Why we don't want Game of Thrones to last 10 seasons ...
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Game of Thrones!
Charlie Jane Anders was overjoyed to read that the producers of HBO's Game of Thrones have no intention of having the show last 10 seasons, because that would "strangle the golden goose."
Here's why 10 seasons of Thrones would be a bad thing:
The first two books of A Song of Ice and Fire are the tightest. People pick on A Feast For Crows as being a bit of a slog -- but honestly, long stretches of A Storm of Swordsand A Dance With Dragons are also slow going. With each of the books after A Clash of Kings, the number of characters multiplies, but so too do the number of sequences where someone witnesses an atrocity or makes a terrible decision. A grand sweeping arc -- along the lines of "Ned Stark investigates" or "Robert's two brothers make a play for the throne, leading to a huge battle" -- is less in evidence in the later books, and there's much more emphasis on micro-arcs and ongoing turmoil. I love the later books, even the occasionally maligned Feast For Crows, but they feel much more like "middle volumes" -- loose and not very self-contained. They're the work of someone who's already won over an audience.
The first two seasons of Game of Thrones made some canny decisions about changing Martin's work -- including bringing characters like Margaery Tyrell to the fore, which will pay off handsomely when the series gets to Feast for Crows. In particular, some shoes that Martin left hovering in mid-air drop way quicker in season two than in the book -- Jaime Lannister gets out of his cell early, and we see Robb Stark's romance and wedding instead of hearing about them a year later. This kind of cutting to the chase will be even more essential as the show goes on.
We already know season three will be roughly the first half of A Storm of Swords, and readers of the book will already have guessed what huge tragedy will be this year's climactic event, akin to last year's battle and year one's beheading of Ned Stark. And that means season four will cover the rest of Storm of Swords -- plus, if the show remains true to form, at least some of A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons as well.
Because most of A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons take place simultaneously, you can easily imagine the show weaving the two books together for season five, and possibly some of season six.
The thing I really like about Feast for Crows/Dance with Dragons, especially when you take them as one massive oeuvre, is the way they deal with problems of governance -- without going into major spoiler territory, these are the volumes where certain people who have seized power are faced with the problems of actually ruling. Which is fascinating on the page -- and a nightmare to dramatize on television. There are banking crises and imperfect compromises and constitutional questions, and the clash between church and state, and so on.
It's not just that Game of Thrones has been thriving on the model of "huge sweeping saga with major events every year." I'm sure the show could adapt just fine if it had one season where only smaller, more personal events transpire -- and foregrounding non-POV characters like Margaery and Pycelle means there's some scope to build up arcs that are somewhat underdeveloped in Feast and Dance. But there's also the question of momentum and delayed gratification -- how many years will people wait for the fricken dragons to get to Westeros, and for the zombies to get past the Wall? We want to see dragons and zombies in Westeros -- the thing the show has been teasing since season one, in other words.
Dragons and zombies in the Seven Kingdoms, FTW.
If this doesn't happen until, say, season nine -- I will be SUPER grumpy.
What happens when Game of Thrones runs out of books to adapt?
Given the huge wealth of material in Martin's books, especially the later books, you could easily make each book into multiple seasons. Already, season three is just the first half of A Storm of Swords. I do not want to sit through three years of A Feast For Crows. In fact, I want the show to leave out some of the books' millions of subplots.
Luckily, the producers tell Entertainment Weekly that they are sensitive to this concern, and they do not want Thrones to last 10 seasons. Writes James Hibberd in EW's big cover story:
It's possible the producers, who know the broad strokes of Martin's ending for the story, might conclude the show before the last book is released. Not that anyone involved wants that to happen. "Ideally, the books come out first," Benioff says. "We don't want to become a show that outstays its welcome and tries to turn each book into three seasons. Part of what we love about these books, and this show, is this sense of momentum and building toward something. If we tried to turn this into a 10-season show we'd strangle the golden goose. There is a ticking clock here."
The EW article mentions one idea to allow the show to wait for Martin to publish his final volume, and end with a bang: turn the show's conclusion into a big-screen movie, which would have more lead time and a bigger budget.
This sounds awesome.