By Owen Barr, Guest Writer
House of the Dragon is so far a middling attempt to recapture the magic of its predecessor without any of its charm or impact.
Game of Thrones (GOT) is one of my all-time favorite shows. I have read all five of the books upon which the show was based, and the show itself is a landmark in the history of television. Therefore, I was rather excited for House of the Dragon.
Sadly, however, based on the first four episodes of the show that have been released, House of the Dragon is a poor attempt at trying to make lightning strike the same place twice.
Set roughly 175 years before the events of GOT, House of the Dragon portrays the tumultuous reign of King Viserys Targaryen. It details the deadly Targaryen civil war known as the “Dance of the Dragons,” an event which marked the beginning of the end for their dynasty.
Throughout the show, we meet Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, the king’s daughter and heir apparent, as well as Viserys’ younger brother Prince Daemon. The story is based upon material from Fire and Blood, George R.R. Martin’s history of the Targaryen dominion over Westeros.
The performances in House of the Dragon pale in comparison to those found in GOT. The one exception to this is Prince Daemon Targaryen, played by Matt Smith of Doctor Who fame, who absolutely steals any scene he is in. The performances by other the actos, while far from terrible, are very bland.
One of the primary issues is that the actors are not given much to work with in terms of script. Another issue is the number of characters the show throws at you. While GOT had a lot of characters who could be hard to follow at times, it didn’t throw people at you nearly as much as House of the Dragon.
The main issues with the show, however, are the pacing and story. The plot of House of the Dragon takes place over the course of 30 years. On the surface, this may not seem like an issue, but it becomes more apparent when years pass between each episode. Important character development and actions are simply not shown; they are told. While GOT took place over the course of years, it did not have over 10 years pass in the space of one episode.
It also does not help that the story itself is incredibly dull. There is little to no action to break up the endless, droning dialogue. The time skips, along with the poor pacing and boring story, hinder the show significantly and take away from its good parts.
One of the major selling points of House of the Dragon was the fact that we would get to see more of the titular fire-breathing lizards. I must admit, the dragons are one of the better parts of the show. The dragons look incredible, and any scenes of characters flying on the backs of dragons are very fun to watch. The visual effects are also very well done overall.
The same, sadly, cannot be said for the sets. The rooms the characters find themselves in are boring and cluttered. In addition, the lighting of scenes ranges from very good to obscenely terrible.
With a boring and convoluted plot and too many characters, swingy production values and forgettable performances, House of the Dragon misses the mark in almost every aspect. It fails to recapture what made its predecessor special and feels like an attempt to bank on fans’ nostalgia for the original show.
With six episodes left in the first season and a second season already in the works, House of the Dragon has time to turn it around. But the road to greatness is long and arduous, and whether or not House of the Dragon will be able to recapture the magic of GOT remains to be seen.