Let’s get the obvious question out of the way: If you already own Game Of Thrones The Complete Third Season on Blu-ray, there’s no reason to buy the new Game Of Thrones The Complete Third Season Collector’s Edition Steelbook Blu-ray. With the exception of a House Frey sigil magnet, and smaller packaging, this new edition is basically the same as the old one. But if you love the show and don’t own the third season, or don’t own it on Blu-ray, this is the version to get.
Let’s start with the picture quality of the ten episodes included in the Game Of Thrones The Complete Third Season Collector’s Edition Steelbook Blu-ray, which is exemplary, clean and crisp, and far better than if you streamed them and you don’t have a great Internet connection or wi-fi set-up. Sure, it’s not as much of an improvement as you get on the Blu-rays for The Big Bang Theory or Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., but that’s only because HBO doesn’t overlay their channel’s logo and obnoxious promos for other shows on the bottom third of the screen like CBS, ABC, and other networks.
As for the sound, again, Game Of Thrones The Complete Third Season Collector’s Edition Steelbook Blu-ray is rock solid, especially if your streaming set-up doesn’t always understand the difference between surround sound and stereo. And that’s doubly true if your stereo has Dolby Atmos, which really makes these episodes sound great.
Augmenting almost every episode on the Game Of Thrones The Complete Third Season Collector’s Edition Steelbook Blu-ray, save for the first one, are commentaries that feature such cast and crew members as Emilia Clarke (who plays Daenerys Targaryen), Kit Harrington (Jon Snow), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Natalie Dormer (Margery Tyrell), original author George R.R. Martin, co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and directors Daniel Minehan, Alex Graves, Alex Sakharov, Michelle MacLaren, and David Nutter. One even has swordmaster C.C Smiff weighing in, while three of the episodes — “Walk Of Punishment,” “The Climb,” and, of course, “The Rains Of Castamere” — also have secondary commentaries. All of which work well because the participants recorded their comments at the same time, though the ones that don’t have any actors are, as usual, not as lighthearted and fun as the ones that do.
All of the episodes of the Game Of Thrones The Complete Third Season Collector’s Edition Steelbook Blu-ray are further enhanced by in-episode guides that include character bios for those in the scene you’re watching, similar info about their current location, and relevant “historical” information. Admittedly, it’s not how I’d watch an episode the first time, and it might’ve worked better if it had been done with pop-ups instead, especially if some of them were snarky like on that show Pop Up Video, but at least they put the icons off to the side, which makes them less obtrusive.
As for the extras that aren’t episode specific, the Game Of Thrones The Complete Third Season Collector’s Edition Steelbook Blu-ray has a a ten-minute-long recap of the first and second seasons, as well as a nearly fifteen-minute-long recap of just the second season dubbed “A Gathering Storm,” though both really require that you’ve seen the earlier episodes at some point.
There are also a ton of extras on the Game Of Thrones The Complete Third Season Collector’s Edition Steelbook Blu-ray that shouldn’t be viewed until after you’ve seen all ten episodes. “New Characters,” as you can probably surmise, uses interviews with the cast and crew to introduce us to, well, the new characters; the similarly self-explanatory “Histories And Lore” pairs comic book-style illustrations and in-character narration from the actors; there’s an informative interactive guide to the world called “Roots Of Westeros”; while the featurettes “The Politics Of Marriage” and “Inside The Wildings” examine their respective topics nicely. All of which are as entertaining as they are informative.
But the most engaging extra on the Game Of Thrones The Complete Third Season Collector’s Edition Steelbook Blu-ray is “‘The Rains Of Castamere’ Unveiled,” an in-depth and interactive piece on the infamous Red Wedding episode. Along with interviews, this also gives you the choice of watching the climactic ending three different ways: as it originally aired, with mix of interviews and production clips, or with a different set of interviews that are more about the implications of what happens. You can even, if you want, swap between them on the fly, though I’m not sure why you would.
Not surprisingly, I have the same issues with the Game Of Thrones The Complete Third Season Collector’s Edition Steelbook Blu-ray as I had with the original version. For starters, while this has some interesting extended and deleted scenes, they’re all on the last disc, as opposed to in the same section as the episode from which they were cut, and they’re presented without comment or context, so we don’t know why they were shortened or removed.
On the flipside, I would’ve preferred if the other extras — save for the episode specific ones — were all the last disc, not placed on various discs, given how, as I said, you shouldn’t watch them until you’ve seen every episode, and having them on the same disc would make that easier.
As for the one thing the the Game Of Thrones The Complete Third Season Collector’s Edition Steelbook Blu-ray does offer that’s new — the magnet — while it is, admittedly, just a magnet, it is a nice touch that they indented the cover of the steelbook to fit it. Y’know, for people who put their Blu-rays on display, I guess. Though it looks just as nice on my refrigerator.
Even with these issues going uncorrected, the Game Of Thrones The Complete Third Season Collector’s Edition Steelbook Blu-ray is still the best way to watch these ten episodes. Granted, if you already own them, this isn’t worth picking up, even though that House Frey sigil magnet would look cool on your fridge as well. But if you don’t own them, or you’ve never seen this, I’d grab this edition while you can.
HBO have also released the Game Of Thrones The Complete Fourth Season Collector’s Edition Steelbook Blu-ray; you can read my review of it by clicking here.