It made me want to read the books again, so it couldn’t have been that bad.
There wasn’t much to recommend it, however. I have no idea how you could have followed much of it if you hadn’t read the books, and I certainly don’t know why you’d bother with the second episode. I’m not going to speak to any plot points/characters specifically because I know lots of folks who are watching the show instead of reading the books. Stop watching the show and read them. for serious.
The biggest thing that stood out for me was the mangled accents. While these places are all fictional and people from different areas would have different accents, every actor seemed to be doing their personal version of what someone in a fairytale set in medieval England would sound like, with varying degrees of success. It was all annoying and it added to the melodramatic overtones of the entire episode. (Melodramatic is not a compliment)
Aside from the accents, there were some effects hiccups (both of the “special” variety and the “cheap wigs and pancake makeup” variety) that pulled me right out of the bits of story I was trying engage myself with. They picked strange places to cut costs.
As for the sexing, which was labeled excessive and/or gratuitous by some and pandering to the poor women forced to sit through it by others, it was pretty much neither. It all fit with the moments, especially when it was establishing characters and their relationships with others. I was bored by the few sexy bits there were and none of them seemed exactly “for the women.” Given how “yipee! we’re on HBO!” True Blood was the season it started, I expect this to be much worse.
In short, I’ll be back, because it’s there, but if it doesn’t get more cohesive and level off the production values, I don’t give it much hope of succeeding.