Man, I really can’t wait for Season 5 of Game of Thrones. Everyone I talk to, whether it’s my uncle, or neighbour, or barber, is excitedly thinking the same thing – we’re only a few months away from revisiting Westeros and seeing the fallout from Tyrion Lannister’s bold (and violent) choices in the Season 4 finale.
Aside from viewing past seasons of Thrones over and over again, what should you watch in the meantime? Industry buzz suggests that Netflix’s new historical series, Marco Polo, might hit the spot. The show, which recently hit the streaming service, follows the Italian explorer as he finds himself in the court of Mongolian Emperor Kublai Khan. The 10-episode first season reportedly cost US$90 million to make, second only to Game of Thrones as the most expensive series ever.
And while many critics have been comparing the epic series to the HBO hit – even Marco Polo executive producer Harvey Weinstein has described the shows as looking similar – not everyone working on the Netflix series thinks it’s an accurate comparison.
“There’s something very different tonally about our show,” says Marco Polo director and executive producer Daniel Minahan, who has also directed several episodes of Game of Thrones. “I think (Marco) is more of an adventure show. We have kung fu fighting, and there’s an element of playfulness about this that I hope comes through, and a kind of wonder, which is I think different from Game of Thrones.”
And while Marco Polo definitely contains political maneuvering, spying and shifting relationships – some of the best things about Game of Thrones – it goes about it in a different way.
“We have a lot of that, but it’s different, because we have one protagonist,” says Minahan. “That’s sort of our eyes into this world.”
Australian actor Remy Hii, who plays Prince Jingim in the Netflix series, says comparisons between the two shows are inevitable, especially since everyone and their barber are watching Game of Thrones.
“I think Game of Thrones is just running so hot at the moment,” he says. “They really opened up fantasy to the mainstream. Whereas, we’re working with a very epic, grand, historical story. It is rooted in fact. And as an artist, I don’t think that you want to compare yourself too much…I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan, I love it, but I recognize that what we’re doing here is very different.”
What do you think? Is it fair to put both shows in the same category? And, more importantly, does Marco Polo contain that binge-worthy quality that makes Thrones so addictive?