Wednesday, July 07, 2021


The BBC's long-anticipated THE WATCH finally hit iPlayer this week but is it, as fans of Sir Terry's books feared, a complete betrayal of a much-loved series or is it actually quite good?

I've watched the pilot episode twice over the last twenty-four hours and while there is a lot to like, the cyberpunkesque version of the City Watch, the ultraviolet/neon/graffiti covered interiors and exteriors and Richard Dormer's brilliant take on Captain Vimes, it doesn't quite have the depth of colour and uniqueness of the original.

The show's opening title disclaimer 'inspired by the characters created by' is unusual, almost as if the creators wanted to apologise in advance for having made a conscious decision to make radical changes to the source material. The most important consideration of any adaptation is to make sure you don't alienate the fans of the work you are adapting. They're the foundation of your audience, the ones you shouldn't have to convince, so why take such a dramatic change in direction and risk losing them?

There are the noticeable absences of Sergeant Colon and Corporal Nobbs and Cut-My-Own-Throat Dibbler has gone from a loveable street vendor who would sell his own grandmother for a profit to an almost unrecognisable wheelchair bound thug called simply Throat Dibbler, with more menace and a lot less charm than the much loved original.

It's easy then, to see why the fans of Sir Terry's GUARDS GUARDS might be disappointed and even hostile towards the adaptation. These changes dilute the richness of the world Sir Terry created, weakening the story, and the reason why GUARDS GUARDS worked so well in the first place was because of the warmness and camaraderie of the dysfunctional family of the Watch and the beautifully created world they inhabited. Take from that and it doesn't quite work.

The biggest disappointment for me is the lack of Sir Terry's humour. I'm not saying the show isn't funny, it is, it just doesn't have the humour of the novels and the adaptation loses something because of this. The novel had me laughing out loud but I barely cracked a smile during the opening episode.

The show is a little disappointing, but then the expectation was set very high to begin with. It's not awful by any means and there are some lovely moments between characters that made me believe there was better to come. For me, it's definitely worth the watch, just leave your expectations behind and watch it with an open mind. 

Happy writing!

1 comment:

Spider said...

That's a very generous review. For anyone remotely familiar with the source material it's a travesty. They miss the entire strength of Sybil, Nobby and Colon. There is none of the warmth of STPs writing, none of the tongue in cheek references and self deprecation. They lost me after 1 episode. They could have changed the names and no-one would have realised the link and it may have stood on its own. As it is? Hard pass