House Of The Dragon Won't Reinvent Game Of Thrones, But It Will Be Its Own Thing

You know the only reaction that was more of a sure bet than HBO immediately wanting to keep the "Game of Thrones" hype machine alive with a prequel/spin-off series? That would have to be the intense scrutiny and pressure that comes with attempting to live up to what was unquestionably a pop culture juggernaut — one that will be immensely difficult, if not impossible, to replicate a second time around. Despite what you may have thought of the final season, "Game of Thrones" was the beneficiary of several colliding forces at once. Post-"The Lord of the Rings," fantasy fans and mainstream viewers alike were primed and ready for a darker, more deconstructionist take on the genre. Despite enjoying consistently high ratings and social media attention right up to the end, it's up for debate whether that initial mission statement ended up kneecapping the series at its most crucial juncture.

Either way, "House of the Dragons" is going to have an uphill battle in righting the perceived "wrongs" of the original series, all while still defining itself apart from the lengthy shadow cast by "Game of Thrones." For fans looking for reasons to get excited about the potential for another adventure set within the world of Westeros, the showrunner of the new show is already anticipating and getting out in front of these potential difficulties.

Breaking the Wheel

"House of the Dragon" is fortunate enough to have Miguel Sapochnik on board as co-showrunner and director on the series, given his extensive experience on "Game of Thrones" as director of several major episodes in the later seasons (including "Hardhome," "Battle of the Bastards," "The Winds of Winter," and "The Long Night"). In other words, this is a creative talent who knows his story-specific and technical stuff when it comes to the world originally invented by author George R.R. Martin. While talking to THR in a longer discussion about his upcoming Tom Hanks film titled "Finch," Sapochnik got to talking about how he intends to keep "House of the Dragon" separate from "Game of Thrones" while still respecting what came before.

"I think we were very respectful of what the original show is. It wasn't broken, so we're not we're not trying to reinvent the wheel. House of the Dragon has its own tone that will evolve and emerge over the course of the show. But first, it's very important to pay respects and homage to the original series, which was pretty groundbreaking. We're standing on the shoulders of that show and we're only here because of that show. So the most important thing for us to do is to respect that show as much as possible and try and complement it rather than reinvent it. And I was involved in making the original show, so I feel like that's been useful. Like, I'm not arriving going, 'Let's change everything! Let's do a different color palette!' No, I quite like the color palette."

Sapochnik is making a lot of sense here, as there really is no reason to stray from what undeniably worked with the original show. The temptation (among fans, at least) to throw the baby out with the bathwater can be overwhelming, but creatives don't exactly have the same luxury of such sweeping judgments. I particularly enjoy his "...we're not trying to reinvent the wheel" line, which works as an unintentional (I think?) riff on Daenerys Targaryen's (Emilia Clarke) famous "I'm not going to stop the wheel ... I'm going to break it" speech in a later season of "Game of Thrones." It's safe to say "House of the Dragons" isn't going to take things that far, but it makes sense that the aesthetics and general approach would remain familiar to fans of the original.

'Different Crew, Different People, Different Tone'

Of course, that doesn't mean that "House of the Dragons" will just be a stale retread of everything viewers have seen before. Sapochnik goes on to outline the differences between the two shows and the reality that telling their own new story will lead to a more fulfilling show than simply chasing the ghost of "Game of Thrones."

"That said, we can't say, 'Well, when we did Thrones, we did it this way ... If you start every sentence with that, you've lost. This is something else, and should be something else. It's a different crew, different people, different tone. Hopefully it will be seen as something else. But it will have to earn that — it won't happen overnight. Hopefully fans will enjoy it for the thing that it is. We'll be lucky if we ever come close to what the original show was, so we're just putting our heads down and getting on with it and hoping what we come up with is worthy of having a Game of Thrones title."

While anyone's free to still have their reservations about this production, I feel like this is as pragmatic and level-headed an approach to a "Game of Thrones" spin-off that we could ever ask for. Intentions and execution are two very different things, however, so we'll just have to wait and see how all this talk translates to action. "House of the Dragons" comes to HBO in 2022.