5 Lessons ‘The Witcher’ Should Learn From ‘House of the Dragon’s’ Immense Success

Published 12/02/2023, 12:09 PM EST

via Imago

In the age of streaming, competition galore. An ever-widening expanse of fans’ interest keeps pushing the need for media houses to venture further into producing some of the unique creative gems. An ambitious push for the same gave Marvel Studios the height where it stands today and most recently gave Netflix an arsenal in the form of One Piece. However, the success of the streamer came close after a disastrous fall in reception of its fantasy series, once led by Henry Cavill. The Witcher found itself pitted against HBO’s mega-event Game Of Thrones yet fell short in deliverance to even the latter’s most recent prequel House of the Dragon.

Considering the last season Netflix produced and comparing it to the only season that the HBO spin-off has had so far, there are a few gray areas where the streaming giant may look to improve.

The story is yours to mold, even when the source is not

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Perhaps the biggest difference between The Witcher and House of the Dragon is their interpretation and adaptation of their respective source materials. The 2022 released HBO show based itself on George R.R. Martin’s book, Fire & Blood. Interestingly, the show’s writers did not swear by it. While the original book served as a telling of history, the show adapted its gripping political storyline while only basing its characters and continuity on it.

The Witcher’s team, however, religiously followed Andrzej Sapkowski’s books of the same name for the majority of the first season. From the plots to the characters, the detailing stood mirrored until it was not. The show soon started to veer off course, much to the chagrin of the lead, Henry Cavill. Yet, unlike their HBO counterparts, the writers forgot to streamline the plot. The result was a mess of a story with too many sub-plots that at times did not feel relevant to the ongoing background plot.

Every sub-plot ties to the underlying plot

In its first season, the HBO prequel show featured cast changes to show the passage of time. Moreover, it also added sub-plots like Princess Rhaenyra exploring her sexuality, Daemon Targaryen’s tension with Ser Criston Cole, and of course, the riveting development of a childhood bond eventual fallacy between the princess and the queen. However, all of them served one singular purpose – to build the underlying plot and lead to the season finale.

On the Netflix turf, things went quickly out of hand. While the first season had its reasons and fair balance of sub-plots, the latter outings scattered. For example, the season three events of MyAnna Buring’s Tissaia’s death fell short of its impact as the necessary character development did not receive much screen time. Likewise, in the first half of the latest season, building a bond between Yennefer and Ciri, only to split them apart in the second half, did not stick well.

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It is not a small world

Much like its predecessor, the Milly Alcock-led show hinted that there is much room for expansion in the story. Throughout the prequel, references to its history alongside alludes to the main Game of Thrones universe kept fans invested. The subtle mention of worlds beyond the show’s boundaries, with occasional maps hinting at the same, gave the show much room to grow for the coming seasons. More so, it would likely build back a connection with fans if those uttered words were to appear on screen.

At its core, the Netflix fantasy is about magic. A world full of witches, mages, elves, dwarves, and superhumans lay outside the main storyline. However, The Witcher simply feigned world-building. Indeed, there were monsters, but no hints on if the forthcoming seasons were to explore their worlds. Moreover, The Witcher did not mention what lay beyond the Northern kingdom, something that House of the Dragon did.

Live up to your name

In all essence, the House of the Dragon delivered on its title – Dragons. The mythical creatures were by the plenty and intricate details found themselves explored. Additionally, sticking to its title, the show’s ethos was to revolve around the House of the Dragon or the Targaryen family and it not for once diverted away from it. The entirety of the show spread the story across every character, but eventually tied it to the climactic showdown. A feat that achieved a staggering 9.3 million viewers for the finale.

In sharp contrast, the Netflix fantasy’s viewership dropped frighteningly soon after Henry Cavill left the show. However, the primary reason for it was the third season’s treatment of Geralt. The titular character remained almost hidden away for the entirety of the first half as the focus went on exploring Ciri and Yennefer. Additionally, when Cavill did return as the White Wolf for the second part, the impact fell flat and the conclusion was hardly satisfactory.

Music is just as important as the story

Ramin Djawadi breathed fire into his music for the House of the Dragon as it went trending on Spotify. The musician painted every scene with meticulous reverberation and the result was a lively picture. Every scene felt more connected, and the tension stood evident. Scenes such as Old Viserys walking down to the throne for one last time, or the sensuous riff within the princess, stood accentuated for the background score.

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Without a question, Sonya Belousova and Giona Ostinelli did a fantastic job with their soundtrack for The Witcher. However, like the storyline, they failed to deliver following season one. The impact simply did not land close to Djawadi’s brilliance. However, in their defense, a story going in many directions at once may have proved counter-productive. At the end of the day, it all came down to remembrance and Netflix lacked it.

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Undeniably, each show has its regime. The themes, story, and direction for one may and should be different from one another. Yet, when it comes down to the effectiveness of narrating a tale, it looks like the House of the Dragon has an upper hand over The Witcher.

What are your reactions to this comparison? Let us know in the comments below.

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Imteshal Karim

850 articles

Imteshal Karim is a Hollywood News reporter at NetflixJunkie. With a penchant for writing in multiple forms, he is a published writer with his works published in anthologies. A star at his college’s writing competitions, he loves telling a good story and hopes to tell impactful ones about the unexplored side of the Entertainment industry.

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