TV, Venue

Westworld – The Next Game of Thrones?

HBO seems to have worked its magic again with new show Westworld, or has it?

This new science-fiction and western mashup is based on the 1973 film written by Michael Crichton. It depicts a futuristic theme park where rich people can spend time in a Western town populated by nearly perfect androids- but where the agendas of visitors and owners alike will lead to conflict.

So will this sci-fi and western combination be able to step into the footsteps of Game of Thrones?

Our writers Tom Bedford and Tom Brown discuss:

Game of Thrones is coming to an end. HBO, the network that airs it to the few viewers who do not pirate it, has confirmed that there are to be only two seasons left. Naturally, HBO are not too happy to let this end without having another popular series running, buying hugely popular rights costs money. To pick up this potential they have launched a new hope- Westworld.

HBO expects Westworld to be your GOT rebound, but at this job it will fail. A few episodes of Westworld have aired already, and it is a fairly good show. Mature themes are being explored, the writers have already played with our emotions to an impressive degree, and future mysteries are already being set up. J.J. Abrams is an executive producer, after all. It has been a bit slow so far, but the likes of Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones have shown us that this is not really a bad sign. No, the reason Westworld will fail to fill the boots of Game of Thrones is that it is such a fundamentally different kind of programme.

Thrones shows us one storyline playing out over the course of many episodes. Each individual episode is not a contained story in itself, and you cannot watch one without knowing the previous events. Any twists in direction are unexpected, we thought we knew where this was going. Westworld on the other hand is rather similar to Lost– it is built on mystery and suspense, that is all we are expecting. We do not care too much what happens in the nitty-gritty details of the show as long as the next twist will give us some new juicy events to enjoy.

Whilst in Thrones change shocks us, change is all we expect from Westworld. At the very core, disregarding genres like ‘fantasy’ or ‘western’, they are different- the former is an adventure, the latter is a mystery. The former takes us to new places, the latter makes us look at the same places in different ways. The former is about what we know, the latter is about what we do not know.

Hopefully Westworld will be as great as GOT is, but HBO’s attempts to market it as a logical successor to GOT will just lead to disappointment. Watch if you like Lost, or The X-Files, or The Prisoner. If the only mystery you like is ‘who will die next’, there are some great shows out there for you too- just not Westworld.

– Tom Bedford

Four episodes in and already HBO’s new hundred million dollar series Westworld is generating a huge buzz on social media and leading with record breaking viewing figures. With an intimidating cast including Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris, Westworld already had huge expectations chafing its shoulders before the first episode was even aired. But after a strong premier episode seen by over 12 million people, HBO’s most watched pilot in almost three years, the show has revealed itself to be a mind-bending thriller, driven by an intriguing plot, layered characters, and all topped off with HBO’s trademark sex and violence, the gravy which complements the delicious narrative meal underneath.

While still too early to speculate about the show’s success, many are calling the new hit a spiritual successor to HBO’s colossal series, Game of Thrones (2011) which is set to retire in a few years’ time. Many hope that the new title will ignite the sci-fi genre in television the same way that Game of Thrones did for fantasy.

Game of Throne’s initial success of course was largely due to an inbuilt fan community already present from George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series. Westworld has a lot more groundwork that needs laying before it can begin attracting a community as obsessed with its content as the GOT fanbase. However, fan theories are already popping up online questioning the background of the mysterious ‘man-in-black’ character played by Ed Harris, as well as several other ideas for possible cross-overs suggested by the creators themselves. After an exclusive interview producer J.J. Abrams revealed that five seasons of content have already been planned in advance for the show, hinting that Westworld could eventually turn into the same kind of complex, mythology-driven show that Game of Thrones has become. In the original theatrical Westworld (1973), a Romanworld is briefly alluded to, opening up potential pathways and perhaps even spin-offs that the show could explore after some initial success.

It is still too early to tell exactly what kind of show Westworld will eventually turn out to be, but if studios have learned one thing from the mammoth success of Game of Thrones, it’s that ambitious projects are sometimes the most lucrative. With a little luck and dedication, the torch set alight by Game of Thrones could, after the series has been put to bed, very well end up being passed into the waiting hands of Westworld.

– Tom Brown


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August 2022
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