The Watch: Not On My Watch (episode 5)

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There was probably one bit of plot last week that felt like the show had any idea what it was doing or where it was going and that came at the very end when Lord Vetinari revealed that he would be using the dragon for his own ends. This week we’re going to see what a good man has to say about that in ….

I’ll skip how this makes lord Vetinari less complex and less interesting than the guy from the book. I know people get annoyed when I just complain that things aren’t like the novels. But I feel like it just annoys me when they change out what worked in the book for something worse. The Vetinari family motto is, after all, Si non confectus, non reficiat (“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”).

This episode is another one where nothing really happens. The plot, in terms of the series can be summed up by The Watch have the sword and by the end they don’t though they have a lead on where they can find the next magical artefact. This is about it as the episode is given over to flashbacks on our main cast. See when trying to show us who their characters are a writer might do this through actions in the present. They might be really clever and tie in what’s happening now with what happened in the past. Either way we will learn more about them. Here they go to dispose of a magical sword and have some weird vision along the way. They don’t even stick to the shtick to make it consistent. Cheery will be chocked on a metaphor. Lady Sybil will reunite with an old friend she hasn’t seen in many year. Sam will visit the past and Angua will become the past. Heck while the rest are trapped in their to die unless saved by their colleagues Angua just sits through her flashback because they wrote a touching scene and you’re going to sit there and appreciate it. It just ends up feeling lazy and really very small. For instance we can take, from Cheery’s vision, that she is suffocated on either gender or dwarven tradition. Considering the next clue seems to be hidden in some kind of dwarven mine maybe we could see her deal with this. Face it head on instead of through some Freud-esque dream. The world they are in is a hodge podge of fantasy and post apocalyptic. They come across many a mundane object as recreated by a mad wizard out to make a quick buck. The problem is this anarchic everything goes approach shouldn’t extend to the script writing itself and the pacing of the series as a whole.

One of the problems is that the show is just so small. For instance early on Sam seems a piece of graffiti on the walls of the Watch. He has no idea what it is, and to be honest there is little reason to suggest he would notice it considering the rest of the rubbish there. But it works for the scene. Lady Sybil then says that it is a sign of resistance and it was placed there by the public as they stand with the watch now. The thing is this is fine as is but you wonder if she is pulling this out of her arse considering we only see one other person, outside the good guys and bad guys this episode and they’re measuring Vimes up for a coffin. They ight have just said the citizens of Ankoh Morpork are behind them every step of the way and then keep coming up with lame excuses for why they can’t be seen.

“Oh yes Captain they were ready to march but I made sure they went to the toilet before we left so we don’t have to stop later.”

“Yes Captain the people are in position I have them hidden throughout the wood ready to leap out at a moments notice.”

“Oh no Captain they’ve stormed the wrong castle. They’re all over at that castle over there.”

I get you should write the episode you can afford; and you can afford a B.L.M stencil but you can’t afford a speaking extra or two. But I don’t think this is what people really mean. Use your characters and use them together. I don’t think the show has had Cheery or Lady Sybil share two words together and this episode continues this tradition despite sticking them in a desert together and having them conspiring at the end to find the next macguffin. Carrot and Angua do a little better on their brief foray into the world of police work but there isn’t enough between them yet to not think this might be some work place crush. The problem is that when they are all together they don’t follow up on the British identity or even the punk vibe they’re going for and fall back on generic Hollywood earnest cheese. I don’t think if these characters had had episodes worth of scenes together they could pull off what they give them at the end of this weeks episode.

About the only person who really looks good in this episode is Matt Berry who is probably saved the pull down of the show by not having to actually be there.

When Terry Practchett first started he snuck in homages to some of the fantasy work that had inspired him. Conan the Barbarian and Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser all make appearances within the first two books. That’s not to speak of the stuff beyond that like playing around with the Seventh Seal. Simon Allen has “snuck” in Harry Potter’s car and, to be honest, I think that sums it up nicely.

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