HBO has renewed its adaptation of a fantasy novel by George R. R. Martin even though the series bowed to lackluster ratings, reports Joe Adalian in New York Magazine’s Vulture blog.
"Game of Thrones" debuted with 2.2 million viewers, less than half the turnout for the network’s premiere of "Boardwalk Empire," the story points out. But even though the debut was disappointing, 2.2 million viewers is still solid for an HBO series.
Furthermore, the show was almost universally praised by critics, and HBO likes that. For example, EW’s Ken Tucker said of the "Thrones" TV debut that "it was a swift fantasy adventure rooted in the emotions of ambition, greed, and lust."
Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "The first 10 minutes or so of HBO’s new epic fantasy series “Game of Thrones” are spent celebrating the glories of cable, i.e. bloody violence (beheadings, hacked off body parts, eviscerated guts steaming in the snow) and HBO sex (female semi-frontal nudity, non-missionary position intercourse and unnecessarily graphic sound effects). Unless you are a minor, you should not be deterred by any of this because “Game of Thrones,” written and produced by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, quickly becomes a great and thundering series of political and psychological intrigue bristling with vivid characters, cross-hatched with tantalizing plotlines and seasoned with a splash of fantasy…"
"True Blood," which has become one of the network’s biggest hits, debuted with just 1.4 million viewers in fall 2008. Executives at HBO appear to be betting that ratings for "Game of Thrones" will gain traction, just as they did for "True Blood."
“Game of Thrones” is based on Martin’s series of medieval fantasy novels titled “A Song of Ice and Fire.”