@silver-streak: I can totally see WHY they are doing it this way early on, but I 100% agree...the lack of any kind of indication of time means I am doing a lot of background filling for my wife.
@sethmode: I don't know if it's the worst thing they've ever done, it's just the worst I've watched. I never read the books, and only played the third game for a few hours so I'm not gonna cut it much slack as a casual viewer, especially when there's better television out there.
It definitely has its strengths, the acting is generally good, and there's a few nifty action scenes...mostly creature fights with Geralt, but it doesn't have a very engaging story driving the show beyond Yennefer's origins, and most of it is lost amongst bad pacing, its inconsistent tone, tedious exposition heavy dialogue, a pretty much non-existent central villain, and apparent budgetary concerns from a company (usually) infamous for its spending habits thus leading to a world that looks and feels underdeveloped and is stuck in an unfortunate pay-cable mindset of nearly a decade ago where gratuitous over-sexualized imagery was deemed necessary for success.
If folks here dug it however, right on, I'm not trying to change anyone's mind. It just wasn't for me.
I just finished it last night. Overall I really enjoyed it, although I will readily admit it has some serious flaws.
To start, about halfway through, I really started to appreciate the fractured nature of the storytelling. It was interesting. The second half of the season, I liked it much less. The time jumps are erratic and the whole thing feels needlessly convoluted. Like, just tell us WHERE and WHEN this is happening. Not fucking hard. Also, I think it kills the pacing at the end of the season. The final episode feels like it comes out of nowhere with not enough setup.
I think the series does a poor job of world building in a lot of areas, just kinda dumping lore with little explanation. Luckily I've played The Witcher 2 and 3 and have read a little bit of the books, but I'm still finding myself confused about the particulars since it's been awhile. I also watched the show with my dad and had to explain a few things to him throughout.
I understand that since this is a TV show, they have to explore the other characters in depth and spread the story out in different ways. I liked some of it, didn't like some other parts. For a show called THE WITCHER, Geralt is curiously not featured in some pretty large chunks of the show. He's barely in the last episode. Sometimes it feels like Yennifer is the main character. They've put a lot more work into her backstory, to their credit. Since the show can't just be Geralt 100% of the time, I understand why we get all these different perspectives. The pacing just needs work. This season did a lot of setup, so between that and the perspective and time jumps, I got they got it out of their system. The second season needs to be a lot more focused if it wants to succeed.
Mostly everything else I loved. Henry Cavill is fucking amazing as Geralt. You can tell how much he really loves the Witcher. I really like Dandelion and Yen and Ciri, and a lot of the other supporting characters. Triss feels way off and totally wasted so far. The action scenes are pretty slick and fun. I generally think the show looks really nice, with gorgeous cinematography and high production values. On occasion it looks a little cheap, but I've been more impressed than underwhelmed for sure. That dragon episode was some straight 90s Hercules-style cheese though.
@killem_dafoe: In the novels Geralt is similarly not really the focus of the story which centers around political intrigue between the different king’s and the wizarding world that is secretly pulling the strings. Then there is the whole Ciri subplot on the side and Geralt is basically this grumpy guy that is extremely stubborn and always 2 steps behind everyone else.
@shiftygism: I understand...and honestly it wasn't meant as a dig to either side, or even as just a reference to GB forums alone, it's just been wild to watch the reaction to this being so divisive. I'm still early one as the Christmas season kind of cut into my time to watch, but it has been wild and very internet to see different people differ SO extremely in their opinions.
I sort of always expected this show to come and be loved by fans and kind of dismissed or ignored by non-fans, and while it hasn't been Game of Thrones last season vitriol or defense, it has been closer than I was expecting.
Just finished the show and the timeline stuff sucks. Reaching the ending I get what they were going for, but the execution was a mess. I get want you to emphasize your destiny angle, but did you have to force the word into what felt like every conversation? Also the Nilfgaardian armors still look like melted poop.
Really liked Cavill and the other actors, and some really cool fight scenes. Kinda conflicted about Jaskier's witcher song though. It's catchy as hell, but also felt weirdly out of place. Really hoping they hit their stride in season two now that they've setting things up this season..
@aktivity: I'm looking forward to finishing it this weekend, but it just feels like, as others have said, the timeline stuff would have been an easy fix just with a LITTLE usage of dates and locations. I get why they're doing it this way, but it feels like such a bizarre thing to leave out. In what I've seen so far (3 episodes) it feels like they're trying to be coy about it and it isn't to the show's benefit.
Five episodes in:
1)Man, they sure changed a lot of stuff about Ciri and the Fall of Cintra. Literally removed all of the story bits with Geralt prior to the Fall. Even the fairly important Brokilon stuff in the novels sort of got glossed over. I understand they want the story to move, but cutting all of the early stuff makes the later stuff feel inconsequential.
2)Cavill's pretty good as Geralt! He's clearly going for book Geralt while mimicking Doug Cockle's delivery. Color me impressed. Also, did they fucking dub over two lines of dialogue in the medical tent with actual Doug Cockle? I listened to it multiple times and am fairly convinced it's Cockle and not Cavill.
3)Dandelion is perfect. I wanna punch that guy in the face so bad.
4)Some of the special effects are real bad. The Sylvan costume in episode two is one of the worst offenders. Looks like something that came out of the original Power Rangers. The CG during the Aretuza ball is another bad one.
Still three episodes to go. Guessing this is going to end before or maybe even after Sodden Hill.
I enjoyed the show, and the main cast performed brilliantly! I still have that damn song stuck on my mind...
I've read some short stories and played the games, so it was easy to follow the story and timeline. It would have benefitted from a slower pace and more exposition, maybe two more episodes. I can easily see someone new get lost.
Overall, it's a good adaptation. It definitely shortens the original stories, and the episodic nature might turn someone off, but the core and essence is there. It feels like the world of the Witcher and I'm looking forward to season 2, it has potential for something truly great.
@fetchfox: "It would have benefitted from a slower pace and more exposition"
Respectively disagree, that's the absolute last thing it needs. If anything, it needed more Witcher witchering to break up all of the slow paced exposition we did get. This show really needs some "filler" standalone monster of the week episodes to break up the monotony.
My initial impression during the first episode was that it felt really clunky and uninspired -- played to me like a dramatization of the video game in terms of scene staging, shot reverse-short camera work for dialogue, etc. Normally that can be offset by a very energetic and charismatic lead, but Geralt really doesn't allow for that, so I almost gave up. After a couple episodes though I got used to hearing Cavill's voice and accepted him as the character, and the narrative develops some forward momentum by that point. I was happy with it by the end and wanting more.
I haven't read the books, so I don't know how restricted they are for interpreting Geralt's character, but I kind of wish they'd let Cavill loosen up a liiiiittle bit and use a more varied vocal and expressive range. The only real moments of levity come from him saying "...fuck.", which is funny, but there's not much room for characterization in that.
I really enjoyed it! My wife and I knocked out the season in 3 nights. I've played all the games, read no books. She had no previous knowledge other than thinking Henry Cavill is hot. I am allergic to the 2nd tier look of a lot of Xena / Sci-fi channel shows so I definitely felt it looked much better than those, while it works much better if you don't try and compare it to the quality of something like Game of Thrones. I was actually getting some pretty good Conan the Barbarian vibes, which is a big thumbs up in my book. Completely understand the timeline confusion, but by the end you realize that that was probably pretty intentional (whether that works or not is personal preference).
Wife and I finished it last night. We loved it a lot. Other then some odd changes and character deaths that didn't really need to divert from the books imo I liked it a whole heck of a lot. Excited for season 2!
Don't really know what they could have done better. Ciri didn't need to be in this season at all imo. Maybe toss in a few monster of the week style episodes.
Its just such a delightful universe and they nailed it pretty good.
Not as good as the book seasons of Game of Thrones, but easily better then the non-book seasons.
Posting my thoughts without having read the thread (yet).
I REALLY dug it. My wife, who kinda knows a thing or two from being around as I played Witcher 1-3 was into it too, maybe more than me.
I thought Henry Cavill lost himself in the role of Geralt, which is always great to see. Similarly, Yennifer and Ciri had full arcs and were wonderfully played, to boot.
It was great that the show, although being called The Witcher and Cavill supplying the star power, was equally about these three stories, and setting the table with the three meeting and understanding that they’re linked (through Destiny or Djinn).
It sounds like the stage is set going forward. I really hope the show runners get what they need to continue the story.
As for the mediocre critic reviews, I totally get it. The show does some weird things from a storytelling perspective. It swings from beating you over the head with cliches about destiny and choice to hurriedly launching exposition at you. The format, for much of the season, feels more episodic than we’re used to in binge-culture. Geralt’s story, in particular, reminds me of some mash-up of Law and Order, Firefly, and a monster of the week feature.
I think NOT overanalyzing the show, and instead accepting that what year every event happened in doesn’t matter, is key. This season set the stage re: sorcerers, witchers, Ciri’s blood, the conjunction, human/elf politics, Nilfgaard, Skellige, and the North, religion, and the coming introduction of Emihr. On top of arranging the table with all that, you got a great intro into the three most important characters. So, I think, it was a great success, if a little on its own terms.
@junkerman: I’d rather them bundle in Ciri and all that stuff into Season 1 and start on the novels proper from Season 2 onwards which is where the story actually begins to get interesting.
This entire season felt like one big introduction into the world which ironically for people that have read the books it’s nothing new but for anyone not familiar with the novels it’s not really going to be helpful in introducing them into the story - it’s just too confusing. Even I got a little confused by how much time actually passed for Yennefer. You see her at the ball when she is still just before her ascension and Foltest is there as a young child. Then later Yennefer remarks that she has lived more than two lifetimes already. In the novels she is meant to be, like most wizards, about 200-300 years old. So if in the current timeline Foltest is looking to be about 50-60 then Yennefer should be about 80 I guess???
I think NOT overanalyzing the show, and instead accepting that what year every event happened in doesn’t matter, is key.
This is really very true. I personally didn't think it was at all difficult to keep up with it because they made it fairly obvious but nevermind.
A lot of the criticisms I've read seem to come from people who only played the Witcher 3 and don't have much knowledge of the universe other than what happens in that game and thus expect it to be the exact same. Everyone I've spoken to with no prior knowledge have loved it and not had problems understanding anything.
I personally thought it was a really fun watch and cannot wait for more.
That's not right about her being 200+ years old. She was born in 1173, the fall of Cintra (the start of the novels and the "present" of the TV series) is in 1267, so Yennefer is 94 at the end of the season 1 if we assume the dates are following the books.
@ll_exile_ll: Hmm well I don’t recall the books having such specific dates but it has been a while so I’m sure you’re right. Although I recall them definitely alluding to the fact that she is a lot older than you might think. In the show she has the lifetimes line but it might be just an offhand comment.
I've only watched the first half but I'm enjoying it quite a bit. Some of it's kinda hammy/cheesy but I don't hate that and the time jumps are a little jarring.
Aside from that though, Cavil makes for a chuffing excellent Geralt and I'm really enjoying seeing some of the things mentioned/referenced in the games (haven't read the books) brought to the screen.
@icoangel: Re: the timelines, I understand the confusion. I think WHEN things happen isn’t as important as that they happened.
There’s nothing super obvious telling you that these stories are taking place at different time. There are a ton of characters with funny names to keep track of, lots of lore being thrown at you, cultural norms, etc. Some of the past isn’t so far in the past that the age or de-age anyone, and it’s a world of magic, which throws all logic out the windows until the rules of that magic are clear.
Then Yenn throws out that line about being in politics for 30 years and you might figure that her origin is about 30 years before present day, only to then learn that sorceresses can live lifetimes, so maybe her origin scenes were actually much longer ago.
If this is your first exposure to the universe, I totally understand confusion (up to a certain point). They eventually make very rough timelines clear.
It’s not like seeing young De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci (all very recognizable actors) de-aged a few decades in a grounded modern-era crime drama and being an obvious tell.
@nutter: "There are a ton of characters with funny names to keep track of, lots of lore being thrown at you, cultural norms, etc."
I've tried not to compare this to Game of Thrones, but this...more than anything, was the source of my disinterest. The Witcher is dealing with far less later on in Yennefer's storyline, but it's harder to keep track of because it's less show than tell.
I'm rewatching now given so many people are praising the show that I feel like I'm living in Bizarro world...where most critics apparently reside. The first episode was actually more engaging in a second viewing, as I wasn't aware of the timeline presentation until like the third episode when someone mentioned it here. Renfri has a line about the Queen that points in that direction which wasn't apparent the first time around.
The second episode, at least so far, I still think is the strongest of the series for Yennefer's story. So much so they probably should've made it a standalone (or at least told it in an anthology fashion) as the clashing tone (and execution) of Geralt's tale kinda tarnishes it. It's like mixing up GoT's Faceless Men arc with scenes of Hercules. I too have had the Witcher song stuck in my head for the last week, but it's just too modern sounding and having it play over such a pivotal scene with Yen was, and still is, pretty disappointing.
Why can't you just dislike a thing people like?
I found the show good but not perfect, but that's still much higher than what I thought it could've been. After going back and playing hearts of stone, with blood and wine waiting, I find it hard to think I'll ever like the show more. Hearts of Stone was phenominal even if playing it was the usual ok.
I wrapped it up earlier today, it is definitely far better than I expected. I appreciated the fractured story-telling by the end, it really aids in the short-stories feel, and they do a good job with threading the confusing bits together(which for me didn't last super long, to begin with, it was mostly confusing because de-aged queen calanthe didn't look notably different to me). I'm certainly interested in whatever comes next.
Perhaps having Geralt Yen and Ciri introduced in 3 separate episodes that were "their" episode could have been better, but I don't know if it would change how I feel about it overall.
They even got the part where I hate Dandelion and wanna slug him right.
Finished up over the weekend, just some brief thoughts:
1) Overall, pretty decent. Some really bad CGI aside, nothing too visually offensive. Well, maybe lay off the nudity just a little bit next season. Just a tad much.
2) Geralt, Yennefer, Dandelion all well acted. Particularly Dandelion. Fuck that guy.
3) Not too thrilled about the story changes. I understand why they did it, but it does removed a lot of the important stuff. The Brokilon bit got completely butchered, and it's one of the most important moments in the books. The Battle of Sodden Hill is another notable change. One of the most crucial battles between Nilfgaard and the Northern Kingdoms became a little skirmish. I was hoping they wouldn't do it this season because judging by the looks of the poor CGI, they likely didn't have a big enough budge to work with.
The bard sucks ass. The bard fucking sucks ass so much and don’t tell me he’s supposed to. He’s supposed to make you giggle. He’s a bad character and proof that the writers should never attempt comedy again.
I paused the show at the start of episode 4 because he started singing that song again. I don’t like the word “cringeworthy,” but, yeah...
If someone tells me he doesn’t die this season I think I’m done.
My only issue with the bard guy is some of his songs are too modern sounding.
Finished up my second watch, I like it a little better, still have issues...poor direction, uneven tone, laughable use of nudity, a super underwritten villain, and a generally cheap look to the show. I swear the second episode of this season's Lost in Space has a larger budget than the entire season of Witcher. Given how massively popular this show has become, hopefully Netflix will toss a coin to...well, y'know...but they're lucky they cast so well with Yennefer because without Anya Chalotra holding it down, this thing would be a huge turkey.
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