I am most definitely not what you would call a Terry Pratchett super-fan. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love every single one of the late British author’s hilarious fantasy novels that I’ve read, but I haven’t obsessively read all of them and can’t remember every single detail. Even with that though, watching the first trailer for The Watch, BBC America’s upcoming adaptation of Pratchett’s beloved series of stories focused on the City Watch of the sprawling city of Ankh Morpork, I had to go…
When the first pics and character descriptions for The Watch debuted back in January, it was already clear that the series was taking HUGE liberties with Pratchett’s creations. But I still don’t think I was ready for just how different this was going to look and feel. Check it out below:
Well, huh. That’s… different. Different enough that Pratchett’s daughter Rhianna had to publicly announce that the show “shares no DNA” with the original books and that her family had no creative input on it.
And I can’t blame that preemptive washing of the hands, as I’m really not feeling the updated, almost steampunk aesthetic here, nor am I a fan of Richard Dormer’s weird Jack Sparrow-like mannerisms as Sam Vimes, the Captain of the City Watch, and arguably Pratchett’s most beloved character creation. Then there are all the other massive departures from the source, like making Lady Sybil (Lara Rossi) Vime’s wife, gender-swapping Lord Vetinari (Anna Chancellor), Constable Cheery (Jo-Eaton Kent) no longer being a dwarf, etc. Your mileage with these changes and more may vary.
That trailer debuted as part of The Watch’s panel at New York Comic-Con where exec producer Richard Stokes also debuted some more clips from the show, delving further into this new interpretation. He also went on to explain that this all came about because they had to basically smoosh together several bits and pieces from Pratchett’s stories and then let showrunner Simon Allen give it his own spin.
[Pratchett’s] incredibly inventive, his books are full of rich literary environments. But what was clear from the first part of development was that none of the books individually lend themselves to an eight part series…
So we had to do a sort of pick-and-mix of the best bits across the range of books, and invent our own series, invent our own world. And that’s where, with everyone’s blessing, Simon came in, who was able to do his own original take on the characters.
You don’t need to know the books in order to enjoy the series and that’s one of the most exciting things about it.
“Excited” is not quite how I would explain my feelings about The Watch right now. I’ll definitely watch the series, even if it’s just to play “Spot the Landmark” as the show was actually shot right here in my backyard in and around Cape Town, but I’m not optimistic at all here.
The 8-part first season for The Watch is set to debut on BBC on 3 January 2021.
Last Updated: October 12, 2020