TV Review: The Witcher (Season 1, 2019)

[Please note: there is a very minor spoiler regarding the format of the show. I promise it won’t ruin anything, and in fact may make things better.]

A Netflix original series based on the book series by Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher is a 2019 adventure/fantasy TV series created by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich. Geralt of Rivia (Henry Cavill) is a Witcher, a powerful human mutant with magical abilities who spends his days hunting monsters for a human populace who despise and fear him. Meanwhile, hunchback Yennefer (Anya Chalotra) learns of her innate magical abilities and endeavours to become a sorceress, while Princess Cirilla (“Ciri”, Freya Allan) must come to terms with her new destiny as she seeks out Geralt.

+ Cavill is absolutely perfect as Geralt, both stupidly hunky (even with his at-times horrible white wig) but also sarcastic and menacing when the situation calls for it. Geralt is no superman; his physical prowess comes from those bulging muscles but he’s hardly a meathead
+ of the supporting cast, Ciri (Allan) was fine, but truthfully not really given much to work with, as she was mostly just a plot point for Geralt. Jaskier, the bard (Joey Batey) was an absolute joy in every scene he was in, and his songs playing over the credits of a handful of episodes were a great way to come down from some of the more full-on moments
+ the sword-play action is great, and the effects for various magical offences are fun. I preferred Geralt’s more subdued ‘force push’ stuff than the big, CGI heavy fire tornadoes, but magic is magic, and if you like it in general then you’ll like this too
+ generally, the costumes are fine, though I can’t help but wonder about a princess going on the run and choosing to stand out in her bright blue robe when everyone else is in some drab grey or brown. The locations are very heavily reminiscent of Game of Thrones, including long rope bridges between castles over the ocean, and the main city of Cintra may as well just be King’s Landing

– the first few episodes are very confusing with their chronology. It takes three or even four episodes before you realise there are multiple timelines being shown, but once you make that connection it become a much more enjoyable viewing experience
– holy smokes, Yennefer (Chalotra) was just the most unpleasant, least enjoyable character I’ve seen in some time. She’s obviously gorgeous, but she is such a horrible person, both before and after her big transformation, that I can’t imagine anyone wanting to be around her. Similarly, Triss Merigold (Anna Shaffer) was just not a good actress, to the point I dread Triss’ inevitable larger role in the next series

> of course, these episodes/this series was based on the stories, and not the popular video games. However, it would be an outright lie to say that the games played no part in character design for the show. I won’t compare them, because that’s not really fair, but I’ll just say I preferred the characters in the games
> essentially, this is Game of Thrones by way of Westworld, done in the style of Lord of the Rings

Should you watch this show: Overall, this was good but not great. The early confusion does not stick around, and once it all comes together it proves to be a solid set up for the already greenlit season two.

5 Comments

  1. Took me until the middle of episode 2 to figure out the multiple timelines stuff. Then I could put a few things together and understand why I was having the “no…but what….who…how did that happen” thing. After that it was better to watch.
    Agree that this is a watchable series. I haven’t played any of the games so no comparison was required. Cavell is really interesting as Geralt, and plays the character very well. Even the way he swears is great.

    I’m actually looking forward to season 2.

    Like

    1. Hi, SJ Reid,

      At first,so did I. It was only once I put together that characters were different ages/events had “only recently” happened that I started to figure it out. After that, it all became much clearer.

      Thanks!

      Like

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