A few days ago, we got a look at the first official trailer for the BBC series The Watch, which is based on the Ankh-Morpork City Watch that’s featured in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. After the success of Amazon’s adaptation of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s novel Good Omens, fans were no doubt excited for another Pratchett-themed series, but the first trailer hasn’t gone down very well. In fact, not only are fans unimpressed by what they’ve seen, both Rhianna Pratchett, Terry’s daughter, and Neil Gaiman have commented on how far removed from the source material the show has strayed.
On Twitter, Rhianna Pratchett stated that the show “shares no DNA with my father’s Watch,” adding that it will stand or fall on its own merits.
Look, I think it’s fairly obvious that @TheWatch shares no DNA with my father’s Watch. This is neither criticism nor support. It is what it is.
— Rhianna Pratchett (@rhipratchett) October 9, 2020
She then went on to say that, while criticism of a show is fine, people should not target individual actors or members of the crew. Clearly, the show hasn’t gained her seal of approval, at least not as a faithful adaptation of her father’s work.
Gaiman replied to a user on Twitter regarding the show, saying that changing too much in an adaptation can alienate the fans.
Yes. But the fan base are fans. And they like the source material because it’s the source material they like. So if you do something else, you risk alienating the fans on a monumental scale. It’s not Batman if he’s now a news reporter in a yellow trenchcoat with a pet bat.
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) October 9, 2020
Many fans have criticised the show for appearing to have significantly changed many of the characters from how they act and appear in Pratchett’s novels. In particular, they seem to have a much more punk-rock aesthetic than they did in the books.
Speaking at New York Comic-Con, the show’s executive producer, Richard Stokes, explained why the show is making some changes to the source material. 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. [You] don’t need to know the books to be able to enjoy the series and that’s one of the most exciting things about it for a big audience.”
We won’t know for sure how good the show is until it is available to watch, but it seems early impressions aren’t getting fans too excited. Here’s hoping it ends up surprising us.