I finished season one of Netflix’s The Witcher and I’m quite satisfied with what they’ve put together here. I’m not a huge Witcher fan. I didn’t get very far in the Witcher 3 game, because I did not like the presentation of Geralt. He was a dick. Which meant that I was playing a dick. I didn’t enjoy being a dick. However, I’d been hearing lots of good stuff about the Witcher books by Adrezej Sapkowski and so I took a chance on them and found the first couple to be quite good. I haven’t finished the series, so I can’t say if they’re all good. But I did read The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny, which are both short story collections, and the source of this first season of The Witcher TV series.
I’m not going to give anything away, so no need to worry about spoilers from me, but I am going to tell you what I think of the show.
The first thing you should know, and a thing that is never explained, the stories in the series are not being shown to you in chronological order. The timeline is all over the place. Which is, not coincidentally, I think, how the stories appear in the first two books. Both Witchers and Sorcerers have extended lifespans and don’t change much, so it can be confusing knowing where you are in the timeline. It’s not that big a deal. But there are articles online that will put things in chronological order for you if you need that. Season two is supposed to be less confusing.
The stories from the books have been changed for the TV show and the backstories have been tweaked and expanded on, but overall, I found the changes to be in keeping with the existing mythos. While I don’t think all of the changes were necessary, I also didn’t find them to be particularly detrimental. I won’t expand on that, because spoilers. There were already differences between the books and the game, so some changes between the books and the TV show are not that big a deal. Overall, I feel like the series is true to the spirit of the source material and does a pretty good job of presenting it to us.
They’ve gone with Jaskier (from the Polish novels) for the name of the bard, rather than Dandelion. Which is probably the better choice. Dandelion is not a good name. I’m not sure why they changed that in the English translations of the books. Sometimes you can be too literal in the conversion.
I’ve mentioned before that some of the costuming feels too “TV fantasy”, lots of black leather, leather pants, leather armor, you get the idea, it’s the same in all of these things. Apparently, nobody enjoyed color and everybody loved leather. Really, it’s just our titular Witcher who has wardrobe issues. Possibly because he’s fucking huge and they were having problems finding good costumes that fit him.
Henry Cavill is jacked. I’m pretty sure he’s bigger now than he was when he was playing Superman. The man’s arms are as big as watermelons. The hair… well, it looks better in some scenes than it does in others.
Anya Chalotra as Yennefer of Vengerberg is good, but her transformation isn’t quite as dramatic as it’s played up to be and she seems too young, even given her magically enhanced beauty and lifespan. The purple eyes are a nice touch.
We get to see elves and dwarves and dryads, along with some monsters. All of these things are not badly done, but the other races are all just people. I don’t feel like they did enough to distinguish them physically from humans. But for all I know, in this world there may be less difference between humans and elves than there is between Poodles and Pomeranians. It’s not a deal breaker. The monsters are well done. Magic is part of the world and is integrated nicely.
It took me about three episodes to get into the swing of what they were doing, but by the time I reached the end of the season I was invested in their story. I’m looking forward to seeing more. I’d love to think that they’ll keep going long enough to make it through the entire storyline of The Witcher saga, but that’d probably take 6 or 8 seasons to do right and I’m not sure we’ll get that much. But I am looking forward to what comes next and where they’re going to go with it. Check out The Witcher on Netflix, it’s only 8-episodes long and it’s pretty good. I’m not the only one who thinks so, it has a 8.5 out of 10 rating on IMDb and a 93% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. I’ll watch a second season. How about you?