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House of the Dragon and The Rings of Power have been HBO’s and Amazon Prime Video’s respective bets to fight their particular war to conquer streaming services. Once the first season of both series is over, it seems obvious that the undisputed winner is House of the Dragon.
Although The Rings of Power had all the ingredients to emerge as the winner, House of the Dragon has ended up winning over both critics and audiences.
The Rings of Power had the largest budget in history for a TV series and, above all, it had Tolkien’s name and his work, one of the most popular and revered of all time, at its disposal.
Meanwhile, the overwhelming success of Game of Thrones was an asset for House of the Dragon, but at the same time it was a burden because of its disappointing last few seasons.
HBO learned from the mistakes of Game of Thrones with House of the Dragon and has demonstrated its solvency and experience in series production, exposing Amazon’s lack of experience when leaving The Rings of Power in amateur hands.
Keys to the success of House of the Dragon
Game of Thrones failed in its last seasons when it ran out of original material from G.R.R. Martin’s books. The result was a dramatic drop in dialogue quality, important plots that were never closed or left incomplete, as well as some disconcerting changes of pace, as a result of rushing to finish the series.
HBO’s decision to continue its star franchise with a prequel based on books already completed has turned out to be the best decision they could have made. Having a complete and finished literary material has allowed its creators to properly plan the series and adjust the pace of the narrative in such a way that they have achieved a first season without ups and downs, coherent and no episode is there to make up the numbers.
Despite the millions spent on buying Tolkien’s rights, Amazon made the mistake of acquiring only a part of the work and trusting that they could recreate it by inventing a story from what they owned. Lacking solid source material, The Rings of Power is a completely uncut, dilettante series that doesn’t know where it’s going and seems to be made by improvising amateurs. Exactly what happened to the last few seasons of Game of Thrones.
House of the Dragon keeps the focus on the important and does so with determination, just the opposite of The Rings of Power.
Although the first season of House of the Dragon covers several decades of history, with ellipses that even forced the use of different actors to play some characters – with the risk of changing so drastically the faces that were beginning to be familiar – House of the Dragon does not suffer at any time from these time jumps, on the contrary, it gains a lot by telling only what is relevant to the story.
In addition, the casting of House of the Dragon is excellent. It perfectly combines veteran and somewhat recognizable actors, such as Matt Smith or Rhys Ifans, with new faces like Olivia Cooke, Milly Alcock or Emma D’Arcy, who are just starting to emerge.
Paddy Considine, who plays King Viserys I Targaryen, deserves special mention. The development of his character from a young and idealistic ruler to an old, sick, weakened and saddened, but honorable king is worthy of recognition, and he is a strong candidate to win all kinds of awards for his performance.
There is no way to find this actor’s dedication and commitment to his character in The Rings of Power. Despite all the interviews with the cast and crew of the Amazon series talking about how fortunate they have been to participate in such a diverse and inclusive project, the truth is that their enthusiasm has not translated into memorable performances. In fact, some deserve to be forgotten.
Amazon has tried to make us believe that they are devoted to Tolkien’s work, while in reality they have deliberately butchered his legacy to the point of humiliation. The Rings of Power has managed to scare away Tolkien’s most die-hard fans and has been unable to attract viewers among the woke audience it was intended to appeal to.
However, House of the Dragon has been more prudent, and with a humble and almost quiet promotion, has managed to add viewers week after week, regaining those disappointed with Game of Thrones‘ ending, and adding new viewers thanks to word-of-mouth recommendations.
Following the completion of the first season of each series, House of the Dragon has broken the records of Game of Thrones in some countries, while The Rings of Power’s figures are challenged by many analysts.
The dragon fire of HBO’s Westeros has completely scorched the Middle-earth surrogate that Amazon brought us.
Ignacio Manuel García Medina, Business Management teacher. Artist and lecturer specialized in Popular Culture for various platforms. Presenter of the program "Pop Libertario" for the Juan de Mariana Institute. Lives in the Canary Islands, Spain // Ignacio M. García Medina es profesor de Gestión de Empresas. Es miembro del Instituto Juan de Mariana y conferenciante especializado en Cultura Popular e ideas de la Libertad.
Social Networks: @ignaciomgm