Dinklage has him hooked
Thursday, September 19, 2013
The first time I tried to watch ‘Game of Thrones,’ I gave up after less than 20 minutes, after the kid who had fled back to the “safe” side of the wall had his head chopped off.
I thought, well, another made-for-cable thing involving scads of head chopping and little story.
But, as I did with “Dexter” after giving up after only an episode, I took another shot. As was the case with “Dexter,” I got hooked on “Game of Thrones” and quickly got years one and two out of the Lyndeborough library and watched them until there were no more episodes to watch.
And now, as is the case with “Dexter,” I wait … and wait. With “Dexter,” I’m waiting for, I think, year eight to be available through Netflix. With “Thrones,” it’s year three. My friend Wendy is also waiting for year three.
I suppose the question arises, “OK, what hooked you on ‘Thrones?’”
Simple: Peter Dinkage. At least for starters. I got into the story, too, but it was Dinklage who nailed me.
If Peter Dinklage were 6 feet tall, he would rule Hollywood: He would be Batman, Superman, a lover, a fighter, a lunatic, a king. If he were 6 feet tall.
But Peter Dinkage is only 4 feet, 5 inches tall, thus relegated to parts that are height driven.
Pity. He is a brilliant actor, as you can tell when he’s on screen as Tyrion Lannister in “Thrones.”
But he rose to what prominence he has – and it’s not enough – in “The Station Agent.”
Oh, he is a marvelous actor who, just in “Station Agent,” “Thrones,” and on several episodes of “Nip/Tuck,” showed a range that was greater than most actors of greater height, but certainly not greater stature.
He was even noticed by Chuck Klosterman, who writes the Ethicist column for the Sunday New York Times Magazine, and who, in his book of essays “I Wear the Black Hat,” mentioned Dinklage, sort of, in his piece on why we gravitate toward good looking or “beautiful” people, especially (recently) in our politicians.
Klosterman wrote, “Tyrion Lannister could not carry New Hampshire.” But could Peter Dinklage?
In other words, could a dwarf become president? Klosterman argues that he, or she, could not, that we are so focused on how people look, and so prefer those that are “attractive,” whatever that means, that someone like Dinklage couldn’t win.
Indeed, Klosterman argues, neither could Thomas Jefferson were his head somehow even slightly deformed.
When you think about what Klosterman opined, how do you react?
Here’s how I react:
What if Dinklage had the key to peace?
Oh, man, that’s simple: We’d make him tell it to someone we found more physically appealing.
“Yeah, but it’s my key to peace,” Dinklage might argue.
“That’s too bad,” we probably would say, “because you’re really far too short to be the prez. Give the plan to that guy over there. He’s nice looking.”
“I know him. He’s got an IQ of three.”
“Yeah, but he’s cute. And really tall.”
That’s another thing that social scientists have discovered about us as voters: We prefer tall candidates to those who are not so tall.
Peter Dinklage is not so tall. But if you dig great acting, it doesn’t matter. In “Nip/Tuck,” for instance, Dinklage had an affair with Joely Richardson who, needless to say, was significantly taller than he, and I didn’t see it as a problem. Neither did Richardson’s character nor the writers nor the director.
In “Thrones,” Dinklage is the smartest guy in the nation, whatever the heck that nation is, and certainly the smartest guy in the Lannister family, although Tywin, the patriarch (Charles Dance) is no intellectual slouch. He’s just not as sharp as Tyrian.
Initially, Tyrian was the only character I liked, but by the end of the first year, I decided I really liked Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clark) who is pretty darn smart herself and, to top it off, has pet dragons that breath fire, which is a source of envy.
I admit I haven’t read the books and don’t know if I will, although I should (always do movies first, books later, so you can say, “Wow, that wasn’t in the movie and it should have been.”) And I wonder, when I am introspective, what it is about “Thrones,” other than Dinkage, that I like, and I’m not sure. The plot is pretty simplistic, the characters, for the most part, not particularly well-drawn, and nothing much happens that isn’t expected.
That said, one could argue the same about “Dexter,” on which I am equally hooked, or “Big Love” that my wife and I are watching just about night after night when the Netflix discs arrive. Yet there’s something about them that is compelling.
In “Thrones,” it is certainly Dinklage.
In “Big Love,” I think it is the fascination of something – polygamy – so outside the norm.
“Dexter” is … well, I’m not really sure what it is about “Dexter.” Or, for that matter, “Breaking Bad.” But I like them both, although I’ve given up trying to rewatch the first years of “Breaking Bad” before Netflix sends me the final year because I just don’t find it compelling the second time through.
Anyway, if you remember nothing else, remember Peter Dinklage, remember “The Station Agent,” and if he happens to run for something in New Hampshire, remember: When it comes to scheming and plotting, there’s nobody better.