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Blu-ray Review: Game Of Thrones: The Complete Series
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Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones: The Complete Series
Blu-ray | DVD
BASED ON: George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire”
CREATED BY: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss
CAST: Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Peter Dinklage, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Aidan Gillen, Conleth Hill, Alfie Allen, Rory McCann, Iain Glen, Carice van Houten, Jerome Flynn, John Bradley, Gwendoline Christie, Kristofer Hivju, Liam Cunningham, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jacob Anderson, Charles Dance, Kristian Nairn, Iwan Rheon, Jack Gleeson, Michelle Fairley, Sean Bean, Richard Madden, Jason Momoa, Mark Addy (and many, many others)
RELEASE DATE: December 3, 2019

It’s still hard to believe that Game of Thrones is over. There were times when it seemed like the next season might never arrive, and now all eight seasons have come and gone. After its premiere back in 2011, the series quickly developed a rabid fanbase and became a television juggernaut. It was, quite simply, one of the biggest series ever made.

But while the show has indeed ended, HBO released Game of Thrones: The Complete Series last month so that fans can re-visit the story in its entirety whenever they wish to.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the series that hasn’t been said already, most of it overwhelmingly positive. Things didn’t exactly play out how many had hoped they would play out in the end, but that doesn’t change the fact that the show as a whole was a truly extraordinary television accomplishment.

I wasn’t nearly as bothered by the ending as so many others were, thankfully. Sure, I too had hopes that the story would play out a little differently. But I was still fine with how things wrapped up.

As I’ve said before, we have to keep in mind that the show’s creators, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, were told by the author of the books the series was based on, George R.R. Martin, how parts of his story would end when it became clear that the series was going to pass where he was with the books. And as you’ll see below, some of what they learned was confirmed in the season eight bonus features. We can now only wonder if Martin will ultimately change anything he told Benioff and Weiss when he eventually reaches the end. A question to be answered another day.

I do, however, agree with everyone who thought there should have been more episodes to better develop and explain what was unfolding. One of the best things about Game of Thrones was that nearly every episode was great, and that almost everything we saw was important in some way and progressed the story. It wasn’t the kind of series that had throwaway filler episodes to stretch things out as much as possible and milk its popularity for all it was worth.

But because of this I feel like there was a real fear that they might draw things out longer than necessary, and that ultimately led to the shortened final two seasons and the somewhat rushed feeling of the final season. Other than that, though, I loved every second of the ride.

The show’s greatness was thanks to a small army of people. From Martin, to Benioff and Weiss, to the stellar cast, and of course to the various directors and everyone who worked on the costumes, set designs, stunts, special effects, and everything else that made the show what it was—they all worked in concert to deliver a tremendous, unforgettable experience.

But there is one person in particular who I want to mention specifically for their work on Game of Thrones; someone whose name you don’t hear about as often as others but who was instrumental, quite fittingly, in eliciting the many emotions we felt during the show’s most memorable moments. And that is composer Ramin Djawadi. So many great scenes, made even greater by his music. His work was a crucial ingredient in what made the series so very special, and I listen to it often while writing or doing stuff around the house. And let me tell you, menial tasks like cleaning become so much more epic when you’re listening to tracks like “Light of the Seven,” “A Lannister Always Pays His Debts,” or “Goodbye Brother.”

The series quickly became one of my favorites of all time, and it will without a doubt remain so always. But not just because it was great TV, unlike anything we’ve ever seen on the small screen before. No, no—it was so much more than that. Game of Thrones meant something to me personally, as it did to so many others. It had a real impact on many of our lives. It made dark days a little bit brighter. Whether it was a trailer for a new season, new episodes to watch, or simply listening to Djawadi’s beautiful music, it found a way to heal and revitalize on those tough days, even if only for a short while.

There are few entertainment titles that have struck me in such a way, and because of that, Thrones is something that I cherish dearly. I am forever grateful to Martin for giving us this world, and of course to everyone involved in creating the show for their immense efforts and for helping to make some difficult times a little bit easier to get through.

I could go on and on, but the truth is that most of you already know whether or not you’re a fan of the show itself. The real reason you’re likely here is to see what bonus features come with this Complete Series collection. And there are many.

Seasons one through six each come with four discs, and the shortened final two seasons each include three discs. Each of these discs has episodes and some bonus features, but unfortunately this can be a little confusing. Each disc tells you all of the bonus features released for that season, but not all of them are playable on any disc. So if you’re on disc one and select a certain bonus feature, you may be met with a prompt to insert disc four. A little annoying, but a minor inconvenience.

Below you’ll find a rundown of all of the bonus features for each season and more.

SEASON ONE

  • Complete Guide to Westeros — If you’re only familiar with Game of Thrones through the series and you’ve never read George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series, here you can learn about just how vast the world he created really is. It features my favorite bonus feature included with each season, Histories & Lore. In these short videos, you’ll learn about this incredibly complex world and the figures and events that shaped it. Each is narrated by one of the show’s characters, and set to motion comic-like animations.

    For example, in this first season you can learn about The Children of the Forest, The First Men, and The Andals from baby Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright); The Age of Heroes, also from Bran Stark; The Old Gods and The New from Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) and Bran Stark; The History of the Night’s Watch from Lord Commander Jeor Mormont (James Cosmo), Maester Luwin (Donald Sumpter), and Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance); The Order of the Maesters from Maester Luwin; Valyria and the Dragons from Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd); The Field of Fire from Viserys Targaryen and Robb Stark (Richard Madden); Mad King Aerys from Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy), Maester Luwin, and Tywin Lannister; Robert’s Rebellion from Robert Baratheon and Viserys Targaryen; and finally The Sack of King’s Landing from Viserys Targaryen, Robert Baratheon, Maester Luwin, and Tywin Lannister.

    Also included in Complete Guide to Westeros is information on some of the houses of Westeros, such as House Stark, House Baratheon, and House Lannister—each featuring a short video like the Histories & Lore vignettes to teach you about the houses, as well as info on the notable people associated with it—as well as info on some of the lands such as the North, The Wall, and King’s Landing.

  • Character Profiles — Short videos introducing us to some of the characters we meet in season one. Each features the actor who portrays them talking about the character, paired with clips from the season.
  • Anatomy of a Scene — In this feature episode six, “A Golden Crown,” plays in full with cast and crew breaking down the episode along the way.
  • Making Game of Thrones — A 30-minute making of feature about how the series came to be and what went into making it. The video includes interviews with everyone from George R.R. Martin and the show’s producers to casting directors and prop designers.
  • From the Book to the Screen — This video looks at bringing Martin’s books to life, with thoughts from Martin and the show’s creators Benioff and Weiss.
  • Creating the Show Open — A brief feature that looks at all the work and detail put into making the show’s opening title sequence, and how it evolves and will continue to evolve as the story progresses.
  • Creating the Dothraki Language — This feature looks at the decision to create an entire language for the Dothraki, and the man who was hired to accomplish the task.
  • The Night’s Watch — Dedicated solely to who the Night’s Watch are, what they do, and what it truly means to take the Black.
  • In-Episode Guide — There are multiple ways to watch episodes including as they originally aired, obviously. Another option is to watch them with the in-episode guide, which feature the option to learn more about the characters, locations, and history related to each scene taken from the Complete Guide detailed above.
  • Audio Commentaries — Another option available on multiple episodes is to watch with audio commentary, with Martin, Benioff, Weiss, and various cast and crew taking part in different episodes.
  • Hidden Dragon Eggs — These are the Game of Thrones version of Easter eggs. For season one, it’s a handful of hidden clips of some of the actors auditioning for their roles. But be warned: they are really well-hidden, so you may have to do a search to find out how to find them or just find the videos online if you want to see them.

SEASON TWO

  • Histories & Lore — For this season’s Histories & Lore bonus feature, you can learn more about the Greyjoy Rebellion from Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), Robb Stark, and Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane); more on Robert’s Rebellion, this time narrated by Stannis Baratheon, Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham), Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), and Catelyn Stark; House Tyrell from Margaery Tyrell; House Greyjoy from Theon and Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan); House Clegane from The Hound, Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann); The Free Folk and the Night’s Watch from Ygritte (Rose Leslie); Dragonstone from Stannis Baratheon; Harrenhal from Catelyn Stark; The Free Cities from Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen); Qarth and the Warlocks from Xaro Xhoan Daxos (Nonso Anozie); The Alchemist Guild from Wisdom Hallyne (Roy Dotrice); and The Drowned God from Yara Greyjoy.
  • War of the Five Kings — This bonus feature is an interactive guide with which you can learn about some of the primary characters and those who are tied to them, where they are in the story, and the events that led them to their current situations.
  • Creating the Battle of Blackwater Bay — Just as it says, this is the making of the all-important ninth episode of the season, “The Battle of Blackwater Bay.” The video runs over 30 minutes in length, and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the work that was done to bring the massive battle to life, including the construction of an incredible full-size ship set to film on.
  • Game of Thrones: Inner Circle — Creators Benioff and Weiss sit down with some of the cast to discuss filming season two of the show.
  • The Religions of Westeros — In this feature, Martin, Benioff, and Weiss talk about the various religious beliefs those who live in Westeros follow, and how those religions can influence the actions characters take.
  • In-Episode Guide
  • Hidden Dragon Eggs
  • Character Profiles
  • Audio Commentaries

SEASON THREE

  • Histories & Lore — Season three’s Histories & Lore features info on the Battle of Qohor and Old Ghis & Slaver’s Bay, narrated by Jorah Mormont; House Reed, narrated by Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick); House Bolton, narrated by Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton); House Frey, narrated by Catelyn Stark; House Tully and The Riverlands, narrated by Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully (Clive Russell); the Lord of Light, narrated by Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye); Wargs and The Sight, narrated by Bran Stark; The Red Keep, narrated by Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson); more on Robert’s Rebellion (I would really love to see this brought to life in a spinoff series or perhaps even a limited series), narrated by Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aidan Gillen) and Lord Varys (Conleth Hill); The North, narrated by Jon Snow (Kit Harington); The Reach, narrated by Margaery Tyrell; The Stormlands, narrated by Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie); The Westerlands, narrated by Tywin Lannister; and The Vale, narrated by Petyr Baelish.
  • “The Rains of Castamere” Unveiled — Get a closer look at one of the most memorable…and shocking…Game of Thrones episodes of all time, “The Rains of Castamere.” That’s right, the episode which introduced non-book readers to the infamous Red Wedding. The feature plays the episode in its entirety, paired with cast and crew discussing it, behind-the-scenes footage, and some interactive elements.
  • Roots of Westeros — Another interactive guide, this time offering the opportunity to explore the various houses of Westeros and how they’re connected, whether it be through romance, rivalry, or something else.
  • New Characters — An introduction to the many new characters we were introduced to in season three, including Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg), Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), Mance Rayder (Ciarán Hinds), and legend of the awkward affection, Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju).
  • A Gathering Storm — A 14-minute recap of the events of season two, which features cast and crew sharing their thoughts on how the previous season played out.
  • The Politics of Marriage — Cast and crew talk about marriage in Game of Thrones and how the unions in Westeros are often about bringing together two houses for political reasons.
  • Inside the Wildlings — The Wildlings become a major component to the story in season three, and here you’ll learn more about them and their backstory.
  • In-Episode Guide
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • Audio Commentaries

SEASON FOUR

  • Histories & Lore — For this season you can learn more about House Martell, Poisons, and the Dornish view of Robert’s Rebellion from The Red Viper, Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal); House Baelish from Littlefinger; Dragons from Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover); The Bastards of Westeros from Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma); The Iron Bank of Braavos from Tycho Nestoris (Mark Gatiss); Sellswords & Hedge Knights and Justice of the Seven Kingdoms from Bronn (Jerome Flynn); The Wall from Samwell Tarly (John Bradley); The Nations of the North from Tormund Giantsbane; The Kingsguard from Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Bronn; The Maester’s Chain from Qyburn (Anton Lesser); The Death of Kings from Varys; and Valyrian Steel from Jorah Mormont.
  • The Politics of Power: A Look Back at Season 3 — A recap of the events of season three which looks at how the devastating events that unfolded caused massive power shifts in Westeros.
  • New Characters & Locations — Another introduction to some of the new characters and locations we meet and visit this season.
  • Bastards of Westeros — Martin, Benioff, and Weiss discuss the bastards of Westeros and the roles that they play.
  • Behind the Battle for The Wall — A nearly 40-minute behind the scenes look at one of the massive battles we witnessed during Game of Thrones‘ run, following cast and crew and the many challenges they faced in bringing it to life, such as how to pull off a believable giant riding a mammoth into battle.
  • The Fallen: A Roundtable — This feature is a 30-minute chat between writer Bryan Cogman and some of the actors whose characters met their end in season four. In other words, definitely do not watch this first if you’ve never seen Thrones and bought this set to finally give the series a watch.
  • In-Episode Guide
  • Audio Commentaries
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Blooper Reel

SEASON FIVE

  • Histories & Lore — For the fifth season’s line-up of Histories & Lore you can learn about The Seven-Pointed Star and The Faith Militant from The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce); Volantis and The River Rhoyne from Varys; Braavos and The Faceless Men from Tycho Nestoris; Winterfell from Roose Bolton; The Lord Commanders from Ser Allister Thorne (Owen Teale); even more about Robert’s Rebellion, this time from Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney); Dorne from Ellaria Sand; The Fighting Pits of Meereen from Daario Naharis (Michiel Huisman); The Many-Faced God from Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha); The Great Masters of Meereen from Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel); and Greyscale and the Stone Men from Qyburn.
  • The Dance of Dragons — An over 20-minute feature, presented in a similar style to the Histories & Lore videos, which tells the story of a Targaryen civil war in which many dragons were lost.
  • Anatomy of an Episode: Mother’s Mercy — A behind-the-scenes look at the final episode of the season, “Mother’s Mercy.”
  • The Real History Behind Game of Thrones — George R.R. Martin and historians discuss some of the real history which inspired Game of Thrones. It’s a two-part bonus feature which totals around 40 minutes in length.
  • A Day in the Life — This 26-minute feature gives fans a chance to see what a normal day is like when Game of Thrones is in production. It jumps back and forth between three different countries as the cast and crew works to create new episodes for the series.
  • New Characters & Locations
  • In-Episode Guide
  • Audio Commentaries
  • Deleted Scenes

SEASON SIX

  • Histories & Lore — For season six, learn about The Old Way, The Kingsmoot, and The Summer Sea from Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk); the War of the Ninepenny Kings from Brother Ray (Ian McShane); The Great Tourney at Harrenhal from Meera Reed; the next piece of the Robert’s Rebellion tale from Jaime Lannister, who earned the name “Kingslayer” during these events; Vaes Dothrak and The Dothraki from Jorah Mormont; Northern Allegiances to House Stark from Sana Stark (Sophie Turner); the Children of the Forest vs. The First Men from the Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow); Brotherhood Without Banners from Thoros of Myr; Oldtown from Grand Maester Pycelle and Qyburn; House Dane from a much younger Ned Stark (Robert Aramayo); The Little Birds from Varys; the Knights of the Vale from Littlefinger; House Tarly from Randyll Tarly (James Faulkner); Riverrun from Brynden Tully; and the Great Sept of Baelor from The High Sparrow.
  • The Battle of the Bastards: An In-Depth Look — A 30-minute behind-the-scenes feature about another pivotal episode nine featuring a massive episode-long battle, “The Battle of the Bastards.”
  • Recreating the Dothraki World — This feature looks at the work that was done to bring the Dothraki world we visited in season one back to life.
  • 18 Hours at the Paint Hall — The Paint Hall is the production hub, or home base, for Game of Thrones. As fate would have it, things got a bit chaotic when three different filming units found themselves all working at that location one rainy day. This nearly half-hour feature shares a peek at how that went. It’s like the above-mentioned Day in the Life feature, but set in one place instead of three different countries.
  • In-Episode Guide
  • Audio Commentaries
  • Deleted Scenes

SEASON SEVEN

  • Histories & Lore — Season seven’s Histories & Lore segments includes The Dragonpit, narrated by Varys and Qyburn; The Citadel and Prophecies of the Known World, narrated by Samwell Tarly; Casterly Rock and The Rains of Castamere, narrated by Jaime Lannister; Highgarden, narrated by Randyll Tarly; The Golden Company, narrated by Jorah Mormont; and The Hand of the King, narrated by Littlefinger.
  • From Imagination to Reality: Inside the Art Department — This is a two-part feature, running over 45-minutes long in total, which looks at the remarkable work the art department does on the show.
  • Fire & Steel: Creating the Invasion of Westeros — Another lengthy bonus feature, this 30-minute behind-the-scenes featurette dives into the events of this season with cast and crew discussing what went down.
  • In-Episode Guide
  • Audio Commentaries

SEASON EIGHT

  • Histories & Lore — For the final season of Game of Thrones‘ Histories & Lore, you can learn about The Greyjoy Rebellion from Euron Greyjoy and Jaime Lannister; The South from Tormund Giantsbane; and King’s Landing, The Blackfyres, The Defiance of Duskendale, and Maegor the Cruel, all from the Master of Whisperers, Lord Varys the Spider.
  • When Winter Falls — Another half-hour featurette, this time offering a behind-the-scenes look at the making of one of the biggest episodes of the series, “The Long Night,” and the Battle of Winterfell.
  • Duty is the Death of Love — No matter what your feelings toward the final season might be, this is a bonus feature that will be of interest to most. It’s all about the end of the road, the final episode, “The Iron Throne.” In it cast and crew talk about the episode, how they made it, and share their thoughts on how things wrapped up.

    This includes Benioff and Weiss talking about why they made some of the choices they did, and the aforementioned confirmation that one of the major—and quite polarizing—outcomes was something that Martin himself told them he was planning to do in his books. Like I said up above I wasn’t as bothered by the ending as so many others were, but it was still interesting to see how the people who made the show reached those conclusions.

    But the best part for me—and the hardest to watch, as well—was toward the end when you see everyone saying goodbye to each other and getting emotional talking about how much the show has meant to them. This wasn’t just a job for so many of them; it was a life-changing experience.

  • Game of Thrones: The Last Watch — This one is a big one, ladies and gentlemen. “Game of Thrones: The Last Watch” is a nearly two-hour feature documentary which chronicles the making of the long-awaited final season. You’re not likely going to find a more in-depth peek behind the curtain than this.
  • In-Episode Guide
  • Audio Commentaries
  • Deleted Scenes

In addition to all of the bonus features listed above, also included in this collection is a ninth case which houses three more discs of even more bonus features.

DISC ONE:

  • Game of Thrones Reunion Special — The first disc includes the two-part reunion special hosted by Conan O’Brien, which features an audience made up entirely of cast and crew.
  • Anatomy of Scenes — A few scenes from the series are broken down. These include the planning of a royal wedding from season 4, a massacre at Hardhome from season five, the fight for Meereen from season six, and creating the frozen lake scene from season seven.

DISC TWO:

  • Behind-The-Scenes — Here we have a few different featurettes. The first two are basically just George R.R. Martin talking about his epic tale. It’s like listening to a historian teach you about something that actually happened many years ago—another testament to this incredible world he’s crafted—and well worth a watch. The third looks at the costumes created for season four, while the fifth offers a peek at the post-production work that’s done on the series.
  • Inside the Visual Effects — If you’re fascinated by special effects work, this should be a real treat for you. It includes featurettes about the visual effects work done on the first seven seasons, with each of the seven videos running from around 17 to 30 minutes in length.
  • Season 7 Deleted Scenes — There were no deleted scenes included on the season seven home video release, so they’ve thrown in a few here for you to enjoy.

DISC THREE:

  • Conquest & Rebellion: An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms — And finally, the cherry on top for those like me who so love the Histories & Lore vignettes, we have this nearly 45-minute animated history lesson presented in a similar style.

For me, the show alone is worth the price of admission. But with all of these great bonus features included, the Complete Series collection is a must-own for any Game of Thrones fans who don’t already own the previously released single seasons of the series.

If you do own the single seasons, however, season eight was also released at the same time as this so you can complete your collection if you haven’t done so already.

And if you really want to go all out, a special edition was also released, which comes in a wooden shadow box and features the incredible work artist Robert Ball created for his “Beautiful Death” series.

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