House of the Dragon (HBO)
Right then, here we go again. If the last time was anything to go by, household names were made and the cultural entertainment landscape shifted. Game of Thrones was popular enough to even make it's creator a recognisable face, let alone its vast array of stars.
So I went into episode one this morning with as much excitement as you might expect from any devoted thought not devout fan of the franchise. Curiosity made me watch my early copy more than anything else, as I hadn't been falling over myself to watch it any sooner. Today was release day, so it seemed churlish not to, to be honest.
Set two hundred years before Game of Thrones, after the end of the first Targaryen dynasty, this opens with the decision to appoint a new heir to the Iron Throne, so immediately some fates are sealed. Nearly two centuries between them, and this is eerily similar, save most notably for the ten dragons that the Targaryens holds sway over.
Despite this being the first episode, tensions are already running high with the Queen set to give birth to what the King (Paddy Considine) believes will be his heir. A group of jousting games take place to celebrate the birth of the expected future King and the splits even within this Royal family are already beginning to show. From the Queen that never was, to Hightower, the King's Hand (Rhys Ifans) and the King's brother Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), all jockeying for power in one form or another.
If you enjoyed Game of Thrones then you will certainly appreciate the promises delivered here. The hour long episode introduces most of the relevant characters, neither dawdles or hurries to get a glut of information and introductions completed, The fear was that a whole new set of characters would be too tiresome for most to adopt again, but this delivers everything carefully so as not to overwhelm the viewer.
This is a very promising start, full of the intrigue and brutality of its predecessor, with some very strong acting performances from a formidable cast. I, for one, look forward to the rest of this season.