I’ve recently watched two television adaptations that created a pair of polarizing responses. On the positive side we have HBO’s Watchmen. On the negative side is Netflix’s The Witcher. Both series have a respected genre pedigree: one being among the great graphic novels of our time; the other is a series with a cult following and being the source material for one of the best video games ever created (The Witcher 3).
So what caused my split decision?
There’s a certain flaw in writing that I call “shit happens just because.” I’m sure my fancy nomenclature isn’t the official term. But I think you know what I mean. Cartoons use it all the time because, well, they’re cartoons (I’m looking at you Rick & Morty!) Sitcoms, as well. But when you’re dealing with dramatic work, “shit happens just because” isn’t as easy to swallow and can ruin the viewing/reading experience.
Both the Watchmen and The Witcher television series are thick with lore. Both shows are a challenge to understand if you’re not familiar with the source material. I can understand why a viewer would turn to their spouse and ask “What the fuck is up with all the clocks and tick-tocking?” when watching the first couple of episodes of Watchmen. There are Rorschach masks, Lori Blake, Ozymandias being weird, and so on.
The Witcher, likewise, has a whole series of material concepts to throw at you. There’s the Law of Surprise, the mythos of Geralt, Yennefer and her transformation, a hedgehog man trying to wed a princess.Continue reading