Rating:

This time, it really is all about the dragons. Fantasy addicts who championed Game Of Thrones always insisted the mythical fire-breathing monsters were the real stars of the show.

The nudity, the brothel scenes, the rapes and the brutality to women, all that was a regrettable necessity imposed by the sexual excesses of writer George R.R. Martin’s epic novels.

This was never a very convincing defence. It’s one thing to suspend your disbelief in witches and demons, quite another to accept that a generation of teenage boys fast-forwarded through Queen Cersei’s naked walk of shame so they could get to the next scene with dragons.

Now this theory is being put to the test. There is very little medieval rumpy-pumpy in House Of The Dragon – and what there is, you’ll wish you’d never seen.

One to watch: House Of The Dragon has been branded 'bigger, better and bloodier' than Game Of Thrones in rave early reviews ahead of its Monday release

One to watch: House Of The Dragon has been branded ‘bigger, better and bloodier’ than Game Of Thrones in rave early reviews ahead of its Monday release 

There are, however, as the title suggests, a great many 80ft lizards with crocodile teeth and eagles’ talons. What’s more, the computer graphics are astonishingly convincing. When a dragon slinks out of its dungeon into a gladiatorial arena and flame-grills an unfortunate goat with a single roar, it’s as thrilling as any footage of lions hunting wildebeest on a wildlife documentary.

But what marks out this lavish serial, conceived as a prequel to Games Of Thrones, is its radically different treatment of women. They are the real power in the kingdom.

When Cersei (Lena Headley) was condemned to that humiliating march through streets lined with jeering crowds, it was for an episode screened in 2015.

Since then, the MeToo movement has transformed TV production. Another Thrones star, Emilia Clarke, who played the would-be Empress Daenerys Targaryen, has complained that she was reduced to tears by some of her nude scenes, ten years ago. Those would not be filmed today, she claims.

Instead of portraying women as frequently subservient and sex objects, House Of The Dragon has the rivalry between two powerful female aristocrats at the heart of its story.

We can guess, from the moment we see best friends Alicent and Rhaenyra together, that they will soon be at each other’s throats – and that their feud might drag their kingdom into civil war.

In the opening scene, the daughter of the king, Princess Rhaenyra (newcomer Milly Alcock), is dismounting from her dragon Syrax after an aerial tour of Westeros that proves the ambition of the film-makers to create an entire world using CGI.

Rhaenyra’s best friend and the daughter of her father’s chief adviser is Lady Alicent Hightower (played first by Emily Carey, and later by Olivia Cooke, brilliant as Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair).

Miss Hightower doesn’t look terribly impressed by dragoneering, which tells us all we need to know about her. Never trust a woman who doesn’t love a fire-breathing cross between a dinosaur and a jumbo jet.

If you baulk at those names, by the way, don’t even think of persevering. Even more than the original show, this one is obsessed with the tongue-twisting minutiae of Martin’s imagination.

It is based on a 2018 chronicle called Fire & Blood, written in the style of a 1950s history textbook, with very little dialogue or description and a preponderance of noble family trees.

The TV version evokes this with a three-minute proclamation, beginning: ‘It is now the ninth year of King Viserys I Targaryen’s reign, 172 years before the death of the mad king Aerys…’

Get ready: After hints, teasers, casting calls, an unprecedented pandemic and a somewhat disappointing end to one of the biggest shows in recent history, winter is once again upon us

Get ready: After hints, teasers, casting calls, an unprecedented pandemic and a somewhat disappointing end to one of the biggest shows in recent history, winter is once again upon us

Much of the first episode continues in this vein, dumping information on the viewer in cartloads. Several early scenes feature the king’s council chamber, where bickering lords take it in turns to remind each other at length of their realm’s recent past.

All this is delivered in cod Shakespearean language with a great many ‘mayhaps’ and ‘mine lieges’.

Rhaenyra, who is 15 at the start, is expected to wait at her father’s table, filling goblets with wine. It’s a useful crash-course for her in Targaryen politics, though it does mean Milly Alcock has little to do for the first hour except hold a wine jug and practice looking like Emilia Clarke’s twin.

Arguments over the succession to her father’s Iron Throne quickly give the character more depth, with a connection to each dimension of the plot. Game Of Thrones worked as a collection of separate stories, slowly converging, but this prequel has a more conventional structure – with Rhaenyra at its centre. Later in the series, as the princess grows up, Emma D’Arcy takes over the part.

D’Arcy identifies as ‘non-binary’ and asks to be referred to as ‘they’ rather than ‘she’. In this, the star is like namesake Emma Corbin, who played Princess Diana in The Crown. It’s an odd thing, mayhaps, that non-binary actors should so often portray princesses, that most feminine of female archetypes.

Rhaenyra’s insipid father, King Viserys I, a man who makes Frank Spencer look decisive, is played by Paddy Considine. He wouldn’t have lasted ten minutes in Game Of Thrones, where even popular characters were lucky to live longer than three episodes.

House Of The Dragon has a different pace, and Viserys does survive for a while, though not entirely intact. That doesn’t mean this show lacks a taste for blood.

Torture, mass execution and fights to the death are enacted in psychotic detail. In particular, there is an obsession with childbirth. The opening episode, with Sian Brooke as the heavily pregnant queen, turns into a horror movie remake of Call The Midwife – the Texas Midwife Massacre.

A jousting tournament descends into a free-for-all brawl where the camera zooms in to replay every hatchet through the skull in gore-splattered slow motion.

Battle: Set 200 years before the bloody battle for the seven kingdoms depicted in Game of Thrones, House Of The Dragon will document the events leading up to Martin's fictionalised War of Succession

Battle: Set 200 years before the bloody battle for the seven kingdoms depicted in Game of Thrones, House Of The Dragon will document the events leading up to Martin’s fictionalised War of Succession

And when the City Watch, commanded by the king’s scheming brother Daemon, launches a crackdown on crime, the ‘zero tolerance’ policy is taken to an extreme.

All the scum of King’s Landing are rounded up for punishment. Petty thieves have their hands chopped off. Robbers have their heads chopped off.

When a sex offender is caught (and aren’t half the men in Westeros sex offenders?), something else gets chopped off, in clinical close-up.

This brings us to the biggest name in the series – Matt Smith, who plays Daemon in a silver wig with his ears poking out like a pair of dragon’s wings.

Smith features in both the sex scenes that punctuate early episodes. Viewers who grew up with him on Doctor Who should be warned that one shot reveals a naked Daemon, from behind, with his pink rear looking like two slabs of pork on a butcher’s counter.

His friend, whose favours he has purchased, notices his lack of enthusiasm. ‘What troubles you, my prince?’ she trills.

When he turns around, careful camera angles hide the worst, though this attempt at modesty has an unlucky effect: Matt appears to have no genitalia, like Barbie’s friend Ken.

Believe me, if I could hijack a Tardis and travel back to a time when I hadn’t seen that, I would.

In another scene, shortly after his hopes of becoming king have been lifted and then dashed, Daemon organises an orgy. His heart isn’t in it – he can’t even be bothered to get undressed, for which small mercy we can all be grateful.

Instead, he indulges in the chief pastime of Westeros and makes a speech. All the naked orgiastes hold their poses, like a lewd tableaux at the old Windmill theatre.

One thing’s certain, fans of this lavish, spectacular fantasy show will never have to protest that they aren’t watching for the rude bits.

This time, when someone insists to you, ‘It’s the dragons I like,’ they’ll be telling the truth.

House Of The Dragon: What did the critics say?  

 House Of The Dragon has been branded ‘bigger, better and bloodier’ than Game Of Thrones in rave early reviews.

The Times

Rating:

It’s accessible to anyone who hasn’t seen a second of Game of Thrones but reassuringly familiar to those who’ve watched the whole thing.

The Guardian 

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All is as it was in GoT’s heyday. Fun, propulsive, looking great and sounding passable. And that, after the bizarrely poor finale to what had been a roaring success of a show, is a relief. 

Financial Times 

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 It’s to be expected in this era of bottomless budgets and superior CGI that House of the Dragon looks magnificent, from the grand aerial shots and sumptuous feasts to the close-ups of dragons as they are coaxed from their pits.

The Independent

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It remains to be seen whether House of the Dragon can utilise those same, almost serpentine, twists and turns, and become a show that’s discussed in fevered terms at whatever the Work From Home equivalent of a water cooler is. 

BBC Culture 

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It’s a fascinating situation, full of understandable motives and moral quandaries, and a ticking time bomb in the form of King Viserys’s health. It’s pure Games of Thrones – just not in the way you remember.

Empire

Rating:

This is a prequel that could surprise us yet. But to even skirt the heights of Thrones’ best work, it has an uphill dragon ride ahead.

Entertainment Weekly 

Nearly every dialogue scene is about succession. An early tangent veers into naval warfare, with various forces fighting for crucial shipping lanes. The climactic skirmish is ridiculous on a strategic level — and gorgeous.

Rolling Stones 

No matter how many CGI dragons it has to offer, the new series will not rekindle the fire in the hearts of viewers who loved Game of Thrones at one point not for the world, but for the people in it. 

 

House Of The Dragon was branded ‘bigger, better and bloodier’ than Game Of Thrones in rave early reviews.

After hints, teasers, casting calls, an unprecedented pandemic and a somewhat disappointing end to one of the biggest shows in recent history, winter is once again upon us.

From Monday evening long awaited Game Of Thrones prequel House Of The Dragon is set to unpick the fraught, fractious and undeniably incestuous lives of Daenerys Targaryen’s distant relatives.

The HBO series was created by Game Of Thrones author George R.R. Martin and is based on his sprawling 2018 book Fire & Blood – a comprehensive history of the House Targaryen.

Set 200 years before the bloody battle for the seven kingdoms depicted in Game of Thrones, House Of The Dragon will document the events leading up to Martin’s fictionalised War of Succession – a battle for the throne that is ominously referred to as the Dance of the Dragons.

The series has received high praise from TV buffs, with The Times’ Ben Dowell awarding the show’s first episode a top five star rating, summarising as ‘visually sumptuous, well-acted (for the most part), crisply written and cleverly pitched.’

The Guardian’s Lucy Mangan branded House Of The Dragon a ‘roaring success’, awarding it four stars and noting the show ‘looks set fair to become the game of political seven-dimensional chess that its predecessor was, designed to reward diehard fantasy fans in full measure without alienating the masses that will propel it to the top of the ratings.’

Another four star rating was doled out by Financial Times’ Fiona Sturges, who explained her reasoning for not giving the prequel top marks.

She noted: ‘If there is one thing missing — at least from the six episodes available to reviewers — it’s levity. Game of Thrones always knew when to deliver a spicy one-liner to burst the bubble of portent and pomposity, but there’s precious little humour here.’

Nick Hilton of The Independent remarked that ‘the highest compliment I can pay House of the Dragon is to observe how much it feels like Game of Thrones’, awarding the series another four stars.

House Of The Dragon was awarded ‘grade B’ by Entertainment Weekly’s Darren Franich who lamented the slow opener to show (a narration filling in the viewers on Westeros history) but reasoned ‘Dragon doesn’t soar immediately, but no House was built in a day.’

Stephen Kelly of the BBC noted the differences between the series and its predecessor, writing: ‘House of the Dragon differs from Game of Thrones in various ways, although it is remarkable how much it initially looks and feels like a natural continuation of the show.’

While House Of The Dragon may have had overwhelmingly positive reviews, not everyone was impressed.

Rolling Stones’ Alan Sepinwall said the series is ‘unfortunately filled with characters and conflicts that would struggle to hold the audience’s interest if they were just one small element among the many of its parent series.’

Empire’s John Nugent awarded the series an underwhelming three stars as ‘the writing so far lacks the sparkle of Thrones’ most profound moments.’ 

House of the Dragon premieres on HBO and HBO Max on Sunday, August 21, in the US. For UK fans, the show will premiere on Monday, August 22, on Sky TV on Sky Atlantic and NOW.

Will it be a long cold winter in Westeros? With just days to go until the FIRST Game Of Thrones spin-off is unveiled, here’s everything you need to know about the ten-episode, £160million House of the Dragon

Less than a week separates Game Of Thrones fans from the  fantasy drama’s first spin-off, but will it be worth the wait? 

Starting from August 22, House Of The Dragon will document the lives of Daenerys Targaryen’s incestuous relatives some 200 years before the battle for seven kingdoms.

The HBO series was created by Game Of Thrones author George R.R. Martin and is based on his sprawling 2018 book Fire & Blood – a comprehensive history of the House Targaryen.

Coming soon: Less than a week separates Game Of Thrones fans from the fantasy drama's first spin-off, but will it be worth the wait?

Coming soon: Less than a week separates Game Of Thrones fans from the fantasy drama’s first spin-off, but will it be worth the wait?

Helping create the series are showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik, a director on GOT.

The first teaser trailer was dropped in May 2022, three years on from the finale, The Iron Throne, of GOT. 

HBO released the official trailer for House of the Dragon two months later, giving fans a proper insight into what to expect.

Here, MailOnline takes another look at the forthcoming show.  

Exciting: Starting from August 22, House Of The Dragon will document the lives of Daenerys Targaryen's incestuous relatives some 200 years before the battle for seven kingdoms

Exciting: Starting from August 22, House Of The Dragon will document the lives of Daenerys Targaryen’s incestuous relatives some 200 years before the battle for seven kingdoms

When will the prequel come out? 

The $200M-budget House of Targaryen origin tale – set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones – will unveil all 10 episodes beginning August 21 on HBO.

Who’s starring in House of the Dragon? 

Paddy Considine will play King Viserys I, the head of the Targaryen family. Emmy D’Arcy will be Princess Rhaenrya, Viserys’ first child and his heir apparent, and Matt Smith will be Prince Daemon, Viserys’ younger brother.

There are also non-Targaryen cast members in the key cast including, Rhys Ifans who will portray Ser Otto Hightower, the Hand of the King; Olivia Cooke will be Otto’s daughter, Lady Alicent Hightower (who in the book, becomes Queen when she marries Viserys); and Fabien Frankel will be Ser Criston Cole, a knight who loves Princess Rhaenrya. 

Not long to go: The ten-episode spin-off will show the bitter and brutal civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons

Not long to go: The ten-episode spin-off will show the bitter and brutal civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons

Completing the cast are Sonyo Mizuno, who will play Mysaria, Prince Daemon’s lover, and Eve Best and Steve Toussaint, who will portray married royals Princess Rhaenys Velaryon and Lord Corlys Velaryon.

The Velaryons are a notable change from the book, in the adaptation, they are wealthy Black rulers. 

Co-showrunner Ryan Condal explained to Entertainment Weekly: ‘It was very important for Miguel [Sapochnik] and I to create a show that was not another bunch of white people on the screen.

‘We wanted to find a way to put diversity in the show, but we didn’t want to do it in a way that felt like it was an afterthought or, worse, tokenism.’

What can we expect?

Thrilling: The HBO series was created by GOT author George R.R. Martin and is based on his book Fire & Blood

Thrilling: The HBO series was created by GOT author George R.R. Martin and is based on his book Fire & Blood

According to The Hollywood Reporter viewers can expect several multi-year jumps throughout House of the Dragon unlike GOT which is the story of a royal family gone mad with power and wealth. 

House of Dragons, according to Miguel, follows four different characters trying to claim the throne. 

He said: ‘There’s the king, his brother, the king’s daughter and her best friend. Then the best friend becomes the king’s wife and thereby the queen.’ 

Essentially the story is, what if your best friend hooks up with your dad?, which wouldn’t exactly raise eyebrows with the Targaryen’s  who are use to incest.

The wait is almost over: The $200M-budget House of Targaryen origin tale - set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones - will unveil all 10 episodes beginning August 21 on HBO

The wait is almost over: The $200M-budget House of Targaryen origin tale – set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones – will unveil all 10 episodes beginning August 21 on HBO

The Iron Thone-hungry characters conspire to rule after the death of people-pleasing King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine).

Viserys planned on having his first-born child – Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) – become the Seven Kingdoms’ first queen regnant.

But Viserys’ hell-raising brother Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) and a slew of other men in power have other ideas in the series, which has a decade time jump halfway through.

Princess Rhaenys Velaryon (Eve Best) – who was passed over as queen by her cousin Viserys – warns Rhaenyra: ‘A woman would not inherit the Iron Throne because that is the order of things.’

Rhaenyra defiantly replies in the trailer: ‘When I am queen, I will create a new order.’ 

Viserys planned on having his first-born child - Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) - become the Seven Kingdoms' first queen regnant but Viserys' brother had other plans (Paddy Considine as King Viserys I)

Viserys planned on having his first-born child – Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) – become the Seven Kingdoms’ first queen regnant but Viserys’ brother had other plans (Paddy Considine as King Viserys I)

Meanwhile, Rhaenyra’s childhood BFF Lady Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) – whose character is described as ‘a bit more sympathetic than Cersei Lannister’ – weds Viserys to become queen so she can also vy for the Iron Throne.

As for the 17 different dragons featured in the show, Viserys believes ‘They’re a power man should never have trifled with.’

During the show preview a dragon egg is ready to hatch from a coal-fueled incubator.

 Will Emilia Clarke be in House of Dragons?

No, Emilia Clarke will not be reprising her role as Daenerys Targaryen. As the show is set centuries before the events of GOT, her character doesn’t make sense to be in the plot.

House of Dragons will hit viewers screens on August 21 on HBO.  

Sad news: Emilia Clarke (pictured in the centre in 2017) will not be reprising her role as Daenerys Targaryen. As the show is set centuries before the events of GOT, her character doesn't make sense to be in the plot

Sad news: Emilia Clarke (pictured in the centre in 2017) will not be reprising her role as Daenerys Targaryen. As the show is set centuries before the events of GOT, her character doesn’t make sense to be in the plot



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Originally posted 2022-08-19 12:44:31.