If You Are Jonesing for Game of Thrones...

My wife and I watched a series from a couple of years ago called the White Queen, a drama following the Wars of the Roses based on a novel by Phillipa Gregory.  The series begins with the marriage of Elizabeth Woodville to King Edward and proceeds through the death of Richard III at Bosworth.  After the first episode I was ready to stop because I thought it was going to be yet another historical romance rather than satisfying drama about power and conflict.  But as a series, once is gets past the first episode, it really does become a pretty good watch (though it got only mediocre ratings so caveat emptor).  It has a lot of folks battling for power with the same Game of Thrones "you win or you die" vibe -- which is not surprising as apparently George R R Martin has said that Game of Thrones was partially inspired by the Wars of the Roses.

As one would expect from the author, there are lots of strong and interesting female characters but the whole show is well acted.   It generally followed pretty well with most of the history I learned in school though I would be careful answering any AP history test questions from the plot (Gregory takes some literary license with the disappearance of Edward's two sons in the Tower, but since that remains somewhat of a mystery anyway it felt OK to do so).  The series goes a bit off the rails historically in the second season (the White Princess) as the small license Gregory takes with the sons getting killed in the Tower takes control of the plot.


  1. ErikTheRed:

    Not really Jonesing for Game of Thrones, but if somebody made a series like that that was interesting, well-written, and edgy then that would certainly be up my alley. For me, Game of Thrones was ... different. It thoroughly explored the novelty of "no character is exempt from the possibility of sudden death," but other than that it was predictable drivel. Despite the high doses of sex and violence (and dragons!) I was completely bored with it somewhere in the third season. For me to get bored of a show about dragons says a lot. Blah.

    Anyway, this gives me something else to look into...

  2. bloke in france:

    If you want Game of Thrones on steroids have a look at what happened to Alexander the Great's empire after he was killed in a drunken brawl.
    His generals carved up the empire, you'd think that being able to tax all BCE Egypt would be enough for anyone. Not a bit of it, they all seem to have been certifiable pschopaths and some of them were such tough hombres that they were still in the saddle aged 70 in an age when generals really did lead from the front and the average life expectancy was less than Shakespeare's (died aged 47).

  3. GoneWithTheWind:

    I have never seen game of thrones. I assume the $100 a month I spend on cable doesn't give me the right channel. But in general all series made for TV are slow, spend 5-10 minutes repeating what happened last week/yesterday and the entire show is written specifically to suck you into watching next week. I might add that it also seems that the writers are making it up day to day and perhaps are smoking or drinking something when they are creating such that the script is too transparent and tedious.

  4. herdgadfly:

    $100 a month doesn't buy much on cable but you usually can find a free HBO offer somewhere.

  5. GoneWithTheWind:

    I'm not sure there is anything I want on HBO. I usually have the TV on but there is little other than the news that I pay much attention to. I'm not sure game of thrones would interest me for the reasons stated. To predictable, to slow, designed to tease you into watching next week rather than simply entertaining you. Most TV series give you ten minutes of content and the rest is advertisements, telling you what happened last week and teasing you about what might happen next week. I would rather watch reruns of James Bond movies than most of what is on TV anymore.

  6. Bram:

    If you read or listen to books - Brandon Sanderson's "Way of Kings" is fun and pulls you into a different world. Unlike Martin, Sanderson is a prolific writer and will get the series done.

  7. Bram:

    I was pleasantly surprised by "Westworld" and "The Expanse" has been very good.

  8. Craig:

    For Game of Thrones junkies, I recommend Ran by Akira Kurosawa. It has some of the most amazing battle scenes ever put on film as three rivals vie for a kingdom in exquisitely choreographed battles, set to an awesome score. Scheming Lady Kaeda is every bit as ruthless as Cersai Lannister. And if you've ever read or seen King Lear, you will see where Kurosawa got his inspiration for old Grand Lord Hidetora, who must divide his kingdom among his three sons. This movie blew me away when it came out, and I still love it. It's recently restored.


  9. Craig:

    I was not really surprised how good Westworld was; HBO usually does a good job. I expected nothing from The Expanse on SyFy, home of Sharknado etc. Wow was I pleasantly surprised. The Expanse is amazing, as good as any sci-fi series since the Battlestar Galactica remake. The special effects are extraordinarily well done (respecting the laws of physics) and the stories respect our intelligence. There's some solid acting, especially Shohreh Aghdashloo, and the solar cold war between Earth, Mars, and the Belters is worthy of Game of Thrones. Throw in a mysterious alien lifeform and some double-dealing EVIL corporations, and it's quite a show.

    Here's how to do a realistic space battle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhKWeGXduzs

  10. obloodyhell:

    Actually, SyFy does have a lot of good stuff, most of it being produced in Canada. They did have Continuum. They are on the final season of Orphan Black. I can also recommend both Dark Matter (not to be confused with Dark Mirror, which is also good but kinda... dark) and Killjoys.

    Some other stuff that's good but more fantasy than SF are
    The Magicians
    American Gods

    The first takes about 5 eps to get really interesting but does well and fun after that.
    The latter two are somewhat surreal until you get what is going on.

  11. obloodyhell:

    Historian Harry Turtledove has a series of four books set in the post-Alexandrian era.
    Here's the first

  12. Craig:

    I also like The Magicians very much. I had read the books and was excited to see a series spin-off. It was while watching the Magicians, that I saw promos for the Expanse. These looked pretty awesome, which led me to reviews and the series.

    Love, love, love, Orphan Black. But that is on BBC America in the US. It's also filmed in Canada, but in Toronto, rather than in Vancouver where so much US television is shot.

    Like the Magicians, I have read American Gods. I have the episodes recorded and ready to go.

    I have heard very good things about Legion. I can't find it for streaming yet. Producer/creator Noah Hawley also runs Fargo, one of my favorites.

    I watched a season of Jessica Jones and liked it, but not enough for another season. I also watched most if not all of the first season of Daredevil. I guess that I am just superheroed out.

    I will check out your other recommendations. If you have not, check out HBO's the Leftovers, IMHO one of the top-ten series of all time. For cheesy/gory/pop fun, check out Ash v. the Evil Dead. The Raimi brothers still "got it." As a Michigan State graduate, I also love the Michigan State love and the Michigan geographical references (although filmed in New Zealand). Sam Raimi was an MSU student when he filmed the original Evil Dead, about five MSU students on a very unusual spring break at a remote cabin.

  13. obloodyhell:

    If you want to read, You might try Patrick Rothfus, the Kingkiller Chronicles.
    Similarly dense (but good) prose, a wide cast of people. Sort of Harry Potter Goes to College, but if you don't like HP, that's not the similarity, but of a young man working his way through life, esp. college.

  14. Craig:

    I second this recommendation. It's the best series with magic and fantastic beings--in a world much like medieval England--other than Game of Thrones and LOTR. I could never get into Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, it was just too similar to LOTR, but not as good (hate away!). Rothfus is a gifted writer with a different story - so far. Now if he will just finish the series and not go GRRM on us.

    Now, Stephen King's Dark Tower series is actually the best fantasy series since LOTR. But King didn't want to write another elves/orcs/sorcerers series series featuring a young hero on a quest. Tolkien has already done it. Instead, inspired by Sergio Leone's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, “I realized that what I wanted to write was a novel that contained Tolkien’s sense of quest and magic, but set against Leone’s almost absurdly majestic Western backdrop.”