With the sixth season of Game Of Thrones set to premiere April 24th on HBO, it might be a good time to refresh your memory or get caught up by watching the previous season. And hey, how’s this for coincidence: the Game Of Thrones The Complete Fifth Season is now out on Blu-ray and DVD. Even cooler, this collection not only presents the show as it was meant to be seen, but it has a ton of great extras, especially if you get the Blu-ray.
For those who haven’t seen the ten episodes on Game Of Thrones The Complete Fifth Season, they follow Arya as she trains to be an assassin, while her sister Sansa just tries to survive her time with Littlefinger. Meanwhile, Cersei deals with the aftermath, both personal and political, of her father’s murder, while her brother Tyrion realizes who should next benefit from his sadistic intellect, and Danerys continues her problematic rule of Meereen. Oh, and it turns out that Jon Snow knows one thing: the white walkers are drawing near.
As always, the fifth season of Game Of Thrones is beautifully shot and expertly acted, and the episodes look and sound great here, especially on Blu-ray. But unlike previous seasons, the episodes in Game Of Thrones The Complete Fifth Season diverge more from George R.R. Martin’s original novels far more than previous seasons. Which might frustrate us fans of the books, though it does mean we finally get to enjoy the show’s surprises and shocks.
Augmenting these episodes are twelve audio commentaries that feature a mix of the cast and crew. As always, these chats work well, in part because everyone is in the room at the same time, and can thus interact, but also because they include the cast, which keeps them from devolving into Film School 101, which often happens when you just have producers, directors, and other crew people.
The Blu-ray and DVD of Game Of Thrones The Complete Fifth Season also has four deleted scenes. But while a couple are interesting, there’s no context given, nothing about why they were cut, and they’re all located on the fourth disc, as opposed to on the ones where their relevant episodes are presented.
The Game Of Thrones The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray and DVD do a much better job with the making-of featurettes, and not just because they’re on the last disc, where they belong. Coupling behind-the-scenes footage with crew interviews, “A Day In The Life” is an detailed look at what happens during a single (but busy) day of production, and the one day approach makes this far more interesting than a TV show’s typical making-of featurette. There’s a similar amount of depth in “Anatomy Of An Episode: ‘Mother’s Mercy’,” which details the filming of the season’s last episode, and the same can also be said for the self-explanatory “New Characters/New Locations,” which is better than the usual studio-approved featurette
There’s also an extras for us fans of the original books. In the two-part featurette “The Real History Behind Game Of Thrones,” Martin and some historians discuss how the novels connect to real events in history. Though I’m not really sure why it’s broken up into two parts.
As for the Blu-ray version of Game Of Thrones The Complete Fifth Season, it adds three additional extras not included on the DVD. To start, every episode is augmented with an in-episode guide that gives you the option of bringing up information about the characters, locations, and history that are relevant to the scene being watched. Though while it can be quite helpful, it’s best for second viewings, as the text boxes take up way too much of the screen.
The Game Of Thrones The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray also includes “Histories And Lore,” an informative, but never dry, interactive encyclopedia in which actors from the show (including Jonathan Pryce, Tom Wlaschiha, and Conleth Hill) in character (The High Sparrow, Jaqen H’ghar, and Varys, respectfully) explain such things as The Seven Pointed Star, The Many-Faced God, and the city of Volantis, respectfully. Some of the actors, in character, also recall what happened during the Targeryen Civil War in “The Dance Of Dragons,” though this video history is a bit undermined by having the visuals be a mix of authentic-looking “ancient” paintings and kind of blah-looking comic book-esque drawings.
In the end, the fifth season of Game Of Thrones is yet another thrilling, intricate, and unexpected chapter in this epic fantasy tale, and the Game Of Thrones The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray and DVD is, for the most part, a great way to watch it unfold. Sure, its proximity to the impending sixth season may just be smart marketing, but that doesn’t make it any less worth your time.