The most recent episode of Game of Thrones featured an epic battle, but the presentation was so dark and murky that I felt like I was missing a lot of what was happening. Hey, is that dragons tussling in a dim, inky cloud of ashes, or . . . what? How in the devil is Arya running through a pitch-black tunnel? I think that’s Sam screeching under the onslaught of the undead, but everything is so muddled maybe it’s not. And am I supposed to be able to see the expression on Jon Snow’s face as he stands in the darkness, backlit by some feeble flames?
I couldn’t believe that HBO would air an episode of its top-rated show that was so difficult to see, so I decided the fault had to lie with the specific settings on my TV. The TV is years old, I’ve long since misplaced the owner’s manual, and I haven’t tried to adjust the settings in as long as I can remember. That meant just looking at the buttons on the TV remote — as opposed to the cable remote — to try to figure out which ones might change the video quality so I could rewatch the episode and hope to actually see what was happening.
There was a tiny button at the bottom of the remote marked “pict” that I figured probably referred to “picture” and not to Scotland’s first people, so I pushed that and saw that the options were things like “sports,” “custom,” “theater,” and “vivid.” I have no idea what the different settings meant, but “vivid” at least sounded like it could help me decipher what was happening in the HBO murk, so I chose that. But it seemed like there had to be a way to address the brightness of the picture, specifically, so I kept searching. Another button labeled “menu” seemed promising, and I found that it included “brightness” and “contrast” and other options, so I cranked the brightness up to 100 and adjusted the contrast up to about 85, and then settled back to rewatch the GOT episode.
Alas, it didn’t really help — I was just seeing some lighter murkiness and was still struggling to determine exactly what was happening in all that blurry blackness. And when I switched over to regular TV, I saw that my adjustments had really messed with the screen so that, for example, I had somehow cut off the bottom of the picture in sports broadcasts where the score is displayed. How did that happen? So I found another button that allowed me to shift everything back to the original factory settings, and found that that fixed everything — except the picture quality on the GOT episode.
Oh, well . . . I guess the Battle of Winterfell was just meant to be an exploration of darkness in the world.