It’s now a race against time to find the key that will control the dragon and either save the city or doom it in ….
I just want to say that one habit I have had, and many others beside me, is hate watching. That thing where you binge an entire season, maybe more, of a show that you know you will loathe just for the joy of complaining about it. Just for something to get angry about. It’s why you never got any reviews of Discovery past season two. or Picard, or Lower Decks. I should stress this as I wanted to give this show a fair shake. But after this weeks episode I may not be reviewing any more. I almost didn’t review this one as I had forgotten all about it until I was on my blog doing some much needed touch ups on my spelling and grammar on other posts to come. This probably serves as a good enough review of the product so you can take this paragraph as it if that’s all you want. If you want a bit more I’ve been struggling to think what the show reminds me of and then it hit me. It’s drunk. Not a surly moody drunk character. I mean the writers are drunkenly trying to tell you about these books they read once. Meanwhile the cast are quite possibly drunk in many scenes and they’re just going ahead with it. Like someone swapped out the coloured water for booze and the cast are too afraid to point this out Emperor’s New Clothes Style.
I’ve discussed the problems with the character’s before and I think, not the worst case, but the best example at least can be found within the first five minutes of this weeks episode. In the book the Watch take in little Errol. They care for him. They feed him. They even use him to fight crime. Thus the revelation at the end of the book feels earned, laid out, plotted, and has you punching the air for the little swamp dragon. I don’t think the dragon in the show even has a name. Yet we’re foreshadowing the end as Cheery feeds it while talking about their being someone out there for everyone. Right before Errol starts singing to the dragon that is sweeping in for another attack.
It’s the same for all of the character’s here. They all feel like the Ikea furniture equivalents. You’re only half certain all the bits are there. It’s hard work and they don’t come out looking like the picture on the box. Another good example of this make it fit mentality is the internet famous Sam Vimes boots theory of economic injustice. It shows up here. Now I’m not saying it shouldn’t. I’m not saying that this Sam Vimes wouldn’t also come up with something similar to his book counter part. But instead of working it into the plot they seem to just jam it into the script like they’ve got bored of their fisher price toy and want done with the puzzle and will shove this last peg into that hole if it’s the last thing they do and dam anyone who points out that the hole is square while they’re holding a circle.
Or you could take the love story between Angua and Carrot. Yes they’re in love now. I can almost accept Vimes and Lady Sybil. At least they’ve shared the screen and had some banter which could, under very poor disco lighting, pass as chemistry. But I’m not sure Carrot and Angua have had more scenes than expositional werewolf dialogue. But they’re now in love. If you want to tell the story then that’s fine. If you want to skip to the good bit then you’re free to do so but don’t act like you’re telling the tale while taking several short cuts. Again it’s stuff like this that make the series feel far too old fashioned while it dressed in progressive skin. Carrot likes Angua because? And of course she secretly loves him because he’s a good clean boy? I almost expect the show to tell me that she should put on some pretty dresses and play house wife for him while he’s out doing man’s work. The fact that Sybil is only a vigilante because of her tortured background suggests that she should perhaps follow suit where as if they had had her taking this active role as a concerned citizen. As a good person just trying to pick up the slack of the watch. For anything other than reasons ripped out of a comic from the thirties. Meanwhile you know who is now the only Watch member who isn’t in love. Cheery. Because of course. We’ve ploughed through her character arc. The books don’t tell us anything about her love life and we’re now stuck looking poor because we’re gonna match everyone up with someone and play happy families except with the one person who challenges gender norms. Well done guys. It feels like a joke except it isn’t funny. Speaking of which….
I recall, in several of my posts on this blog, talking about comedies where I could not pick out a single joke. That’s not true here. I can see every joke. I get why they are jokes. I get the principles they are operating on. The problem is they simply aren’t funny. The thing is the show has had good jokes before. They’ve worked because they fit with the world and the characters the show has set up for us. Here they just are. Let’s have the main character’s dance. That would be wacky right? Cheery shaved all their eye brows off one night. Because that’s pretty random.
It’s not even like you could write the whole episode off. When Death asks Carrot if he would be up for something later I was half expecting a mid credits scene of them going to a curry house and I would have been happy with it. Even outside the books and treating this as a show the end promises some direction that could prove interesting going forward. But that’s the thing. It could be interesting going forward. It’s not interesting now. I think one thing that is hurting the show, that I’ve discussed before, is the run time. We have eight episodes. This is too short, really, for American’s to consider doing an episode of the week style show with maybe an ongoing plot in the background. But it’s too long, at least for these writers, to pad out the story they’ve got. Thus you end up with pointless diversions that don’t amuse and don’t stick in the brain. The watch form a band. The watch visit an old folks home. Like they’ve been given their paragraph of the main plot and told to come up with some wacky hijinks to pad this out to the hour run time with ads. It just feels flat. the whole episode is one you could skip over in a re-watch. But once you start down that line you have to ask where it would end and I suspect most of the series would follow suit.
The thing is that people will complain about me comparing this to the book but that’s because you can see them stealing bits and pieces and jamming them together like Sid’s toys under his bed. This episode shows that really well because we get a reference to another Pratchett book. Ignore the junior assassin whose now an elderly lesbian. Ignore the potentially make believe Nac Mac Feegle’s. Ignore the Auditors. The reference is so strong that we name the episode after it. Twilight Canyons is a story about old folk solving a mystery about treasure and preventing the rise of a Dark Lord. You may not recognise this one. You may be wondering if you’ve read it and you haven’t. The only proof we have that this ever existed as an idea is at the back of The Shepherds Crown. This was a book that Pratchett planned to write. One day. As with his last wishes all these potential stories and ideas were destroyed following his death. This leaves the writers of the show nothing to cannibalise like an Igor stuck at home during lockdown. Hence why you could do a million things with a fantasy style retirement home. Hence why you get episodes of Futurama and movies like Bubba Ho Tep playing in this area and The Watch having the witty joke of thinking everyone who walks through the door is Michelle and then calling it a day.
Also guys; in future if you are going to have Adam Hugill, Carrot, very clearly stand on a box for when he’s having a close up conversation with Jo Eaton-Kent, Cheery, could you at least try to be consistent with this throughout the rest of the episode and not have group shots where their stood at the same height. I mean you tried to improve the Librarian’s make up this episode but now, four episodes in, think you are going to try and fix the dwarf height issue for one scene only.