The third season of HBO's Game of Thrones is something that every serious student of television history should see.
The series has many fervent admirers. When Hitfix.com polled TV critics about the best shows of 2013, Game of Thrones ranked third, behind only Breaking Bad and newcomer Orange Is the New Black. One episode, the stunning and blood-soaked "The Rains of Castamere," was among the most discussed telecasts of the season and a demonstration of how freely the show would turn against its characters.
TV and film critic Matt Zoller Seitz said "Castamere" "is assured a spot on any list of the most horrifying hours of TV ever." I watched it again recently, and I have to agree — especially with the closing shot.
That violence was part of the show's vast landscape of battling families, mystical occurrences, unexpected betrayals and even dragons.
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The fantasy crowd, and especially fans of George R.R. Martin's novels on which the show is based, have connected to the show. Collectibles have been provided to those fans, and some are included in packages of the third season. (The fourth begins April 6.)
This week, HBO will have the season's 10 episodes available in seven configurations: DVD ($59.98); a Blu-ray/DVD combo/digital combo ($79.98); DVD sets which include one of two mini-helmets representing the Stark and Targaryen clans ($89.99); Blu-ray/DVD/digital combos with the mini-helmets ($99.99); and, through Amazon.com, a limited-edition Blu-ray/DVD/digital set with a mock-stone model of a dragon in the casing and other visual additions (which Amazon lists as $129.97 but is currently selling for about $30 less).
Even if you go toy-free, the sets offer extras. The basic DVD includes extended and deleted scenes, audio commentaries, and featurettes on new characters and other topics.
The Blu-ray adds more background, guides you can view while watching episodes, and a look at the making of "The Rains of Castamere."