When HBO's renewal of "Game of Thrones" for a third season was announced Tuesday, one question sprang to many fans' minds: How many episodes will there be?
A spokesperson for the network would not confirm that, as was the case with the first two seasons, the third season will have 10 episodes. But executive producer D.B. Weiss, whom I interviewed after the renewal announcement, said that he and fellow "Game of Thrones" executive producer David Benioff were proceeding on the assumption that Season 3 will consist of 10 episodes.
"I would say that, going forward, 10-episode seasons are really all that are possible, given our 12-month [production] cycle," Weiss said. "For this show specifically, it's really all we can do to do 10 of them in a year. I would say not to expect more than 10 a season any time in the near future ... We had always planned on a 10-episode season [for the show's third year]."
Some fans and media observers had hoped that the show, currently in its second season (Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO), would get a two-season renewal, and I asked Weiss about that as well.
"I'm not aware of [HBO] having done that in the past -- doing two at a time," Weiss replied. "Generally, it seems to be a season-by-season thing."
The question was partly prompted by the theory that the show would need two seasons to deal with "A Storm of Swords," the third book in Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novel series. But fans of the shows (and books) should not presume that certain seasons will deal with certain books, Weiss said. He said the plan that he and Benioff have involves taking on sections of the overall saga that make sense in 10-episode installments.
"We've always said that we see the show as an adaptation of George's series, not this book or that book," Weiss explained. "It's definitely true that 'A Storm of Swords' is too big to even come close to fitting in one season. We've done some shuffling around of things -- as an example, there were some things from Book 2 that ended up in Season 1, and there are probably going to be some things in Book 2 that didn't make it into Season 2 or maybe won't show up later. Book 3 is definitely too much for a 10-episode season, so we're taking the long view of the series of the whole, and trying to do as much justice as possible to George's overall epic story and be as true to the spirit as we can, while keeping it an exciting and viable and vivid as a television show that stands on its own two legs."
As I said in my conversation with Weiss, it sounds as though the way to look at upcoming season (hopefully seasons) of the show are as portions of the overall saga, not sections of particular books.
"Yeah," Weiss said. "A season of television needs to feel like a season of television. We have so many storylines to juggle, and they all need to ideally have a sense of a beginning, middle and end over the course of a season. Each character needs to feel like they're traveling a specific road in the course of a season, and coming out as a different person than they went in. It's never going to be about taking a book and ripping it in half -- 'At page 673, this is the place where [the season] ends.' It comes down to case-by-case [decisions] with each story and how best to serve each character's story going forward."
And yes, Martin himself will be writing a third-season episode. The fan site Westeros has the details on that front.
Much more from my interview with D.B. Weiss will be posted here on Monday, in addition to my review of the third episode of the season.
Check out HuffPost TV's recent interview with "Game of Thrones" actor Kit Harington (Jon Snow) and check back here later in the week for an interview with Richard Madden (Robb Stark). For my reviews of the first two episodes of "Game of Thrones" Season 2, look here and here.
"Game of Thrones" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.