So I've finally got round to getting stuck into HBO's new Game of Thrones spin-off TV series, House of the Dragon, watching the two episodes that have been released so far.
And, I've got to admit out of the gate, I was definitely not on board the House of the Dragon hype train (should that be hype dragon?) before I started watching.
I, like I am sure millions of other people were, was comprehensively burned by Game of Thrones, which plummeted in quality after season three and, by the final season, had me mentally checked out, bored and massively disappointed in equal measure.
So the idea of more of the same didn't really appeal. Regardless, though, House of the Dragon is now here, I've watched the available first two episodes, and this is what I wish I'd been told before taking the plunge.
1. Milly Alcock is in it, and she's good
Hey, now this was a great surprise for me. Milly Alcock is in House of the Dragon, playing lead character Rhaenyra Targaryen. The only other thing I've seen Alcock in was Upright, a comedy TV show with Tim Minchin, and I really rated her in that. But in House of the Dragon she's taken her awesomeness to a new level, playing the Targaryen princess with assured calmness and presence. The surrounding cast has so far been very good, too, but Alcock's serious turn here has been a highlight.
2. It's far more focussed than Game of Thrones
Now I realise I am only two episodes in, but so far House of the Dragon has been much more focussed than Game of Thrones in terms of plot, cast of characters and setting. So far we've had a very intimate exploration of the breadth and politics of the House Targaryen, as well as its history and lineage, with the vast majority of the show so far happening either at King's Landing or Dragonstone, two locations Game of Thrones fans will know well. It's been very Shakespearian actually, with family drama front and centre.
3. It's got A LOT of dragons and the CG is awesome
Honestly, if you're going to do dragons then do them well – I'm thinking Reign of Fire and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, not Eragon and Enchanted. And, if you're going to call your show 'House of the Dragon', then you really better have plenty of dragon action. So far, I am pleased to say, dragons have has some good screen time in House of the Dragon and, even better, they've done them well. Serious money has been spent on these gigantic, fire-breathing drakes, and they look and act the part. There's genuine spectacle when they're on screen. Needless to say, I'm expecting more hot wyvern action going forward.
4. It looks STUNNING in Ultra HD 4K HDR
And, talking of things looking good, House of the Dragon looks stunning in Ultra HD 4K HDR. This show has been shot with the best tech on the market today and it shows. On my LG C1 OLED TV everything from the rich sets and costume, through to moody, candle lit interiors or sun-drenched exteriors, and onto the fire-breathing special effects from dragons or claustrophobic mists of Dragonstone, look a million dollars. It's one of those shows that reminds you why you spent thousands on a sweet home cinema setup in the first place. The colour, contrast and fidelity on offer are a treat, so be sure to watch House of the Dragon in the best way possible.
5. Thankfully, it's classier than Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones quickly entered joke territory with its formulaic and zealous use of certain scenes involving people avoiding their clothes at all costs to clumsily drop exposition on the watcher. So, when I saw the 18/TV-MA rating for House of the Dragon I feared the worse. Thankfully, though, so far we've had what feels like a far more mature show from HBO that feels more confident to just tell a good story, rather than worrying that people will switch off if they aren't shown something risqué or bloody every 5 minutes.
Conclusion: I'm going to keep watching
Overall, then, I've been really impressed with House of the Dragon so far. It feels like a better acted, better scripted, tighter plotted Game of Thrones, so I hope it continues to deliver at this high standard. Oh, and there's also more dragons, too – what's not to like?