Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Bill Hunt
  • Review Date: Nov 02, 2020
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection (4K UHD Review)

Director

Alan Taylor, Alex Graves, David Nutter, Mark Mylod, Jeremy Podeswa, Various

Release Date(s)

2011-2019 (November 3, 2020)

Studio(s)

Television 360/Grok!/Startling/Warner Bros. Television (HBO)
  • Film/Program Grade: B+
  • Video Grade: A-
  • Audio Grade: A
  • Extras Grade: A
  • Overall Grade: A-

Game of Thrones: The Complete Series (4K UHD Review)

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Review

Based on the fantasy book series A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin, HBO’s Game of Thrones tells the story four great family Houses in the ancient, alternate world kingdom of Westeros—the Starks, the Lannisters, the Baratheons, and the Targaryens. Each of them is vying for power, for control of the kingdom’s Iron Throne, with political intrigue, bloodletting, and betrayal a-plenty.

If you don’t like fantasy, it’s the character drama that makes this series great. The heroes are deeply flawed. Most of the villains have a redeeming quality or two, or at least the odd empathetic moment. All of the characters are dimensional and complex. And over the course of the series, each grows and changes in unexpected ways. What’s more, this is very much an ensemble cast. Initially, the company includes Sean Bean (The Lord of the Rings), Mark Addy (The Full Monty), Lena Headey (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Emilia Clarke (Solo), Kit Harington (Spooks aka MI5), Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Nightwatch), Charles Dance (Alien 3), and many more. New cast members are added each season, among them Gwendoline Christie (Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Aidan Gillen (The Wire), Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Stephen Dillane (John Adams), and Diana Rigg (The Avengers).

For most of its eight seasons, Game of Thrones could rightly be called the best series on television, fantasy or otherwise. But its final two seasons have just as rightly been called a disappointment, and it’s important to talk about why that’s so. First, as mentioned above, Thrones is based on a series of novels, but material from those novels ran out in Season Five. More are still being written by Martin, but producers David Benioff and DB Weiss had to conclude their series’ story on their own, based upon the author’s outline for his final novels. This produced somewhat less than successful results. Another problem was that Season Seven was just seven episodes, rather than the usual ten, and Season Eight was only six. Each episode was larger and more epic, but the series’ writing team had successfully cracked that ten-episode narrative pacing. So while the episodes in the final two seasons got bigger, from a story standpoint they also got thinner. Far more time was focused on action and the characters suffered as a result. What’s worse, choices were made with one of those characters in particular that seemed entirely out of character, unsupported by what viewers had seen in previous seasons. It was a bridge too far for many fans of the series.

Nevertheless, if the ending falls somewhat short of expectations, the journey to get there is thrilling. Game of Thrones isn’t afraid to throw you a surprise or two each season, sometimes several. This is a series where it feels like anything can happen… and that is a rare and wonderful thing indeed.

HBO has released the complete series on Blu-ray previously, and Seasons One and Eight have been released on 4K Ultra HD as well (you can read our review of Season One here on The Bits). Now, after a long wait, the network has finally upgraded the rest of the series to 4K too.

It’s easy to forget now, but Game of Thrones was the first hour-long HBO drama to be captured entirely digitally. The first three seasons were shot in 10-bit 4:4:4 at 1920x1080 resolution using then prototype ARRI Alexa cameras (save for a bit of footage in the first episode that was actually shot on 35 mm film, left over from HBO’s original failed pilot). For Season One the captured image was recorded on HDCAM SR videotape using a tape-based workflow, with color correction done on set. For Seasons Two and Three, the production went tapeless, recording that same image data via Codex and datapacks. Though this source material was upsampled to 4K (at a 1.78:1 aspect ratio), it’s shocking how good it looks. HDCAM SR has an HQ recording mode that provides an 880 Mbps video data rate with low compression, so the detail visible in the Ultra HD image is improved a bit; it’s rock solid, tighter-looking, and much less noisy than the previous Blu-ray presentation. A few shots appear a little optically soft, but in general the overall detail is very good—not native 4K good, but still impressive as hell all things considered. Also, because the image was captured in 10-bit, and Ultra HD presents that bit depth fully, gone are the banding artifacts that were visible in the BD image (you notice this almost immediately after the opening credits in the first episode, as the banner-men from Winterfell capture the deserter from the Night’s Watch—when they ride over the hill, the banding visible in the sky in that scene is now gone).

By the time Season Four arrived, Arri was well established and fully-digital workflows were far more common. So the production switched to shooting in 3.2K Pro-Res and ARRIRAW format for the remainder of the series, using Arri Alexa Mini, XT, and SXT Plus cameras with Cooke S4 and Angenieux Optimo Lenses (note that some location photography was also done with Red Epic-M Dragon cameras in 6K Redcode RAW). It appears that the series’ VFX were produced in consistently in 2K resolution. The final seasons of the series were finished in 4K to begin with, while the earlier seasons were upsampled to create new 4K DIs. For this Ultra HD release, the resulting image has also graded for high dynamic range (both HDR10 and Dolby Vision are included). There’s no doubt whatsoever that every single episode of this series looks better in 4K than it did on Blu-ray, and the later seasons are significantly improved. There’s a shot of Tyrion in the Season Six episode The Battle of the Bastards where the fine gold embroidery on his tunic is exquisitely detailed.

As you can imagine, and as you’ll know already if you’ve seen the Seasons One and Eight 4K sets, high dynamic range adds much to this image. It’s a restrained grade, but one that makes the colors richer and more nuanced, while deepening the shadows and adding a more natural luminance to the highlights. This helps both darker night and winter scenes as well as those shot in broad daylight. The overcast sky in the North is now bolder, with a more realistic glow, while the opening sequence of the first episode (set beyond the Wall) is more gloomy and ominous. Dragon fire has greater brilliance, armor gleams more accurately in the sunlight. Finally, The Long Night can be seen as it was meant to be (for some of you, it will be like seeing the episode for the first time). Fans who can take advantage of Dolby Vision will be especially pleased by its impact on that episode. The important takeaway here is that HBO’s Ultra HD release absolutely improves upon the Blu-ray viewing experience. And while it’s not native 4K, it’s not a small improvement either. Even the 4K menu screens have been upgraded to 4K with HDR—a nice touch.

Sound for each episode in this set is included in nearly new English Dolby Atmos mixes. I say nearly, because HBO’s recent Blu-ray sets offered the Atmos upgrade too. It should be noted, however, that the audio defaults to Dolby Digital 5.1, so you need to make sure you select Atmos from the options menu. Once you do, the sonic experience is magnificent. Right away, when you start listening in comparison to the Blu-ray, you notice a larger, richer, and more enveloping soundfield. The gates of Castle Black roll up vertically into the height channels in the very opening shot of the first episode, and the metallic hoops of the orrery in the opening credits have a wonderful metallic scrape as they rotate and spin. There’s nice detail in the mix; lots of little sound cues move around the soundstage with a precision that’s just not there in the previous DTS-HD mix on Blu-ray. The DTS mixes were also a bit more biased to the forward portions of the soundstage, but the Atmos sounds smoother and more balanced. Dialogue is clear and clean, and Ramin Djawadi’s iconic theme and lush compositions have fine clarity and fidelity. Additional audio options on the 4K discs include English, French, Castilian Spanish, German, Russian, and Italian 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital, and Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, Hungarian, and Polish Voice-Over in 2.0 DTS. Available subtitles include English SDH, French, Spanish, Castilian Spanish, German, Italian (for the hearing impaired), Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Croatian, Greek, Hebrew, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovenian, Turkish, Chinese, Korean, and Thai.

All seventy-three episodes are included on thirty 4K Ultra HD discs, which actually do include significant special features too. What’s more, three additional standard Blu-rays have been included with additional bonus features. Here’s a disc-by-disc breakdown of all the extras you get in this set. Note that all of the video-based content is in 1080p HD:

SEASON ONE: DISC ONE

  • Episode One commentary with David Benioff and DB Weiss
  • Episode Two commentary with Lena Headey, Mark Addy, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
  • Episode Three commentary with Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, and Isaac Hempstead Wright

SEASON ONE: DISC TWO

  • Episode Four commentary with Bryan Cogman and Kit Harington
  • Episode Six commentary with Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Harry Lloyd, and Daniel Minahan

SEASON ONE: DISC THREE

  • Episode Eight commentary by George RR Martin

SEASON ONE: DISC FOUR

  • Episode Ten commentary by David Benioff, DB Weiss, and Alan Taylor
  • Character Profiles
    • Arya Stark (HD – 1:42)
    • Bran Stark (HD – 1:31)
    • Catelyn Stark (HD – 1:16)
    • Cersei Lannister (HD – 2:22)
    • Daenerys Targaryen (HD – 2:55)
    • Jamie Lannister (HD – 2:31)
    • Jon Snow (HD – 1:51)
    • Khal Drogo (HD – :58)
    • Ned Stark (HD – 2:40)
    • Petyr Baelish (HD – 1:48)
    • Robb Stark (HD – 2:04)
    • Robert Baratheon (HD – 2:30)
    • Sansa Stark (HD – 1:42)
    • Tyrion Lannister (HD – 2:13)
    • Viserys Targaryen (HD – 2:37)
  • Anatomy of an Episode (HD – for Episode Six – 60:31)
  • Making of Game of Thrones (HD – 30:02)
  • From the Book to the Screen (HD – 5:15)
  • Creating the Show Open (HD – 5:07)
  • Creating the Dothraki Language (HD – 5:27)
  • The Night’s Watch (HD – 8:07)
  • Histories & Lore
    • The Children of the Forest, the First Men, and the Andals (HD – 2:46)
    • The Age of Heroes (HD – 2:44)
    • The Old Gods and the New (HD – 2:58)
    • The History of the Night’s Watch: The Night’s Watch (HD – 4:50)
    • The History of the Night’s Watch: House Stark (HD – 2:50)
    • The History of the Night’s Watch: House Lannister (HD – 2:08)
    • The Order of the Maesters (HD – 2:30)
    • Valyria & the Dragons (HD – 3:27)
    • The Field of Fire: House Targaryen (HD – 2:43)
    • The Field of Fire: House Stark (HD – 1:45)
    • Mad King Aerys: House Baratheon (HD – 3:21)
    • Mad King Aerys: House Stark (HD – 2:40)
    • Mad King Aerys: House Lannister (HD – 2:56)
    • Robert’s Rebellion: House Baratheon (HD – 3:11)
    • Robert’s Rebellion: House Targaryen (HD – 2:39)
    • The Sack of King’s Landing: House Targaryen (HD – 3:07)
    • The Sack of King’s Landing: House Baratheon (HD – 2:58)
    • The Sack of King’s Landing: House Stark (HD – 3:01)
    • The Sack of King’s Landing: House Lannister (HD – 2:52)
    • House Stark (HD – 2:10)
    • House Arryn (HD – 1:59)
    • House Lannister (HD – 3:43)
    • House Baratheon (HD – 2:33)
    • House Targaryen (HD – 3:03)
  • Cast Auditions
    • Harry Lloyd (Viserys Targaryen) (HD – 1:35)
    • Roy McCann (Sandor Clegane) (HD – 2:52)
    • Jason Momoa (Khal Drogo) (HD – :40)
    • Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) (HD – 1:24)
    • Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) (HD – 1:18)
    • Miltos Yerolemou (Syrio Forel) (HD – 2:46)

SEASON TWO: DISC ONE

  • Episode One commentary with David Benioff and DB Weiss
  • Episode Two commentary with Alfie Allen and Gemma Whelan
  • Episode Three commentary with Bryan Cogman and Alik Sakharov
  • Episode Three commentary with Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, and Isaac Hempstead Wright

SEASON TWO: DISC TWO

  • Episode Four commentary with Carice Van Houten and Liam Cunningham
  • Episode Six commentary with Kit Harington, Rose Leslie, and Vanessa Taylor

SEASON TWO: DISC THREE

  • Episode Seven commentary with David Benioff and DB Weiss
  • Episode Eight commentary with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Michelle Fairley
  • Episode Nine commentary with George RR Martin
  • Episode Nine commentary with Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, and Neil Marshall

SEASON TWO: DISC FOUR

  • Episode Ten commentary with Ranier Gombos and Steve Kullback
  • Episode Ten commentary with Emilia Clarke and Alan Taylor
  • Histories & Lore
    • The Greyjoy Rebellion: Robb Stark (HD – 3:37)
    • The Greyjoy Rebellion: Theon Greyjoy (HD – 2:49)
    • The Greyjoy Rebellion: Stannis Baratheon (HD – 3:20)
    • Robert’s Rebellion: Stannis Baratheon (HD – 3:07)
    • Robert’s Rebellion: Davos Seaworth (HD – 5:20)
    • Robert’s Rebellion: Margaery Tyrell (HD – 3:50)
    • Robert’s Rebellion: Catelyn Stark (HD – 4:13)
    • House Tyrell (HD – 4:06)
    • House Greyjoy (HD – 3:08)
    • House Clegane (HD – 3:17)
    • The Free Folk (HD – 2:35)
    • The Night’s Watch (HD – 2:39)
    • Dragonstone (HD – 3:58)
    • Harrenhal (HD – 3:56)
    • The Free Cities (HD – 3:34)
    • Qarth (HD – 2:51)
    • The Drowned God (HD – 2:30)
    • The Alchemist Guild (HD – 3:34)
    • The Warlocks (HD – 2:14)
  • Deleted Scenes
    • Dorreah and Irri (HD – :51)
    • The Hound and the Little Bird (HD – 1:45)
    • Varys Congratulates Littlefinger (HD – 1:37)
    • Margaery Comforts Loras (HD – 1:55)
  • Creating the Battle of Blackwater Bay (HD – 31:16)
  • Game of Thrones: The Inner Circle (HD – 24:03)
  • The Religions of Westeros (HD – 7:34)
  • Character Profiles
    • Jon Snow (HD – 2:02)
    • Daenerys Targaryen (HD – 2:02)
    • Robb Stark (HD – 2:22)
    • Joffrey Baratheon (HD – 1:57)
    • Renly Baratheon (HD – 2:28)
    • Stannis Baratheon (HD – 2:17)
    • Theon Greyjoy (HD – 2:32)

SEASON THREE: DISC ONE

  • Episode Two commentary with Jack Gleeson, Natalie Dormer, Vanessa Taylor, and Daniel Minahan
  • Episode Three commentary with David Benioff and DB Weiss
  • Episode Three commentary with Gemma Jackson and Michele Clapton

SEASON THREE: DISC TWO

  • Episode Four commentary with Lena Headey, Diana Rigg, and Alex Graves
  • Episode Five commentary with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gwendoline Christie, and Bryan Cogman
  • Episode Six commentary with Kit Harington, Rose Leslie, and Alik Sakharov
  • Episode Six commentary with Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, and Isaac Hempstead Wright

SEASON THREE: DISC THREE

  • Episode Seven commentary with George RR Martin and Michelle MacLaren
  • Episode Eight commentary with John Bradley, Hannah Murray, and Michelle MacLaren
  • Episode Nine commentary with Richard Madden, Michelle Fairley, and David Nutter
  • Episode Nine commentary with Tommy Dunne, Paul Herbert, David Forman, and CC Smiff

SEASON THREE: DISC FOUR

  • Episode Ten commentary with Emilia Clarke, Iain Glen, and Iwan Rheon
  • A Gathering Storm (HD – 14:02)
  • New Characters (HD – 9:41)
  • Histories & Lore
    • Battle of Qohor (HD – 3:59)
    • Old Ghis & Slaver’s Bay (HD – 2:39)
    • House Reed (HD – 3:19)
    • House Bolton (HD – 2:34)
    • House Frey (HD – 4:05)
    • House Tully (HD – 4:43)
    • Lord of Light (HD – 3:39)
    • Wargs and the Sight (HD – 2:46)
    • The Red Keep (HD – 3:50)
    • Robert’s Rebellion (HD – 5:02)
    • The North (HD – 4:36)
    • The Reach (HD – 4:49)
    • The Riverlands (HD – 4:00)
    • The Stormlands (HD – 5:06)
    • The Westerlands (HD – 3:45)
    • The Vale (HD – 3:45)
  • Inside the Wildlings (HD – 6:21)
  • The Politics of Marriage (HD – 8:39)
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes
    • Jon Meets Mance (HD – 5:26)
    • Edmure, Robb, and the Blackfish (HD – 3:39)
    • Tywin and Pycelle (HD – 3:19)
    • Small Council Discusses Wildling Threat (HD – :55)
    • Jon Thinks About Escaping (HD – 1:07)

SEASON FOUR: DISC ONE

  • Episode One commentary with David Benioff, DB Weiss, and Pedro Pascal
  • Episode Two commentary with Jack Gleeson, Natalie Dormer, George RR Martin, and Alex Graves

SEASON FOUR: DISC TWO

  • Episode Four commentary with Michelle MacLaren and Robert McLachlan
  • Episode Five commentary with Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams
  • Episode Six commentary with Alik Sakharov and Bryan Cogman

SEASON FOUR: DISC THREE

  • Episode Seven commentary with Aidan Gillen, Kate Dickie, Bernadette Caulfield, and Chris Newman
  • Episode Eight commentary with Deborah Riley, Michele Clapton, and Anette Haellmigk
  • Episode Nine commentary with Kit Harington, Rose Leslie, and John Bradley
  • Episode Nine commentary with Steve Kullback and Joe Bauer

SEASON FOUR: DISC FOUR

  • Episode Ten commentary with Rory McCann, Gwendoline Christie, and Alex Graves
  • The Politics of Power: A Look Back at Season 3 (HD – 25:02)
  • Bastards of Westeros (HD – 7:16)
  • New Characters & Locations (HD – 7:39)
  • Behind the Battle for the Wall (HD – 37:11)
  • The Fallen: A Roundtable (HD – 29:37)
  • Histories & Lore
    • House Martell (HD – 3:54)
    • House Baelish (HD – 3:58)
    • Dragons (HD – 3:42)
    • Poisons (HD – 3:38)
    • The Bastards of Westeros (HD – 2:07)
    • The Iron Bank (HD – 2:24)
    • Robert’s Rebellion (HD – 4:40)
    • Sellswords & Hedge Knights (HD – 2:35)
    • The Wall (HD – 4:01)
    • The Nations of the North (HD – 4:03)
    • The Kingsguard: Jamie Lannister (HD – 3:36)
    • The Kingsguard: Bronn (HD – 2:26)
    • The Maester’s Chain (HD – 2:28)
    • The Death of Kings (HD – 3:01)
    • Valyrian Steel (HD – 3:02)
    • Justice of the Seven Kingdoms (HD – 2:59)
  • Deleted Scenes
    • Bronn and Shae (HD – 1:52)
    • Dany and Missandei (HD – 1:12)
  • Season 4 Blooper Reel (HD – 2:02)

SEASON FIVE: DISC ONE

  • Episode One commentary with Michael Slovis, David Franco, and Ciarán Hinds
  • Episode Two commentary with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gwendoline Christie, and Daniel Portman
  • Episode Three commentary with Deborah Riley, Michael Clapton, and Anette Haellmigk

SEASON FIVE: DISC TWO

  • Episode Four commentary with Mark Mylod, Dave Hill, Natalie Dormer, and Dean-Charles Chapman
  • Episode Five commentary with Jeremy Podeswa, Greg Middleton, Iwan Rheon, and Michael McElhatton
  • Episode Six commentary with Bryan Cogman, Maisie Williams, and Tom Wlaschiha

SEASON FIVE: DISC THREE

  • Episode Eight commentary with Miguel Sapochnik, Rowley Irlam, Kit Harington, and Kristofer Hivju
  • Episode Eight commentary with Steve Kullback, Joe Bauer, and Chris Newman
  • Episode Eight commentary with Fabian Wagner, Sean Savage, and David Morgan
  • Episode Nine commentary with David Nutter, Peter Dinklage, and Iain Glen
  • Episode Nine commentary with Bernadette Caulfield, Rob McLachlan, Ben Wilson, and David Worley

SEASON FIVE: DISC FOUR

  • Episode Ten commentary with David Benioff, DB Weiss, David Nutter, and Lena Headey
  • A Day in the Life (HD – 26:01)
  • New Characters/New Locations (HD – 7:41)
  • Anatomy of an Episode: Mother’s Mercy (HD – 29:33)
  • The Real History Behind Game of Thrones: Part One (HD – 18:13)
  • The Real History Behind Game of Thrones: Part Two (HD – 22:00)
  • Histories & Lore
    • The Seven-Pointed Star (HD – 3:26)
    • The Faith Militant (HD – 5:05)
    • Volantis (HD – 4:18)
    • Bravvos (HD – 5:35)
    • The Faceless Men (HD – 2:17)
    • Winterfell (HD – 2:36)
    • The Lord Commanders (HD – 3:23)
    • Robert’s Rebellion (HD – 5:52)
    • Dorne (HD – 4:03)
    • The Fighting Pits of Meereen (HD – 2:50)
    • The River Rhoyne (HD – 3:56)
    • The Many-Faced God (HD – 3:00)
    • Grayscale and the Stone Men (HD – 2:23)
    • The Great Masters of Meereen (HD – 2:40)
  • The Dance of Dragons (HD – 20:27)
  • Deleted Scenes
    • Missandei Visits Grey Worm (HD – 2:35)
    • Darrio Taunts Grey Worm (HD – :56)
    • Jamie and Bronn in the Ship’s Hold (HD – 3:31)
    • Tormund and Allister in the Courtyard (HD – :56)

SEASON SIX: DISC ONE

  • Episode One commentary with Jeremy Podeswa, Greg Middleton, and Daniel Portman
  • Episode Two commentary with Dave Hill, Michael McElhatton, Iwan Rhoen, Liam Cunningham, and Ben Crompton
  • Episode Three commentary with Daniel Sackheim, Deborah Riley, and Dean-Charles Chapman

SEASON SIX: DISC TWO

  • Episode Four commentary with Nathalie Emmanuel, Iain Glen, and Jacob Anderson
  • Episode Five commentary with Gemma Whelan, Pilou Asbæk, Ellie Kendrick, and Kristian Nairn
  • Episode Five commentary with Barrie Gower, Chris Plevin, Ben Wilson, and Bernie Caulfield
  • Episode Six commentary with Jack Bender, Jonathan Freeman, John Bradley, and Hannah Murray

SEASON SIX: DISC THREE

  • Episode Seven commentary with Bryan Cogman, Ian McShane, and Natalie Dormer
  • Episode Eight commentary with Mark Mylod, Essie David, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
  • Episode Nine commentary with Miguel Sapochnik, Sophie Turner, and Kit Harington
  • Episode Nine commentary with Fabian Wagner, Steve Kullback, and Joe Bauer

SEASON SIX: DISC FOUR

  • Episode Ten commentary with David Benioff, DB Weiss, Lena Headey, and Peter Dinklage
  • Episode Ten commentary with Sam Conway, Sean Savage, and Chris Newman
  • Recreating the Dothraki World (HD – 20:15)
  • The Battle of the Bastards (HD – 30:01)
  • 18 Hours at the Paint Hall (HD – 28:17)
  • Histories & Lore
    • The Old Way (HD – 4:25)
    • The Kingsmoot (HD – 3:45)
    • The Summer Sea (HD – 4:05)
    • War of the Ninepenny Kings (HD – 2:49)
    • The Great Tourney at Harrenhall (HD – 6:06)
    • Robert’s Rebellion (HD – 6:07)
    • Vaes Dothrak (HD – 3:56)
    • The Dothraki (HD – 4:43)
    • Northern Allegiances to House Stark (HD – 4:56)
    • Children of the Forest vs. the First Men (HD – 4:43)
    • Brotherhood without Banners (HD – 3:56)
    • Oldtown (HD – 5:35)
    • House Dayne (HD – 4:11)
    • The Little Birds (HD – 3:12)
    • Knights of the Vale (HD – 5:35)
    • House Tarly (HD – 4:35)
    • Riverrun (HD – 3:35)
    • Great Sept of Baelor (HD – 4:23)
  • Deleted Scenes
    • Edd & Thorne (HD – 3:01)
    • Litter (HD – 1:17)
    • The Play (HD – 6:49)

SEASON SEVEN: DISC ONE

  • Episode One commentary with Jeremy Podeswa, Gwendoline Christie, and John Bradley
  • Episode Two commentary with Gemma Whelan, Jacob Anderson, and Nathalie Emmanuel
  • Episode Two commentary with Bryan Cogman, Barrie Gower, Rowley Irlam, and Pilou Asbæk
  • Episode Three commentary with Bernadette Caulfield, Deborah Riley, and Michele Clapton

SEASON SEVEN: DISC TWO

  • Episode Four commentary with Matt Shakman, Rob McLachlan, Sam Conway, and Chris Plevin
  • Episode Four commentary with Chris Newman, Joe Bauer, and Steve Kullback
  • Episode Five commentary with Dave Hill, Matt Shakman, and Rob McLachlan
  • Episode Five commentary with Liam Cunningham and Iain Glen
  • Episode Six commentary with Alan Taylor, Jonathan Freeman, Sean Savage, and David Morgan

SEASON SEVEN: DISC THREE

  • Episode Seven commentary with David Benioff, DB Weiss, Lena Headey, and Kit Harington
  • Episode Seven commentary with Jeremy Podeswa and Greg Middleton
  • Histories & Lore
    • The Dragonpit (HD – 3:08)
    • The Citadel (HD – 2:38)
    • Casterly Rock (HD – 3:39)
    • Highgarden (HD – 3:24)
    • The Golden Company (HD – 2:55)
    • Prophecies of the Known World (HD – 4:08)
    • The Rains of Castamere (HD – 5:40)
    • The Hand of the King (HD – 4:01)
  • From Imagination to Reality: Inside the Art Department: Part One (HD – 24:26)
  • From Imagination to Reality: Inside the Art Department: Part Two (HD – 21:59)
  • Fire & Steel: Creating the Invasion of Westeros (HD – 30:02)

SEASON EIGHT: DISC ONE

  • Episode One commentary with Dave Hill and Deborah Riley
  • Episode Two commentary with Bryan Cogman and Daniel Portman
  • Episode Three commentary with Miguel Sapochnik, Fabian Wagner, and Sean Savage
  • Episode Three commentary with Bernadette Caulfield, Steve Kullback, and Joe Bauer
  • Episode Three commentary with Rowley Irlam and Richard Dormer

SEASON EIGHT: DISC TWO

  • Episode Four commentary with David Franco, Jacob Anderson, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Pilou Asbæk
  • Episode Five commentary with Miguel Sapochnik, Fabian Wagner, and Conleth Hill
  • Episode Five commentary with Chris Newman, Sam Conway, and Joe Bauer

SEASON EIGHT: DISC THREE

  • Episode Six commentary with David Benioff, DB Weiss, and Emilia Clarke
  • Episode Six commentary with Jonathan Freeman and Ben Wilson
  • When Winter Falls (HD – 29:13)
  • Duty is the Death of Love (HD – 31:36)
  • Histories & Lore
    • King’s Landing (HD – 2:55)
    • Greyjoy Rebellion (HD – 5:32)
    • The Blackfyre Rebellion (HD – 5:16)
    • The South (HD – 2:30)
    • The Defiance of Duskendale (HD – 5:17)
    • Maegor the Cruel (HD – 5:19)
  • Game of Thrones: The Last Watch (HD – 113:00)
  • Deleted Scenes
    • Soup in the Trenches (HD – 1:36)
    • Davos & Fergus (HD – :57)
    • Alys Karstark (HD – 2:06)
    • Tyrion & Sansa in the Crypts (HD – 2:02)
    • Grey Worm & Missandei at the Feast (HD – 1:45)

BONUS FEATURES: DISC ONE (BLU-RAY)

  • Game of Thrones Reunion Special: Part One (HD – 57:01)
  • Game of Thrones Reunion Special: Part Two (HD – 42:21)
  • Anatomy of Scenes
    • Season 4: Planning a Royal Wedding (HD – 22:50)
    • Season 5: The Massacre at Hardhome (HD – 28:03)
    • Season 6: Inside the Fight for Meereen (HD – 23:59)
    • Season 7: Ice, Fire, and Dragons: Creating the Frozen Lake (HD – 27:23)

BONUS FEATURES: DISC TWO (BLU-RAY)

  • Behind-the-Scenes
    • Season 1: Houses of the Seven Kingdoms (HD – 15:27)
    • Season 2: Westeros at War with George RR Martin (HD – 18:44)
    • Season 4: Silk, Leather & Chain Mail: The Costumes of Season 4 (HD – 19:14)
    • Season 5: The Final Step (HD – 25:54)
  • Inside the Visual Effects
    • Season 1: Game of Thrones: Creating the Visual Effects (HD – 17:49)
    • Season 2: Game of Thrones: Inside the Visual Effects (HD – 20:53)
    • Season 3: Game of Thrones: Creating the World with Visual Effects (HD – 25:03)
    • Season 4: Shock and Awe: Creation of the Visual Effects of Season Four (HD – 24:36)
    • Season 5: The Visual Effects of Season Five (HD – 25:37)
    • Season 6: Bigger Than Reality: Creating the Visual Effects (HD – 21:43)
    • Season 7: Building the Unimaginable: Inside the VFX Department (HD – 29:37)
  • Season 7 Deleted Scenes
    • Extended Sam & Gilly (HD – 2:21)
    • Daenerys & Tyrion Corridor Talk (HD – 1:43)
    • Varys & Trella in King’s Landing (HD – 1:04)

BONUS FEATURES: DISC THREE (BLU-RAY)

  • Conquest & Rebellion: An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms (HD – 44:47)

So that’s what you get in terms of special features. As you can clearly see, it’s a lot. And much of it is very good content indeed. The question you might be asking now is: What don’t you get?

Well, none of the episode previews and recaps or the In-Episode Guides from the Blu-ray editions are included, though it should be noted that while the text content from Complete Guide to Westeros is missing, all of the animated video-based clips are still here. It also appears that all of the “hidden Dragon Eggs” content is still included, it’s just not hidden anymore (deleted scenes and the like). But since this 4K collection doesn’t include the episodes on Blu-ray Disc, you can still keep those Blu-rays anyway if you wish. Aside from that, it does appear that all of the previous wide-release Blu-ray extras have carried over. In fact, the extras here seem to be identical to those found on HBO’s recent Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection Blu-ray set—the deluxe version that came in gorgeous window box packaging. Better still (and like that deluxe set), the extras in this 4K package include material found previously only on the various retail-exclusive bonus discs that have appeared over the years—nearly all of it, in fact. That said, there are still a couple things that are missing.

First, there was an HBO Shop exclusive version of Season One on DVD that included a special DVD bonus disc with a Creating the World of Westeros featurette. Second, the Season Two Blu-ray available at Target had a bonus disc that added Invitation to the Set, Arya’s New Look, Art Direction, and Weapons featurettes. Third, the Season Three Blu-ray was available at Target with a bonus disc that included a 90-minute An Evening with Game of Thrones 2013 Emmy panel discussion. Finally, Season Eight was available on Blu-ray at Target and Walmart with exclusive bonus discs that added How the Storm Was Born and From Renderings to Reality: The Visual Effects of Season 8 respectively. It’s a shame that this content isn’t included on the 4K set, but you should be aware that most of it is available for free viewing on YouTube (at least some of it—and actually quite a lot more—on HBO’s official Game of Thrones channel). And though it’s not a bonus disc, don’t forget that HBO made a change to Game of Thrones: The Complete First Season after eagle-eyed fans detected the likeness of a certain political figure as one of the severed heads in the season’s final episode. So if you want that scene as originally broadcast, you’ll want to hang onto that first Blu-ray set in particular.

Beyond that, virtually every other special feature that HBO has created for this series on disc over the years seems to be included here on the 4K set. And of course, you also get a Digital code for the series on a paper insert in the packaging, along with a lovely Episode Guide booklet. That packaging itself is a set of nine dark Amaray cases, one for each season plus another for the bonus discs, with a hard slipcase and a cardboard belly-band slipover. The package is nowhere near as elaborate as the deluxe Blu-ray set, but it’s sturdy, handsome, and it doesn’t take up a lot of room on your shelf.

Game of Thrones is a great television drama. It’s a series I actually resisted starting until the original Season One Blu-ray release. Then I ended up watching all ten episodes in a single sitting, and became a loyal viewer for the remainder of the series’ run. As such, I’m pleased to report that HBO has done Game of Thrones proud on Ultra HD. The image is improved, the sound is improved, and this is the most complete and comprehensive collection of extras to date. If you’re a fan of the show and you’ve made the leap to 4K, this set is a fine and worthy upgrade. It’s not cheap, so get it on sale if you can. Nevertheless, this release is very highly recommended.

- Bill Hunt

(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)

 

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