I could not help myself. I swore up and down I was not going to get sucked into another Game of Thrones show. But I did. Here are my big thoughts on it.
1. No Real Standout Performances
The biggest shortcoming of the show is that there was no one real dynamite casting/characterization for the audience to latch onto. They really needed someone like Peter Dinklage in the early years of Game of Thrones that walked and talked with some sass and an attitude and some goddamn wit. No one came close to that and the show suffered as a result.
2. It Was Not Particularly Funny.
The world of Westeros can get awfully grim without a bit of a humor. People should be having fun and cracking wise. No one is doing such things in House of the Dragon. Everyone is walking around as if they are in the gallows and while that vibe contributes to the tension, it would help if someone, anyone was fucking around just a little bit and livening things up.
3. The Time Jumps Were Great.
Game of Thrones was about following many different stories, characters, and locations and watching them slowly come together over eight seasons. House of Dragon (at least based on this first season) is instead just following one (extended) family over a long period of time which includes significant time jumps between most episodes (included a decade-long jump between episode 5 & 6). While I always found the many locations of GOT to be a feature and not a bug, it definitely feels appropriate that this show is taking a radically different approach. After all, in this time period, there is really only one true relevant family when it comes to power in Westeros. Watching their significant ups and downs over an extended period of time is significantly more entertaining than trying to artificially slow things down for the sake of tradition for how most television is done.
4. They Pulled Off the Mid-Season Actor Recasting
A big drawback about the time jumps though is that we only got five episodes from Milly Alcock as Rhaenyra Targaryen. While it is true there were no standout performances, Alcock definitely made the biggest impression as her work had the most life to it. For a family under no external threat to power, it would be nice if more of the characters were happy to be alive. Only Alcock really captured that. With that being said, the degree of difficulty in recasting two of the most crucial roles in the show halfway through the season was incredibly high, and yet they managed to do it successfully.
5. The Grey Mush Look
The 100000% worst thing about this show is the look. It’s like they heard the awful feedback about the grey, indistinguishable look of the zombie battle scene from the final season of Game of Thrones and decided this whole show should look like that. Just an absolutely insane decision. We get that it’s olden times and there is no electricity. We don’t care. Light the fucking scenes. It’s a show about dragons. We can suspend our disbelief when it comes to the lighting. It is absolutely how insane how little of the show can be seen, and it needs to be fixed going forward.
6. Overall Thoughts
Much like the Lord of the Rings show, I had no intention of watching this show. I was just kind of over the whole thing and thought it was not worth getting sucked back in. But also like that LOTR show, I ended up watching it and actually enjoyed myself. It was just an entertaining genre show that had a clear idea of what it was trying to be and executed just well enough. It turns out that there is some life left after all in Westeros, and the first season of this new show gave hope to the idea that we should not abandon the world just because HBO hired a couple of goofs to make the first show.