TV Review: The House of the Dragon, Series 1 Episode 1

‘The Heirs of the Dragon’, Episode 1 of the first series of Game of Thrones prequel The House of the Dragon is a great introduction to this new but familiar world with Eve Best and Matt Smith on fine form 

“They call him the Crabfeeder”

It may not be the most fashionable of opinions but I didn’t really mind how Game of Thrones ended. Or more accurately, it didn’t bother me too much as, you know, it was just a TV show. But conventional wisdom dictates that we decry it and thus declare that the much-anticipated prequel series The House of the Dragon is as much redemption territory as it is a new entry into this fantasy franchise.

Adapted from Fire and Blood, George RR Martin’s history of House Targaryen, we’re 172 years before the birth of Daenerys (a brief scene-setting prologue aside) but not too much has changed in Kings Landing. There’s court rivals with vengeful stares (the superb Eve Best), chaotic upstarts who like a joust (a simmering Matt Smith), oleaginous factotums (Rhys Ifans) and dragons and brothels and sex, oh my. 

All of which King Viserys I (Paddy Considine) has to manage while hoping that his pregnant wife does the decent thing and gives him an heir, as opposed to another daughter, and doesn’t die in childbirth, thereby creating a succession crisis which will take 10 episodes to resolve, and presumably several more series too… No prizes for guessing what happens and with the scene is now set for daughter Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) to be named heir, serious ripples of tension suggest this could be an entertaining bit of TV.

The world of the Iron Throne feels familiar but crucially freshly reimagined and I liked that you barely needed to have seen the parent series for this to work. (I’ve not rewatched it and so remember very little about the family history we already ‘know’). The dragons look fantastic and in the hands of Matt Smith and particularly Eve Best, there’s two antagonists who ought to burn up the screen with outrageously fun performances.

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