HBO just released the first footage from Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon, in a new teaser trailer, but are viewers ready to return to Westeros?
The new footage looks extremely promising, despite the dodgy wigs (few actors can pull off those bleach-blonde locks the way Emilia Clarke can). House of the Dragon promises a spikier throne, more incestious sex, more dragons, more violence and political intrigue.
But the television landscape has shifted significantly, since the rise and fall of Game of Thrones – the Targaryens are standing on scorched earth. Do fans still care to see how Daenerys’ ancestors squandered their good fortune?
“The Bells” are still echoing in viewer’s ears, after the legendary collapse of the once-lauded series, which famously faded into mediocrity during its final season. We already know how the Targaryen dynasty revived, against all odds, only to sputter out again, in one last orgy of blood and flame. Hence, how can a prequel series attract viewer’s interest?
Well, the fact that Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are not involved in the new series certainly helps – the two were widely blamed for the decline in Game of Thrones quality.
And it helps that the world of Westeros really is an extraordinarily rich fantasy world; G.R.R. Martin’s worldbuilding skills practically rival Tolkien’s (perhaps the complexity of the task explains the difficulty in finishing his series).
The real problem is the sudden influx of competitors – Thrones inspired several fantasy dramas and period pieces all seeking to inherit the show’s crown, such as Vikings, Outlander and Shadow and Bone. Viewers can now hop onto Netflix to satisfy their cravings for hot medieval warriors wearing blonde wigs with The Witcher, while Amazon is soon to debut their Lord of the Rings series, as well as The Wheel of Time.
Sci-fi and fantasy novels are being adapted into prestige television by the truckload; even Apple TVs Foundation has Game of Thrones fingerprints all over it – corrupt rulers meandering through their gargantuan palaces, philosophizing about the nature of power has become a television cliche.
Nevertheless, its hard not to be intrigued by House of the Dragon; sure, fans have been burned before, but the joys of Game of Thrones outweighed the eventual disappointment.
The quality of the pilot might just make or break the new series – we’ll soon find out if the new Targaryens are as delightfully putrid as their descendants.