Back on the 11th, we reported that representatives of various foreign broadcasters—both those who had secured the rights to Game of Thrones and those who were still undecided—had had the first two episodes screened to them. The word from HBO was that the response was “VERY positive”, and they expected to see more foreign rights deals to be secured on the strength of it.
Now we can report a summary of some remarks from one of the representatives who was in attendance. Göran Danasten, head of fiction acquisitions for Swedish broadcaster Sweden, had some thoughtful commentary on what he saw and what his thoughts were about it. His remarks (in Swedish) can be found starting here
First, to preface his remarks, some of them will appear skeptical, as he’s looked at the show critically in part because he has very high expectations for it. When he first noted he was going to London, however, he noted that he was personally very excited, and from his comments he seems to have read the first novel (at least).
His remarks begin with high-praise for the cinematography and production values of the show, saying that its looks incredibly good and that viewers will love the visual quality. However, the skeptical side of him notes that of course, there has been a veritable parade of “grandiose” genre shows, many of them very good looking as well, and a show needs something more than just great looks to distinguish itself.
He admires HBO’s push to offer “accessible fantasy”, especially one that adds an extra layer of complexity beyond the usual clichés that genre fans may have come to expect. On the other hand, while the first two episodes are “fantastic”, there are a lot of characters, and a rather complex setting, introduced in a short time span which will be pretty demanding for viewers unfamiliar with the books and the genre. He’s also unsure that the first two episodes really reveal a lot about the greater depth of the series (presumably in comparison to similar genre shows in the past). Ultimately, he feels that the show will be one that needs time to grow its audience, to give them time to adjust themselves to its and realize all those additional complexities that set it apart.
He had high praise for the actors, suggesting that all-around it’s very well cast. He especially cites some of the newer ones, whom he described as “magically good”. Maise Williams (Arya Stark), he says, was born for this, and indicates she’s spectacular. He was also impressed with Richard Madden (Robb Stark). Among the veteran actors, he also feels that Dinklage is unforgettable as Tyrion. In response to a query about how fantastical the show is, he did feel that perhaps it was toned down a little compared to the novel.
His hope is that the show will land squarely between the fantasy genre and Rome, and so can find the sort of broad audience that could appreciate that. His ultimate judgment is that he expects it will please fans of the books and fans of the genre, but that at first glance it may seem to some as being very conventional fantasy, and he opes that a broader audience sticks with it to give it the time to show how misleading that initial impression may be.
SVT will be airing the show somewhere around the beginning of next year, after Canal+‘s exclusivity window comes to an end. As he notes, the positive side of that is that “Winter is Coming” will be a bit more relevant as a tag line…