Just to make it clear; this isn't a review. This is a personal, subjective opinion of someone who is extremely picky when it comes to TV series and movies. Meaning that I don't watch anything just because everyone else likes it and often choose some other activity over watching telly.
We engorged the first season of House of the Dragon in three days. I didn’t count the days to the release of the first episode as I did when GoT came out. I’d probably have skipped the series entirely had my hubby not wanted to see it. Why? Because with the last two seasons of GoT I lost my confidence in HBO’s ability to create fantasy series. Throw stones at me at will, but IMO they are crap.
Nonetheless, I gave House of the Dragon a chance and liked it much more than I thought I would. My expectations weren’t high, that’s true, so vowing me was relatively easy. The production looks magnificent, of course. The things skillful people can do with computers! What I loved most were the characters, however. They are self-serving cunts everyone, some more than others, and I loved that.
I should mention at this point that I haven’t read The Rise of the Dragon, so my opinions are based solely on the TV series. I think I’ll keep it that way, too, for the characters’ development is far more interesting to follow when you have no inkling of what will become of them.
Picking a favorite among the characters is usually easy for me. I almost always go for the underdogs and righteous guys. House of the Dragon is full of characters that are so complex that favoring one above others turned out impossible even for me. However, if I was forced to name one, I’d say Daemon Targaryen. He grew from an asshole to the most interesting character in the series so far. Or Rhaenys. There’s a true ‘strong and independent’ woman! A delightful exception among the “strong and independent” female characters that in truth are mostly just slaves to their emotions and to the Alpha Male.
Choosing a character I like the least is even more difficult. There are no Joffrey Baratheons there, characters that are so profoundly irritating that you can’t help but want to lop off their heads yourself. Alicent Hightower gets pretty close, but in the end, she’s only a pawn in her father’s game. Aemond Targaryen chafes me. He could’ve been one of my favorites, but when he grew up, he became just another vengeful bastard with zero abilities to rule the kingdom, which’s throne he so craves. I cling to hope that he’ll develop for the better… In the end, I’d have to pick either Otto Hightower or Criston Cole. Of them, Cole is definitely more irritating. How about manning up and admitting that no one forced you to think with your prick?
Plot-wise the first season is like canoeing along a river with gentle rapids. There are a few climaxes but weren’t the characters so damnably well-written, I’d have found it boring. Also, there are far too many childbirths to my liking. The amount of action would’ve been even lesser without those scenes, of course, but I’d have been quite happy with less screaming and squirming in the childbed. Although, I must admit that Laena Velaryon’s last labor had the kind of ghastly magnificence to it in the end.
All in all, an enjoyable first season. I do hope that this time the grip will hold till the end and the fine start won’t get botched by lousy shortcuts and ridiculous plot twists. The chance for that should be smaller with House of the Dragon, right, as the full backstory already exists? (I also hope that the flop to which GoT ended had nothing to do with how ASoIaF shall end if ever the last books come out.)
Why did I share these thoughts with you? Because I learned a lot from this season. My writing is character-based and my goal is to write complex characters that feel real and genuine. House of the Dragon is pregnant with just the kind of characters I hope I’ll one day know how to create.
I admit that I can’t watch or read anything without comparing my own writing to it and trying to learn as much as I can from both the successes and failures of others. I also admit that it takes away from enjoying a new book or a TV production. Try as I might, I can’t consume them as mere entertainment. My mind is constantly working, endlessly fnding ways to improve my writing, and sometimes that gets a bit irritating. Sometimes it’d be nice to watch a movie/series or read a book for sheer entertainment value.
Anyway, my dogs are waiting for me to go out with them, so I’ll wish you all a magnificent weekend!