As the memorable line goes: ‘When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die, there is no middle ground’, in the world of Game of Thrones, survival cannot be taken for granted, everyone is out for themselves, and money and power go hand in hand. Replace “world of Game of Thrones” with the “Television Industry” in that sentence, and you will get some idea of why I worry about the (thus far) astoundingly successful HBO show Game of Thrones. With Game of Thrones season 2 about to be unleashed on the world, and with Season 1 available on Blu Ray, I have been re-visiting the medieval fantasy TV series after the Blu Ray release, re-immersing myself in this intrigue-filled fantasy world. This well-received and high-rating show is performing so well that it is perhaps inconceivable that it could fall from its lofty perch and be banished to the televisual badlands of poor ratings.

Inconceivable it may seem, but I think it may well happen. I love Game of Thrones. There, I’ve said it. I promised I wouldn’t say it, at least that I’d try and leave it longer than I have, but I could no longer sit idly by without declaring my feelings like some lovestruck teenager. This show is brilliant, it is atmospheric, suspenseful, layered and entertaining. But with this love comes the nagging feeling that nothing this good can last. Maybe it’s just excessive worry, like a parent and their child, maybe it’s just pessimism influenced by the darkness and cynicism of Westeros itself, or maybe it’s just the knowledge of the realities of the American TV industry, primarily the Drama sector of said industry.

At this point, you probably think I’m a geek who worries too much, but I can explain further. You see, there are several quite good reasons for worrying about this show, allow me, if you will, to elaborate:

High Budget

So this program has a high budget, you can see it from the stunning opening sequence to the lovingly recreated costumes and scale of this program, and that’s before you consider the CGI. High budget programmes need to do extremely well to survive, and if they don’t, they can be dropped extremely unceremoniously. See the recent Rome series if you don’t believe me.

Actors

Game of Thrones is well-written, and its success has led to its actors (particularly Peter Dinklage) gaining new prominence in Film & TV. When this happens, it can be a problem for a long-running show because not only are these actors suddenly in demand, but their price goes up accordingly. A show with this high a budget doesn’t need that. Not to mention that a lot of the children are older than their characters in the book already, and over the course of making the series, might end up a lot older than their characters by the end.

George R.R. Martin

Have you seen a picture of this guy? Look at a picture of him and it will tell you all that you need to know about him. Two things stand out immediately, namely that he is both fat and old. Dude’s in his seventies, and he’s overweight, all conventional wisdom says that he is not long for this earth. Not that I am wishing death on him, nor am I expectant of it, I just worry that he might go the way of most of his characters and perish before his time. Add to this the fact that he hasn’t finished the books and that it seems to take him longer and longer to write each novel, and you start to see where I’m coming from.

The American TV Landscape

Have you heard of Arrested Development? Firefly? The aforementioned Rome? Maybe you know about Freaks and Geeks or Undeclared. What do all these shows have in common? Oh yeah, it’s that they were critically-lauded shows with a strong fan following that were cancelled way before their time, and that’s not even close to a complete list. A show doesn’t have to be bad to be cancelled, it can just be put into a bad time slot, under-promoted or just damn unlucky. Add to this the fatally-flawed Neilsen Ratings System and the ruthless, cruel, cutthroat (enough synonyms for ya?) nature of American TV is apparent even before advertiser demands, ignorant TV Execs and the fickle public are taken into account… Are you trembling in fear yet? You should be! Game of Thrones by its very existence is playing for high stakes, and this means that the creators might not have the leeway that other shows enjoy.

Of course, this is probably all for nothing. After all, it’s not like HBO doesn’t have a great record for backing strong, original drama. Cream can rise to the top, and sometimes the viewing public can surprise with their backing of something. I just enjoy it so much, and know that so many others do, that I don’t want it to go away. The, at times, pessimistic nature of the programme can get too much for some, but the viewers that stick around are rewarded by the moments of triumph that therefore feel all the sweeter. Maybe Game of Thrones is one of those. Here’s hoping.

TA

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