It feels like only yesterday that since “Game Of Thrones” began its fourth season, and [SPOILER REDACTED], and then [OTHER SPOILER REDACTED] and oh my god, when [REALLY MASSIVE SPOILER REDACTED]. But we’re already upon the season finale, certainly a testament to the power of the story, but it’s hard not to feel like we were only just getting going when it all comes to an end.
George R. R. Martin, creator of “A Song Of Ice And Fire,” the book series on which “Game Of Thrones” is based, certainly agrees that ten episodes, which has become the standard for a ‘Thrones’ season, feels a bit slight. In a new interview with The New York Times to tie-in to the upcoming finale, the writer says “I wish we had more episodes. I’d love to have 13 episodes. With 13 episodes, we could include smaller scenes that we had to cut, scenes that make the story deeper and richer.”
Martin got his start on network television like “Beauty & The Beast,” so he certainly knows what he’s talking about when it comes to TV plotting, and he’s correct in that a 13-episode run tends to be more common for a cable show (though not necessarily for HBO, whose series can be as short as six or as long as thirteen). But there are more practical issues at work, as Martin is aware of: the show is wildly expensive, weighing in at around $60-70 million a season, and that money goes further if it’s spread over fewer episodes (“Battles are expensive,” he acknowledges).
But we’d say that there are creative considerations too: the pacing of the show is mostly very strong, but not all the characters have evenly paced storylines, and that means that even across ten episodes, some characters feel like they’re spinning their wheels (we’re not sure how many more seasons we can put up with Daenerys sitting around in sunny fortresses learning that she needs to rule, not just conquer). So we can’t help but feel that extended seasons might exacerbate that problem, rather than improve it.
But with the show proving such an enormous hit (the biggest in HBO’s history), surely the financial considerations are less of a problem these days—HBO could certainly spend another $20 million on the show and still make bags of cash off it. So what do you think? Are you a fan of the books who misses the material that gets left on the cutting room floor? Do you think the storylines could use a little more room to breath? Or do you agree that the ten episode-seasons keep the show relatively lean? Let us know your thoughts below. And in the meantime, you can watch a promo for Sunday’s finale, “The Children.”