Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Game Changers Hbo's 'Game of Thrones' Returns for Its Third Season with Bigger Dragons, More Characters

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Game Changers Hbo's 'Game of Thrones' Returns for Its Third Season with Bigger Dragons, More Characters

Article excerpt

HBO's fantasy-drama "Game of Thrones" returns at 9 p.m. Sunday for its third season, but at this point new viewers who try to jump in will likely be left to wonder what's going on. "GOT" producers David Benioff and D.B. (Dan) Weiss want the show to have more fans, but they have no interest in hand-holding. After all, they ditched on-screen location identifiers early in the show's first season.

"We want more people in the tent, and we and HBO are doing everything we can to invite more people in, but in terms of diving in in the middle of season two or season three, it's just not that kind of show, in the same way 'Breaking Bad' or 'The Wire' wasn't that kind of show," Mr. Weiss said in a teleconference Wednesday. "It's a story with a beginning, middle and end."

This third season is based on roughly the first half of "A Storm of Swords," the third book in author George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy series, "A Song of Fire and Ice."

As the new season begins, the Lannisters maintain their hold on King's Landing after surviving an attack by the forces of Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane). But the most sympathetic Lannister, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), remains a family pariah despite saving the day. His nephew, cretin King Joffrey (Jack Glesson), finds himself manipulated by the charming Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer, "The Tudors"). Viewers get to meet Margaery's grandmother, Lady Olenna (Diana Rigg), a tart-tongued, fantastic addition to the series. She's sort of the "GOT" version of a dowager countess-type character.

"Season three is probably our biggest in terms of the number of new characters and storylines. It's as big as we're going to get," Mr. Benioff said. "The universe expanded to a certain point and now it's going to begin to contract, and that's something we're going to look forward to as pieces get removed from the chess board."

North of The Wall, Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) infiltrates the largest army Westeros has ever seen. Robb Stark (Richard Madden) continues to wage war while his mother, Catelyn (Michelle Fairley), sends Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) to trade Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) for her captive daughter, Sansa (Sophie Turner), a road trip that grows more harrowing by the day.

Producers said the logistics of this season -- shooting in five countries with two and sometimes three main units filming simultaneously -- posed the biggest challenge for the show to date. And then there was the scene that involved filming with a bear named Bart.

"It was different from our usual shoots because with Bart every time he had a good take, we had to give him positive reinforcement so everyone on the crew had to clap and say, 'Good job,' " Mr. Benioff said. "And for the entire scene we were blasting country music from the back of a pickup truck because that keeps Bart calm and happy. …

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