HBO Renews ‘House of the Dragon’ for a Second Season

Less than a week after its premiere, HBO has renewed “House of the Dragon,” the prequel series to the successful “Game of Thrones,” for a second season.

The series debuted Sunday, Aug. 21, to the largest audience for any new original series in HBO history. The first episode has now been seen by more than 20 million viewers across linear, on demand and HBO Max platforms in the United States, based on a combination of Nielsen data and first-party data, according to an HBO and HBO Max press release.
  
Based on George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, the series, set 200 years before the events of “Game of Thrones,” tells the story of House Targaryen.
 
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Season one stars Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Emma D’Arcy, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, Fabien Frankel, Sonoya Mizuno,and Rhys Ifans. Additional cast includes Milly Alcock, Bethany Antonia, Phoebe Campbell, Emily Carey, Harry Collett, Ryan Corr, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jefferson Hall, David Horovitch, Wil Johnson, John Macmillan, Graham McTavish, Ewan Mitchell, Theo Nate, Matthew Needham, Bill Paterson, Phia Saban, Gavin Spokes and Savannah Steyn.
 
“We are beyond proud of what the entire ‘House of the Dragon’ team has accomplished with season one,” Francesca Orsi, EVP of HBO programming, said in a statement. “Our phenomenal cast and crew undertook a massive challenge and exceeded all expectations, delivering a show that has already established itself as must-see-TV. A huge thank you to George, Ryan, and Miguel for leading us on this journey. We couldn’t be more excited to continue bringing to life the epic saga of House Targaryen with season two.” 

HBO/HBO Max: ‘House of the Dragon’ Drew Nearly 10 Million Viewers

The premiere of “House of the Dragon,” the prequel series to HBO’s popular “Game of Thrones,” drew 9.986 million viewers across linear and HBO Max platforms in the United States Aug. 21, the largest audience for any new original series in the history of HBO, according to a press release from HBO and HBO Max.

The premiere also marked the largest series launch on HBO Max across the United States, Latin America and EMEA (Eruope, Middle East and Africa), driving an “unprecedented level” of concurrent streams on the platform, according to the service. Typically, Sunday night viewership for a HBO series will represent just 20% to 40% of the show’s total gross audience, according to the release.  

On premiere day, “House of the Dragon,” based on George R.R. Martin’s novel Fire & Blood, was the longest trending topic on Twitter, ranking No. 1 for 14 hours straight, and trended No. 1 on Google Trends, the press release noted.

“It was wonderful to see millions of ‘Game of Thrones’ fans return with us to Westeros last night. ‘House of the Dragon’ features an incredibly talented cast and crew who poured their heart and soul into the production, and we’re ecstatic with viewers’ positive response,” Casey Bloys, chief content officer of HBO and HBO Max, said in a statement. “We look forward to sharing with audiences what else George, Ryan and Miguel have in store for them this season.” 

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Additionally, the original “Game of Thrones” series just wrapped its strongest week on HBO Max to date, capping off a seven-week stretch of week-over-week growth in engagement leading up to the premiere of “House of the Dragon,” according to the press release. The weekly average for “Game of Thrones” in August is nearly 90% above June and nearly 50% above July, according to the release.

New episodes of “House of the Dragon” will debut each week at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max, leading up to the finale on Oct. 23.

‘Game of Thrones’ Prequel ‘House of the Dragon’ to Debut on HBO, HBO Max Aug. 21

The “Game of Thrones” prequel series “House of the Dragon” will debut on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max Aug. 21.

The 10-episode HBO Original drama series is based on George R.R. Martin’s “Fire & Blood” and is set 200 years before the events of “Game of Thrones.” It tells the story of House Targaryen. 

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The series stars Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, Emma D’Arcy, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, Fabien Frankel, Sonoya Mizuno,and Rhys Ifans. Other cast members include Milly Alcock, Bethany Antonia, Phoebe Campbell, Emily Carey, Harry Collett, Ryan Corr, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jefferson Hall, David Horovitch, Wil Johnson, John Macmillan, Graham McTavish, Ewan Mitchell, Theo Nate, Matthew Needham, Bill Paterson, Phia Saban, Gavin Spokes and Savannah Steyn.

‘Game of Thrones’ Complete Series Due on Blu-ray Dec. 3 From HBO

Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection, including all eight seasons of the fantasy saga, will be released in a limited-edition Blu-ray set Dec. 3 from HBO Home Entertainment.

Game of Thrones: Season 8 will also come out Dec. 3 as a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray (plus DVD) combo pack and Blu-ray Steelbook.

Based on the best-selling novel series by George R.R. Martin, “Game of Thrones” holds the record as the most awarded series in television history, earning a total of 132 Emmy nominations and 47 wins to date, and is HBO’s most-viewed program ever, with the final season averaging a record-setting 44 million viewers in the United States, according to HBO. The ensemble cast includes Emmy and Golden Globe winner Peter Dinklage (Tyrion Lannister), Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister), Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen), Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark), Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister) and Iain Glen (Jorah Mormont).

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The series release will include the “Game of Thrones: Reunion Special,” a two-part reunion show with cast members from the final season, including Harington, Clarke, Turner and more, as well as stars of previous seasons, including Sean Bean, Jason Momoa, Mark Addy and others. Hosted by Conan O’Brien, the reunion was shot in front of a live audience in Belfast, Ireland, and includes show and behind-the-scenes footage.

Additional bonus content includes deleted and extended scenes, animated histories and lore pieces, behind-the-scenes featurettes, audio commentaries, and the documentary Game of Thrones: The Last Watch by filmmaker Jeanie Finlay.

The limited-edition Game of Thrones: The Complete Collection will be packaged in a wooden shadow box case, featuring panel designs by Robert Ball (the artist behind the “Beautiful Death” series) that summarize the “Game of Thrones” story. Each season is represented by a different layer, showcasing characters and memorable moments from the show. The set also contains a “Hand of the King” pin clasp, which holds all nine custom plated disc sleeves.

Game of Thrones: Season 8

DIGITAL REVIEW:

HBO;
Fantasy;
$19.99 SD; $26.99 HD;
Not Rated.
Stars Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Liam Cunningham, Nathalie Emmanuel, Alfie Allen, John Bradley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Gwendoline Christie, Conleth Hill, Rory McCann, Jerome Flynn, Kristofer Hivju, Joe Dempsie, Jacob Anderson, Iain Glen.

The eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones” is certainly its most divisive, setting off a wave of Internet debates as to whether the final run of episodes was worthy of the extensive storytelling that had been laid out before.

Much of the ire seems to be focused on the creative decisions made by showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss in mapping out the final story arcs of the various characters once they no longer draw from the “Song of Ice and Fire” novels by George R.R. Martin, which formed the basis of the first five seasons.

A noticeable shift in the show’s pacing occurred in season six, once it was clear they had to create their own after reportedly receiving outlines from Martin about how he envisioned the saga more or less ending up. After season six, it was announced the show would wrap up in 13 episodes split into two seasons, with seven in season seven and six in season eight.

In hindsight, the argument goes, this timeline was insufficient in setting up the character development needed for the plot twists of the final episodes, leaving the final storylines feeling rushed while retroactively weakening the earlier seasons by both devaluing their story development and making it clear (particularly to readers of the novels) where the show missed opportunities to lay the foundation for the plot points the writers eventually decided to pursue.

The series has spent seven seasons seemingly maneuvering every character into two factions. One is the army gathering at Winterfell to fight the Night King and the White Walkers. This is the faction commanded by Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow, who joined forces last season. However, their truce may be complicated by the lingering truth of Jon’s true heritage, which could present an obstacle to Dany’s claim to the Iron Throne.

Meanwhile. Queen Cersei has fortified her hold on King’s Landing through an alliance with Euron Greyjoy’s fleet and a mercenary army.

The first two episodes deal largely with various characters reuniting, setting the stage for the battle against the Night King, which takes place in the third episode. The final episodes involve the battle for King’s Landing and its aftermath.

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So, is the final season as problematic as the darkest corners of the Internet would make it out to be? Well, mostly no, but a little bit yes.

The ire seems to fall into two categories. The first, as mentioned, is the show rushing to get to the end. The second is the specific outcomes for some of the characters, which may have differed a bit from what some of the more entitled fans envisioned in their heads.

As to the second point, such is often the refrain of toxic fandom, and seems misguided. The character arcs themselves are fine and completely understandable, particularly when it comes to the most divisive of the individual stories, that of Queen Daenerys and her quest to reclaim the Iron Throne on behalf of her family.

The show has always been an examination of the dangers of tyranny and absolutism, even when the results of such governance may seem beneficial. The cycle of inherited power is itself the problem, not the potential for harm a new ruler may bring.

That being said, it’s hard to disagree that the final march to the end was a bit rushed, and perhaps could have used a few episodes to show events for the characters to experience that might reinforce their motivations in the final battles.

The final season is fine as it is, as easy as it is for fans to pick it apart, and will likely come to be better regarded once absorbed into the bulk of the show as fodder for binge viewing. While the asinine suggestion of fan petitions to “remake the season with competent writers” is beyond the realm of credibility, it’s hard not to at least entertain the idea of filming a few more episodes of material to expand on the character development, then re-editing them into the final couple of seasons (though, realistically, that ain’t happening either).

The show’s critics are also quick to overlook the many strengths of the final season, which offers some of the most stunning visuals of the series. This includes the purposefully dark and moody third episode, which uses its nighttime setting to great effect give viewers the same sense of unseen dread the characters would experience in fighting off wave after wave of undead armies.

There was some concern about the cinematography being too dark upon its initial airing, but this isn’t much of a problem with the digital HD presentation.

The other aspect of concern in fan circles were all the memes pointing out Starbucks cups and plastic water bottles left on the set for key scenes. The prominent coffee cup was subsequently digitally erased from episode four, but a few water bottles spotted under the chairs in the “Council of Lords” scene in the finale were still visible in the digital copy of the episode, at least within the first few days of its digital release. It will certainly be something to keep an eye out for in the eventual Blu-ray release that should arrive in a few months.

The digital package of the final season also includes a four-minute production featurette, a 17-minute profile of a key season from the third-episode battle, and The Last Watch, the feature-length documentary chronicling the making of the show’s final season that provides an enlightening look at the filmmakers and craftsman who brought it all together.

Season One of ‘Nightflyers’ Out on Disc From Universal

Season one of the Syfy series “Nightflyers” is available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The release includes all 10 episodes in the first season of the space horror series, based on the sci-fi novella of the same name from George R.R. Martin. Set in the year 2093, the series follows a team of scientists aboard the Nightflyer, the most advanced ship ever built, as they embark on a journey to find other life forms. Their mission takes them to the edge of the solar system, and to the edge of insanity, as they realize horror isn’t waiting for them in outer space — it’s already on their ship.

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The ensemble cast includes Eoin Macken (“The Night Shift”), Sam Strike(“EastEnders”), Maya Eshet (“Teen Wolf”), Angus Sampson (“Fargo”), Jodie Turner-Smith (“The Last Ship”), Gretchen Mol (“Boardwalk Empire”), David Ajala (“Fast & Furious 6”) and Brían F. O’Byrne (“Million Dollar Baby”).