mean that a group as a whole will love him so to hear this was great), Jaime sexiest, Jon the hero, and all the elements that fans think are essential (apprearance/bloodlines, history/flashbacks). Interesting in the main post the question about villains with Tywin, Cersei and Littlefinger being pointed out. Also that they had them make mood boards (collages) that marketing people use all the time, are essential to marketing, and can express some things that people can’t express in words; very telling that the bloggers made boards of Rhaegar & Lyanna as well as the Kingsguard. So many things I loved about this focus group, mainly that HBO is interested in what we think, very exciting.

  95. Miss
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Littlefinger also used his little finger to climb up in the world, let’s not forget. The creepy part is because he isn’t even sure if he sees Sansa as the daughter that he could have had with her mother, or as her mother herself. He uses his role as her surrogate father to touch her inappropriately, I don’t think Martin meant for those kisses to be seen as kosher.

    I really do wonder how the show will handle the sexual stuff in Sansa’s storyline, because at least with Dany, she comes to be in charge of her sexuality, whereas Sansa just has to stand there and suffer. It’s more discomfiting, maybe a lot to handle for young Sophie.

  96. silverjaime
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Miss,

    Yes and HBO usually would use older actresses so that even if the character was meant to be “underage”, the actress herself is adult. But Sophie is just 13 am I right? It will be quite creepy to see 42-yr old (or 43 or 44 whenever the season is filmed) Aidan Gillen behaving like this with 14 yr old Sophie. UGH!!

  97. sjwenings
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    I don’t really understand the problem. None of these guys have sex with her or even touches her inappropriately. Littlefinger is pretty close, but it’s “just” creepy, not totally disturbing.

  98. silverjaime
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    sjwenings: Littlefinger is pretty close, but it’s “just” creepy, not totally disturbing. sjwenings

    Yes – that’s what I said – “quite creepy” and also Ugh! It really depends on what you think of that type of situation as to whether you’d class it as creepy or disturbing. It’s very subjective.

  99. Lex
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    I don’t give Sandor a free pass, nor would I ever in a million years want to see him end up with Sansa. I find it more than a little disturbing that some fans apparently think that way.

  100. winterqueen
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Zack,

    How far HBO will push the Sansa storyline with her three guys? I say HBO will push it to the limit. HBO wants people buzzing about the show the day after like True Blood now and when Sex and the City and the Soprano’s were still on HBO. The actress playing Sansa, Sophie, is very young but the producers have faith in her acting. I’m going to trust the producers on this one.

    Just wanted to touch on the creepy aspect of the Hound, Petyr and Tyrion in regards to Sansa. For the record, I find all three of them creepy as hell, but in different ways.

    Sandor- Very creepy but he also protects Sansa and Arya. His heavy drinking really affects his judgment, making him a very scary, unstable man. One thing that I do like about Sandor in regards to Sansa, is that he NEVER uses her. When he does help her (or tries to at least) it’s for Sansa’s well being. The Hound gains nothing for himself whenever he has helped or protected Sansa.

    Tyrion-He was creepy during their wedding night -but what man wouldn’t have been lusting after their beautiful virgin bride? He knows that Sansa is too young, scared and not ready for sex so he leaves her alone. Like the Hound, Tyrion has protected Sansa while gaining nothing for himself. Tyrion does want to try to make Sansa’s life better but has no idea where to begin as she is so sad and unhappy. However, Tyrion wants the North via Sansa’s claim. Sansa’s claim to the North is Tyrion’s ticket back to power.

    Littlefinger-Petyr sees Sansa as Catelyn Tully come again. He has a creepy Heathcliff vibe going on at times as well. I would like to point out LF creepy behavior towards the 11 year old Sansa in AGOT -the tourney and after Ned’s arrest . Petyr makes Sansa feel very uncomfortable every time he is around her in AGOT. LF sees Sansa an object for him to use to meet his own needs. If Sansa were to became no longer useful to his needs, he would get rid of her in a heartbeat (just like he did to Lysa). He knowing let her suffer in King’s Landing and did nothing to assist her. I don’t count the catspaw Dontos he planted to gain her trust and gather information. Petyr knowing made her an accessory (the hairnet) to the murder of the king. LF knows Sansa doesn’t like his kisses or advances but he still comes on to her. Yuck!

  101. Righteous9
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    izakmo,

    As to the paedofilia in the series, I take it in much more stride that apparently most of the other readers do. While I am among the enlightened who think that 18 is an apporpriate age to label adulthood, based on a developmental standard as much and more than just an arbitrary number arrived at by our modern culture,

    girls in the dark ages were married off at 14, and the people of the day did not think it offensive or wrong in any way. Yes, the culture was wrong, the girls were not mentally matured enough, and in most cases they didn’t have any choice in the matter, which by our standards is akin to sexual slavery. By their standards, it was the way of the world.

    Also, poking around real quickly, some factors may have been at work to make the culture accept a child of 14 as a man or woman grown. One of which is the fact that the average live span was like 30 years. That would make 14 middle aged. Procreation being a factor for the species, it seems like there might be a genetic reason for this.

    Yes it is creepy by our standards, but when I’m reading about characters in a similar time period to that of the dark ages I put that creepiness in context. I can like Drogo, because he is eventually good to his wife, because he does love Dany and it does not seem like her love for him is the result of some stockholm syndrome….and because she has been able to take some power in their relationship.

    Yeah, the Littlefinger/Sansa thing is creepy…

    The Sandor Sansa thing is more complicated. I don’t really expect them to get together. In a world of far worse likely outcomes though, Sansa could do better to fall into Sandors arms than many other of her “choices”, (though I believe whoever said it was right, that Sansa is probably going to save herself). This is a romance bred on a bit of desperation, and on the fact that as much of a monster as Sandor has been, he has been the only one in the story to put himself at risk on more than one occasion to come to her rescue. In that way he’s the “knight” that all the others only pretended to be. Sansas attraction to him while somewhat sad, being at such a young age to compromise ideal for “real”, also comes across to me as a maturation, and awakening on her part. she is starting to see beyond the shiny armor and the perfect skin.

    In a perfect world, adults would not couple with children, but westeros is not a perfect world. It might be hard to swallow for our modern sensibilities, but in this one aspect Sandor and Drogo are not any more predatory than any other male in this male dominated society, where women and girls are assumed to be property. In fact the two are portrayed as lesser evils. They’re relatively enlightened by comparisson.

  102. Righteous9
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Righteous9,

    oops, thought I was responding to original post, not to izakmo. Sorry izakmo

  103. Steel_Wind
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Lex,

    If this focus group’s results were that Sansa Stark is a more popular character than Arya Stark? Then I put it striaght up: this was not a representative sample of fans and the focus group’s responses are atypical. To rely on them will be a mistake.

  104. Zack
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if Littlefinger will eventually end up at the mercy of Lady Stoneheart for the danger he’s put Sansa through. Would seem like poetic justice. I’d love to see those two characters face-to-face. And Righteous9 pinpoints something interesting regarding Sansa & Sandor, in that she eventually comes to see him in such a different light from her own early expectations.

    That kind of character growth is what has long led me to wonder if GRRM might be planning on a Sansa/Tyrion reconciliation by A Dream of Spring. That she seems able to discard her girlish fantasies about nonexistent white knights enough that she daydreams about the Hound shows a commendable maturation, and I think it would be neat if she ends up married to a “ugly outside, good inside” sort.

  105. T. R.
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Steel_Wind,

    I would say from the woman’s group that Sansa sparked a lot of discussion and debate. We noted she was a very interesting character who inspires both hate and intense sympathy at different points, but I wouldn’t say we said she was more popular than Arya. Most people in our group noted a strong liking for Ayra though she was not the top pick for anyone’s favorite (I considered it but said Dany). We did discuss how Sansa/The Hound is a favorite relationship of the fandom and how messed up that relationship is.

  106. Two Feathers
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Rimshot,

    Hi Rimshot, thanks for kind words. I am sure you must have been knackered by the end of day six. It must have been a bit easier to cope working on this particular project,than something more mundane might have been. There was some heavy rain showers over those days,did the ground under foot at the lists hold up ok? or was it a mud bath. Also I was wondering if you had to do much waiting around of set? or did the action flow well over the course of the day? I know the 12hr shift is easier if your more involved. Anyway well done and hope you get a few more days , maybe we will both be at Castleward again this November,that would be a spooky coincidence Eh.

  107. The Winter Rose
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

    Steel_Wind,

    As T.R. noted, Sansa just sparked a longer discussion, I think.
    We did talk about Arya too and we mentioned that she was a fan favorite even if she wasn’t our personal favorite.

  108. Grimtuesday
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    One thing to note when talking about San/San vs Littlefinger and his little finger’s relationship is that although San/San is creepy it is less creepy because Sandor seems to genuinely care about Sansa where as Littlefinger just wants to proxy screw Catelyn.

  109. Knurk
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Ok, my 2 cents on the Sansa subject. I think HBO should definately go with the creepy Sandor and Littlefinger moments. Knowing HBO, this is probably what they will do, and why not? It’s just acting, the scenes dont carry a lot of sexual vibe or do they? If they overdo it with Sandor though, viewers will hate him for the rest of the show, and that would be a big shame because he is one of my favourite villains turns heroes in the show. Even the kiss on the mouth from Littlefinger could make it to the screen, it’s pushing the limits but I think it could go through as an innocent kiss on the lips between two actors. I can understand though that a lot of people will freak out seeing it on screen.

    Regarding Littlefinger’s fate, I always thought after reading AFFC that after he taught Sansa the game of thrones, she would screw him over like he screwed everyone else over. Probably one of my many neverending screams for justice in Westeros that never get answered…

  110. OldGran
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Miss,

    Maybe in the show they will have Petyr pull Sansa close and his intent will be clear. We will see the shock and fear in Sansa eyes, but Sweetrobin will come in and nothing happens, but Lysa from her window sees “something”, or thinks she does, else why would she go ballistic. Point is there are way around the problem and still get the general idea across.

  111. Crystal Sky
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Winter Is Coming: I feel I need to step in here and defend my boy Littlefinger. Yes, he’s one of my favorite characters as well. And why not? He’s risen up from nothing to become one of the most powerful men in the realm. All because of his wits. Is he a paragon of excellence and virtue? No, but few characters in Martin’s world are. He has done some heinous things for sure, but he hasn’t done deeds as evil as other fan favorite characters such as Sandor or Jaime (both of whom murdered children in cold-blood, or in Jaime’s case, attempted to).
    He isn’t the most honorable character but neither is he the most despicable. So I don’t really understand all the hate Littlefinger gets. He’s a great character and one of my favorites.    

    Thank you! I like Littlefinger too. I tend to think of Littlefinger as the dark trickster and Tyrion the light trickster. It’s funny how Tyrion gets all the love, because I find them eerily similar, like two sides of the same coin (are we sure that they are not twins??? that would be the revelation of the century). For me though Littlefinger is definitely the more interesting, perhaps because I feel that Tyrion is written in such a way as to make readers like him. I myself like to root for unlikeable characters – they would use a little lovin’.

    I also think ‘paedophile’ is an anachronistic term in the medieval Westeros world. One can’t project modern terms unto a completely different world – and I think the attraction of Westeros is that most of the things going on are so alien to us today.

  112. Steel_Wind
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    Zack,

    Tyrion and Sansa Stark? No. That ship sailed when Tyrion could not bring himself to do the deed.

    Moreover, right now? Lord Littlefinger is in her corner for the long haul — and for all the right reasons.

    At the end of AFFC, Sansa Stark is one marriage and two deaths away from being the most powerful noble in Westeros. And neither of those deaths appear unlikely, either.

    From the perspective of those in the South, she has a claim to the whole of the North as the lawful heir to Winterfell. She is the lawful heir to Riverrun after Edmure Tully dies without an heir of his body. Should she marry Harry the Heir and Sweetrobin dies? She’ll be the Lady of the Vale, too.

    I make that to be a plausibly lawful claim to three of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.

    If you are Sweetrobin or Sir Edmure Tully? I don’t think I’d be sleeping very lightly.

  113. winterqueen
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    OldGran,

    If we do get to S3 and Sansa gets to build her snowcastle in the Vale, there is SO going to be a kiss. I don’t see HBO shying away from just one creepy kiss. The last Sansa chapter in ASOS really brings Petyr into a new light – his creepy kiss with Sansa, followed by him pushing Lysa out the Moon Door and then blaming it on the singer. This chapter is a big eye opener to what LF capable of doing to people when he no longer has a use for them . If Sophie Turner is still playing Sansa by S3 , she will be 17 or 18 by then so it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. It’s only one kiss, not a make-out or nude love scene.

    I know Robb, Jon Snow and Dany have been aged up a few years for the show. It’s very possible that Sansa and Arya have had a few years added to their characters as was well. So it’s possible that the S3 Sansa could be 15 or 16, which is much better than the book’s 13 yr Sansa getting kissed against her will.

  114. OldGran
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    winterqueen,

    That’s true, I just hope we get to see the snow scene in all it’s magic and wonder. It’s one of my favorites. One of many.

  115. Larry D Curtis
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Zack,

    Well, Tyrion was married to a girl that was felt to be of age socially and was also expected to couple with. Littlefinger snuck said woman/girl away, deceived her and played her father and tried to seduce her at the same time.

    Today, here, now, the age of eligible girls is different than in this fantasy setting and in the not all that distant past. Hopefully in our society we do a better job protecting young girls but in other ages and other times we can’t really expect characters to live by our 21st century morals. It Tyrion’s time it certainly wasn’t not pedophilia, it was normal and expected.

  116. Steve Westenra
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    WhoIsJacopoBelbo?,

    I definitely agree with you that Littlefinger is more complex than being “the main villain.” While he does demonstrate villainous characteristics, the same way many of the other characters do, I don’t feel that he’s a stand out “bad guy” so much as a more obviously sneaky kind of character. He’s definitely one of my favourite characters in the books– I feel like the weird, twisted relationship between him, Catelyn and Lysa is one of the most fascinating in the series. Personally, I dislike both Catelyn and Lysa, but I still feel sorry for them at turns and am interested by them, which is a credit to the writing and characterization. In a way, I think that Catelyn is just as villainous and self-centered as Littlefinger is– it’s just that it’s not so obvious.
    One of the things I love about the whole series is that there are very, very, few characters in it that I genuinely, passionately hate, and those are Joffrey and Gregor Clegane (still excellent characters though!). I love that they exist, while hating them as people, if you know what I mean. Still, they aren’t exactly main villains, just nasty, etc. I think it would be a disappointment to me if the books or show were ever simplified to good vs. bad, as one of the main themes, to me, seems to be that no one is entirely good or entirely bad, and that those concepts are subjective anyway. I love how GRRM wrote AGoT, in which we constantly see the negative actions of Cersei and Jaime, only to be shown, later, that from their perspective, there’s actually a whole lot more going on behind their choices and motivations. Even if we don’t come to like a previously despised character, we do come to understand them. I think that’s why the books work so well and seem historical without being factual: in real life there are no bad guys or good guys, just people.

    ANYWAY. Sorry for the tangent/ramble, which I am sure repeats itself, as well as things others have said on here many a time. To conclude, Littlefinger is awesome. I’m also very excited about Brienne, The Hound, Oberyn Martell (I know he’s not in it all that much but the fight scene between he and Gregor Clegane is probably my favourite scene in the whole series) and (more predictably) Jaime, Theon and Tyrion.

  117. Steve Westenra
    Posted August 28, 2010 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

    Crystal Sky,

    Couldn’t have said it better.

  118. Lex
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 12:50 am | Permalink

    Sorry, not buying it. Littlefinger is way creepier and villainous than Tyrion (who has a good heart underneath it all). Beisdes being a cold blooded killer, a narcissist, and a pedophile (which we’ve already discussed), Littlefinger is also a traitor and a pathological liar.

    I always particularly hated how he went around telling everyong that he took Cat’s maidenhead.

    None of this doesn’t mean that he isn’t brilliant, however, nor that I don’t admire his skill at playing the game of thrones.

  119. Damryn of Dorne
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 4:19 am | Permalink

    Steel_Wind,

    no kidding, ill take Arya over Sansa any day of the week.

  120. Shinyteapot
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Arya is one of my favourite characters. I do think she’s also one of the least realistic, but I love her chapters because we see so many different things, places, people and cultures through her eyes. It makes her interesting.

    Sansa on the other hand is very realistic. I don’t condemn any of her actions aside from lying about Arya’s fight with Joffrey (and even this is understandable, she’s trying to stay on the good side of her fiance and future mother in law, and takes her sister for granted- not nice, but real), for the most part she does as one would expect a nice teenage girl who has been brought up to obey authority and respect the royal family to do. She’s naive, has a clear sense of what she thinks is right and wrong and doesn’t realise the rest of the world is more complicated. Having said all that, I don’t particularly like her as a character, and found her chapters some of the least interesting- though it’s fair to say I like Alayne much more :)

    Littlefinger is a great character- he’s not nice (but then very few are) but he’s clever and interesting. I’d love to see a POV from him but think it would reveal too much- what he’s really thinking needs to be a mystery to the reader. I think Lysa is a great character too- again I don’t like her, but if I were an actress I’d find her interesting to play- she’s seen as just crazy, a little pitiful and clings to her son, but in her own way she’s quite a tragic character- in fact a nice DVD/website extra would be to see her story from her perspective, going from a young girl in love with Petyr, knowing he prefers her sister but denying it because she wants him to love her, seeing him beaten in a dual for Cateyln, the ‘tansy’ issue, falling out with her father, marriage to a much older man, many miscarriages, and finally giving birth to sweetrobin- it’s not surprising she ended up treating him the way she does, and it’s sad.

    Having said that I feel that way about a lot of the less likeable characters- still disappointed we didn’t get a Viserys POV. He’s not a nice person, and the way he treats Dany is completely unacceptable, but looking at his life from his perspective, you can see why he ended up the way he did, and have a little sympathy for him.

    As for the paedophila question- pet hate, paedophilia is sexual attraction to children. Teenagers are not physically children so being attracted to them isn’t the same thing as being a paedophile- not to say adults dating/sleeping with/marrying young teenagers is ok, but it’s a different issue. In westeros a 13/14 year old girl is viewed as a woman old enough to marry- it’s not fair to her, but it’s the situation in that world- and marriages with huge age gaps are common, so it’s hardly surprising that older men admit an attraction to Sansa. Doesn’t mean it’s not creepy (so is Dany/Drogo, even though he’s as nice to her as he knows how to be, and she does love him eventually), but it’s normal for them. Littlefinger however is still obsessed with Catelyn, and pretending to be Sansa’s father (not to mention using her for his ambitions- and I’m sure he knew Lysa would see the kiss- he needed to kill her and needed to be sure Sansa would accept it as necessary to protect her rather than hating him for killing her aunt) which would make that relationship creepy even if Sansa were significantly older in my opinion.

  121. Shinyteapot
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    Sorry, some of that should probably be spoilered, could someone please fix?

  122. ali
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    I also find Arya to be a far more interesting character than Sansa. In fact Sansa is one of my least favourite characters of the series. She has her good moments, but for the majority of the time she just gets pushed around and supports other characters story lines rather than having her own purpose.

    Also I’m going to add my voice to the Littlefinger defence club. He’s one of the deepest and most intelligent characters in the books and I agree with the comment about him and Tyrion having similarities. Few, if any of the characters have never done anything that could be considered bad. He killed Lysa, but she was unstable and possibly would have killed Sansa. He lies and schemes, but so do most of the characters, he’s just better at it. While perhaps being darker than some, he’s certainly not a character I can hate, in fact I very much hope he has a good ending.

    The paedophile comments are frankly ridiculous. If littlefinger is a paedophile then so are a number of other characters who have done far more to earn the title and yet are much better loved and not accused. The fact is (as has already been pointed out) that we’re talking about a completely different culture and the term just doesn’t apply.

  123. Tysnow
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    I’ll take the road that all the POV’s have an underlying purpose, not just to show how each character’s personality manuevers and survives, or not in Westeros but also to give the reader a journey through as much of Westeros and the wars as possible while still maintaining a taught and entertaining narrative. Arya’s story is more enjoyable to most because GRRM takes us through the darker side of the war and it’s effect on the countryside and the average Westerosean, while Sansa’s who as many of us have stated was not taught and trained to handle courtly intrigue so she plays the demur, scarred little girl doing all that she can to avoid getting herself killed and her strategy does work. Although I love the more mature Sansa and the Vale storyline, which has breathed life into her character and I cannot wait to read how it all unfolds. On the opposite side I have become a little bored with Cat of the Canals storyline and cannot wait for her to return to Westeros.

  124. Disgruntled in NY
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Personally I was disappointed when I found out that only people with HBO could be a part of the focus group. I haven’t had HBO for years since I don’t currently enjoy any of their shows except for True Blood and Rome and it wasn’t enough for me to pay the extra. AGOT would make me get HBO but no longer due to the ‘exclusivity’ of the focus group. I didn’t see how HBO was going to get a real representation of what people might expect from a show if they were solely going after people who have HBO. I am sure many fans of the books do not have HBO and might get it because of the show.
    However I won’t be that person. I’ll be forfeiting and that’s it. Maybe if the show is on sale on DVD I’ll spring for it. Otherwise, sorry HBO but you have lost another customer and I’ll be telling all my friends who are fans the exact same thing.

  125. Steve B
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Just to balance a lot of the comments out- I actually love Sansa’s character, and find her slowly developing arc very interesting. Of course, I like Brienne too, and people love to hate her as well.

  126. Knurk
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Disgruntled in NY,

    And because HBO also exlcuded Europeans from their focusgroup I’ll tell all the other europeans to boycot this show!

  127. SteveThePirate2
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Disgruntled in NY,

    That’s a little over the top. From HBO’s point of view, why would they bother interviewing someone who probably won’t even watch the show? To minimize the risk of that, and to maximize the very small focus group, they’d need to go with people they are sure have HBO and would watch the show. To forfeit watching the show simply because HBO didn’t want you to be in the focus group is absurd. Good riddance.

  128. Steve Westenra
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Steve B,

    People hate Brienne? o.o That really does surprise me. I can see people not being interested in her, or that sort of thing, but hate? That I did not know.

    As to Sansa, I initially disliked her in AGoT, though I still felt for her during certain parts. Later on, her chapters became some of my favourite ones to read simply because so much was going on in them. The opposite was true for me when it came to Arya, who I really like as a character, but whose chapters became less interested in.
    I think the Sansa/Arya debate is a little silly, personally (although I do love a little silliness every now and then). I don’t see how someone can’t enjoy both, or why they need to be compared. They are sisters, true, and are opposites at the start of the series, but their storylines diverge A LOT. I kind of like the parallels that occur between them, despite distances in space and time, and I find them complimentary characters rather than competing ones. If the people at the focus group were honest and said that they liked Sansa a lot, but then let the HBO know that Arya has this HUGE fanbase, I don’t see that there’s any real issue. :/

    As to the pedophilia/Littlefinger thing, I also find that a bit ridiculous. He’s definitely got a certain creepiness to him, but many of his actions/feelings aren’t any different than the more positively viewed characters. Many have said it, and I agree: it’s a different world with different rules. That doesn’t mean we can’t feel negatively about the choices the characters make, but it does mean that some of the actions of characters like Littlefinger, Drogo, etc, have to be put into context. I think the books deal very well with one of the major problems of history, which is that life at different periods of time can seem entirely alien to us. For us, certain things appear profoundly wrong that just were the norm once upon a time. We can look at the situation and think, “Hey, that’s not going to go down well because Tyrion is older than Sansa and they will have nothing in common and be mentally and emotionally incompatible,” or, “Cersei, Dany, Sansa or WHOEVER, shouldn’t be treated this way, it’s chauvinistic, ” but ultimately, even though these things may be true, it’s not how the characters and their time/place see them, not how they would have been raised, taught, etc. Fundamentally it becomes a comment on a system and that system’s intrinsic problems, which is what good historical fiction, television and film does. Taking Rome as an example, there are plenty of things that the characters do and say that make one cringe while watching (things done by LIKABLE characters), but it doesn’t stop one from feeling for the characters or enjoying them, but rather, gives a glimpse into what that culture and time may have been like. The audience/reader draws comparisons and makes conclusions on their own. We can look at something and say, “Whoa, that was fucked up. I’m glad things aren’t that way anymore in the society I live in,” or “Man, that was fucked up…actually, it’s kind of the same here and now.”
    I think it’s a bit of a simplistic view to say that Litttlefinger is evil or a pedophile, etc, when more widely liked characters do exactly the same things (or comparable things). I mean, if GRRM writes the next book and it turns out Littlefinger keeps a dungeon full of five year olds to molest after diner, then that’s something else entirely. I feel that his creepiness comes not from anything like this, but from just how clever he is, and how much of a wild-card. Like most of the characters, his actions seem fueled by emotional baggage from his past. His creepiness isn’t necessarily negative, either– definitely not the same thing as Craster or anything like that. I can definitely see why people would dislike him, and he indirectly causes a lot of the negative events in the novels, but no more so than a lot of other characters, and I feel like disliking him for imagined acts of pedophilia is a bit strange.

  129. Steve Westenra
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Something I’ve increasingly felt as the books went on is that, if there are main characters at all, they are the children (and especially the Stark children). This is not to de-value the other characters (most of my favourites are outside of the Stark group), but I do feel like it’s becoming clearer and clearer that everything the non-child characters do or plan inadvertently revolves around the child/youth characters. More and more events take place that put the ball in the court of Arya, Sansa, Jon and also Dany. Whatever happens, I think this gradual, subtle development is what will make up the focus of the climax of the series, or at least, the most major and infamous events of within the world of the novels.

  130. JackSparrow
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Disgruntled in NY: Maybe if the show is on sale on DVD I’ll spring for it. Otherwise, sorry HBO but you have lost another customer and I’ll be telling all my friends who are fans the exact same thing.    

    You’re going to boycot the show because you weren’t picked for a focus group? I know people have emotional attachments or grudges for or against networks/producers/actors that cause them to watch or avoid different shows, but this is a new one. Fight the power, man.

  131. Distruntled in NY
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    No, I’ll torrent the show. Somehow the autocorrect switched torrent to forfeit.

    I’m sorry but HBO made a whole thing about pushing for focus group and they wanted more people. The person over the phone told me they were pushing for 50+ people and wanted actually two different groups but they couldnt get people to respond.

    So yes, I can be upset that one of my fav book series has a focus panal for a tv show and they excluded a target audience because they dont already pay HBO for their other shows.

  132. Steve B
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    I’m sorry Disgruntled, but that just seems silly to me. If you are not going to pay for a service, why should you have any say in how it’s made? Makes perfect sense to me that they’d only pick viewers of HBO- i.e. Those who pay HBOs bills.

  133. Lex
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Distruntled in NY,

    I gotta say, that is pretty ridiculous. You’re going to boycott the whole show, because you didn’t get picked for a focus group? Only 17 people got picked in total.

    And yes, it’s quite understandable that HBO wanted to interview people who have HBO, because they not only wanted to hear the opinions of ASOIAF fans, but of their subcribers as well. They want to get a feel for what HBO subscribers want from this new show.

    Don’t be such a baby.

  134. Zack
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Distruntled in NY,
    For some reason, I think you might have been looking for a justification for torrenting whether or not you were eligible for a particular focus group. I gotta say, though, that’s about the flimsiest justification I could imagine, and you’re not like to get much sympathy. I don’t know how you could possibly think HBO values opinions of people so quick to jump on the illegal distribution bandwagon. They’re going to go first to the people paying them, and to think otherwise is ludicrous.

  135. silverjaime
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Disgruntled in NY: AGOT would make me get HBO but no longer due to the ‘exclusivity’ of the focus group. I didn’t see how HBO was going to get a real representation of what people might expect from a show if they were solely going after people who have HBO

    Well I don’t think a panel of 17 people is necessarily a “real representation” of the fanbase whether they have HBO or not. Bearing in mind that none of the thousands of European fans have it either, and none were on the panel! I think HBO just wanted to get a flavour of what some knowledgeable fans wanted to see. So good for them for asking ANYONE’S opinion!
    As for torrenting – I don’t think people who are real fans of the show would condone any kind of illegal distribution of it, and rightly so.
    HBO are entitled to ask whomever they please about a production they’re PAYING for, and I for one am glad they made at least some effort to get the thoughts of some fans.

  136. Steve B
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Boy, that was a torrent of similar posts. Hardy har har!!! ;)

    Hey, no offense meant. I suppose each person has an opinion. Besides, I suppose DVD buyers are a legit market as well. Right?

  137. Zack
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Steve B,

    DVD buyers are indeed a legit market, and HBO will factor DVD sales into decisions of whether or not to renew a show for subsequent seasons. I’m pretty sure they’ll conduct future surveys of more casual GoT fans, as well as for people who’ve had HBO in the past and might be looking to resubscribe. I don’t think they’d be smart to stop at one small sample group if they’re looking to see how the show will be perceived by the public as a whole.

    I don’t fault them for being focused so narrowly with this first session, though. Hardcore series fans with HBO *should* come first (at least in markets where HBO is available. Nothing against any Europeans…) and I would have made the same decision if I were running the discussions.

  138. Disgruntled in NY
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Wow lots of sheep here. Where are the Lions or Wolves?

    If the focus was to see if HBO watchers would watch the show then it would make sense. It wasn’t that way they only wanted hard core fans and HBO watchers to figure out what hard core fans would want to see on the show and DVDs.

    They should of wanted any hard core Dan. Sorry but to limit it when they actually ranted more was kinda stupid but it doesn’t surprise mengiven how HBO has treated some shows in the past.

    I am not upset I wasn’t selected not do I need an excuse to download from the Internet. If I kiss a show I download. I I love the show I get it on DVD.

    However I won’t be paying for HBO because I don’t see how they have their head screwed on straight.

    Next time they should make it know that HabO watchers were only wanted instea of saying not hard core/.big fans were wanted.

  139. Disgruntled in NY
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    And the only reason why I am posting on here is that I hope HBO has someone reading the comments here and sees that their actions were not 100% done in good taste and maybe realize that they are hurting themselves and their image.

  140. Lex
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Disgruntled in NYI don’t think they’re hurting their image. In fact, I’m quite sure that you are the only individual that has this problem.

  141. SteveThePirate2
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    Disgruntled in NY,

    They wanted hardcore fans who were also not too cheap to pay for HBO. Sorry, better luck next time!

  142. Stella Maris
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Disgruntled in NY,

    Given the general consensus that you come off as bitter and/or misguided for being passed-over, I wouldn’t count on it.

    I’m with everyone else – it’s HBO’s prerogative to choose people who are:
    a) legitimate fans
    b) demonstrably most likely to watch the show (as gauged by the fact that they are already subscribers to the network)

    This is their way of getting the most accurate marketing information. It wasn’t an insensitive, evil ploy to disenfranchise fans who don’t currently have HBO. It’s common, accepted marketing practice.

    And for the record, saying that you are boycotting the show on one hand and telling people that you will be downloading it illegally on the other is IMHO incredibly childish and selfish. Have your cake and eat it too, if you’d like, but you’re definitely not going to win friends that way. The majority of people coming here are fans that care a great deal about the quality of the production and the people who are involved. Many of the people involved have done out of their way to be very supportive to the fans and show true dedication to “getting it right”.

    You may take what happened as a personal sleight, of course, but it saddens me that you have chosen to forget all of the fan service we have gotten and continue get from HBO and those involved. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for them to roll over because of a single person who feels like they have been wronged.

  143. Lex
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    It’s especially funny that Disgruntled in NY calls us sheep, whereas boycotting/downloading the show makes him a wolf/lion? Please!

    Somebody call a wambulance! :)

  144. Miss
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Steve Westenra,

    Come on, Catelyn is as villainous as Littlefinger? I know she’s unpopular, but that’s so excessive!

  145. Steve Westenra
    Posted August 29, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    Miss,

    I don’t know…to me she seems just as self-centered a character. The point I’m making (or trying to make, haha), isn’t that Catelyn is villainous, but rather, that Littlefinger isn’t (or isn’t entirely). Without getting into spoilers, I would argue that a lot of Catelyns leanings later on carry a villainous tone (not to say that she is a villain , or that Littlefinger is, but I think that, essentially, they’re both motivated by the same general principles. I find Catelyn a very sympathetic character, even though I don’t like her, but she definitely has a cold, subconsciously calculating quality to her. I guess the reason Littlefinger appeals to me more than she does is because he knows and admits to himself that he is, whereas I’ve always seen Catelyn as self-righteous and blind to her own biases.

  146. Miss
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    Steve Westenra,

    Eh. Catelyn is motivated by protecting her family, and while she is analytical, she only approaches coldness because, you know, she becomes clinically depressed. Winter is coming and all that. She isn’t gushy, but that’s usually accepted without thought in male characters, and I don’t get why it’s all that unnatural on her. The whole point Martin is trying to make is that not all mothers are Molly Weasley (and that this doesn’t make them bad or unnatural mothers). She cares a lot about people, ie her reaction when she hears Winterfell is burned or her sympathy for Brienne, and that coming at the worst time of her personal life. But she leans toward detachedness as a counterbalance to her natural empathy.

    Littlefinger being a villain … he probably was just an innocent, if overly romantic, kid when his illusions were shattered, but the way that he reacted to his rejection is a little more extreme. He doesn’t have a whole lot of blood directly on his hands, but he knows the likely outcome of a lot of things and doesn’t feel guilty about it either. He is opportunistic to a far greater degree than Catelyn (and resultingly, better at the game), his goals are offensive while hers are defensive, and I am pretty confident in believing that he would never argue anything like “The realm has bled enough”. I think what they have in common is that they’re both more cunning and ambitious than Ned, but come on, my grandma can boast the same ;)

  147. Steve Westenra
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Miss,

    I definitely agree with you that a lot of Catelyn’s actions have to do with protecting her family, etc, and I get the non-traditional mom thing as well (which I kind of like). I don’t feel though, that Catelyn cares particularly much about people she considers outside of her family (I would include Jon in this), and that the definition of family, to her, is a very clinical one in some ways (at the same time though, she’s also very maternal, and I really felt sorry for her in the third book, etc– so tragic!). I think with Littlefinger, it’s very possible that if he had a family he would be the exact same way as Catelyn, but because he doesn’t really he is his own family, if that makes sense. I can’t remember who it was on here, or in what context, but someone brought up the point that one of the unifying motivations behind all of the characters is that they’re doing what they think is best for their family or name. I’m not sure it’s quite as simple as that for all of the characters though.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that, in a lot of ways, Catelyn, Littlefinger and Lysa kind of created each other, in a way. I’m not saying they’re all the same (especially not Lysa), but that they share some similarities, and although Littlefinger is more sinister than Catelyn is in the first three books, I still feel like, intrinsically, she’s not any better a person. A lot of it for me is about opportunity, and Catelyn never really had much opportunity, whereas Littlefinger does. It’s not that I’m attacking Catelyn, just trying to make the point that there’s a lot more going on behind Littlefinger than “Hey I’m the bad guy.” He’s definitely not a nice person, but just like the other characters there are reasons behind his choices. I probably like him so much because there is that, coming from nothing, surviving by his wits part to his story, and characters like that (Loki from Norse mythology springs to mind) have always struck a cord in me. The almost-childhood romance between himself and Catelyn also appeals, and as you say, I think that’s where much of his current attitude comes from.

  148. Omitted Is Me
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Steve Westenra,

    Hey guys, been following this site for a few months now on almost a daily basis, figure it’s about time I started contributing to the discussion!

    On the Catelyn/Littlefinger comparison:

    Personally I enjoy Littlefinger. I wouldn’t say I hope he ‘wins’ the game of thrones, but I certainly do not want to see him eliminated, not yet at least!

    I also personally do NOT enjoy Catelyn. Clearly she has good intentions, at least concerning those she loves, but she blindly disregards all else in rash efforts to normalize her sense of ‘home’. In fact, her decisions have only served to make life for her family worse, not better.

    Where Littlefinger makes calculated moves which may cause death to those in the way of his plans, his plans SUCCEED. Catelyn on the other hand makes rash, poorly thought-out decisions which end almost unanimously in failure. So although I can empathize with her depression, her obsession with sameness, and ultimately her desire for peace… the fact is that she hasn’t proven to be any good at the game. Yet.

    Overall though, I think the reason why Littlefinger garners as much negativity as he does from the fan base, while Catelyn gets the sympathy, is that Catelyn is a POV character, while Littlefinger is not. Honestly, if Catelyn did not have POV chapters, her story arc over the course of the novels would have led me to believe that she was destined to become a frightened, mentally unstable hermit, making bad decisions at every turn, much like her sister. And I’ll bet that if we knew conclusively what Littlefingers motivations and plans were, and that information softened his character a bit, there would be much more love for him among fans! Then again… he may turn out to be exactly what he seems. Which is just fine with me.

  149. world_dancer
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Winter Is Coming,

    The Sansa & Littlefinger thing being creepy is for much the reason that Phoenix lists in that he’s into her because of her mother. It gets extra levels of creepy because he seems to treat her as a child in the manner he controls her.

    For all that Sandor calls her “little bird” there’s a sense of him respecting her. And other than that very harsh incident when he seems like he might force her, the feeling I get from him is that he’d wait for her to get older. When she calms him with the one kiss, she seems to restore that sense of humanity, respect, and waiting/sense that she won’t be his due to age and difference in station. She’s a lady who deserves his loyalty.

    Littlefinger just feels like he wants to take from her, whether it’s the triumph of her maidenhead, having collected others from the Tully women, or of finally forcing a “Cat” replacement to be with him, or something else, for him it seems Sansa is something to be ravaged. That he is so far holding back as of FFC doesn’t relieve the sense that he’s going to use Sansa the girl-child for both his plots and his physical desires.

  150. winterqueen
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    world_dancer,

    So you are in the Sandor did kiss Sansa in ACOK camp? I think the song calmed him down, personally. Just my 2 cents worth

  151. world_dancer
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    winterqueen,

    I think both calmed him. The song was important, too.

    But my recollection is that she did kiss him. My memory could be foggy on that point, but I thought he wanted more in his drunken state, and that is what he got.

  152. Righteous9
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Winter Is Coming,

    I actually think Littlefinger is so far the biggest Villain in the whole series, so while I find his character fascinating, and while he might also have a fascinating motivation, he seems to be the one character that does things only for himself.

    Things he is responsible for

    the whole damn war for one. He coerced Lysa into killing Jon Arryn knowing what Robert’s next move would be

    Eddard’s betrayal, and likely, (I’m speculating here), he was the voice in Joff’s ear telling him that he should take Eddard’s head inspite of Lannister intentions

    He is more responsible for the war of five kings, and knowingly so, than any other character in the book. He has a lot of blood on his hands.

    About the Sansa thing, as somebody else pointed out, Littlefinger rarely acts out of compulsion. he needed sansa on his side when he killed Lysa, and he almost certainly expected Lysa to be watching that kiss from the window, knowing that little robin was out there playing. Not that there isn’t something else disturbing here that has to do with Cat, but he had a very specific intention when he did that.

    Littlefinger may have something to prove to the world, but I’m not sure he has anything to offer it.

  153. pualo
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    Littlefinger is lovably evil. I respect him like I respect Tywin, but I also enjoy him like I enjoy Tyrion. It’s hard not to like someone so clever, no matter what things they do. And frankly, name five people in this story who aren’t guilty or murder or similar, and I’ll be impressed. He’s much more evil than most (see Righteous9 above), but also much more fun than most.

    Catelyn is responsible for less bad things, but she’s also much less fun. I do think she is evil though. To me, she’s a very similar character to Cersei. Both have what I would call “Evil Mother Syndrome,” where they care so much about their children that they stop caring about other people. In my opinion, this is one of the leading causes of evil in the real world, so it’s very realistic. But it’s something I really hate, so it makes me hate Catelyn.

  154. The Rabbit
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    While beeing on vacations, had a few opportunity to lurk over here.
    Found this focus groups and marketing related effort great.
    They are serious about the whole project and I like it.

    Have been thinking a lot of LF debate over here.
    I can admit that I am on the creepiness bandwagon, too.
    But not in a way the most of the commenters pointed out here. (Sansa and LF stuff).
    I do not deny his witts, nor ambitious nature, but I am wondering most of all,about his motifs.
    It does not look to me as pure ambition in a way :” Hey I am low born, and I am clever, so I am gonna show what I can do only by myself”.
    IMHO, the origin of all of his actions is his obsession with Cat, which I can not see as “love”, it more like sickly obssession that drives him all his way.
    He is not going to do dreadfull things for the woman he loves (contrary to Jaime – who did it exactly for the love sake), but rather, LF is prepare to destroy everything Cat is living for.
    Another thing: He sees Cat in Sansa, and I am pretty sure that he would not be so protective with Arya or Bran, for example.

    At least, that is my opinion on the subject till now – do not what the rest of the series would brought to us.
    Unlike in Jaime s case, there is no LF POV to get knowing him better.

  155. Righteous9
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    pualo,

    I totally agree that one of the great evils in the world is looking out for only one’s own, and sadly hollywood has often lauded such behavior above all else,

    but I don’t think Cat is nearly as narrow thinking as that…she is not Cersei.

    She doesn’t try to shield her son Rob from his responsibilities the way Cersei does Joff.

    She is typical in her hatred for a bastard that reminds her daily of her husband’s infidelity, so she’s no saint, but we only see her truly verbally abusive to him when own of her son’s is in a coma. Cersei would have had the bastard killed… Has had bastards killed.

    Faced with the deaths of two of her children, she does jeapordize much by letting Jaime escape, but then she does read him right….she pins her hopes on something she sees in him. Is it worth part of their warhost to save her two children? No, it probably wasn’t wise. The starks can rarely be accused of being wise. Robb couples with a girl and THEN tells the Freys about it. Robb decides to dispense justice on two of his banner men, and loses the other half of his warhost, so Cat can’t single handedly be blamed for Stark destruction.

    Cat was desperate, and only calculated the worth of Jaime for the worth of her two girls, not the tearing apart of Robb’s army.

    And that is all I can remember about anything Cat did that was remotely “EVIL” . most of her actions were good in the series. I’m excluding Lady Stoneheart stuff, as Cat has passed into somehting else entirely now, but I give her a huge pass on the other stuff.

  156. righteous9
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    Righteous9,

    wow my spoilers went horribly wrong

  157. Damyrn of Dorne
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Righteous9: pualo, I totally agree that one of the great evils in the world is looking out for only one’s own, and sadly hollywood has often lauded such behavior above all else,

    Putting your own needs above all else is one the the primary tenements of capitalism. That goes far beyond hollywood unfortunately.

  158. Miss
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    Steve Westenra,

    I don’t feel though, that Catelyn cares particularly much about people she considers outside of her family (I would include Jon in this), and that the definition of family, to her, is a very clinical one in some ways (at the same time though, she’s also very maternal, and I really felt sorry for her in the third book, etc– so tragic!).

    Hrm. I think people only say this because she doesn’t care for Jon in particular, and that isn’t because he isn’t her blood. It is wholly because he represents her husband’s infidelity, constitutes an insult to her politically, and constitutes a fear regarding her children’s inheritance. Had she been as cold toward, say, Elmar Frey or Tommen Baratheon, then we could build a case that Catelyn cares only for her own children. I would point out that Ned is infamous for being cold to basically everyone except his own family. People tend to let him off the hook because his critical decision in AGOT was sparing Cersei so that her children would live, at the risk of his own political and physical safety. But Cersei’s children didn’t represent to Ned what Jon represents to Catelyn, they are impersonal innocents while Jon has very personal significance to Catelyn’s life. That doesn’t excuse what she said to him, but it’s beyond a couple steps from that to “She only cares about her own children.” There are no comparable data points.

    For what it’s worth though, she rescues Brienne from Renly’s tent, and when asked why, the only reason she needed was because Brienne was innocent.

    Re. everything else, well circumstances create people, no matter if they’re Littlefinger or Catelyn or anyone else in the book. It’s an interaction of nebulous “inherent” traits and the degree to/order in/etc which our environment shapes those traits that people become who they are. If Littlefinger had had a different life, if Catelyn had had a different life, they’d have been different people, sure I can buy that. That just also goes for every single character in the book though, doesn’t it?

    And I guess we’ll agree to disagree. I think Catelyn definitely gets credit for being a better person, considering the most malicious she ever behaved was verbally lashing out at Jon in a moment of extreme stress (and sure you can add on her more usual coldness to him). There are reasons for all the characters’ choices and that’s what makes them great to read about, but I’m not sure that makes everyone the same shade of grey. Morality still exists even in Westeros, so it seems to me.

    And I think it’s far beyond the fact that Catelyn is not a POV. Even if she is the unluckiest person in Westeros, that doesn’t make her worthy of villainy. Catelyn didn’t fail only because of her decision-making, it is also because of her lack of power and sheer misfortune.

    Do me one favor, and imagine if she had the magical pet and other forms of authorial fiat that Jon Snow has. Her best friend would rig the king in the north scene so that she ended up in charge and would never have to make an illegal exchange for Jaime in the first place ;)

  159. Miss
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    I’ll just add one thing in general.

    The plot points that define Catelyn are a really bad data set from which to conclude that Catelyn cares selfishly and solely about her own children to the detriment of everyone else. I am willing to bet cold hard cash that if you give most mothers a decision between saving the life of their children and the life of the kids next door, they’re going to choose their own children. I would be willing to bet that yours (yes you!) would too. That doesn’t mean they wish harm on all the other kids in the neighborhood in most (or any) other context. That many mothers are like this doesn’t make Cat equal to Cersei; it merely means that maternal protectiveness a trait that is stereotypical of a certain group of people (mothers). And it certainly doesn’t make a protective mother as malicious as someone who premeditatively plots people’s downfall for nothing but material and political gain!

    But Littlefinger is much funnier. I will agree with you guys there ;)

  160. Miss
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Miss,

    Gah, excuse my typing please. I meant to say “And I think it’s far beyond the fact that Catelyn is a POV and Littlefinger is not” :\

  161. pualo
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    This discussion is great. Just wanted to say that. Don’t know if I have anything intelligent to say right now.

  162. Rognarr
    Posted August 31, 2010 at 2:39 am | Permalink

    Hi all, long time reader first time poster

    Let me begin with an apology about my spelling, English is my 4th language…

    I want to thank all of the focus groop members for shering with us the info about it.

    I was wondering if the meating was about the hole book series and not only GOT how the parenthud of Joun didnt came up and the very strong posibility that he will be the second head of the dragon with Dayne.
    The question who is Jouns real parents starts in the beginig of GOT and we still dont have an anser in the end of TFoC, but we do have alot of hints and pointers along the hole series

  163. Nymeria
    Posted August 31, 2010 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    If it’s not too late, I was wondering if Brude and T.R. would be willing to share what they chose for their collage and what they saw of other participants collage. Just curious.

  164. world_dancer
    Posted September 2, 2010 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Miss,

    I don’t think they let Ned “off the hook” on being cold. Ned was cold to everyone. It was his nature as a Stark. He was cold, but also honorable and compassionate in a distant way.

    Catelyn I think of more as “stupid” than evil. She’s so caught up in traditional female emotional impulsivity that she makes poor decisions based on them. Saving Brienne was her best non-family motivated decision. Possibly the only one she makes the entire time, as the whole war is family-related for her.

    She and Ned likely made a good match of traditional opposites. But split apart, the results were not so great for them.

  1. [...] two months or so back, there was a focus group consisting of A Song of Ice and Fire fans in New York City. Well they are doing it again, and [...]


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