What I'm Watching: The Witcher

It is the most magical time of the year, so time to watch the new shitty fantasy series.

The show alternates between two almost totally separate shows; this season is based on prequel short stories, so apparently nobody will meet anyone until the end and the videogame starts.

Moody almost monochrome Witcher scenes where Geralt[sic, Polish can't spell "Gerald"?] broods and delivers Batman lines, refuses to do anything for anyone, but is clearly so desperate for coin he'll fight monsters on spec ("Kikimora" here being a weird swampy spider-ogre thing, rather than the Slavic mythological one which is a pair of good and evil house fairies). He meets a sexy witch in a bar who keeps the locals from murdering him and buys him beer, but he runs off with a little girl who kills rats to get a job with a magician. Who has a fairy fountain full of naked dryads, and wants him to kill the sexy witch from the bar.

Much brighter but still washed-out medieval political shit, battlefields run nothing like a real medieval battlefield (no honor guard for the queen, who leads from the front, lot of Lord of the Rings kind of cgi crowd shit). Tiny tomboy princess is about to be heir to a dead kingdom. The "Nilfgardians" are apparently black-armored psychopaths who don't take prisoners, torture victims.

I played a bit of the first Witcher game, but it doesn't explain much of the background. It's some generic pseudo-Europe called "The Continent" (or whatever that is in Polish). The Nilfgardians there are a more normal Holy Roman Empire pastiche, even leaving subject kings in place.

Why is Geralt[sic] a "mutant"? Allegedly 80 girls born in an eclipse are all mutants and evil, which is either medieval nonsense or factual description of magic world, and I can't tell which. But what's his excuse? Magic seems to be rare and super powerful, but nobody really minds its use, which seems at odds with the "he's different KILL HIM" attitude to Geralt[sic], the girls, monsters, and Elves.

We finally get a real fight scene with the Witcher, and it's pretty good; fight choreography and editing portrays a thing far faster and tougher than Human like a high-level videogame character just murderizing all the normal thugs, and fighting evenly against another mutant.

"They created me just as they created you! We're not so different!"


Now there's another storyline: Hunchback Pig-Girl can teleport to magic fairy-land, and gets bought by a witch for half the price of a pig. No worries, tho, someday she'll become Yennefer[sic] the Witch and make herself pretty, because only poor & non-magic people are ugly in the Witcher. But first she has to go to Shitty Hogwarts, which is a series of caves and stone classrooms with a loading screen showing two towers and a bridge for context; there's no scenes set where you would see the matte painting/loading screen behind anyone. Total set budget: $50 for plaster, scrap wood, and a veritable mountain of plastic skulls & bones.

We finally get back to Geralt[sic], remember the main plot? Hunting "devils" who steal grain for a leather sack of coins, which is suspiciously exactly how much he negotiated for. Zero effort was made to make anything plausible, it's just like the videogame. Ah, I love a good kill/fetch quest. We get a lot of sitting around hearing about Elves and how Humans have massacred them. Which never makes sense to me: If Elves are a superior, magical, immortal race, how are mere trash monkeys able to kill them?

The princess runs away from the Evil Dark Army, and is taken in by stupid refugees who don't realize she's clean and pretty and therefore royalty; they are of course dirty and ugly because they're Working-Class with Ambitions, and therefore doomed. Their Dwarf slave doesn't like the situation, but nobody likes him either. Well, I like him more after [SPOILER]. The princess has zero personality (or the actress simply couldn't even read lines), she's a plot coupon that moves thru scenes on rails.

I'm perplexed by the period this is supposed to be in. The Witcher game is sort of medieval 12th C Poland? But there's post-Renaissance bards with 18th C or so lutes, singing about potions for abortions. I'm shocked I haven't seen more anachronistic technology with the casual disinterest the show takes in period drama.

The currency situation is bugging me, too. In two episodes we've had marks, ducats, orins, and florins? Marks are German and only in Shitty Hogwarts land, but the other three are within a day's ride of the starting forest and are Italian. Why aren't there any zloty, if this is so Polish? Why is any of this historical Europe if it's a completely different fantasy world?!

Well, so far this is about on par with Uwe Boll's Bloodrayne, but lacks the star power (Michael Madsen, Ben Kingsley, Meat Loaf, and a dozen Romanian whores!). All this has is Henry Cavill (the doughy, vapid, murderous Zack Snyder Superman) who does fine standing around growling, and he can fight well, but he's barely even present for "acting", he just hits his marks and says his lines. Lars Mikkelsen (Mads' wuss brother, who we last saw in the original Danish The Killing 13 years ago) is sort of amusing and cuddly as the magician Slartibartfast or whatever; but I think they wanted menacing and mystical, which he is not.

★★☆☆☆ script, production, and acting quality, ★★★½☆ for fight scenes and entertaining stupidity. Totally going to keep watching, this is a nice fun trainwreck show.