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Game of Thrones: Season 1 and 2 Steelbook reviews (Atmos Editions) - Blu-ray Review

Title: Game of Thrones: Season 1 and 2


HTS Overall Score:94

I was a bit late to the party for “Game of Thrones”. Being a longtime supporter of George R.R. Martin’s “Song of Fire and Ice” novels the book snob in me just refused to accept that a simple TV series could ever come close to the complexity and depth that the novels made so real in my life. After season 3 came out I finally acquiesced and begrudgingly started watching after I had seen the show heaped with accolade after accolade. While you naturally can’t fit 1000+ page novels into 10 episode series, the show has done a magnificent job at adapting the novels for the silver screen. The first two seasons in particular are nothing short of revolutionary to television. I’ve seen a lot of TV, probably too much by some people’s standards, and it’s a rare time that I have to just sit in awe and amazement as a 10 hour series is able to engross me this much. There are so many characters, sub characters, plots, subplots, backstabbing, political machinations, and infighting that one could easily get lost in the flow if not paying attention. After being the highest selling TV show on the market for four years running, “Game of Thrones” is back, this time having the distinction of being the first TV series to garner the Dolby Atmos Audio tracks that are all the rage right now.

I hesitate to really go into depth about the plot, which is a rarity for me. It’s not that it’s too daunting (although the complexity of the plot is incredibly convoluted), but that much of the series enjoyment is from watching how the show unfolds and letting the little tidbits and plot reveals come naturally to the viewer. In fact it’s so integral to the watching experience that I’m going to have to dance around on eggshells so as not to spoil it for first time viewers. To wrap things up a bit, The King of the land has been taken ill with a fever and laid to rest in his grave, leaving the Iron Throne open for a new lord. Ned Stark (Sean Bean), is called upon to act as the king’s right hand and step in until a new lord is crowned. Honorable and world weary, Ned does his best to stand in, but with a throne as powerful as the Iron Throne, you can be certain that there will be some infighting. Lords and nations from all over surge towards the center of the throne, drawing their swords for the kill (and many times burying it the backs of their friends), in hopes that they might become the new lord of the Iron Throne.

We have Ned Stark, the only really GOOD character in the show, Prince Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) who is so internationally loathed that his demise is plotted about by viewers everywhere, and the twisted Lannisters all vying for the title. Then of course there’s the mother of Dragon and the whole Stark Household supporting Ned in his rock and a hard place situation. All of them looking over their shoulders as the plotting and scheming unfolds.

I won’t say how season 1 ends, but there is a reason that George R. R. Martin is jokingly referred to as a literary serial killer. Basically, there is NO ONE who safe from his pen ending their life. With one of the only stabilizing forces in the kingdom gone, the backstabbing moves up a notch. Joffrey, as insufferable as he was in season 1, becomes an even more hated villain for the series. Lena Headey Cersai Lannister and Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion Lannister start to take a much more active role in the machination. While the Lannisters are loathed by viewers, Peter Dinklage’s roles as the dwarf Tyrion is worth the price of admission alone. I have loved Peter Dinklage for years, but this role is his defining moment, shooting him to popularity that he had not experience as of yet. Maisie Williams amps up her role dramatically as Ned Stark’s daughter Arya and entwines herself deeper into the court of Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) in an effort to survive. More hints are dropped about the upcoming ice demons and we still grumble and wine wondering when the dragons will actually appear.

To say the show is intense is an understatement. Each season is self-contained in terms of minor arcs, but the show is very much one singular story. Everything that happened earlier will define the show’s upcoming seasons and everything shown HAS a purpose. George R.R. Martin had been courted by Hollywood for years wanting to make an adaptation, but he had refused up until this point. Realizing that only HBO would have the freedom and the budget to nurture his show to fruition, the author started courting the Channel executives until they finally agreed (although it didn’t exactly take much to do that). With 4 seasons on Blu-ray and DVD so far, we can assume that HBO is doing a pretty stinking good job, especially after the show has gotten numerous awards for set, story, acting, and religiously keeping to the source material. The very reason that made me worried about starting the show since so many TV adaptations just throw the source material out of the window, or adapt it so much that it’s completely unrecognizable after the first season.

What made HBO such a perfect fit for the source material is the fact that “Song of Fire and Ice” is definitely an adult novel set. There’s blood, gore, sex, intrigue, characters who are neither good, nor bad, but happen to be different shades of grey. HBO allows the show to revel in all of the twisted dealings and evils that lurk in the hearts of men (I can almost hear Vincent Price saying that). With that being said, yes, there’s a fair bit of nudity and R-rated gore in the show. I’m not talking “Spartacus” levels where it was hyper stylized and nudity and sex was pretty much every 5 seconds, but the show is not exactly what I’d call little Timmy and Jane friendly. The storytelling is superb, and not just for a TV show. Most movies get envious just thinking about achieving what “Game of Thrones” has done on a narrative levels, even though the budget for the show can rival a lot of big budget films.


Rated TV-MA

“Game of Thrones” has been released and rereleased about half a dozen times over the last few years, with both Blu-ray/DVD combo sets, Blu-ray only sets, slip packaging, and a few others to boot. With all those changes there has never been a different video encode for the set, and even though this edition has some changes to the audio with the addition of an English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Atmos track, the encode looks virtually identical to original season 1 and 2 boxsets. Both seasons look identical and magnificent to boot. The show is stylized to give it a more medieval setting, complete with dim lighting and a light grey color grading as well. Fine detail is superb, showing off every last bit of fiber and facial hair on the bearded and burly Starks, to the brocaded gowns of Cersei and Sansa. Blacks are deep and inky, with no signs of crush or other digital artifacting. HBO has always been REALLY good about giving their discs room to breathe and with 5 separate discs for the 10 episodes per season, there is very little worry of compression artifacts for the series. Simply put, the disc look immaculate.

Now here is the real big reason to consider double dipping on your “Game of Thrones” sets. Steelbooks are all well and good, but if you or I are dropping hard earned coin on a TV show we want to make sure there’s a video or audio upgrade. Forgoing the traditional DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless, these season sets have the distinct honor of being the first television shows to sport full Dolby Atmos audio tracks. For those who may not have the equipment, there is an included 5.1 Dolby Digital track, but the Atmos track should easily have the TrueHD 7.1 core to enjoy. Comparing the two tracks in their raw form, I have to say that I’m rather impressed with the Atmos track. The DTS-HD MA experience that we’ve had the last 4 years is no slouch, and just shy of perfection, but the Atmos remixing amps it up a bit. Dialog is as strong as ever and the LFE just pulses and throbs throughout the entire track. The track appears to have been remixed even for the 7.1 core, as there is some nice and more emphatic usage of the surrounds as well as directionality in the front sound stage. The show is still very dialog heavy, so it’s not like it will rival giant blockbusters in terms of sheer power and object based movement, but the Atmos upgrade is definitely a nice addition for us audio nuts.


Season 1
• In-Episode Guides
• 7 Audio Commentaries
• Complete Guide to Westeros
• Character Profiles
• Anatomy of an Episode
• Making of Game of Thrones
• From the Book to the Screen
• Creating the Show's Open
• Creating the Dothraki Language
• The Night's Watch

Season 2
• In-Episode Guide
• 12 Audio Commentaries
• Character Profiles
• War of the Five Kings
• Histories and Lore
• Creating the Battle of Black Water
• Game of Thrones: Inner Circle
• The Religions of Westeros


“Game of Thrones” has been a success of epic proportions for HBO. The series has dominated sales for the last 4 years on home video and still looks like it will be handily outclassing other series for years to come thanks to the intimate involvement of George R.R. Martin. As for these editions, the question is. Are they worth double dipping for? Video wise and special features wise, they are largely the same discs. Even collectors hem and haw at steelbooks, so that particular aspect will be a matter of choice, but the addition of a strong Atmos track makes it a much dicier subject. Even if you don’t have an Atmos capable system, the reworking of the mix combined with adding a couple more real channels makes it a worthy upgrade in my personal edition. If you have the 1st couple seasons then this might be a tougher decision, but for those new to the Blu-ray market, then these are EASILY the best edition on the marketplace.

Additional Information:

Starring: Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harrington, Emilia Clarke
Created by: David Benioff, D.B. Weiss
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), Spanish, French, German, Italian DD 5.1, Spanish DD 2.0
Studio: HBO
Rated: TV-MA
Runtime: 561 minutes / 544 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: November 3rd, 2015

Buy Game of Thrones: Season 1 (Atmos Steelbook) Blu-ray on Amazon
Buy Game of Thrones: Season 2 (Atmos Steelbook) Blu-ray on Amazon

Recommendation: Must Watch

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