Has there ever been a TV show that fell from grace as hard and as fast as Game of Thrones? HBO’s multiple-awarding-winning adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy novel series was literally the biggest TV show in the world for years. Unfortunately, in all those years, Martin was writing at a glacial pace (HE STILL HASN’T FINISHED!) so when the TV series caught up to the novels, showrunners Daniel Benioff and D.B. Weiss had to pen their own plots without any source material to pull from… and hoo boy did they stuff up that assignment!
Once Game of Thrones bungled its way to a laughably rushed, nonsensical, and just all-around unsatisfying eighth season/series finale in May 2019, it was as if the millions and millions of fans around the world took a collective decision to just erase it from their memories. Not even the memes mocking how bad it had become hung around for long. It was behind us and that’s where it needed to stay.
Except HBO thought differently as the network commissioned half a dozen prequel/spinoff projects, not reading the room and decided to continue beating this dead dragon. Well, whether you want it or not, the first of those new GOT-related shows is now on its way and we just got our first look at it.
House of the Dragon is the upcoming adaptation of Fire & Blood, Martin’s 2018 prequel novel set 300 years before the events of the books/TV series, focusing on the origins of House Targaryen and the early days of Westeros, and yesterday HBO debuted the first official pics from the show in response to some leaked paparazzi set pics. The pics aren’t exactly what you would call dynamic, but they introduce us to the core members of the cast (which includes a former Time Lord!). HBO has also provided character descriptions for each of them.
First up we have Emma D’Arcy as Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, and Matt Smith as Prince Daemon Targaryen.
Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen: The king’s first-born child, she is of pure Valyrian blood, and she is a dragonrider. Many would say that Rhaenyra was born with everything… but she was not born a man.
Prince Daemon Targaryen: The younger brother to King Viserys and heir to the throne. A peerless warrior and a dragonrider, Daemon possesses the true blood of the dragon. But it is said that whenever a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin in the air…
Next up is Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon (also known as the Sea Snake).
Lord Corlys Velaryon, “The Sea Snake”: Lord of House Velaryon, a Valyrian bloodline as old as House Targaryen. As The Sea Snake, the most famed nautical adventurer in the history of Westeros, Lord Corlys built his house into a powerful seat that is even richer than the Lannisters and that claims the largest navy in the world.
Finally, there’s Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower and Rhys Ifans as Otto Hightower.
Alicent Hightower: The daughter of Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King, and the most comely woman in the Seven Kingdoms. She was raised in the Red Keep, close to the king and his innermost circle; she possesses both a courtly grace and a keen political acumen.
Otto Hightower: The Hand of the King, Ser Otto loyally and faithfully serves both his king and his realm. As the Hand sees it, the greatest threat to the realm is the king’s brother, Daemon, and his position as heir to the throne.
As I’ve never read Fire & Blood (or most of Martin’s series, for that matter), I can’t tell you if these castings are on point or not, except to say that Matt Smith most definitely looks like a Targaryen to me. And seeing as he was my favourite Doctor Who actor (suck it, Darryn), I will probably watch this just for him alone.
Of course, there is the off-chance House of the Dragon will actually be good. Benioff and Weiss are out of the picture and instead it’s Miguel Sapochnik and Ryan Condal acting as co-showrunners. Sapochnik is no stranger to this world having directed a number of Game of Thrones episodes, including arguably some of its best ever in the likes of Hardhome, Battle of the Bastards, The Winds of Winter, and more (he also directed a guilty pleasure movie of mine called Repo Men). Condal was the co-creator/showrunner of sci-fi drama Colony which was very well-received critically but just never got a big enough audience and was cancelled after three seasons.
I was going to say that I hope he has better luck in sticking around longer this time, but this is a TV series adapting a single 730-page novel. If they Hobbit this one and stretch it out for seasons and seasons, then they fully deserve any hate that may come their way.
The 10-episode first season of House of the Dragon is scheduled to air in early 2022.
Last Updated: May 6, 2021