Editorial HBO

Too much hype?

The hype for Game of Thrones is immense. The amount of buzz, even prior to filming, has taken HBO completely by surprise. Many prominent TV critics have also picked up on the intense fan interest in the series. Time’s James Poniewozik has described the buzz as “possibly unprecedented” and the Chicago Tribune’s Maureen Ryan has called the fan base, “Whedon-esque.”

The hype has always been seen as a good thing, something to help boost the chances of the show being picked up. And certainly that is true. But if (when?) the show gets picked up and the hype escalates into the stratosphere, will that hurt the show in the long run? To put it another way, are we setting our expectations too high?

Over-hyping a project isn’t something new. Many fan bases have experienced the sting of their expectations reaching an impossible to achieve height (The Matrix sequels anyone?). The end result may not be that bad, but because of the high expectations, the overall legacy these projects leave are negative.

One thing that contributes to high expectations is a long wait. The longer the wait, the more the buzz can build. Video game giant Nintendo has noticed this trend and has adopted a new policy when marketing a new game. In the past they were announcing their franchise games, such as Zelda and Mario titles, years in advance. By the time the games released the expectations were so high that they were near impossible to match. Now Nintendo likes to announce their new games months in advance, lessening the wait and thereby decreasing the chance of unrealistic expectations.

Unfortunately HBO doesn’t have that luxury with Game of Thrones. The pilot has been in production for over a year now and it looks like we won’t see the end result for another year, at least. And like I said, the hype is already reaching ridiculous levels and it is only going to get higher.

So where does that leave us? The good news is, even when faced with high expectations, HBO usually delivers. All signs so far have been extremely positive. The reports from GRRM and others indicate that this show will be of the highest quality. Benioff and Weiss have been doing a wonderful job so far of appeasing the fans by remaining true to the source material but also working to produce something that works in the medium of television.

So, is the hype hurting or helping? Hype is a double-edged sword. Enough of it and you have a network pouring more and more money into a project to meet the high expectations. Too much though and you end up being disappointed in the end result, no matter how good. So far it seems that the hype for Thrones has accomplished the former, convincing HBO that the series can be a big hit. But there is always the chance that, by the time the show hits the air, the expectations for the series have reached an unattainable height.

So far, I think the hype and the buzz have been warranted and within reason. But at some point we will have to ask ourselves, are we setting our expectations too high?


  • I also think that there will be cries and shouts on forums when the first episodes hits and some won't like this or that actor, others will find it impossible that HBO never showed this or that. OR that say effect/scene was bad.

    It's a series and we have I think to expect that some of the things we'll see will look like belonging to a serie but it's also HBO. And the mood is set by the books so if you like the books and HBO stays true to them they can't fail.

    To be honest I just want to see it, to breathe it differently than through my mind. As long as it's not cheesy I'll be happy.

  • As usual, the self-reflection inherent within WiC is fantastic, as this piece is right on the money in terms of being aware of the long term, rather than short term, implications therein.

    What I'll say, from a personal level, is that there's two basic fan bases to consider here. In terms of the hardcore ASoIAF fans, I don't think any amount of hype will kill the project, primarily because most fans would find something to complain about regardless. I don't mean this as a critical statement, but rather that fans of books this dense will contend with the changes/mutations of an adaptation just as Lord of the Rings fans did.

    And you're right that the series would, should it go to series, become an issue of hype vs. execution, especially since the longer nature of a television season implies more detail than a film would offer, and thus creates more opportunity for the writers to go off the rails, so to speak. So on that front, hype could exacerbate the logical fan reaction to a beloved series being adapted in this form.

    However, the hype is honestly not for the fans: they know what's coming, and they're prepared to follow it. The hype allows that excitement to transfer to people who haven't read the series, who are casual fans of good television or good fantasy and for whom this series represents something that isn't as immediately hypeworthy. The hype surrounding the show is for them, to tell them how exciting this has the potential to be, rather than for those of us who have read the books.

    So, to answer your final question, expectations will always be too high amongst fans – however, they don't exist amongst the general population, so anything that gets their attention is in the show's best interest.

    Great work as always.

    Myles McNutt
    Cultural Learnings

  • Memles: Thanks for the comment and the kind words. This topic was actually suggested by a reader and I thought it would make for an interesting discussion.

    Your insights make a lot of sense. I know for me, like SA_Avenger says, I'll be happy just to see this story come to life.

  • I am not afraid of the hype, I survived one with LOTR.
    Just one suggestion: You are right about The Matrix, but I do not think that we can apply the Matrix-case to GOT, simply it is not an adaptation.

    We know (fans) the plot, we know the characters, and we know almost everything.

    The hype could have some effect on the larger audience, who i not familiar with ASOIAF.
    Maybe, some of them will expect miracles (because of the hype), and be dissapointed in the end.
    Do not know…

  • OOOr They can use the time as GRRM does. Extend and extend and extend in time, so the hype disapears and only exits the waiting… ask ADWD!

  • Given the quality of the source material and the fact that this is the best medium, and realistically the best production team and company that could be tasked with this project, I think that anything that makes HBO greenlight GoT and put their best effort in is good for the series. Frankly if HBO giving it their best can't pull off the series and make it amazing I don't think it can be done.

  • matrix is a bad example, because the sequels were simply not good. the hype had nothing to do with that.

    the hype for lotr is better, because that production (like this one) was helmed by and involved severely talented people. from the writers and director to the cast and crew, to the post production, everything was a recipe for success.

    when i told a friend of mine who doesn't know GRRM from JKR that HBO was planning to do an epic fantasy HBO-style, he was very very excited and thought it was a brilliant idea.

    that is the type of hype they will have to generate the country/world over. hype is for subscriptions, but ratings will survive only on the merits of the show itself.

    fortunately, for us in the know, D&D have good source material to work from, and the first season promises to DEFINITELY be fantasy, HBO-style.

    i mean, we've read the pilot, we know it's not going to be xena or hercules or legend of the seeker. even in its early, leaked form, it showed a lot of promise and faithfulness to the text. the cast seems great and diligently put in place, and everything from the castle locations to the direwolf pups (to the puppet direwolf mother!) seem to indicate quality.

    i'm not worried. in HBO's eyes, there's no such thing as too much hype. for fans like us, the only thing at risk is our high hopes, but that will be the case whether we are the underdogs or favorites to win.


  • Well, I, for one, haven't seen THAT much hype (outside the fan base, of course) about the project so far.

    Sure, I don't scout over the internet in order to see how the buzz is going and growing (in fact, I get all my news about the series from here), but, realistically, a couple of articles over the internet and the presence of a few semi-famous actors like Bean don't equal any monstrous hype in my eyes.

    Yes, we, the fans, are very excited, but is the rest of the world THAT hyped about it at this point? I doubt it. So, my advice is, don't sweat it yet.

  • I'm completely with memles on this one, but the question of "too much hype" is still valid. Even now, this site alone contains a cartload of unmarked spoilers for anyone who hasn't read the books – "the things I do for love" etc. You get to interested in TV-GoT, you can't avoid to stumble across this stuff.

    Maybe a general "this site contains discussions by fans of the books and thus contains SPOILERS!!!" warning is required?

  • My first thought when I read this news post was about "Dollhouse". The show had lots of hype which generated a large viewership early. Many people were disappointed and stopped watching, but the initial Whedon inspired hype was enough to carry the show to a second season. We all know what happened next, but assuming GoT is actually good, then those initally high viewer numbers might translate into continued viewership long enough for the quality of the show to take over.

  • In my opinion, hype is never a bad thing. Hype brings a show or film a huge initial audience, which is always a good thing. After that, it's the artists' job to hang on to that audience. If they're unable to, then it's nobody's fault but their own.

    The only way hype could even be remotely bad is if it turns out to be for a substandard product, and well, that would be bad thing even if there were no hype. At the end of the day, it'll be the final product that matters above all else, regardless of hype.

  • Interestingly, the 'hype' has not percolated through to a wider potential audience. Even big TV-focused SF&F sites like SFX have not given the project much attention so far. It's unusual that several big critics have jumped on the bandwagon, but that's more to do with their interest in any new HBO project. The general audience, especially outside the US where hardly anyone knows what HBO is (until you start mentioning what shows it has made), remains in total ignorance of the project, and will do so until the first trailers start appearing (maybe a year from now).

    Fans of the series can of course read too much into it and get overhyped, but I think this can be averted by chilling out and doing other things (especially now, since we are unlikely to get any more solid news on the project until March now) or perhaps assessing the realities of the project that it's not going to match the images they have in their mind no matter what. I remember sitting down to watch FotR and for the first half-hour or so going, "Well, that's not how I imagined it!" before I got into the movie's headspace (as opposed to my own) and was able to really enjoy it. A lot of hardcore Tolkien fans, of course, couldn't conjure up that distance from the project (I think I had help on that score by watching the Ralph Bakshi movies years before the books and later listening to the Brian Sibley Radio 4 adaptation, so I was already familiar with other takes on the story than just Tolkien's).

    One thing we need to remember is that based on current information, it looks like not much more than 1.5 million people have read the books, only a small fraction of whom are hardcore fans. The second the first episode airs, (hopefully) three to five times as many people will be exposed to the story as have read it in the last fourteen years. To the majority of them, the series will not have been overhyped at all.

  • I wonder: how much is a HBO subscription (they don't publish any fixed price on their website)? Is any ONE good series worth it, or do you need a mix of shows/sport etc. you would like to see to make it worthwhile? And how would GoT fit into their program – how much "cross-interest" shows are there?

  • Adam, what is your 1.5 million readers estimate based on? Book sales? Is there anyway to quantify library readership? What about second hand bookstores and loans to friends? I would think that estimate is pretty low.

    As to the question at hand, over-hype is only over-hype if the production doesn't live up to the expectations. The existing fan base will be satisfied if the series is very good (but we'll all quibble about our favorite scene getting cut/changed). The problem lies in us and the media going around telling everyone how excellent this is going to be if it turns out to be merely very good and newcomers finish the pilot/episode 2/episode 3 thinking "Well that was good but it was no LOTR" and giving up on it. Or worse yet simply deciding it sucks because it doesn't appeal. (Like my reaction to the pilot of True Blood.)

    Of course someone mentioned the insular nature of the "hype" and this will play a role as well. I don't come across AGOT news anywhere but here. That may change once it gets the green light but I don't watch Entertainment Tonight, don't read Entertainment Weekly or TV Guide so I'm not sure how much "hype" I'll be exposed to over the next year regardless. People who follow those outlets are probably immune to hype anyway.

  • I think as uber-fans and such, there is obviously going to be over-analysis.

    The thing to remember is to try and watch the show as much as possible through once without thinking about how you saw the scenes and characters.

    You can go back and analyse that later. Just try and enjoy the show on a normal level first.

  • Abe,

    I found about dollhouse late and the second season premiere was the first episode I saw. It made absolutely no sense and really wasn't all that interesting either. Never watched it again. Other opinions may, of course, vary.

  • ASOIAF fans desire to inflict (and I choose that word carefully) upon as many people as they can. This is because it KNOWS it is small, and wants to make it grow. Part of the fun of being a ASOIAF fan IS the wait between books, so you can pore through every minute detail to see if you can accurately predict what will happen in the next book (and get it gloriously wrong once again).

    Most things that suffered from "overhype" actually sucked, rather than "couldn't meet unrealistic expectations", which is just a euphemism for sucked.
    There's just no way this show will pull a "John from Cincinnati." The worst case scenario I can see is another Rome, but honestly, I'm hoping for another Big Love. The fan base will just be happy with any interpretation that succeeds commercially, as that will make said fan base grow.

  • "Adam, what is your 1.5 million readers estimate based on? Book sales? Is there anyway to quantify library readership? What about second hand bookstores and loans to friends? I would think that estimate is pretty low."

    The books have sold about 5 million copies worldwide, but obviously the majority of those are going to be people buying all four (I doubt many people bought Book 4 without getting Books 1-3 beforehand). In that estimate 1.5 million is high-rolling it, but throw in people who read the books from libraries and loans, and you're in that ballpark. And that's people scattered across the world, you're looking at substantially less in the USA where the first audiences will come in.

    Going by the numbers, LotR and HP could be huge successes by just appealing to the fanbases, whilst GoT cannot. It needs to widen the audience out to people who have never read or heard of the books before.

  • The comparison to Joss Whedon comparison comparison hit pretty close to home, to this day I hold out hope for a Firefly season 2. But if history is any indication of the future I doubt that fan expectations can exceed HBO's penchant for amazing shows. I'm giddy like a schoolgirl over the prospect of seeing what is by far one of the best book series of all time made being put on film, and I have to say my expectations are very high. But from what I've seen and heard thus far this series has everything it needs to exceed expectations.

  • That's a nice discussion article. I fight any negative effects by trying to keep my expectations realistic. Anyway, I don't think you could expect too much from the project already with a minimum amount of level headedness, what with all the indications of how good of a job they have been doing so far, and HBO's record in general.

  • @dunkeltroll

    You asked about is it worth it to subscribe based on one show, and I've posted this fact on here in the past.

    When I was working on promos for Season 5 of The Sopranos, I had dinner with a producer from HBO Corporate. She was telling me that the day after a finalé for Sopranos airs, their subscriber base dropped 40%!!!

    That means almost half of their subscribers were ONLY tuned in for Sopranos. That's pretty monumental. I bet you could do some research and find out other instances like this (perhaps even True Blood).

    So the answer is YES, if there is a great, award-winning show, people will sign up just to watch it. They essentially get a season pass to a show they like.

    And with an average of about $20/month to subscribe to HBO, and with a single season airing for an average of 3-4 months, that's $60-80 to watch your favorite show the moment it premieres!


  • I'm agreeing with those saying that there is definately no overhype here. Yes there are a few fansites, a few critics are already on the boat but so far that is it. Apart from the pilot-greenlight en the casting (mostly Bean) there isn't much news coming through via other media-channels.

    A way to create overhype: show Steven Spielberg the footage so far and let him say it is the most thrilling tv-show he has ever seen!

  • To Ryan's point, i don't currently subscribe, but will most definitely subscribe if this show is picked up. My wife and I both like True Blood, but not enough to subscribe, and therefore we're fine waiting the few extra months and catching it on DVD. That being said for GOT, there is no way that I could possibly know that there are new episodes out there while sitting around and waiting for the DVD. I will subscribe, and truthfully $60-80 will feel like a bargain.

    I also think it would make sense for HBO to offer the show online for a fee. $4 a show makes sense as it would cost about the same as a monthly subscription. That being said I'll gladly take all that comes with the subscription for what would amount to an extra $4 a month.

  • I agree with sjwenings, I think that the hype for where we are is huge. When it gets picked up, my prediction is that the hype increases significantly.

  • Whoa, whoa, whoa… too much hype? The reason we are all here in the first place is because this is a kick ass story told through these incredible novels that they are basing the show on. If they stay true to the essence of the books this will exceed any hype that we (the internet) could drum up. I'm much more concerned about GRRM nailing the ending of the books than the HBO show. I say bring on as much hype as you can. It can only help in this show getting on the air.

  • It all depends of the point of view.

    If we are talking about the pilot of the series, not yet greenilited, we can say that there is a buzz, which is not a usual thing for that kind of TV show.

    But, on the other hand, that hype is not huge at all.
    The audience, we pray and execpt to join, do not know (yet) nothing about it.

    You can not compare it to HP or LOTR hype. The fan bases (Asoiaf, Bean – fans, Lena Headey – fans and lets say Stargate fans)are too small.

  • Off-topic: George is back and sick! He said nothing so far about his tivo, he will be more sick then.

    hype 1 (hp) Slang
    1. Excessive publicity and the ensuing commotion: the hype surrounding the murder trial.
    2. Exaggerated or extravagant claims made especially in advertising or promotional material: "It is pure hype, a gigantic PR job" (Saturday Review).
    3. An advertising or promotional ploy: "Some restaurant owners in town are cooking up a $75,000 hype to promote New York as 'Restaurant City, U.S.A.'" (New York).
    4. Something deliberately misleading; a deception: "[He] says that there isn't any energy crisis at all, that it's all a hype, to maintain outrageous profits for the oil companies" (Joel Oppenheimer).

    5. Slang
    a. Excited interest or attention: "The biggest buzz surrounds the simplest antioxidants: vitamins" (Carol Turkington).
    b. Rumor; gossip: the latest buzz from Hollywood.

    source: http://www.thefreedictionary.com

    So hype: no, buzz: yes.

  • I am more concerned about expectation than i am about Hype. There can never be too much Hype. But once the hype starts to create expectations, than thats where your problem can lie. However i have complete faith in HBO, and the directing team to make this exactly what the fans want to see. I have heard arguments that True Blood is better than it's source material. Granted we are talking about 1000's of pages vs hundreds but the point is, i think ASOIAF is good hands, good hands in-deed. Mark my words "winter is coming" to HBO, and i cant wait.

  • Allright, he has his Tivo on. And as I predicted he is only getting sicker haha.

    As to the expectations: I have very high expectations (because the source material is just too good), but things can go horribly wrong especially when an actor doesn't nail his or her act. When things go wrong I will be dissapointed, but not upset. I don't get upset for things I can't control myself, except for sports.

  • The potential for overhype is one of the reasons I initially avoided any news of the pilot at all–I didn't want to get myself too excited for something only to have my expectations let down. Even though I was the first person to post the news at Westeros about HBO optioning ASOIAF, I stopped reading updates there for a while hoping to view the show like a clean slate if it ever hit the air. I gave up on that once they started casting the pilot and now I spread the news to people who I think will be receptive to watching it, like my parents, who are big fans of everything on Masterpiece Theatre, watch HBO shows on DVD, and follow shows like Lost religiously. If HBO approves the pilot, I have a secret plan to turn my local TV critic into a fan of the show before it starts. He's already mentioned it once, but any insider getting more information can't be a bad thing for fans and getting more potential fans. ;)

  • I think the LotR comparison is nailed on. I know some hardcore Tolkien fans who thought that "no movie could catch all the depth of the novels", so they went to the theater and, in a blatant case of self-fulfilling prophecy, they only see the flaws, the changes and all the horrible things they had foreseen. And I felt truly, terrible sorry for them. For I think it's our fault, and our responsibility, if we put our expectations too high or too low. We all KNOW there will be changes on the TV series. We all know that there will be some thigns we'd like they had done some other way. But we have to see past that, to the global picture. It's Game of Thrones. It's HBO. It's BBC. It's (lets hope) a full season per book. Seriously. Can't it get any better than that?

    I really HATE the people that, when talked to about the series they reply with a "I don't care! He should be finishing the books off and put other things away!!". Why can't they even split the two apart?

    So. In conclusion: It's not too much buzz. It's a great amount of buzz, or hype, that leads to SOME people to higher expectations or, in my experience, to reject the project altogether.

    Congrat to WiC: great topic.

  • I think there's some hype amongst us hardcore fans, but that it's mostly superficial: a lot of us, myself included, go off into ridiculous discussions of awesome-sounding things that are way beyond realistic expectations, but deep down I think the majority have fairly reasonable expectations: a very good series, worthy of HBO and GRRM, but which is not perfect or the best thing to ever air on television (Though possibly the best fantasy series.) As many have said already, the hype really doesn't seem to extend to the non-fans: it's probably caught the attention of a few, which is good, but not to the point that they're really expecting anything more than a pretty good HBO series.

    I think mentions of Nintendo franchise games and the Matrix sequels are somewhat pertinent in a way nobody's mentioned: the time we really need to worry about hype is AFTER season 1. With the first season, even if it somehow manages to disappoint fans a little, I'm sure most of us will keep watching in the hope that it gets better. People new to ASoIaF won't have many expectations, so as long as it's okay by HBO standards, they will probably be satisfied. They won't be nitpicking all the little details from the books like some of us. Between seasons, though, a few things will happen:

    1. A lot of new TV Fans will get impatient and become book fans as well. More of the fanbase will be keenly aware of details that HBO could potentially get wrong, and will have preconceptions of subjective things (Tone of voice for certain lines, etc.) which they might disagree with HBO's portrayal of even if it's not "wrong".

    2. The long-term fans will have solidified expectations for the series. Right now, it's mostly a mystery, and I think most of us recognize that having concrete expectations is a bit unrealistic. Once season 1 is over, though, we will have something valid to compare season 2 with. If season 1 disappoints a little, we'll get impatient unless season 2 makes it right. If season 1 is absolutely brilliant, we'll expect 2 to be as good or better. The bar will be set higher either way.

    3. HBO will be carefully weighing the budget versus the acclaim/revenue the series is generating. So, not only will the show be at a risky period in terms of viewership and reputation, it will be under hard scrutiny while undergoing this risky period.

    So, while I think the buzz/hype is somewhat interesting to discuss for now, it's essentially a non-issue compared to the buzz/hype after season 1. Right now I think it's mostly a fun time-waster for us fans, and probably a reasonably good publicity generator for new fans (Better than nothing, anyway).

  • Entertainment Weekly had a short blurb about Tom McCarthy in last week's issue, mentioning him with regard to his supporting role in the movie 2012. It went on to mention he was the director of The Station Agent and The Visitor.

    No Game of Thrones mention. I'd say there's not too much hype yet.

  • @Caedes:

    Good to know you don't hate me for thinking "GRRM should have finished the books first" alone, since I AM also interested in the series… ;-)

    But I have to disagree about splitting books and series apart – especially BECAUSE the books are not finished! Can you imagine anyone to start filming tLotR before tRotK was written and published?

    "OK: from what we know, the good guys are supposed to win – I guess, since they seem to be the heroes of the tale. How about Gandalf faces Sauron in a battle to the death? And Frodo gets to keep the ring, which – without the power of Sauron behind it – lets him become the new leader of all the free people of the west. Then he orders Aragorn to root out all remaining evil guys in the South. In the meantime, Gandalf rebuilds Isengard and takes his seat there as the new first mage, then starts to train Pipi and Mary (or whatever the little rugs are called) in the dark arts.

    In season two, P&M roast Gandalf over an open fire, and start their evil quest to submit MiddleEarth into their Hobbitreich – including lots of naked female elves, just for the hell of it. They even manage to overthrow Frodo, and then it's up to Aragorn (returning with a host of albino mammoths) to stop them – how cool is this?"

    Well: guess you get the point… ;-)

  • Sorry, bur I got to add this (stupid as it is):

    Since the Quenya name for Middle-earth is Endor (no joke!), the place holds possibilities for a MASSIVE crossover… but we'll reserve this for season three.

  • Going back to the OP, I believe that video games are subject to much more hype than film, for a couple of reasons.

    One is that video games have a lot more room for innovation. They have the potential to introduce new technologies, and are constantly redefining the way people interact with media.

    Another reason is that (partially because of the previous reason) the video game journalism industry sells a lot of magazines by promoting every other game as potentially mankind's greatest achievement, ever.

    Finally, video game fanboys are unrivaled in their ability to cry about the slightest letdown, especially when it comes to cherished franchises.

    For these reasons, I think companies like Nintendo have much more to worry about with regard to hype than HBO does.

  • @Crystal: Hell Yeah! And then the Death Star drops on Mordor and awakens the spirit of Morgoth…, also, lots of naked female Ewoks – you know… ;-)

    @wabawanga: don't trust the V! The V are evil and want to enslave us all! Down with the Nintendo high command! ;-)

  • @Dunkeltroll

    A) I think Caedes means more in terms of people thinking that the TV series is somehow distracting GRRM from writing, and being annoyed that it's being made because of this. Of course, the past couple weeks he hasn't been writing due to travel, and he takes a bit of time out of his schedule to make up clues now and then, but largely the idea that the series is preventing him from writing is total crap: he's just the guy who wrote the books. Until they get to the episode he wants to write, he's not really doing much with the show as far as I can tell.

    That said, you have a good point on how unfinished source material can affect adaptations. This will especially be a problem if, as you imply, the books are still unfinished when they need to make the last seasons of the show. Even barring that, this can make for serious problems: going back to LotR, imagine if Gandalf's "death" had been shown more explicitly due to ignorance of his eventual return. If they showed the old man go splat at the bottom of the chasm, they'd have some 'splainin' to do later on, to paraphrase the immortal Desi Arnaz.

    On a lighter note, I actually kind of like the first paragraph of your alternate LotR ending. Kind of a too-happy cliche, and obviously ruins the whole motif of the actual books, but it sounds kinda cool in a way. Once "Mary and Pipi" turn evil it's pretty silly, though. Would they both be sporting the Hitler-'stache?

  • No, they would probably shave half of the hair on their feet… ;-)

    I'm not concerned with GRRM being held of from writing, only that the adaption is happening too soon. Don't get me wrong: everything that has been done so far seems to be perfect, and I love it. But still… (sigh).

  • To further highlight the problem of unfinished source material, take the discussion about Brienne as an example:

    Is she importend? Some say yes, some no.

    Is she boring? Some say yes, some no.

    Is she dead? Some guess not, others hope so.

    Since one of the very things I enjoy reading aSoIaF is the surprise-turns the story takes now and again, you can't be sure of ANY character.

  • Ok my 2 cents on this and then some…

    First, great topic (as usual) Winter.

    As to wether or not the project is generating too much hype I've got to give an adamant no! This early in the process the more buzz the project generates the better the chances of it getting picked up.

    Don't confuse hype with execution. Yeah the more buzz you generate the more potential critics you will have, but there is no such thing as bad advertising. The problem with hype usually comes when something in the execution of strong source material is altered so that for one reason or another it becomes watered down. This serves to dissapoint the core fans while alienating new fans based on a less engaging story and bad reviews they may hear.

    Thankfully, I see a perfect storm of occurances that help to nullify the fear of ASoIaF getting "Hollywoodized". I'll list them below.

    Source: As stated above ASoIaF is great, smart adult fantasy. Its an execllent property to draw from.

    Creative Team: Thankfully D&D and their crew seem very committed to keeping the story intact. As long as they continue to strive to keep things the same as much as possible it will help to make the original story shine through in the retelling. Stick to the tale keeping edits and changes to a minimum with the occasional added scene that enhances without altering the original material and they should keep the series strong.

    Medium: HBO is the perfect fit for this story. Make it a feature film (even a trilogy) and you have to cut so much material that major events will need to be omitted or changed simply due to time constraints. Present it as a network or even a cable series and you don't have the creative freedom to punch viewers in the mouth with the same intensity that the books deliver. Stick it on HBO and you largely free up time restrictions while adding the ability to get as nasty and gritty as GRRM's imagination.

    Industry Climate: With shows like Lost and BSG finished or ending, and current weaker offerings like Merlin or LotS, fans of the fantasy/Sci-fi genres will likely be more open to any well done series than they would if there was much stronger competition on other channels.

    All of these factors seem to me to go a long way towards ensuring that this series is going to be a smash! Turn the hype generators up to full power. This show can handle it! Who knows? If we clamor for it loud enough we might even see a series order a bit earlier than we suspect.

  • Hey WiC. A suggestion. How about switching the clock time to Albuquerque time? I know he's feeling a bit under the wether, but I'm slavering for a serious post about his trip.

  • I think you are getting carried away, I can't find any mainstream news articles on the series, and the only results from google or bing are from dedicated fan sites.

    Are you sure you are not exaggerating this so called hype? I have yet to come accross another person in real life who was aware this TV show is in production.

  • @syrinax and some others. Remember, we are talking about a series that is not even greenlit yet. Mainstream outlets are probably biding their time until some solid news about production is out there. From everything I can tell, this series is generating unprecidented noise for a show still in the conception stages.

  • My two cents? For me it's all about expectations.

    We ASOIAF fans all have an idea in our heads about how things should work in a GoT adaptation. We all had dream cast lists with the actors and actresses we had in mind to play certain roles. We all had opinions about how the direwolves/dragons should be portrayed and how the castles should look. We have ideas in our heads on every aspect of the show, costumes accents, dialogue etc.

    I know Benioff and Weiss are being as true to the source material as they can possibly be but it's inevitable that the vision they put on the screen will differ from the image of the production that each of us has in our minds.

    I'm not suggesting hype is a negative thing, what I am saying is that we all honestly need to think about what we're expecting to see when the pilot hits the small screen. I for one am keeping an open mind about everything. The pilot could very well be the fulfillment of my every desire for this project… or more likely it could be a cool show about my favourite books that I will both enjoy but need to get used to.

    Sometimes I try put myself in the shoes of the actors who have been cast so far. If I were one of them and I was seeing all the hype, I might worry about doing the perfect job of portraying my character. There are things we are going to love about the pilot and things we are going to wish they had done differently. All I'm saying is that we should be aware of that now, so that when the pilot airs we'll be ready for just about anything.

    I just thought this would be something interesting to mull over while we wait for more news.

    Huge Fan!

    -Pierce Van

  • Syrinax
    I'd say that being in the fan bubble may have skewed out perception of "Hype" a little, but there is some there, at least about a few things. I few of my friends mentioned reading about Lena Headey being cast (without me telling them), same with Sean Bean. I'm sure everything looks a little grander from out perspective though.

    The only other thing I've followed with nearly this much attention was X-men 3 (sigh…)and I went into that movie opening night and wasn't disapointed. Why? Because I realistically looked at the information I knew. The script was rushed, the director came on board late, it was Brett Ratner, etc. So i knew it wasn't going to be the movie i was hoping for. I lowered my expectations.
    So far GoT hasn't given me much reason to do that. The cast seems good, HBO is the only company that could do it, the production/effects people hve good reputations, an early leaked draft seems close to the books. I'm optomistic.
    If fan hype/internet hype can get this show picked up I'd say it's a good thing.

    Also, whoever on here recommended "The Wire" I bow to you. I'm justing finishing Season 1 and I'm completely hooked.

  • @jillian: you're welcome :) and the first season is nothing compared to what's coming next :)

    @WiC: aren't you over-hyping the hype a bit? to me it seems that we are seeing it as hype merely due to the fact that we are following it so closely. most of the sites i regularly visit haven't mentioned GoT once yet. and the hype is still far from mainstream.

    at the same time – every time i use the line "sporanos in middle-earth" people just get hyped!

  • @ Jillian: I enjoyed season 2, although it seems to be considered one of the weaker ones. However, seasons 3 & 4 of the "The Wire" are truly awesome!

  • syrinax & peeter: I know the hype hasn't hit Twilight or Avatar levels. I don't expect it to when the show hasn't even been picked up yet and (assuming it is picked up) is over a year away from being released. The point is that the amount of buzz being generated now, this far away from release, is pretty intense. I'm basing this off of HBO's comments as well as the comments from prominent TV critics. These folks are outside of the bubble and are pretty qualified to evaluate the hype level. So I don't think you can say that it is only because we are following the project so closely that it skews our perception of how much hype there is around the show.

    Critical Geek: Sorry you don't like the topic. I just thought it was worth discussing since it is something nobody has talked about yet. Even if you find it too "echo chambery" it is still better than another casting discussion, or release date discussion or "what if the show catches up to GRRM?" discussion. IMO anyway. There will be more discussion topics in the coming weeks, so hopefully one of them will be of more interest to you. :)

    Jillian: If you plan on doing your buying via Amazon it would be great if you could click through using my ad. ;)

  • Oh and regarding the whole "making a series based on unfinished source material" discussion, it seemed to work out okay for Harry Potter, no?

  • I think Ryan called it for me near the beginning of this thread.

    For a significant portion of the potential viewer base, the big deal is going to be that there's *finally* going to be a fantasy TV series that's getting the medium it deserves: an HBO drama.

    Given the times in which we live, these potential viewers will find out about the books and either:

    1) Rush out and read them as fast as possible.
    2) Wait until they've seen the show and then read the books.

    It's totally dependent on what type of people they are.

    The fact is, it'd only be too much hype if the show can't match the buzz, and we know the show is solid.

    The only potential problems I see:

    1) The expectation issue brought up before: Die hard fans who want something other than a great HBO series. It's going to be a good show, but may not match what people are expecting.

    2) The "three show rule" that happened with The Wire, Deadwood, and the British The Office for me. In all cases, I heard that they were good, and I saw their potential, but it took three shows for me to fully appreciate how brilliant they were. When I recommended them to friends, I've told them to watch at least three episodes before forming an opinion. It's arbitrary, maybe, but they're not shows like some people are used to, and it can take that long to really catch the vibe. If something's supposed to be the best thing ever, and it's *good* but you have to sync up with its particular style, will people feel let down?

  • I myself am a bit affraid george will have his writings influenced by the series in such ways that he will write the story from now on with the intention of having it broadcasted by HBO.
    As he put it himself he is not an architect writer, but he let's the story develop itself. I for one believe that J.k. Rowling was more of an architect writer with having an established plan for the series.
    This has provided some troubles for GRRM already, see the merenese knot trouble for example.
    The entire reason why GRRM doesn't visit the Westeros forum is that he wants to avoid being influenced by the sentiments and ideas being posted over there. How is he going to avoid this once the series hits the air and becomes (hopefully) a hit?
    I can only hope that it will influence him to speed up his writing for a change :)

  • It's funny, but I think this show will actually have a lot of wiggle room for me. Like… I hope it's the absolute best. I hope it surpasses Firefly as the Greatest Television Show I've Ever Seen.

    (Firefly, The Wire, Deadwood, Battlestar Galactica, and Mad Men are my top-five shows of all time, and they've all happened within the decade. I'm in my 40's, so this ain't some kid talking here. Great memories of Gunsmoke can only go so far; all the best stuff is happening now.)

    I do believe Game of Thrones CAN be better than any of them. And if it's not? I'm fine with it being good. I still have the books to tell me Arya's a "Horseface," and that Jory actually had a voice he used every so often. You won't (won't) get the depth you can get from a novel when it's stuffed into a television show.

    I expect it to connect to me visually. I expect to be blown away, just seeing the stuff I'd only just imagined. The characters will come to life. It's different for me, and likely a few others, in that I was here for the beginning process. I know these actors at a glance now, and have been picturing them in these roles ever since they were announced.

    Likewise I know the script. Unless it's completely rewritten (and how can it be since it sticks so closely to the book?) I already know what's going to happen. I see it as clear as day. Only the details need filling in, and I will drink them in.

    If something isn't exactly as I pictured it … well, I'll just take that as someone else's vision. It doesn't make it wrong.

  • @Winter: the seven Harry Potter books where released in about 10 years, while aGoT was published more than 13 years ago, and we are still waiting for book five. And HP sports some very well-defined central characters, while aSoIaF sprawls across continents.

  • I'm going into the whole thing expecting it to be very different to the books, and expecting that I will probably connect differently with the characters and their stories in the TV version than in the book version.

    I think, basically, we need to accept that the series is not going to be 'perfect'. I keep comparing this back to the Legend of the Seeker series, and thinking just how lucky we are. Many people here would say that the Goodkind books were not great source material, but obviously the fans thought it was, and were really excited by the prospect of the tv show. And what they got was a Disneyfied syndicated series with a bunch of no-name actors, their author cut out of the development process, and a storyline and characters that had been completely changed from the book series.

    We, on the other hand, have HBO, for a start. If picked up, it'll be shown primetime, almost certainly. We've got decent writers, a great director, a script which as far as we can tell is pretty darn faithful to the books, our author has a strong connection to the series, and we've got Peter Dinklage, Sean Bean, Jennifer Ehle, Lena Headey, and lots more fabulous actors. How lucky are we, honestly?

    Whatever we get, providing the series is picked up, will be far more than I ever expected we'd get. It won't be exactly how I envision it, but it'll be close enough, and if it really is different from the way it is in my mind's eye, I shall enjoy it as a separate thing from the books, still great but different.

    I think if all fans went into it looking at the series in that way, they'll probably get more enjoyment out of it than if they go in ready to nitpick every last detail.

  • i really felt like the pilot 1) was very faithful to the book, and 2) showed that viewers may not need Güd's three-episode formula to think it's awesome. GRRM packs a lot of mini-punches in his chapters, and ending with "the things i do for love" will rank as one of the most shocking endings of a first episode of any tv show in history.

    as for worrying about the series catching up to the books, we've already gone over a scenario giving GRRM three-to-four years per book and still coming out okay. not TOO worried about this.


  • This leads to a related question: how is HBO going to market and promote the show? There are a number of possibilities, each with opportunities and dangers:

    – As a genre fantasy: On the one hand, this _is_ a story in a fantasy world with magic and dragons and werewolves. On the other, as I've argued before, this will turn off a lot of people. Some people, even after the success of LOTR, think of fantasy as a genre for children.

    – As sort of an intrigue- and backstab- based historical costume drama, a la Rome, Tudors or Deadwood. But won't some people feel a little cheated once they realize that "Westeros" is a made-up fantasyland?

    – As a deconstruction of the classic fairy tale setting (Sansa dreaming about being a princess, then a series of awful things happening to her). But if the marketing focuses too much on the fact that there are children in the story, won't some part of the potential audience think (wrongly) that this is a story _for_ children? Plenty of people will see magic + children and assume that it's a story like Narnia or Harry Potter. Also, will it attract a male audience?

    – As a swashbuckling adventure story, like Gladiator or Robin Hood: but will it attract a female audience?

    A successful marketing campaign will have to involve a mix of all of these elements. It'll be interesting to see how it goes.

  • That is an interesting question. I suspect marketing it as a pure genre fantasy would actually be the worst strategy. The anti-fantasy types wouldn't turn in and you might lose the pro-fantasy people once they start seeing more political intrigue and incest then magic.

    They're not necessarily going to be advertising to men or women or age groups. I'd say it will be broken down to current HBO subscribers and non-subscribers. The HBO subscribers will like the things they like in HBO's other programs – adult themes, violence, complex plots, excellent production values. A little fantasy would get thrown in so that they're not totally surprised by it but the ads would most have short clips of the more emotional confrontations between well-dressed characters played by the most well known actors. Non subscriber ads on other channels could be similar but hype the book's best seller status and perhaps the "Fantasy: But now with mature HBO style!" angle.

  • @ Critical Geek

    You might not think so but this is something we are going to have to discuss at one point or another. You don't want to end up being unimpressed when the series airs and neither do I.

    -Pierce Van

  • I think Silverstar has nailed it on the head. Provided people don't overreact and go bonkers when it turns out a favourite minor character has been axed or they decide not to show Tyrion's acrobatic tumble (interesting if they do or not, actually), then I think the show should turn out fine.

    HBO do have a recurring problem that many of their shows require 3-4 episodes to 'bed in' and get going. THE WIRE (although rewatching the earlier episodes once you know what's going on in the show is a huge revelation), ROME and DEADWOOD all had that problem, TRUE BLOOD arguably doesn't become good until the fifth episode, and even BAND OF BROTHERS took a couple of episodes to get past training and the confused first mission and then into the war itself. The only exception to this trend is JOHN ADAMS, where the first episodes are somewhat more compelling than the later (although the story of the revolution and a war is arguably going to always be more interesting than peace-time considerations of setting up political institutions and debating treaties).

    Based on the pilot and what we know from the books, GoT should kick in from the first episode and become unmissable very quickly, which is a huge benefit to the show.

  • You guys have some great points about the first episode of Game of Thrones having the potential to grab folks from episode one.

    Dennis, as far as your marketing breakdowns go, I think it's very possible that they're going to go with an amalgamation of the first two. It'll be a period back-stabbing political intrigue piece that takes place in a fictional setting. Not explicitly stated, but the message will be, "Hey, not all fantasy TV shows are dumb. This one's from HBO." They can be up front about the fact that it's a fantasy show but still show potential viewers that it will be full of the sex, violence, strong performances, and excellent writing that viewers have come to enjoy from other HBO fare.

    I don't think I've ever mentioned this, but while I've been a GRRM fan since I was a kid with Wild Cards but I'd stopped reading novels by the time Game of Thrones came out.

    A friend of mine told me that HBO was going to be doing a fantasy series, and that's what got me interested. I kept asking him about the series until he eventually bought me Game of Thrones to read on a plane.

    By the time I got back I had finished it, and went through the others quickly. That's how I became a fan of the books. (And I am a fan.)

    In a weird way, though, I was a fan of the fact this was going to be an HBO series first. The only reason I knew about it is that I had a friend who was already a big fan, who heard the news first. It probably makes me a bit of a minority on this board, but I really think others will be following in my footsteps when advertising starts.

  • I think the only area where "too much hype" exists is where the small amount of press that is publishing about GoT's progress is saying that this series is generating "an unusual amount of buzz".


    Just because a fragment of the 1.5 M who have read the books are looking forward to an adaptation and are actively participating in the discussions that anticipate the pilot, to me, isn't unusual.

    IMO People here have often over-hyped many actors (calling them chameleons [LAWLZ]) and shows (The Wire, Firefly). But this is because they have witnessed these actors and shows. No one has seen GoT.

    Quite the opposite. I believe we have high hopes for all the right reasons. But to us, the core fanbase, a show based on an excellent book won't live up to the books.

  • I am still wondering how the larger audience will accept this..
    That was my first question to myself, after the exictement about hearing the news of the pilot.

    I mean, the first episode (pilot)..
    !SPOILER! ends with big shock: the sweet litlle kid is thrown through the window by the man who just made love to his own twin sister…!SPOILER!

    This could provoke the positive reaction, like the increase of interesting, but it also could be a disaster in some eyes…

    I know that there is a violence on TV, but in such a shocking way…I have that litlle concern
    about that.

  • @Davey,

    Ser, this is incorrect.

    Point 1: Quite the opposite. I believe we have high hopes for all the right reasons. But to us, the core fanbase, a show based on an excellent book won't live up to the books.

    Huh? Please begin making sense… now. If you had said instead that high expectations based on the books is an instant "too much hype" for a live-action series to live up to, then at least you'd sound like english isn't your 3rd or fourth language. As usual your rantings unravel into nihilism.

    Beyond this, beyond the show ever living up to the books, the show probably won't have too much hype unless they greenlight it and then market it out to be a CGI action movie extravaganza.

    Then, we'll see sappy gayboys like Davey, who incidentally is a rotten fruitcake and a flagrant sodomite, roll out of their usual "Twilight Chat Boards" and to chat it up and say they were there first. But actually, I was here before anyone else, and in fact, when I picked up the first book in 1996, I instantly though, as I do with every book that I pick up to read the dustcover sleeve, that HBO should pick it up.

    Anyway, the clueless wave of drooling tvheads will, if I can predict accurately, start to say GoT is the next LOTR. I don't think anyone in their right mind would assume HBO productions would fund a massive and relatively risky project like LOTR.

    In closing, I'm just going to say that I am correct in this, and that you aren't.

  • ummm Marty, you think every book should be picked up by HBO? That's like, crazy. LAWLZ.

    How can you be correct and me incorrect when we actually agree, you wacky old spoofer? And PLS stop telling people you are me. It's getting to be really weirdz LAWLZ.

  • @Davey,

    Try to keep up: you don't have to see the show to over-hype it. See WiC's Nintendo example. All you need is a bunch of people, and a lot of idle time. Since you are probably sitting there just whipping up near-schitzo imaginings of the show, I'm sure you've already blown it out of proportion already. Not to mention that the pilot may not get the go ahead. I assure you that 99% of the people who have been following the pilot assume the GoT series is going to get signed by HBO. That's sort of of being over-hyped, in't it?

    As for people thinking we're the same. Who cares? They are obviously paranoids, like you.

    I do not suffer from identity crisis, therefore I can sign my name anything I want, in't it?

  • @Daveyton

    I am not sure I could hate the term LAWLZ any more if i tried. One of you, please request the other not to use it again at the risk of becoming more than just a trifling distraction on the site. Thanks.

    As you were….


  • I'm not sure if I missed it, but it doesn't seem anyone's mentioned GRRM's two new blog posts.

    Poor GRRM! He ate at McDonald's in the Minneapolis airport (his first McD's in a decade) and got incredibly sick. Apparently he's been sick for the last few days. He's also depressed about the football games he's been catching up on.

    Interestingly, he also mentioned how tiring the air travel was, and he honestly doesn't know how many more overseas trips he has left in him (especially over oceans). I feel the same way as GRRM, and I'm only 30. It's just too much of an ordeal, and I was actually surprised he bothered to go to Morocco.

    On the bright side, if GRRM feels less likely to travel, perhaps he'll stay home more and do some more writing?

  • @Lex I guess the reason no one has commented is, no one really cares? We all get sick, we all get tired, and many of us ramble on about sport.

    @silverstar I found your post ironic because I think many of us prefer Legend of the Seeker to The Sword of Truth! Much stronger writing, story progression and characterisation, and no I'm not kidding. :) The only mainstream fantasy I rate below that series, and I've read all of it, is a certain series by Paolini …

  • @syrinax,

    I think many people who aren't fans of Sword of Truth do! But having lurked a little on the Goodkind forums to see what their opinions of Legend of the Seeker were during the development process and afterwards, it's pretty clear that Legend of the Seeker is not at all what they wanted.

    Seems to me so far that we're far luckier in that regard!

  • I haven't read all the comments, but I'm positive it's all going to mean the same thing in the end. Here's my take on it.

    What is it we love about this series? What is it that draws millions of people into rabid fan-dom? The mention of a 'Whedon-esque' fan base seems entirely appropriate to me, because GRRM has made us fall in obsession with his creation, as Joss Whedon does with his. What mysterious trick, what etheral draw do both worlds have in common?


    Oh, certainly the stories intrigue us, the scenery entrances us… but it is the characters, the richness, the depth, the minute details about these people that simply come alive in the pages. We can feel Ned's anguish. We can touch Arya's fury. We can see Sansa's innocence being whittled away bit by bit. The Hound, we fear and love, because we have no choice. We loathe Cersei, we want to loathe Jaime. These characters aren't words on a page, they aren't simple, plain pieces on a game board (even if they are to each other!). They are real. They live and breathe and we are invested into these creations.

    HBO could change the plot. They probably will. Some of it would have to change. Some of the world is unfilmable. (Though, I won't put anything past anyone these days.) The details could be left out, or new ones added (Like Ros). But if the characters remain as full and vibrant as GRRM has created them… then it will be a success.

    Will we be able to read along with our well-worn copies of GoT, so thoroughly loved that we must be gentle, lest the pages fall apart? No. Should we expect to? No. What we /should/ expect is the richness and depth of character that we have fallen in love with. There may even be slight changes in how a character acts, what he does… but if it makes sense in the series, it is faithful to the work.

    HBO has proven, time and time again, that they can create characters and come up with an amazing show. Rome, True Blood, Hung, The Sopranos, for the love of pete. The hype shouldn't daunt anyone. HBO and the produces, director and actors have the trust of GRRM. So should we. I do not fear the hype, nor having my expectations unmet. In truth, none of us know what to expect. What we anticipate is a character-driven story to revel in.

    I can't bloody wait.