With the release of Game Of Thrones: The Complete Third Season as a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack, the latest installments in HBO’s faithful adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy novels is finally available in a convenient, take-home package. But if you’ve already seen these episodes, or still have the digital files you of course acquired legally, is there any reason to plunk down however many dollars this seasonal collection costs?
Well, yes, yes there is.
Admittedly, there’s little point in discussing the episodes themselves. If you’ve watched the first or second seasons, then you know how good these third ones are; there’s no dip in quality here. And if you haven’t seen them, this is not the place to start this series.
That said, they look better here — well, on the Blu-rays, that is — than they did when you streamed them, especially if you did so less-than-legally. Which, given how well this show is shot and directed (and written, and acted…), makes this collection worth it on its own.
Though there is a lot more here than just some pretty pictures. Like the previous seasonal sets, Game Of Thrones: The Complete Third Season comes with numerous interesting extras, starting with a ten minute long recap of the first two seasons, as well as a fourteen-minute-long recap of Season Two called “A Gathering Storm,” either of which will bring you back up to speed on the major plot points (though it won’t make much sense if you haven’t watched those episodes already).
Game Of Thrones: The Complete Third Season also has commentaries on every episode, informative discussions that have a good mix of the cast and crew. More importantly, the people involved are all in the same room at the same time — or at least recording their comments at the same time — and seem to genuinely seem to like each other and the show, which makes these commentaries far more engaging than ones where the people record their thoughts separately and someone edits them together.
You can also opt to watch each episode with an in-episode guide, which gives you character bios on the people in the scene your watching, information about their current location, and relevant historical information. While this isn’t how I’d watch the episode, at least not the first time, by putting the icons off to the right side, it at least makes them noticeable but unobtrusive. That said, it might’ve worked better had it been a series of moment-specific pop-ups, especially if they got a little funny with it.
As for the extras presented separately, there’s the helpful “New Characters” featurette, which uses cast and crew interviews to introduce us to, well, the new characters; “Roots Of Westeros,” an informative interactive guide to the realm; “Histories & Lore,” which pairs comic book-style illustrations and in-character narration from the actors; as well as the self-explanatory featurettes “Inside The Wilding” and “The Politics Of Marriage.” All of which are helpful and engaging, though none are anything you’d want to watch more than once.
But the most interesting, because it’s the most involved, is “‘The Rains Of Castamere’ Unveiled,” an interactive and in-depth look at the infamous “Red Wedding” episode that includes optional extra interviews as well as the ability to watch the episode’s climactic ending three different ways: original recipe; with a similar mix of interviews and production clips; or with a different set of interviews that’s more about the implications of what happens (though you can switch between them on the fly as well).
That said, having some of the interviews be optional, activated by pressing the Enter button on your remote, seems like a needless bit of interactivity. After all, if you’re watching this, you’ll want to see those added bits as well.
Sadly, this is not the only complaint I have about the DVD/Blu-ray combo pack of Game Of Thrones: The Complete Third Season. For starters, the deleted and extended scenes have all been relegated to the last disc, as opposed to being in the episode section from whence they were cut, where they’d be more helpful. It would’ve also been nice if these scenes came with commentary, so we’d know why they were excised or shortened.
Conversely, it would’ve been helpful if the other extras — save for the recaps ones — were on the same disc, not scattered across this collection, since you wouldn’t want to watch any of them until you’ve watched all the episodes, and having them all together would make that easier.
It also would’ve been nice if Game Of Thrones: The Complete Third Season included footage from this season’s Comic-Con panel, or a look at the comic book adaptation of the novel, or a featurette on the fun Thrones toys, especially the Funko ones they advertise in the package. And with so much of this show and its extras being so, so serious, it would’ve been nice if they’d included such fun stuff as the parody of the show’s opening that was done by The Simpsons, or when Mr. Garrison recapped the show on South Park, or the “Bad Lip Reading” video.
None of these things are deal breakers, though. More just minor annoyances. In the end, Game Of Thrones: The Complete Third Season is worth owning in this convenient take-home package because it lets you watch this great show as it was intended: with great pictures and sound, and the option to see the cut bits or while listening to the people who made discussing how it all went down.