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Thread: A New DiscWorld Series For 2020 Has Fans Angry

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    A New DiscWorld Series For 2020 Has Fans Angry

    Late last year BBC America quietly announced an eight episode series based on Terry Pratchett's City Watch sub-set of DiscWorld novels. This normally would make Pratchett fans in general, and DiscWorld fans in particular, really happy as previous adaptations have been largely well received.

    But this past January BBC dropped some photos from the production to start a buzz about the series. Given the fact that the show is bringing together many of the best loved characters from the novels the BBC was likely expecting Pratchett's fan base to go absolutely bat-shit about the series and create a viral word of mouth worthy of Game Of Thrones.

    Oh they went bat-shit alright. They went bat-shit with alarm and concern. Here's a look at the cast.




    Pennyworth’s Anna Chancellor and Outlander’s James Fleet have joined the cast of BBC America’s The Watch, based on Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels.

    The pair are the latest actors to join the BBC Studios and Narrativia-produced series, joining lead Richard Dormer.
    Chancellor stars as Lord Vetinari, The Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, and architect of the city’s normalized wrongness and ramshackle system of governance, while Fleet stars as The Archchancellor, wizard, magical advisor, and the Head of the Unseen University.

    Set in the fictional city of Ankh-Morpork, where crime has been legalized, The Watch is a “punk rock” drama. The eight-part series centers on a group of misfit cops as they rise up from decades of helplessness to save their corrupt city from catastrophe.

    Elsewhere, Ingrid Oliver (Doctor Who) stars as the Head of The Assassins’ Guild, Doctor Cruces. Ruth Madeley (The Rook) stars as the wiry Throat, the city’s best snitch, with a gang of freelance henchmen at her beck and call. Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Dynasty) stars as Captain John Keel, former leader of The Watch and mentor to Sam Vimes, determined to save the corrupt and chaotic city and Bianca Simone Mannie (Homeland) stars as the cunning Wonse, a wizard hopeful in waiting that is frequently underestimated.

    They join previously announced Adam Hugill (1917), Jo Eaton-Kent (Don’t Forget The Driver), Marama Corlett (Blood Drive), Lara Rossi (Crossing Lines) and Sam Adewunmi (The Last Tree).
    It is written by The Musketeers and Das Boot writer Simon Allen, along with Joy Wilkinson (Doctor Who), Catherine Tregenna (Torchwood), Amrou Al-Kadhi (Little America) and Ed Hime (Skins). The series is exec produced by BBC Studios’ outgoing Head of Drama London Hilary Salmon, who has worked on series such as Luther and Silent Witness, Ben Donald and Wilkins as well as Richard Stokes (Torchwood), Rob Wilkins (Good Omens), Craig Viveiros and Allen. Johann Knobel (Shameless) is series producer of The Watch, and Simon Rogers (Doctor Foster) is production designer. BBC Studios is handling distribution internationally.

    So fans of the DiscWorld series have a right to be concerned, based on the way the series was cast and how Pratchett's work has been causally disregarded. Cyberpunk is not a work Pratchett would have associated with his work. What this upcoming train wreck of a series looks like is a hack writers attempt to mash up a failed steam/cyberpunk script with a far superior writers characters and world setting, and counting on the better writers fan base to give himself a success. I refer to Simon Allen, creator and lead writer of this mess. He going to the one to blame, ultimately, if the show fails.

    Oddly, Narrativia, Sir Terry's production company has a producers credit on the series, they had no creative control over the production. Also Narrativia has had no trouble stating their disapproval. The series production and BBC are not saying much at this time but Narrativia, now under the directorship of Rhianna Pratchett recently made an announcement, while denying the new Watch series had anything to do with their announcement decision which reads;

    Terry Pratchett novels to get 'absolutely faithful' TV adaptations

    Discworld fantasy stories will be adapted for TV ‘in a form he would be proud of’ after BBC America’s controversial cyberpunk take on The Watch.


    On what would have been the late Discworld creator’s 72nd birthday, Terry Pratchett’s production company Narrativia has announced a new development deal to create “truly authentic … prestige adaptations that remain absolutely faithful to [his] original, unique genius”.

    The deal will see Motive Pictures and Endeavor Content team up with Narrativia, which Pratchett launched in 2012, to make several series adaptations of the late author’s fantasy novels. There are currently no details of which books the partnership will tackle, though many of Pratchett’s books have been adapted before: Sky has dramatised Hogfather, The Colour of Magic and Going Postal; Soul Music and Wyrd Sisters have been turned into animations, and Good Omens, starring David Tennant as the demon Crowley and Michael Sheen as the angel Aziraphale, was recently aired on Amazon Prime and the BBC, to positive reviews.

    “The spirit of this new alliance has been forged from a shared love of the source material and a commitment to create an epic series, which will kick off with some of the most iconic titles in Sir Terry’s fiercely incisive and satirical universe,” they said.

    Pratchett’s daughter Rhianna, a co-director of Narrativia, said on Tuesday that Motive and Endeavor Content “perfectly share our vision” of what a Discworld screen adaptation should be.

    “Discworld teems with unique characters, witty narrative and incredible literary tropes, and we feel these should be realised on screen in a form that my father would be proud of,” she said.
    Wilkins, Narrativia’s managing director, said the new partnership meant that Discworld had “finally found its home”.

    “The Discworld books are a huge source of joy to millions of readers, and rightly so; every paragraph, phrase and footnote was crafted with brilliance and flair and we are committed to bringing Terry’s world to the screen with the respect and care it deserves,” he said.

    Early photos of BBC America’s forthcoming series The Watch, based on Pratchett’s novels about the City Watch police recently prompted concern among fans due to its drastically different cyberpunk aesthetic. Although Rhianna, and Pratchett’s friend and assistant Rob Wilkins, did not comment directly on the adaptation when the photos were revealed, they both showed their displeasure by sharing a blistering article by Ursula K Le Guin in which she criticised an adaptation of her own Earthsea books.
    Wilkins denied the new deal was in response to Narrativia’s dissatisfaction with The Watch. “Though Narrativia retain an executive producer credit in The Watch, they have no creative involvement in the project. However, they of course wish The Watch all the best.”

    Motive Pictures chief executive Simon Maxwell called the Discworld universe a national treasure. “Together we will produce shows that will be loved by millions of Discworld fans worldwide, whilst also opening up Sir Terry Pratchett’s epic creations and legacy to new audiences,” he said.

    So whats your opinion?

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    Super Moderator Misrule's Avatar
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    I love the books - all of them. What a bizarre and wonderful sense of humour he had. I have no reason or intention of ever watching anyone else's images of these stories - I have my own in my imagination. That's the power of a really good book.

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    I share your thoughts, however I'll tune in just to confirm Simon Allan - the lead writer and creative producer, is the hack I think he is.

    See, what gets me is the why. Why go to all this trouble to make a pile of crap that people aren't going to like. When I saw the photos the BBC released in January, and then found out later BCC had creative control and still ended up here, with a dumb hack who got to do as pleased.




    If it wasn't for the cast list I never have associated some cast members with the roles! Strangely, some of the other writers have better creds than ol'Simon here. Kinda resembles Micheal Bey with a stick up his ass too, which may or may not explain a few things. Would you have guessed the short haired blond midget sitting with her feet up with the worst case of smoke eye ever was werewolf Angua Von Uberveld? Or that the guy sitting next to her on the desk in a dress would be Cheery Littlebottom female dwarf? That just two of the cast. I does get worse, lawsuit worthy I mean. Well at least there are 36 other novels available for Blue Ribbon adaptations.

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    ಠ_ಠ defrabbit's Avatar
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    the existing tv movies, even with some good performers, were so
    boring. I wouldn't even mind if they had a different style of humour,
    but it seemed like they weren't even trying to be funny or dramatic,
    just endless overly-long scenes of people reciting their lines.

    Just to veer off on a tangent... in those Hobbit movies, when they
    first get to Laketown and you follow them into the city, that, to me,
    seemed like it would lend itself well to a live action Discworld.

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    Quote Originally Posted by defrabbit View Post
    the existing tv movies, even with some good performers, were so
    boring. I wouldn't even mind if they had a different style of humour,
    but it seemed like they weren't even trying to be funny or dramatic,
    just endless overly-long scenes of people reciting their lines.

    Just to veer off on a tangent... in those Hobbit movies, when they
    first get to Laketown and you follow them into the city, that, to me,
    seemed like it would lend itself well to a live action Discworld.
    I hear you, it sometimes seems like they never quite get it right. Lotta reasons for that though. Adaptations require experience or real talent. If they had adhered to JRR Tolkien's novels nobody would have been able to follow the plot af any of the Lord of the Rings movies, because Tolkien, for all his gifts as an academic, had real issues when it came to plotting a story. So it took Jackson, Boyans and Jackson, years to sort out just how those books needed to be scripted in order to even start committing them to film. They respected the source material, as well. The previous adaptations of Pratchett's work may not have been to every fans liking but Terry Pratchett watched over the writing and production of those films and was satisfied with them.

    The problem here is that this series is trying to turn DiscWorld into something its not - its not a cyberpunk story, its not even a STEAMPUNK story, tough steampunk might have made more sense. Fans expect to see Anke-Morpork as described by Pratchett, not the Los Angles of Bladerunner. If cyberpunk is a genre you enjoy more well there are a fair amount of other shows to chose from. The Watch looks more like what Hollywood calls a Re-Boot or, and this a phase I can't stand, a Re-Imagining.. In either case to do either one you have to have already had something filmed previously to re-boot, re-imagine from. The books that 'inspired' this have not been done before, if you see my point.

    What we are likely gonna get here won't be anything like Laketown in the Hobbit, or the Anke-Morpork of DiscWorld, its gonna be eight episodes of someone else's TV show or movie with characters who've been named after characters that belong to a far better writer. I'd say that's a bit like being short changed while being dry humped on a bus - you won't be happy no matter what.

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    So much of Terry's humor comes from his superb use of language and word play. You can set something up in text and pay it off cleverly without it being obvious to the reader; he lets you discover your misinterpretation or the absurdity in an exchange of words without making you feel like an idiot, you are always in on the joke.

    I'm not sure there is a screenwriter alive that can match his genius, or that his comedy is either situational or slapstick enough to be easily converted to TV.

    I agree that the Sky TV attemps have missed the mark, I hope the BBC attempt will be more successful but I have a suspicion that the only way to enjoy the genius of Discworld is through the medium of print, it just reads better than it watches.

    How can you adequately show the colour of magic in a world where tv's won't display ocarine properly?

    Terry was a literary giant and I mourn for him and the unwritten tales he is probably currently regaling the gods with up in Dunmanifestin.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arbiec View Post
    So much of Terry's humor comes from his superb use of language and word play. You can set something up in text and pay it off cleverly without it being obvious to the reader; he lets you discover your misinterpretation or the absurdity in an exchange of words without making you feel like an idiot, you are always in on the joke.

    I'm not sure there is a screenwriter alive that can match his genius, or that his comedy is either situational or slapstick enough to be easily converted to TV.

    I agree that the Sky TV attemps have missed the mark, I hope the BBC attempt will be more successful but I have a suspicion that the only way to enjoy the genius of Discworld is through the medium of print, it just reads better than it watches.

    How can you adequately show the colour of magic in a world where tv's won't display ocarine properly?

    Terry was a literary giant and I mourn for him and the unwritten tales he is probably currently regaling the gods with up in Dunmanifestin.

    Like I said earlier, if you have the right people, who respect the source material, you can get very satisfying results. Carrie, Stephen Kings' first novel was adapted into a very successful film, twice nominated for an Academy Awards and generally cited as one the best ever adaptations to screen - courtesy of director Brian De Palm and writer Lawrence D. Cohen. BattleStar Galactica 2003 was a great adaptation from its source material, in may ways better than its source. I could site others ad-nausium. Its a question of the right people, people with talent and enough experience to respect the work. Hopefully Pratchett's work, now safely back under the control of Rhianna Pratchett, will find the right people to bring Pratchett's work to the screen in such a way that even Terry Pratchett would approve of it.

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    let's hope Pratchett stuff doesn't end up with the same
    batting average for good adaptions as Stephen King stuff.


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    Quote Originally Posted by defrabbit View Post
    let's hope Pratchett stuff doesn't end up with the same
    batting average for good adaptions as Stephen King stuff.

    And trying to be postivie about it, the Big Budget Hollywood version of The Hitchhikers Guide was done really badly but the BBC vesion, shot on a shoe string budget managed to capture the spirit of the humour really well.
    Douglas Adams was another clever wordsmith so maybe the BBC writers can pull it off.

    I have run out of things to watch (spent a quarter hour watching to see if the cat would fall off the kitchen worktop where she was sleeping this afternoon [spoiler alert - she didn't, but it was really close. The drama, the suspense]) so I am going to be looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

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