HBO has a Game of Thrones problem, in both the traditional sense of the word, and the "your uncle with an entire room dedicated to his Victorian dolls" sense: They couldn't just keep splitting the books into increasingly shorter volumes, but they really, really like nerd money. After racking their brains for ways to keep that sweaty, pockmarked gravy train running (and somehow never landing on the word "Rhaegar"), HBO ordered a pilot for a series set thousands of years in Westeros's past... because everyone knows the real star of the show was the Northern Irish landscape.
What could go wrong?
It's not actually clear, but despite a star-studded cast, HBO cancelled the series after what must have been one mess of a pilot in 2019. That's okay: They had four other prequel concepts in the works. But if you, too, were crossing your fingers for a hot Robert Baratheon, you'll be disappointed. They went with a series that will be called House of the Dragon: the story of the Targaryen civil war that happened hundreds of years before any of the characters we love were born, based on a book The Times called "interminable, self-indulgent crap." Nothing more was heard about it for several months. Until this week, when headlines screamed that "we now have a release date," and the series was "to launch in 2022."
Except no one actually said that. What HBO head of programming Casey Bloys said was "My guess is sometime in 2022." And this is where the real nerds are separated from the casuals, because where this property is concerned, release date estimates are about as reliable as ancient prophecies. This is a franchise that made us wait two years for six episodes -- the same timeframe for a full season of a brand new series is probably optimistic. They're only just now beginning to write the thing, and given George R. R. Martin's apparent hands-on involvement, we can probably expect it anytime from next year to just after the Sun explodes.
But don't lose hope: This is what we've been training for. If there's anything Martin fans excel at, it's waiting.