Something Witchy about Netflix’s the Witcher

Thanks to the virulence sweeping through the world, I’m working from home this week and perhaps more to come. The half-boiled Bushi thoughts are percolating.

I’ve been trying to reclaim a little bit of recreation time after the little guy goes to bed, and over the past few weeks I took the opportunity to check out Netflix’s take on the Witcher. My feelings are mixed.

I think it was Honest Trailers that hit the nail on the head with the observation that the show is trying to be Game of Thrones.

Unfortunately, the tried and true formula of boobs and palace intrigue doesn’t really do justice to Sapkowski’s creation.

Full disclosure here: I only watched the first season of HBO’s Game of Thrones (though I read all the books many years ago), and I’ve only read the first two Witcher books and played 2 and change of the games. Those are my credentials for this commentary.

While we do get to see a bunch of Yennefer boobs (YMMV on how great that is) and some interesting narratives from non-Geralt characters…I thought this was the Witcher? Shouldn’t Geralt be the main protagonist? So far the show feels just as much about Yennefer and Ciri.

I mean, I get that the show’s big thing is capital “D” Destiny, and that Yennefer and Ciri and Geralt are all tied together. But come on: (A) The IP is mainly about, and named after, Geralt. (B) Henry Cavil is the best part of the show. Use him, for crying out loud.

While we’re talking about casting, I’ll just say it – the show’s SJW is showing. I certainly wouldn’t say it ruins the program, but it does jar me out of my immersion at times. The story takes place in what’s basically medieval Poland. And yet, hey – there’s some black Elves! And was that peasant Asian?

“Dur-dee-dur it’s fantasy! You can believe in magic but not in black elves?”

Yes, because internal consistency is important in storytelling. Where did all these diverse peoples suddenly come from? Skin color isn’t random; it’s due to environmental factors.

Eric John Stark is dark because of his exposure to the intense sunlight on Mercury.

Ged of Earthsea is “copper brown” because he’s basically a tropical islander.

The Elderscrolls’ Redguard are black because they all hail from the same region (where, presumably, the environment influenced this).

Some random people in the Witcher are black (or Asian) because..muh diversity!

Again, this doesn’t ruin the show, but it is noticeable and doesn’t make any sense. No, the main foul-up, in my opinion, is the notable lack of witchering in the Witcher. Every episode I would be waiting to see Geralt deal with a monster, but alas, was oft disappointed.

There’s talk of Mark Hamill being courted for the role of Vesemir in Season 2. He would probably be a great choice. But the best thing the show could do for itself would be to refocus and start telling Geralt stories, as opposed to Geralt/Ciri/Yennefer stories. Because as much as I like the world Sapkowski has created, the realm’s wars and political struggles aren’t nearly as interesting as the Witcher’s personal conflicts. They make for a cool backdrop, but that’s all they really should be.

I don’t have high hopes for the series as it continues, but Cavil’s performance was solid enough that I’ll be back for Season 2.

 

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