One of the most exciting programs currently airing on television is HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Based on a series of novels by George R.R. Martin, “Games of Thrones” takes place in the fantasy world of Westeros.  Like most fantasy settings, this one resembles a medieval Europe, and is complete with knights, magic, dragons, kings, queens, and monsters.  This is a series that takes the fantasy genre and runs absolutely wild with it.


Really, this is as much a political thriller/drama/character study as it is a fantasy adventure. Martin and the show’s creators, David Beinoff and D.B. Weiss, populate their world with such rich characters that it transcends any barriers put up by what fantasy is supposed to look like.


The main story line centers on a multitude of families, particularly the Lannisters, Starks, Targaryens, and Baratheons, as they all fight for power over Westeros. There are wars and battles fought over the “Iron Throne,” and thus far, it is still unclear as to who will come out on top.


Along the way, there are many, many characters who get their own separate story lines that veer from the conflict at the center of the show. As “Game of Thrones” has gone on and the show expands, more and more plots are introduced to service the characters as they take their own paths through life.


The show’s cast is massive — probably one of the biggest in television history. Some fan favorites include Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Kit Harrington, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Nearly every member of the cast consistently puts out great performances, with some actors rising above the call of duty in roles that rank among the best on television. Dinklage is a real standout. As Tyrion Lannister, the half man, Dinklage is often the star of his scenes.


Production wise, the show is as cinematic as anything on television. A product of the budget allowed when your show is on HBO. There is more spectacle in “Game of Thrones” than any other show on television right now. Though the direction may be more timid than it would be on film, it is still a joy to watch on screen.


What the success of “Game of Thrones” comes down to more than performance, more than the production, and more than the shock factor that is presented in some of the more violent episodes, is the storytelling of George RR Martin. His ability to create characters that feel human and pull them in directions that are totally unpredictable, yet always credible, is second to none among modern day storytellers.


“Game of Thrones” is a picture perfect example of why HBO is so valuable. There is simply no way this series could have been done on film. It is too long and too graphic for a film, and no other network would have been able to pull it off as a television show like HBO has been able to. HBO has already given us 32 hours of this series, and we are not even halfway done.


Be sure to catch the new episode of “Game of Thrones” airing tonight on HBO.


Have you seen “Game of Thrones?” Is it worthy of the hype? Let me know in the comments below, or reach out to me on Twitter @TuckerPoikonen.