Although some may not agree, but HBO's fantasy drama Game Of Thrones can all-in-all be classified as one of the most well-crafted TV shows ever. From script to casting to production values, the makers have got almost everything right, making the experience like watching a bid budget, content-driven fantasy drama play out on the big screen. However, what comes next will surprise most fans. The show's pilot episode actually "sucked".
Acclaimed Hollywood screenwriters John August (Go, Big Fish, and several other Tim Burton projects) and Craig Mazin (The Hangover sequels and Identity Thief), a personal friend of Game Of Thrones showrunners Dan Weiss and David Benioff, were part of the few people who watched the original GoT pilot. They hated it, calling it a "massive problem".
The pair – August and Mazin – who host a podcast called Scriptnotes, had the Game Of Thrones showrunners over this week, to talk about the pilot episode. Mazin actually saw the original pilot directed by Tom McCarthy of Spotlight, The Station Agent, and The Visitor fame and, along with a few friends, was asked to offer his opinion.
"Watching them watch that original pilot was one of the most painful experiences of my life," Weiss said on the podcast (via Vanity Fair). "As soon as it finished, Craig [Mazin] said, 'You guys have a massive problem'."
One of the many key problems with the episode was that "none of (our friends) realized that Jaime and Cersei were brother and sister, which is a major, major plot point that we had somehow failed to establish", said Benioff.
"I was taking notes," added the showrunner, "And I had this yellow legal pad, and I just remembered writing in all caps, 'MASSIVE PROBLEM,' and it's all I could think about the rest of the night. Craig didn't really have any great ideas except that he said 'change everything'."
And change everything they did. Barring some original footage, Weiss and Benioff re-shot about 90% of the pilot with new director Timothy Van Patten.
Mazin called the changes Weiss, Benioff, and director Timothy Van Patten were able to work "a miracle". "I will never forget being invited to the premiere of the first season," he Mazin. "I went in just thinking (skeptically), 'Well, I guess we'll just see how this goes.' I sat there and this show unfolds and I am stunned. Stunned. And I very specifically remember walking out and I said to [Weiss and Benioff], 'That is the biggest rescue in Hollywood history.' Because it wasn't just that they had saved something bad and turned it really good. You had saved a complete piece of sh-t and turned it into something brilliant. That never happens!"