TelevisionTalks: The Witcher
Netflix has put out a lot of big shows over the years, things like Stranger Things for several years now have been grabbing the headlines, that was until The Witcher came out and for a hot second that was a show that people were talking about a lot. I, however, didn’t succumb to the immediate watching hype, just because I had too many other shows to watch really, not for lack of interest, but I finally got around to watching The Witcher.
The Witcher is the story of three different characters, you have Yennefer the witch who can harness chaos to perform amazing acts of magic. You have Ciri the princess who has her own powers. And you have Geralt of Rivia, The Witcher. The show is about how they got to where they are in the present and how their stories intertwine. This is done through vignettes. For Geralt, it is about how he has to take responsibility and how while Witcher’s are monster hunters, he wants to be more than that. For Yennefer, it’s about what she’ll do for power and if it was worth it. And Ciri, it’s about staying alive.
I’m not going to go more into what the plot is, because, firstly, it’s a lot of vignettes that are working around the main points for the main characters and how it brings them all together. I’m also not going to do it, because it’s not a cohesive story. That’s one of my biggest knocks against the show is that for basically every character but Ciri, the vignettes jump all over the place and because of that you don’t get much payoff for the story. And even the vignettes are inconsistent. Some of them are told extremely well with a deft touch, and some of them beat you over the head with foreshadowing very obvious things. And even with the characters, Geralt’s stories are generally pretty good and they do come together with a solid payoff. Geralt is also tied to Ciri, and while her story wanders a little bit, there is more of a point to it. Yennefer, on the other hand, has her story wander a lot, and they try and make her a pretty sympathetic character, but really fail at it in my opinion.
The acting in the show is inconsistent as well. Henry Cavill is very enjoyable as Geralt. And there are other portrayals that work well, I think that Ciri is solid. But again, Yennefer’s acting, Anya Chalotra, is just lacking for me. And I put that more on the story than Anya’s actual skill as an actor, but she is given a story that is extremely unfocused and just ends up not having enough to work with in it. For me, a lot of acting issues can probably come down to the writing, but it was a shame because Cavill really does do a good job as Geralt and he makes the show watchable, otherwise, I don’t think anyone else would have been able to carry it.
The same for the world building in the show, it’s just inconsistent. The world itself is extremely interesting, the monsters who show up and things like that are different and really cool. But, you get bits and pieces of the world and how it works given to you generally not in the right order and not at the right speed. I don’t want an information dump, which they don’t do, but they mainly just pull things out of thin air with little to not explanation in the middle of episodes. It’s something, like the acting and the writing, that I hope they can clean up in season two. It goes too much between trying to have some Game of Thrones feel to it and epic monster hunting and back again without explaining why or how things are working.
And really, the same again for the effects in the show. Some of the things looked really cool. I know that the dragons weren’t the favorite for a lot of people, but I liked the design used there. But the opening scene is horrible. It’s such a bad use of green screen, Geralt feels like he’s on a sound stage maybe with the monster there, but there’s nothing else that he can interact with. The trees in the shot are horrible and static and just look so obviously fake. I think that it does get better and maybe a little more consistent throughout the show, or at least after that first scene, but it’s the first thing people see and it looks so bad.
Overall, this is a show that I generally did enjoy. I thought that once it get going, about episode four, it was interesting, because they created a more cohesive story for Geralt. But then they’d keep through Yennefer’s story in as well and that would mess things up for me. From what I’ve heard, this first season was based off of a series of short stories, and it feels like that, but that’s not a good thing, it doesn’t feel like a good episodic show, it feels, too often, like the worst part of episodic shows. There’s also the timeline piece. They are extremely subtle about it, and that’s something that they needed to be more obvious about, and then there were things that they could have and should have been subtle about because it would have been a good payoff. I’ll watch the next season when it comes out, but I’d say, if it’s just kind of interesting, probably skip it.
Did you enjoy The Witcher? Is it on the list of shows to watch for you if you haven’t seen it? Should I play any of the games/pen and paper RPG?
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