In the fantasy city of Ankh-Morpork , Sam Vimes, with the help of the City Watch, tracks down a murderer he long believed dead.
Spoiler Level: None
In the early 90s, I had been stationed at the naval station in Rota, Spain. Being far from home, in a foreign country and struggling with a lot of feelings I was being forced to face, I felt very alone and extremely vulnerable. In a conversation with a fellow sailor about books, she mentioned the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. I went to the base library and barrowed Witches Abroad and by the first Chapter I was hooked. No writer had ever captured the humor and irony in the world the way Terry Pratchett did. There was wit, adventure, love and poignant commentary on the world we live in. But more than anything, Terry could write characters that you care for. Characters that become a part of you. Many of these characters feel like family and the City Watch series of characters became a favorite of mine. I have laughed and cried with them as they have gone on their journeys. These characters brought me through some of my darkest hours. They pulled me from the shadows of my own gloom and into the light. They mean so very much to me.
So, I must ask myself, “How can I write a review about the literary family I love so dearly?”. The answer is, “I Can’t”. The characters in The Watch, the BBCs loose adaptation bear no resemblance to the characters I know so well, so I am not reviewing them, I am reviewing something completely different, which is a disappointment. I try to keep my mind open at times like these, accepting that the portraits of the characters my mind has formed, may not be the same as others have seen. But there are usually some fundamental character traits that remain intact. Not really the case here.
The first episode story seems to be loosely based on the first of the City Watch books entitled Guards! Guards! with some hints from the later books like The Night Watch. Captain Sam Vimes (Richard Dormer) of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is having a conversation with death. Wondering how he got there, Death is showing him what happened. While indoctrinating the new constable, Carrot Ironfoundson (Adam Hugill), Vimes believes he sees a ghost from his past, the murderer of his old Captain by Carcer Dun. In his investigations, he joins forces with Lady Sybil Ramkin (Lara Rossi) who runs a sanctuary for swamp dragons. The Watch has been given the task of finding a book that has been stolen from Unseen Universities library. Rounding out the watch are Angua (Marama Corlett), a werewolf and Cherry Littlebottom (Jo Eaton-Kent), a tall dwarf who has shaved the beard and identifies as female (not a thing that dwarfs do) and Detritus (Ralph Ineson), a Troll. The watch is mostly obsolete, since the Patrician united the guilds and made most things in the city legal, if you are part of the guild and leave a receipt. Ankh-Morpork is the largest city on the Discworld.
The setting seems to be what you would get if a Renaissance Faire held a Punk Rock rave! There are hints of medieval times mixed with neon lights and spray painted graffiti. The character’s dress is modern, with hints at period. The actors are all good and the production value is high. The story seemed to flow well and the writing seemed adequate, but it is missing the wonderful wit that Terry Pratchett wielded so well. We get some sense of it in the conversations Sam has with Death, but not nearly enough in the rest of the episode.
I tried to keep an open mind. I really did. And the cast is all good at what they are doing, but what they are doing isn’t right. In reality, I wanted to see the characters that I had read over and over again come to life. I wanted to see a Sybil Ramkin who was a plus sized woman, strong as nails but sweet as could be who could get along with just about anyone. Carrot should be a big muscular man with the charismatic nature of the kings of old. Someone people would follow without a second thought. Angua should retain her sense of self when she changes and doesn’t need to be locked into a room. Her added abilities as a werewolf become an asset to the team. Cherry doesn’t shave her beard and is a regular sized dwarf. The fact she identifies as a female creates a movement among the dwarfs. We are missing Corporal Nobbs and Fred Colon. The only character I am not sure of is Sam Vimes. Initially I felt like his manic energy was not Sam at all, I would like to see how he progresses through the series. I will probably continue to watch the series and keep an open mind. Maybe these new and very different characters can work their way into my heart as well.
If you are not a fan of the Terry Pratchett books, then you may like this series. It looks fun and the production value is good. But if you are looking for anything that resembles the richly created witty work of Terry Pratchett, you might want to just read the books again.
The Watch: Who Watches the Watch
Writing - 7/107/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Acting - 10/1010/10
Music - 8/108/10
Production - 10/1010/10
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