In the final season of Game of Thrones, fans objected to some episodes they said were too dark to properly see and understand. The issue reared its head again in the first season of the Thrones spinoff House of the Dragon, and in both cases, the creatives behind the show defended the baffling decision as a creative choice. Now that the first season is over, though, it seems as if showrunner Ryan Condal is backing off of that a little bit, and seems open to addressing fan concerns.
Saying that it's the producers' job to make the show "a great viewing experience for everybody," Condal acknowledged that sometimes there can be a difference between the best possible presentation for the best possible home theater setup, versus what 95% of the audience is actually going to see when they watch it.
"The visual continuity of the show is certainly something that we will look at," executive producer Condal told The Hollywood Reporter. "That stuff is always so tricky because we're doing [post-production] on millions of dollars worth of high-end equipment, almost as if we're making a movie. It looked great in post and I looked great on my television. But when you release a Star Wars film, you're releasing it in theaters. For TV, you're releasing it onto a million different television screens and different setups and calibrations all over the planet. You're also releasing it through different distributors who are going to distribute it in 4K or 1080p or 1080i or not that at all. So it's hard to account for everybody's everybody's televisions and their calibrations and sometimes the file can get compressed. So the show can look very different than the thing that we saw and approved and released....But look: It's our job to take all that into account. These are one of the things that you learn in the making of a show – you take that knowledge into account when making season two and say, 'How can we do better?' The feedback was certainly heard. I get it. And we want the show to be a great viewing experience for everybody."
This is, of course, a never-ending process of evolution. In the '90s, when most people still had CRT TVs, almost every VHS tape was sold as a full-frame crop of the image, trimming off the edges of the "widescreen" presentation in order to avoid black bars at the top and bottom. As DVD and widescreen TVs started to take hold of the market, that standard changed, but for years, consumers would complain about the "bars" on widescreen DVD releases.
You can see (mostly, that is) the first season of House of the Dragon on HBO Max.