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House Of The Dragon's Showrunner Has Heard Your Complaints About Scenes Being Too Dark

/Film 10/24/2022 Michael Boyle
House of the Dragon © HBO House of the Dragon

For the most part, the first season of "House of the Dragon" was pretty good. It seemed fully aware of the fact that audiences were weary after that questionable "Game of Thrones" ending, and was making a clear effort to make amends. It was a return to the feel of the original show's early seasons, with its complicated political intrigue and its morally ambiguous characters. The only thing it didn't borrow from the original show's early seasons, unfortunately, was the competent lighting. 

If you return to the first season of "Game of Thrones," you might be surprised by how well-lit everything was. Even with the night scenes, you can still typically see everything going on. For the most part, scenes were lit like the picture above, which was a promotional image for "House of the Dragon." When that scene finally happened in the prequel's seventh episode "Driftmark," nearly all the color had been stripped away.

As much as the writing of "House of the Dragon" takes after the early seasons of "Game of Thrones," the lighting is clearly inspired by the later ones. The scenes gradually grew darker over the course of the series, escalating to the point where we could barely see the big climactic battle against the white walkers. 

Luckily for viewers who enjoy being able to see the expressions on characters' faces, showrunner Ryan Condal has listened to your complaints. "The feedback was certainly heard," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "I get it. And we want the show to be a great viewing experience for everybody."

Producing A TV Show Like Its A Movie

House of the Dragon © HBO House of the Dragon

Can you see what's happening in this image? I can if I squint. Thank God the Targaryens have such bright blonde hair, otherwise, I'd be staring at a black screen. Are the actors giving a great performance right now? Did the costume designers do a good job with Rhaenyra and Daemon's outfits for this scene? I guess we'll never know. 

To be fair to the show, you're likely reading this article in a room with lights on, on a phone or computer. As Ryan Condal acknowledged in a recent interview, the production of the show involves "millions of dollars worth of high-end equipment, almost as if we're making a movie." It results in an episode of TV that would probably look amazing if you were seeing it in theaters, but that's not how the show's millions of viewers are experiencing it. 

"For TV, you're releasing it onto a million different television screens and different setups and calibrations all over the planet," Condal explained. "It's hard to account for everybody's televisions and their calibrations." The end result is a show that looks great to the editors in their studio, but not as great for the viewers watching on a less impressive screen.

Not The Viewers' Fault

House of the Dragon © HBO House of the Dragon

Previously, the common response from the showrunners (of both "Game of Thrones" and "House of the Dragon") was basically to blame the viewers for these issues. The cinematographer for "The Long Night" defended the episode at the time, saying that viewers who were having problems seeing the episode should adjust their TV settings and make sure there were no lights in the room as they watched it. 

While adjusting your TV settings can definitely help, it's still not a good sign when viewers who otherwise have no trouble watching other shows on their TV are forced to change their settings just for your sake. This is why it's so refreshing for Condal to have acknowledged that this is in fact an issue on their end and that they're working to fix it as they go into season 2. It's not clear what exactly they'll be doing to ensure lighting improves in the second season, but the fact that he's acknowledging the issue seems like a step in the right direction.

Read this next: Every Game Of Thrones Spin-Off Show In Development

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