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His Dark Materials - BBC

Gaith

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addiesin said:
HBO and BBC, awesome.

No, it's a BBC production that HBO bought the North American rights to in the S1 post-production phase. This is, sadly, not an adaptation in which Iorek tears out Iofur's still-beating heart and eats it. Indeed, their fight is reportedly less violent than that of the PG-13 film. And I therefore have no confidence that S2-3 will be any more hard-hitting.

...
 
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So... as a huge fan of the books, but especially Northern Lights/The Golden Compass, I was very much looking forward to this. I found a lot to object to in the first episode, much of it having to do with overly bombastic and fast-paced direction, but figured I'd keep watching, and maybe fan edit the series ep by ep someday into a great adaptation.

Since then, however, from reading reviews of subsequent episodes, I've lost all hope. Not starting the story with the Retiring Room murder attempt, and then the asinine premature introduction of our world/Will's story, can be fixed, but the consistent sidelining of the daemons, general continued muddiness of the direction (severely underplaying the horror of intercision and Bolvangar), and downright stupid/penny-pinching narrative choices (not showing witches apart from Serafina, Iorek and Iofur battling without armor?!?!) cannot. Worst of all, however, is the weakening of Lyra's character, which was present in the very first episode when she initially refused the alethiometer because she "doesn't like secrets." 
 
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I gather that the writers have decided to build up her character gradually over the course of the season, to give her a more dramatic origin story/arc, but that's not the Lyra I know and love. That Lyra, Pullman's Lyra, is a half-savage and total badass from the start. I don't even care if the series improves with a fully realized Lyra in the next seasons, because, as much as I love the second two books, I'm not particularly interested in seeing them on screen; they're just too grim and harrowing. I really only want a great portrayal of Northern Lights, with a nice, slow pace, and lots of wonder to balance out the fantastical (and, yes, also bloody, violent, and horrifying) elements.

The series may well be decent enough on its own terms, but for me, for this story, anything less than sheer excellence is a complete failure, and thus a waste of time. Maybe a third screen adaptation, if there ever is one, will be the charm... in another twelve years, or more? :(
 

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Okay, I watched the show's Iorek/Iofur fight. Terrible! Inside, no armor for no reason, despite Iorek wearing it in the very previous scene, it's inside, there's Lyra stumbling into the fighting area because the viewers can't be trusted to care about the fight itself, no blood, no eating of Iofur's beating heart... and it even cuts away before Lyra realizes who won?! Pathetic! (The movie, while imperfect - too many swooping camera moves to make up for the lack of gore - at least got the basics of the combat right.) And Keen's performance in said previous scene is utterly timid compared to Dakota Blue Richards', which is seriously odd given how fierce Keen was in Logan. There's simply no explanation for it other than awful, horrible direction.

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Finally, I just checked, and yep, just like the movie, they omitted my favorite scene: when Lyra runs away from Coulter's place, goes that cafe at night, and tells the random guy who tries to chat her up, in a wonderful bit of character work and grimly hilarious harsher in hindsight foreshadowing, that her father's a professional murderer! Damnit! Eight hours of screen time, and they invent numerous scenes of Boreal alone, but cut that out! Nope nope nope nope nope nope, nope.

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FAIL. :mad:
 

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I was disappointed in the bear fight as well, but overall I've been loving the adaptation and think Dafne Keen's performance has been consistently phenomenal.

However, while I think introducing Will early was a good call, I don't think they did a great job with integrating his stuff with the larger story.
 

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ChainsawAsh said:
However, while I think introducing Will early was a good call

I'm curious to know why you think so. I'm certain I'll never be convinced to change my opinion on this, but I am curious. Because, to my mind,

- It weakens Lyra as a character for the audience to know so much more than she does at this point.
- While the windows between worlds do exist at this point in the continuity, repeatedly showing them weakens the drama and terrible accomplishment of Asriel's forging of a path between worlds.
- Cutting from the mysterious, frozen north to the everyday, humdum England severely deflates the former story's tone of exploration and remoteness.
- While Will is indeed a hugely important character, Lyra is more important to the overall story and tone, and to repeatedly cut away from her before Pullman does is a disservice to her.
 

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Starting season 2 with (at minimum) one full episode devoted to characters we've never seen or met before would put off many viewers. For an adaptation where they know they're getting a second season (Will's scenes weren't filmed until after the S2 renewal, which also let them use that as cover for casting him for "season 2" while secretly filming season 1 scenes for him), it was the right call. Same with introducing Avasarala and Marco each a season early in The Expanse - what works for books doesn't always work for TV.

Honestly, I think you're falling into the trap of wanting a literal 1:1 translation of the text of the novels on screen. That's always a recipe for disaster when trying to judge an adaptation on its own merits. They're different mediums with different narrative requirements.
 

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Hm. Well, I think Will's story could definitely be told in 20 to 30 minutes, thus leaving plenty of time for a first-episode encounter with Lyra, but I appreciate your thoughts. :)
 

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I still need to watch everything past where Lyra gets captured by Bolvangar (end of episode 7 I think?). However, my thoughts up until that point were largely positive. Like ChainsawAsh I decided that introducing Will early worked well enough for a cohesive TV arc, as long as they kept his side of things at least somewhat interesting until the events of book 2 start. Like others, I missed Billy holding the dead fish, but apparently the show filmed the scene and just couldn't get it to work right so they removed the fish. Ma Costa was awful at first but I've quite warmed to her. I quite like Lin-Manuel Miranda's take on Lee Scorsby, as well as Iorek so far. Sounds like I probably won't like the fight between Iorek and Iofur, but we'll see. I'm just hoping this first season caps out competently enough to justify a second. And I hope that the second season benefits from having HBO's influence and multiple writers instead of just Jack Thorne.
 

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Siliconmaster said:
Like others, I missed Billy holding the dead fish, but apparently the show filmed the scene and just couldn't get it to work right so they removed the fish.

I tried Googling that, but couldn't find any corroboration. And that beat should be so simple to film, that even if they did say that, having seen their extremely tame bear fight, I'd suspect they were lying, and cut it because they found it too upsetting. :p

As for HBO's influence on future seasons, I wouldn't count on that. It's been reported that HBO, having been bought by Time-Warner, is desperate for content, so I doubt they'd be too fussed about tone and intensity.
 

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Gaith said:
Siliconmaster said:
Like others, I missed Billy holding the dead fish, but apparently the show filmed the scene and just couldn't get it to work right so they removed the fish.

I tried Googling that, but couldn't find any corroboration. And that beat should be so simple to film, that even if they did say that, having seen their extremely tame bear fight, I'd suspect they were lying, and cut it because they found it too upsetting. :p

As for HBO's influence on future seasons, I wouldn't count on that. It's been reported that HBO, having been bought by Time-Warner, is desperate for content, so I doubt they'd be too fussed about tone and intensity.

You made me doubt myself, but I managed to find it:
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I agree though, how hard is it to take a very well written book scene and not mess it up haha.
 

Gaith

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I mean... it's a dead fish. It's a visual. It should work better on screen than the page, and "didn't quite work for a number of reasons" could totally be a polite way of saying "we/our BBC overlords were afraid of upsetting kids." I also read that when Lyra approaches Iofur in his palace, they omitted his rag doll prop daemon?! How inept can one possibly be?!
 

Siliconmaster

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Gaith said:
I mean... it's a dead fish. It's a visual. It should work better on screen than the page, and "didn't quite work for a number of reasons" could totally be a polite way of saying "we/our BBC overlords were afraid of upsetting kids." I also read that when Lyra approaches Iofur in his palace, they omitted his rag doll prop daemon?! How inept can one possibly be?!

Ugh, that's just bad decision making. Morons.
 
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