The Wheel of Time on Amazon – it just doesn’t work.

Jun 10, 2022 | thoughts, Zackery Arbela

This post was meant to be a critique of the Wheel of Time streaming series on Amazon. Meant to be…but its hard to write a real critique of anything when you turn off the first episode 30 minutes in out of fear you might throw something heavy at the screen and damn the fools at Amazon for being the fumble-fingered incompetents they have proved themselves to be. The Wheel of Time was the big fantasy series of my youth, and I was wondering how it it would translate as a live action series Now we know…badly. Very badly. One shudders to think what they will do to the Lord of the Ring – the Ring of Power (a most silly title. Should have stuck with the Second Age…)

More insightful minds than mine have broken down why the series sucked and all the ways the writers and producers got it wrong (bad casting, bad acting, a hundred million dollar budget that resulted in CW-level production values, and a complete deviation from Robert Jordan’s story and setting to the point of unrecognizability.) But to me this proves a point I made in a post last year, about the difficulty of translating traditional fantasy stories to live action:

“Traditional fantasy (be it epic, high or low, or sword and sorcery) is different in that the setting has to stand on its own. Gondor isn’t a place in Wisconsin, Geralt of Rivia isn’t slaying monsters in modern-day Germany or Poland. The setting has to look real, or has to feel real. And most importantly, the characters within it have look like they are living in that world, and not merely pretending to live in it. If elves or orcs exist in the world, then there has to be a place from whence they come, and the person playing such a character has to give the impression he or she is as much a part of it as the trees and rocks around him….

It all boils down to one thing – suspension of disbelief:

Suspension of disbelief, sometimes called willing suspension of disbelief, is the intentional avoidance of critical thinking or logic in examining something unreal or impossible in reality, such as a work of speculative fiction, in order to believe it for the sake of enjoyment.”

There was no suspension of disbelief here. It looked fake, it felt fake, and the actors in the story didn’t give the impression that it was otherwise.

It worked in Game of Throne (at least until the last two seasons.)
It worked in Lord of the Kings.
It worked in the Witcher…mostly.

But it didn’t work here.

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