Let’s get this out of the way, Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray is awesome. Why? Because the first season of Game of Thrones is on it! That alone means it is worth a purchase. HBO could have just stopped there and been guaranteed a best-selling box set. But they went, “Screw it, let’s load this sucker up with some interesting commentary, some great ‘making of’ features and some truly amazing animated histories.”
Before I get to what I like about it (a lot) and what I didn’t like about it (not much), I’m gonna break down exactly what you’ll get in your Blu-ray set. If for some reason you’d like to remain ignorant of the awesomeness that awaits you then don’t read any further.
So here are details on all the special features you will get in the Blu-ray set (the DVD set does not have the animated histories, In-Episode Guide, Anatomy of an Episode or the Dragon Eggs).
The Complete Guide to Westeros
A comprehensive, interactive guide of the houses, histories, and lands of Game of Thrones. The guide is broken down into three sections:
Houses – Contains six gorgeously animated histories of the great houses as told by characters from the series: Robb and Bran (Stark), Catelyn (Arryn), Robert (Baratheon), Tywin (Lannister), Viserys (Targaryen) and Jeor Mormont (Night’s Watch). Also includes bios of each member of the house and their various servants and vassals.
Histories & Lore – Nineteen animated histories of the Seven Kingdoms, as told by various characters from the series. Certain histories have multiple characters telling the same story from differing viewpoints. Here is the full list of histories with the character(s) that narrate each:
The Children of the Forest, The First Men, and the Andals – Bran
The Age of Heroes – Bran
The Old Gods and the New – Bran and Catelyn
The History of the Night’s Watch – Jeor, Luwin, Tywin
The Order of the Maesters – Luwin
Valyria & the Dragons – Viserys
The Field of Fire – Viserys, Robb
Mad King Aerys – Robert, Luwin, Tywin
Robert’s Rebellion – Robert, Viserys
The Sack of King’s Landing – Viserys, Robert, Luwin, Tywin
Lands – Learn more about the regions and lands of Westeros and Essos in this interactive map.
The same content that is available in the Complete Guide, only accessible via an on-screen menu while watching the episode. The content available changes based on what is happening in the episode and certain aspects are only accessible once they are “unlocked” by the action on screen.
Anatomy of an Episode
A view into how they filmed episode six of the first season, with various behind-the-scenes features and interviews popping up throughout the episode.
Making Game of Thrones
A 30-minute look into the making of Game of Thrones. New interviews with Nina Gold and her casting associate Robert Sterne, Ramin Djawadi, Tom Martin (construction manager), Adam McInnes (vfx supervisor), Jim Warren (animal handler), and others. Of course, we also get quotes from David & Dan, GRRM, the directors and much of the cast as well. Some new cast interviews too, from Rory McCann, Alfie Allen, Kate Dickie, Iain Glen, and Finn Jones. The feature covers all aspects of the production from casting to set building, stunts and visual effects, costumes and more.
More Behind the Scenes Videos
Character Profiles – Short videos where the actors talks about the characters they play. Same as the ones released prior to Season One airing.
From the Book to the Screen – GRRM and David & Dan talk about the challenges of adapting this story to television.
Creating the Show Open – Interviews with Angus Wall and the Elastic team about how they created the title sequence.
Creating the Dothraki Language – Interviews with David J. Peterson, David & Dan and the actors about creating and speaking the Dothraki language.
The Night’s Watch – Interviews with GRRM, David & Dan and the Night’s Watch cast about the history and the ways of the Watch.
Hidden Dragon Eggs – Six hidden dragon eggs that contain cast audition footage.
Episode Previews & Recaps
Short previews and recaps of each episode. These are the same videos that HBO released as the season was airing (and can be found on our season one episode guide).
Ep 1 – David Benioff & Dan Weiss
Ep 2 – Lena Headey, Mark Addy, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Ep 3 – Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Isaac Hempstead-Wright
Ep 4 – Bryan Cogman & Kit Harington
Ep 6 – Emilia Clarke, Harry Lloyd, Peter Dinklage, Dan Minahan
Ep 8 – George R. R. Martin
Ep 10 – David Benioff, Dan Weiss, Alan Taylor
So that’s what is included. It is a lot of great stuff. I’ve been watching the discs for hours and I still haven’t seen everything (have yet to watch Anatomy, the commentary for eps 6, 8 and 10, and the dragon eggs). I could write pages and pages about this box set, but I will spare you and just bang out a quick list of what I liked and didn’t like.
What I Liked: The animation on the house history videos. Lena Headey’s potty mouth. Finally putting a face to the name of Nina Gold. The kids singing along with the opening theme. Hearing about important events in the past from different characters’ perspectives. The ‘Making of’ video. Nikolaj referencing the Youtube video of Tyrion slapping Joffrey for 10 mins straight. The little teases for season two dropped by cast and crew in the commentaries. Learning that Bryan Cogman wrote pages and pages of actual lineages for the Lineages of the Great Houses book. Charles Dance’s readings as Tywin Lannister.
What I Didn’t Like: No deleted scenes. Having boobs appear on screen while Sophie, Maisie and Isaac are doing commentary. No commentary for episode nine. The ‘Making of’ video being only 30 mins long. Sean Bean’s absence from the commentaries. No gag reel. Anatomy of an Episode being available for only one episode. The hidden dragon eggs being too hidden.
To sum up, this is a great set for both hardcore fans of the series and casual fans as well. The amount of hard work put into this set is clearly evident. The Complete Guide, with its animated histories, is amazing. Bryan Cogman was the one responsible for much of the content here, and you can read more about his role in creating this special feature in our exclusive interview with him.
With all this great stuff on the Blu-rays, I strongly recommend getting them over the DVDs, even if you have to go out and buy a Blu-ray player. Not because of the superior sound or picture quality (I was watching this on my 32 inch SD TV with sound coming from the TV speakers, so the quality of the picture and sound did nothing for me), but because you will miss out on some amazing original content if you get the DVDs.