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How HBO Can Save (Or Trash) Game Of Thrones With ‘House Of The Dragon’

Darren RydingSeptember 2, 2022
The Wrap

Money Talks

In the end, executives care about their profit margin more than anything else. It doesn’t matter how critically successful a show is if it doesn’t pull in viewers. That’s why it feels like Netflix cancels more shows than it releases in a ruthless market (via Cosmopolitan).

The Verge

House of the Dragon already received confirmation of renewal for a second season. HBO crashed when fans attempted to tune in and watch the first episode. If they keep making big bucks then they’ll continue to invest in this fictional universe. But let’s hope the quality remains high.

Fox News

Fan Reaction

Fan opinion is worth more than critical consensus because they are the people spending money. Many viewers appeared to love the show and already care about the characters. This is crucial because it must maintain a dedicated audience to succeed or they’ll lose a lot of money.

Hello Giggles

Some audience members described it as perfect and said that it was perfectly in sync with the book’s events. Others delighted in the performance of the younger cast members like Milly Alcock. HBO hopes that it can keep its viewers throughout the entire run (via Slate).

News Weekly

Iconic Characters

Game of Thrones has a ludicrous number of characters but some are very memorable. We’re not just talking about the main cast either. Many side characters have brilliant storylines including The Hound, Tywin Lannister, and Brienne of Tarth. It appears as though the new series will continue this trend.

Cosmopolitan

The Hightowers are a fascinating family and will have a significant impact on the show’s events. There are many other rich and interesting cast members. This could also give room for spin-offs and marketing opportunities. The possibilities are endless if they do this right (via New Arena).

Eton Line

Clean Slate

It’s crucial that HBO treats their new series as a clean slate and doesn’t harken back to Game of Thrones too often. However, this is easier said than done. Viewers are already comparing the two shows side-by-side but the new one must have the power to stand alone (via The Beau Life).

Lifestyle Asia

This may not be feasible but they shouldn’t unnecessarily hint at future events or leave Easter eggs. That was a massive failing of The Hobbit movie series because it was too insecure to move away from The Lord of The Rings series. House of the Dragon must be its own beast to stand the test of time.

Polygon

No White Walkers

The White Walkers provided ice-cold malice to the original series. They won’t feature at all in House of the Dragon because it has a very different storyline. While the Wall exists in this timeline, it’s unlikely to feature very often if we see it at all (via CNET).

Pop Buzz

This is a shame because these elements of Westeros’s far-north enhanced the world. Fans will deal with a more contained series than the vast scale of Game of Thrones. This may suit the storytelling but it removes some of the grandeur of the original show. It has a lot to live up to.

Glamour Magazine

Female Friendships

One of the nicest elements of the new series is the friendship between Rhaenyra and Alicent Hightower. This is lovely because it gives a sense of empowerment that GOT often lacked. Many of their scenes take place in floral, brightly-lit settings (via House of the Dragon).

Empire Online

This is in stark contrast to many of the masculine scenes. These often take place in dark rooms with tense atmospheres. The women provide a sense of hope and respite that their male counterparts don’t. This could also draw fans to the characters and make them more popular.

Complex

We Know What Happens

One problem is that we know what happens 170 years later. This removes the mystique from some of the events of the show. It also makes it difficult to invest in the possibility that the world is in peril from the events of the day. This is a big problem for showrunners and writers to overcome.

TV Insider

Game of Thrones deals with ‘The Long Winter’ and the impending end of the world. It will be challenging for House of the Dragon to achieve the same effect because it’s less significant. HBO knows this so it will be fascinating to see how they deal with it (via Men’s Health).

The Verge

More Dragons

There were three dragons in the original Game of Thrones series. Furthermore, fans didn’t see them very often because it cost HBO a fortune to use them. But there is good news for dragon lovers because there will be over five times that number in the new series (via Nerdist).

EW

Sources report that there are 17 dragons in the prequel show. This requires an incredible amount of CGI and technical work. However, it promises to be enjoyable and spectacular if they do it well. Nobody wants to watch a show that looks like a video game, so let’s hope they pull it off.

Slate

Female Violence

Game of Thrones received a lot of criticism for the amount of female violence in the show. There were multiple rape scenes and these jarred with a lot of people. Some fans and reviewers questioned whether they were all necessary or if they contained a gratuitous element.

Mini Tokyo

The new series also carries on the theme of female violence. A key character suffers a savage Cesarean section without anesthetic. Then she dies after losing excessive amounts of blood. It’s a horrendous scene that disgusted a lot of viewers (via Slate).

Collider

Respect the Lore

If there’s one thing that fantasy fans hate, it’s when book adaptations overlook the lore. It may seem obvious that following the original text closely is the best option. However, sometimes, a novel may contain elements that don’t work on screen or too many characters.

Independent

A show may condense these or leave them out entirely. This is forgivable but it’s never a good idea to completely change the setting of a place or to make big changes to a storyline. HBO must respect the lore because fans expect it (via Den of Geek).

Vox

Devoted Fanbase

Another reason why the show may succeed is that this fantasy universe has so many fans. Even if they hate the adaptation they remain determined to watch it. They want to be at the center of the conversation and know what they’re talking about with their friends.

Polygon

It doesn’t matter how good or bad it is because people will still tune in. These may seem ridiculous but many of them don’t care about the overall quality. All they want to know is that there are swords, dragons, and maidens. It’s just the reality of the situation (via Decider).

The Verge

Poor Opening Credits

Many fans couldn’t believe it when they watched the opening credits of the new series. HBO reused the same music from the original series. But the opening lacked the award-winning intricacy of the first show. Many disappointed fans expected more creativity but they didn’t experience it.

Polygon

Strangely, HBO didn’t think that this was worth more effort. After all, they had a big budget and enough talent to do something more inventive. It’s safe to say that they won’t receive any Emmies for this particular element of the new series (via N.Y. Post). Let’s hope this doesn’t seep into the rest of the show.

Slate

Horrible Pacing

Many critics had a major problem with the pacing of the first episode. Nothing happened for the first 20 minutes and then there was a major lag in the middle. Compare this to the pilot episode of Game of Thrones. Remember the White Walkers in the first scene?

Forbes

Then Ned Stark chopped a deserter’s head off in the second while there was also an outrageous ending. This show suffers from a slow pace that doesn’t make it more enjoyable. They could have condensed it into 45 minutes and it would have been more entertaining (via Cinema Blend).

Buzzfeed News

More Diversity

Game of Thrones received a lot of criticism for the lack of diversity within its cast. Furthermore, non-white actors often starred in subservient roles and suffered brutal fates. Steve Toussaint has a leading part as Corlys Velaryon in the new series and is receiving plaudits.

Hello Magazine

The actor has the charisma to pull off the role and cuts a distinctive figure with his blonde dreadlocks. This is a fantasy universe and a TV adaptation so there’s nothing wrong with this. It should be more believable than a swarm of dragons but some people disagree (via Elle).

Pursue News

Poor Dialogue

The problem with the new series is that the source material doesn’t provide a lot of dialogue to draw from. This means that the screenwriters created new dialogue for the show. However, it feels stilted and at times ridiculous as though they’re attempting a medieval reenactment.

Sportskeeda

While they are attempting to maintain consistency with the rest of the GOT universe, it doesn’t come across well. Few of the characters have the chops to maintain the viewer’s interest. A scene between Daemon and Princess Rhaenyra came across as forced and awkward (via Marie Claire).

New York Post

Needless Gore

One of the most disturbing scenes in the first episode of the new series saw Daemon Targaryen crack down on the people of King’s Landing. He ordered the brutal punishment of many criminals with dismembered limbs and decapitations (via The Wrap).

Irish Mirror

Smith plays the character well and the casting department deserves credit because he fits the role. But the scene itself desperately seeks a shock factor. It feels unnecessary to watch this amount of gore and they could have been more subtle. Hopefully, the show becomes smarter with its violence.

Marca

Too Much Competition

There are so many shows out there at the moment it’s not a given that House of the Dragon will succeed. The streaming wars are in full flight now with Netflix and Amazon Prime at loggerheads. The latter are obvious competitors with the new Rings of Power series.

Eton Line

Meanwhile, a bunch of other streaming platforms are constantly offering new shows. The Sandman is one of the most expensive that Netflix ever made. It’s not a given that they’ll renew it because of the high costs. This is the world that HBO finds itself in now (via Manassa Web).

CNet

So Much Money

Surely HBO has poured too much money into its investment for it to fail. They increased the GOT budget from $15 million per episode to a cool $20 million. However, this remains less than some of their competitors for a very good reason (via Screenrant).

Deadline

HBO has developed significant experience in making fantasy and sci-fi TV series. As well as GOT they’ve filmed the likes of Westworld and His Dark Materials. This gives them the edge over their rivals because there is less of a learning curve. Nonetheless, it’s still a massive investment and a risk.

The Atlantic

Too Many Comparisons

Fans are adamant that they don’t want to see a remake of the original show. They want HBO to respect them by making an appropriate adaptation with a fresh story. This means they shouldn’t recycle the same character tropes or storylines that worked in Game of Thrones.

Slate

Yes, Tyrion was brilliant in GOT but this doesn’t mean there should be another wise-cracking dwarf. Showrunners face the problem that viewers will keep comparing the new series. This will be in both positive and negative aspects because GOT has a massive shadow (via CBR).

The New York Times

Fans Love Fantasy

One crucial point is that there has never been a better time for the fantasy genre. Fans love shows like Stranger Things and The Witcher. Studios are constantly trying to find the next Game of Thrones but very few stick to the pace (via CNET).

The New Yorker

But HBO has an advantage because they are dealing with the real Game of Thrones universe. They believe that fans love the world and the genre enough to watch the new series. It’s a calculated and expensive risk but one that they believe will pay off.

Variety

Stupid Wigs

There are more Targaryens in this show and that also means more platinum blonde hair. Emilia Clarke carried it off in Game of Thrones but the new series takes it to the next level. Suddenly, everybody has ridiculous hair and it’s not easy to take them seriously (via Hollywood Reporter).

USA Today

We know that blonde hair is a trait of the Targaryen family but it is jarring on camera. It doesn’t appear natural and this jerks people away from the show. It’s challenging to know what else they could have done because their hair is a big part of the story. But that doesn’t make it better.

Slash Film

George R.R. Martin’s Influence

Martin claimed that he didn’t like the direction that Game of Thrones went after they ran out of source material. This was partly his fault because he didn’t finish writing the books. However, the showrunners didn’t carry out his vision in the later stages because they wanted to complete the show.

The Verge

Fortunately, this appears to be less of a difficulty with House of the Dragon. That’s because Martin says that he has more creative control over the new series. It’s good that the author and the producers are on the same page because it will make the fans happier too (via IGN).

N.Y. Daily News

Racist Fans

A black British actor plays a member of the Targaryen’s household. We’re talking about Steve Toussaint who also starred in Judge Dredd and Prince of Persia. Ethnic diversity is the most unbelievable aspect of a show with 17 dragons (via SBS).

Mumbai Times

It’s bizarre they forget that Westeros is a fictional world and that TV is a different creative medium. Martin has no issue with these additions because it creates a sense of inclusivity. It’s not like they’re changing the entire background of the family. These horrible people should shut up and watch something else.

Vanity Fair

Finished Text

A massive positive is that the House of the Dragon screenwriters is dealing with a finished text. Martin completed this history up to the point. Furthermore, the historical nature of Fire and Bloods means that there is more flexibility when it comes to ending it.

Total Film

They have a barebones outline and can fill in the blanks themselves. It’s fascinating that the new Lord of the Rings series will also use a similar model. The danger is that the writers move away from the heart of Westeros and leave the fans feeling out of place (via Esquire).

Looper

No Tyrion Lannister

One of the most challenging tasks that the new series faces is the loss of beloved characters. The likes of Tyrion and Arya brought a magnetism to Game of Thrones that will be difficult to replace. Furthermore, fans may negatively compare new characters to the ones they miss.

Marie Claire

Peter Dinklage made Tyrion into one of the most iconic TV characters ever. He combined bawdy wit with moments of powerful poignancy on his way to multiple Emmy wins. The new cast has a lot to live up to with Dinklage’s small shadow hanging over them (via Variety).

South China Morning Post

Good Cast

The new series may not have the old characters that we all love. But it does have a brilliant cast with some massive names. We spoke earlier about the character actors but there are also huge stars like Olivia Wilde and Steve Toussaint. These actors bring a sense of prestige to House of the Dragon.

Parade

Furthermore, there are a host of intriguing newcomers or lesser-known thespians. Milly Alcock is winning rave reviews for her role in the show. She went from washing dishes to performing in one of the biggest franchises on the planet. Kudos to her because she has changed her life (via What to Watch).

Winter is Coming

Incest Taboo

Incest was a surprising feature of the original Game of Thrones. We saw the relationship between Jaime and Cersei Lannister in the first episode of the show. Then a connection developed between Jon Snow and Dany. It’s safe to say the directors weren’t squeamish about sharing this taboo subject.

Fan Pop

But the new show is all about the Targaryens and this means even more incest. A little bit is tolerable but it’s not something that anybody wants to normalize. It’s a touchy subject but one that fans are going to see a lot of in House of the Dragon (via The Atlantic).

GQ

Visual Splendor

House of the Dragon has a massive budget but it’s still significantly less than The Rings of Power. However, HBO is brilliant at streamlining shows and using its resources to produce beautiful products. People may complain about Game of Thrones and Westworld’s storylines, but not the visual appeal.

Culture Spot

The new show is no exception because it appears to have stunning visual effects. Meanwhile, the costumes are magnificent even if the platinum blonde wigs are jarring. It isn’t enough for a show to be pretty in 2022 because viewers expect a brilliant and consistent storyline (via Forbes).

Digital TV Europe

Falling Subscribers

HBO partnered with Duolingo as they tried to find innovative ways to promote their new show. The problem is that they’re facing an uphill battle to retain subscribers. There are so many streaming services out there today that it’s difficult to keep people invested in one. Who can afford to pay for everything?

Lifestyle & Culture

According to Screenrant, HBO’s key audience dropped by more than 50% after Game of Thrones ended. It’s clear why they’re desperate to make House of the Dragon a success. They want to bring these people back because they won’t be able to produce high-quality products without their money.

Games Radar

The Rings of Power

A massive reason why the show may fail is because of an immediate competitor. HBO made the fateful decision to go head-to-head with another mega-budget fantasy series. House of the Dragon has one-third of the budget for the new Amazon Prime show but HBO has more experience.

Android Authority

HBO decided to release their new series two weeks before The Rings of Power. This makes sense because they want invested fans before their rival kicks off. Nonetheless, if the Amazon behemoth is a hit it will make the lives of HBO’s executives more difficult (via Quartz).

CBS News

Great Showrunners

It will come as a relief to Game of Thrones fans that the new show has superb showrunners. The controversial duo of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have nothing to do with House of the Dragon. They ruined the original series so nobody wants them to touch it.

Cheat Sheet

This may seem harsh because they were also behind the original success. However, the dynamic Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik control the spin-off. The latterly famously directed one of the show’s greatest battle scenes in series six of Game of Thrones (via Entertainment Weekly).

Insider

No Bran Stark

Bran Stark almost made Game of Thrones unbearable by himself. We don’t blame Isaac Hempstead-Wright because he didn’t write the character. However, his dull storyline and the ridiculous ending made him one of the most hateful figures in TV history (via Den of Geek).

Vox

It’s funny that Game of Thrones had rotten villains including Prince Joffrey and Ramsey Snow. They committed horrendous crimes but fans still hate Bran more. House of the Dragon is instantly superior because it doesn’t try to make us care about this waste of oxygen.

Genk

Been There, Done That

The main reason why this show should succeed is that HBO has so much experience. They’ve made fantasy worlds including Westworld as well as Game of Thrones. Meanwhile, they made mistakes in the latter GOT series, which taught them many lessons (via Bloomberg).

IMDb

They received a learning curve as they discovered what works and what fans won’t expect. This new series will have a significant influence on their credibility as a network moving forward. If they don’t succeed they may fall too far behind Amazon and Netflix to be viable in the future.

Variety

Fan Ambivalence

The main reason why the new show may fail is because of fan ambivalence. Game of Thrones had one of the worst endings in TV history. Fans resented everything about it because they committed to the journey and expected a great payoff. Instead, it felt as though a child wrote the final episode (via Collider).

The Times

That’s why many fans may not tune into the show. It’s difficult to invest in something that isn’t trustworthy; unfortunately, that’s how many of them feel right now. House of the Dragon has a lot to prove from the very beginning. However, it’s the ending that’s the problem and that’s what people worry about.

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