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The Watch - New Not-So-Discworld Series


JohnC
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1 hour ago, Vespa Alex said:

Angua looks like a decent fit, but the rest are all wronger than a wrong thing on a very wrong day.

 

Carrot seems ok too.

Richard Dormer's bug eyed Vimes is going to be insufferable.

 

It's so disappointing that they haven't got the discworld right on tv yet, it's either zany and twee or this, whatever this is.

 

 

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The thing about Pratchett's comedy and storytelling is that it's not about the plot or the characters or the settings, although all of those things are important and absolutely top draw. What made him special, what made him utterly peerless, were the words he used to describe those things.

 

I know that sounds bloody obvious for a writer but nobody reads Cormac McCarthy for the plot and nobody reads Harry Potter for the lyricism.

 

And that's why Pratchett is such a struggle to adapt for the screen. If you lose the words, you lose the most important part of him.

 

So whilst that may look completely unlike anything Pratchett ever wrote, it's also the first Pratchett tv adaptation since Truckers that I'm going to bother to watch. It might actually be all right if it does it's own thing.

 

 

Just going to remind the forum of this abruptly curtailed circle-jerk of cynicism:

 

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I disagree, I think the characters and world building are what make the discworld so compelling, much more so than his other works. They're consistently progressive and uplifting, clever and feel so real. The problem is they're seen as comedy books hence the relentless gurning and slapstick approach. Adapting the Watch isn't impossible, just difficult.

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36 minutes ago, therearerules said:

I disagree, I think the characters and world building are what make the discworld so compelling, much more so than his other works. They're consistently progressive and uplifting, clever and feel so real. The problem is they're seen as comedy books hence the relentless gurning and slapstick approach. Adapting the Watch isn't impossible, just difficult.


It shouldn’t be. Everything is already there exquisitely realised. They just had to lift that from the book and put it on screen. There’s plenty of reference from cinema and tv to make it look right. Game of Thrones’ Kings Landing with a redress would’ve been grand for Ankh Morpok. Lord of the Ring/The Hobbit showed how to do the various races.  
 

This looks to be an utter abomination from some talentless hack who thinks he’s a creative genius and applies that ‘genius’ to ‘improve’ the source material. There seems to be this thread running through recent shows that they have to be ‘edgy’ when it just turns into homogenous crap.  They think that ‘reimagining’ something means jettisoning what makes it interesting and unique.

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The problem with adapting Pratchett is a lot of his humour and what makes his work so great is in the asides, the footnotes, the omnipresent narrator's/author's voice develops a lot of the personality of the books. But it's that stuff that is a pig to translate to other media. All the adaptations nod to it with very occasional narration but it never works.

 

This though. This... This is, as I worried, clearly the kind of adaptation where the writer has basically decided to make something of their own design and smeared a few token elements of the property over it to sell it to the producers. It's a fucking travesty.

 

It's not helped by the fact it seems everyone involved doesn't give a rats arse about Pratchett or his work. I first noticed it when Ingrid Oliver appeared on the Remainiacs podcast after filming and did her elevator pitch of the project and didn't even say 'Pratchett' or 'Discworld' once.

 

Destroy the files before it's too late and wipe the idea from history.

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I really like different takes on properties. I loved FInal Fantasy 7 Remake. Loved The Last Jedi. Loved (bringing it back home) Discworld Noir.

 

There's adaptations though and then there's...well....if you had shown me this without sound or context I'd be thinking "That Dishonoured TV series looks great!"

 

This though...I don't want to be a gatekeeper and I think if something is shit then you can cast cast it aside and not be concerned about cannon.

 

This though matches my initial feelings.

 

 

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4 hours ago, Unofficial Who said:

 

 

Is it Batman if he’s a dinosaur?

 

Genuinely surprised that someone as knowledgeable about comics as Gaiman could come up with a hot take that weak. His joke Batman wouldn’t even register in the top ten most ridiculous versions of the character.

 

I mean, the most memorable screen version of the character was made out of fucking Lego.

 

And the best superhero movie of the past decade was entirely predicated on the idea that you can do anything you like with the central theme as long as you stay true to the heart of it.

 

Hands up everyone who’d watch a Spider-Ham movie?


 

The only mitigating factor here is that comic book fans are used to there being multiple versions of the same character. It’s pretty much baked into the dna of comics that there will be multiple writers, artists and editors all putting their own spin and twists on things in an effort to make their mark. Keep things fresh and relevant.

 

But there’s only one Pratchett, only one Discworld, only one Vimes. So Pratchett aficionados are struggling to perceive of the thing they love as being anything other than the thing they love.

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I suspect it’s more that comic book fans have a long history of fifteen or twenty versions of filmed Batman, and almost as many for Spiderman.

 

unsurprisingly, in the first film versions neither Aunt May nor Batman’s mum were recast as a gun toting vigilante. Batman didn’t suddenly become a chain smoking street waif, and Peter Parker wasn’t introduced as a YouTube influencer with the product endorsements to match. They stuck at least within the general mythos rather than just using the character names.

 

besides, this isn’t The Boys: the source material doesn’t transparently need the heart and soul of every characterisation ripped out and stamped into the dust. And even there, where the plot is ripped up and helpfully shredded, the characters are pretty much in point: Homelander is Homelander, Hughie is pathetic etc.

 

if you’re going to “adapt” by throwing the characters out before you begin, why bother?

 

“Its Sherlock Holmes, but he’s in a flat share with three girls and in a will they won’t they relationship with one of them! Every episode some hilarious contrivance happens to one of them that Sherlock slightly haphazardly tries to help out with due to his well meaning, bubbly and kooky personality. Hijinks ensue! There’s only one corpse in the first half of the season, but we ignore that because it’d get in the way of our thanksgiving episode’s moral about how it’s the people that matter and not the food.”

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1 hour ago, footle said:

I suspect it’s more that comic book fans have a long history of fifteen or twenty versions of filmed Batman, and almost as many for Spiderman.

 

unsurprisingly, in the first film versions neither Aunt May nor Batman’s mum were recast as a gun toting vigilante. Batman didn’t suddenly become a chain smoking street waif, and Peter Parker wasn’t introduced as a YouTube influencer with the product endorsements to match. They stuck at least within the general mythos rather than just using the character names.

 

It's true that when something is the first major adaptation, they want it to be a faithful adaptation, and that once that has been done, fans are more willing to forgive changes in subsequent adaptations.

 

One of the things Zack Snyder fans often say in order to defend his take on Superman is: "You had the cheesy, traditional version of Superman you want with the Christopher Reeve movies and the Lois & Clark TV series! This is something different!" And ZS is within his rights to do that; making most of the changes he made is not an inherently bad idea. I don't want to come across as a kneejerk fanboy going "they changed it, now it sucks!" But we can criticise it when the execution fails in ways that would not have happened if they'd kept the things that the source material did well.

 

Thing is, Discworld has never really had that initial, faithful adaptation to use as a baseline starting point (the games, the Cosgrove Hall cartoons, and Going Postal all succeeded and fell short to various degrees). And what makes this more disappointing is that it originally looked like The Watch would be The One: it started out as something with heavy involvement from Terry Pratchett:

 

 

 

It sounded like it would not adapt the books but world continue on from them, possibly even with a shared continuity so that in return the books could refer to events in the series.

 

So this series hasn't just changed from the books - it's also changed from what it was originally intended to be!

 

(Watching that 2011 SFX video again: I wonder if the "police band" stuff discussed there is what ultimately led to the trailer's shot of Vimes playing Music With Rocks In?)

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday I saw this Twitter thread, describing the ways that fanfic writers of AU stories will change many aspects of the original work (sometimes as many as the Sherlock Holmes example @footle posted!), but will still retain at least one or two recognisable aspects of the original:

 

 

 

She says: "For me, I think there are four axes on which you can change things in a transformative work – the story, the setting, the characters, the themes. And I think for something to be recognisable, you need to keep at least one or two of those identical."

 

And it appears that this adaptation has not done that:

 

 

 

 

 

This is the other thread she refers to:

 

 

 

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5 hours ago, DukeOfEarlsfield said:

Is it Batman if he’s a dinosaur?

 

Genuinely surprised that someone as knowledgeable about comics as Gaiman could come up with a hot take that weak. His joke Batman wouldn’t even register in the top ten most ridiculous versions of the character.

 

I mean, the most memorable screen version of the character was made out of fucking Lego.

 

And the best superhero movie of the past decade was entirely predicated on the idea that you can do anything you like with the central theme as long as you stay true to the heart of it.

 

Hands up everyone who’d watch a Spider-Ham movie?


 

The only mitigating factor here is that comic book fans are used to there being multiple versions of the same character. It’s pretty much baked into the dna of comics that there will be multiple writers, artists and editors all putting their own spin and twists on things in an effort to make their mark. Keep things fresh and relevant.

 

But there’s only one Pratchett, only one Discworld, only one Vimes. So Pratchett aficionados are struggling to perceive of the thing they love as being anything other than the thing they love.


Lego Batman is probably the most pure Batman, distilled and focused on his character traits, not his actions. There is literally nothing in the way he acts that is contrary to the established character. That’s why it works so well and that’s the absolute opposite of what Vimes has here. 
 

The only times Batman has been fundamentally changed are when the point of the story is seeing what happens to the world with that Batman in it. Vampire Batman, for instance. Which isn’t what is happening here.

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3 hours ago, James Lyon said:

So Vimes doesn't give anyone the middle finger in the books, then?

 

He'd not do it to Lord Vetinari, no. What he would do would be to stand there and take his lecture like a Good Copper, then go outside and punch the wall. 

 

In fact, the one time he didn't punch the wall had Vetinari worrying perhaps he'd pushed him too far...

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20 minutes ago, Doctor Shark said:

 

He'd not do it to Lord Vetinari, no. What he would do would be to stand there and take his lecture like a Good Copper, then go outside and punch the wall. 

 

In fact, the one time he didn't punch the wall had Vetinari worrying perhaps he'd pushed him too far...

 

I see. It's been a long time since I read a Discworld novel but that's not the Vimes I have in my head.

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4 hours ago, Rev said:

Lego Batman is probably the most pure Batman, distilled and focused on his character traits, not his actions. There is literally nothing in the way he acts that is contrary to the established character. That’s why it works so well...

I don’t entirely agree with this but it’s still a good point. But there’s no way you could have known this just by watching the trailers for either the Lego Movie or the Lego Batman Movie. There’s not enough to go on.

4 hours ago, Rev said:

and that’s the absolute opposite of what Vimes has here. 

So until we’ve seen the actual show, there’s no way we can make that judgment. Vimes being ‘in’ a band might be the same as Lego Batman writing his own songs.

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1 hour ago, James Lyon said:

 

I see. It's been a long time since I read a Discworld novel but that's not the Vimes I have in my head.

 

The most he ever did was lean on Vetinari's desk, then quickly removed them, because you don't mess with Vetinari but like Vimes giving him the finger is fine it's more Vimes appearing to be a wild eyed manic, rather than a cynical beat cop.

 

Maybe once we see the show that will come through but it doesn't seem like this from what they have released so far...

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I mean, it’s possible. But you don’t usually cut multiple trailers and publish scenes to completely misrepresent your show and it’s characters to piss off the preexisting fanbase.

 

and for Lego Batman most of the audience had seen or heard of the Lego movie, so the take wasn’t new or a disappointing surprise. Bob Kane might have been rolling in his grave, but f**k him.

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1 hour ago, James Lyon said:

 

I see. It's been a long time since I read a Discworld novel but that's not the Vimes I have in my head.

 

Which Vimes? The wall punching one? 

 

From Wikipedia:

 

Quote

Vimes often has to go to report to Lord Vetinari, although most of the time he keeps a poker-face and answers very simply to avoid Vetinari's probing questions. When given bad news, he has a tendency to, on his way out, pound his fist against a certain spot of wall near the office door. Though he sometimes has to call in a plasterer when Vimes is particularly angry, Vetinari doesn't worry about it—a sign that he intentionally angers Vimes so as to goad him into a desired action. When Vimes was temporarily relieved of command in Men At Arms, the fact that Vimes didn't pound the wall led Vetinari to realize that he 'may have gone too far'.

 

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35 minutes ago, Doctor Shark said:

 

Which Vimes? The wall punching one?

 

It was more the physical characteristics. I imagine him as a heavy-set fellow with a weary expression on his face. It has been a long time since I picked up a book and I was young. I may be misrembering and filling in some of the details myself. Maybe he always was an elderly Scottish punk. Maybe not with eyeliner. Did anyone have eyeliner?

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20 minutes ago, James Lyon said:

 

It was more the physical characteristics. I imagine him as a heavy-set fellow with a weary expression on his face. It has been a long time since I picked up a book and I was young. I may be misrembering and filling in some of the details myself. Maybe he always was an elderly Scottish punk. Maybe not with eyeliner. Did anyone have eyeliner?


Richard Dormer is Northern Irish!


Whilst you can of course imagine Vimes however you wish, the Vimes in the books is scrawny, unshaven but not with a beard and definitely not heavy set. He’s wiry, a natural scrapper, but with the world weary, cynical attitude you mention. In Guards Guards he’s alcoholic, by Men at Arms he’s tee total. He smartens himself up a bit, is clean shaven for most of the rest of the books and especially once he’s ‘promoted’ to Duke but he’s never heavy. 

Although Paul Kidby, the official Discworld artist, draws Vimes as looking quite like Clint Eastwood, Terry Pratchett said in his mind he looked like Pete Postlethwaite. 
 

Here’s the ‘official’ Vimes. 
 

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66AFEFC6-46EE-4702-8790-CEC8EF218A0B.thumb.jpeg.d2fe200333cd35b9cca0d2171ffa32a4.jpeg

 

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2 minutes ago, Doctor Shark said:


Richard Dormer is Northern Irish!


Whilst you can of course imagine Vimes however you wish, the Vimes in the books is scrawny, unshaven but not with a beard and definitely not heavy set. He’s wiry, a natural scrapper, but with the world weary, cynical attitude you mention. In Guards Guards he’s alcoholic, by Men at Arms he’s tee total. He smartens himself up a bit, is clean shaven for most of the rest of the books and especially once he’s ‘promoted’ to Duke but he’s never heavy. 

Although Paul Kidby, the official Discworld artist, draws Vimes as looking quite like Clint Eastwood, Terry Pratchett said in his mind he looked like Pete Postlethwaite.

 

I stand corrected, then. It really just means I need to go back and start reading the Discworld novels again or next you'll be telling me Rincewind isn't a woman.

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Quote

In a panel at New York ComicCon last week, the show’s executive producer Richard Stokes said that Pratchett’s books were “incredible, but what was very clear from the early 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

 

What a load of bollocks.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/oct/12/bbc-the-watch-shares-no-dna-with-terry-pratchett-work-daughter-rhianna

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It's utter pisch. 

 

Guards Guards alone would make a fine 8 part series. There are plenty of narrative hooks in the book which could form the core of any particular episode leading up the final confrontation with the dragon. 

 

The same is true of every other Watch book. I'd say they're probably the easiest to adapt to the big/small screen of all of the books, in fact. 

 

I mean...removing Colon and Nobby is a travesty, but turning Vimes into this bird flipping, manic-eyed punk rocker is the worst. 

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I never had much of a problem with them doing original storylines. The classic crime of the week cop show format fits nicely with the property and works with Pratchett's love of satirising and parodying tropes and playing with genre.

 

But that was on the assumption that the spirit of things would be the same.

 

Instead they've chucked all that in the bin and thrown in a few 'In Name Only' style references. Fuck em.

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There's a lot of talk about everything wrong with Vimes, and it's all on point, but also what have they done to Vetinari?

 

Charles Dance's turn as the ruler of Ankh-Morpork was nigh on perfect, practically lifting my mental image of the character straight off the page and onto the screen. Sure, you could change a lot about the character, gender being one of the least important to be honest, but surely Vetinari's core character is as the smartest person in the city, with a cold piercing intelligence a dozen steps ahead of everyone else. From the few lines and confused expressions we've seen from this 'reimagining' they appear to have turned Vetinari into some sort of bumbling exasperated headteacher. 

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Was just rereading the start of the book and this passage about the Elusive Brethren jumped out as not having aged a day..

 

Quote

Let the other societies take the skilled, the hopefuls, the ambitious, the self-confident. He'd take the whining resentful ones, the ones with a bellyful of spite and bile, the ones who knew they could make it big if only they'd been given the chance. Give him the ones in which the floods of venom and vindictiveness were dammed up behind thin walls of ineptitude and low-grade paranoia. And stupidity, too.

 

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