Review: “The Witcher”

Yes, we are told it is the weekend. Weekends may now be a lot like weekdays, of course. But just because we are staying at home, weekend or weekday, does not mean life’s little chores disappear:

[From my Instagram Stories, April 25, 2020.]

Fortunately, it has been a sunny week here about 40 minutes north of London. Which means at least there is some outdoor escape. There is the (small) back garden:

[From my Instagram Stories, April 25, 2020.]

Yes, that is also War and Peace you see on that table. I love tales built around stylish ladies and uniformed gentlemen in drawing rooms and actual historical settings. And by now I don’t think that latter observation by me is really any shock to you:

I have never been big on vaguely Medieval/Viking stories with long-haired kinda humans who look like they have never bathed, never even comb their hair, and spend all of their time flailing in mud, waving swords, and questing for magic stuff alongside trolls or whatever.

I have not seen even a minute of Game of Thrones.

But, in lockdown, and knowing my youngest nephew – he is recently age 18 – is a fan, and realizing it will give us something new to talk about with him by Facetime, Saturday night we decided to watch the first episode of the latest apparent “craze” on Netflix:

[About to watch The Witcher. Photo by me, April 25, 2020.]

My immediate reaction at its end?

Okay, its first 60 minutes has more slaughter than Gladiator, D-Day, and Agincourt combined, and it makes the sack of Troy look tame. But at least in one castle dinner scene before all that, it appears hair had been combed and attendees had washed. I was also exhausted. I could only also but wonder, whatever next for the second episode?😂

As a writer, I had an epiphany too. While watching it, I realized it is a complete mishmash, and I suppose other stories similar to it (like Game of Thrones) must be too. There are no constraints, because it is unanchored to any place, time, or even as needed basic human reality. No one can therefore reasonably argue, “Hey, you know, that’s out of place…”

That fact does allow writers to do pretty much whatever they want, which does have its positives: for instance, race and ethnicity mean nothing in casting.

But then there are the actual little details which other writers (like me) cannot just ignore, but in tales like this are basically irrelevant. Do you want to have modern-looking glassware on the table in what appears to be a medieval castle? In this setting, that cannot be called a mistake. Do you desire the thugs in the muddy village to have Scottish accents? Fine, bring on the Scots (or those pretending to do Scottish accents anyway – those seem great in tales like these). Do you want the princess who is five feet tall and looks like she would have trouble lifting a fork to run a massive sword through the seven foot tall Ugahran of Bendira in hand to hand combat? Of course she can: secretly the superblood of Dayaran is in her veins and she can slaughter an entire regiment if she wants. Do you like the idea of a massed cavalry charge by guys in full armor in which it does not matter if those apparent good guys have the high ground? That’s easy… just have the flying Agorpians descend to save the day just before those guys are about to be annihilated.

Anything may be invented and then resolved pretty much any way the writer wants. There are no rules:

“You don’t understand,” the wizard of Zod explains to Gwyneddic. “Princess Euphoria is of the Femyonds. She is the last of the Chosen Sisters, and she has been corrupted. Even Ageis knows this. She will smite the world unknowingly merely with her cries. She must be stopped!”

“Uh, okay, Wizard,” Gwyneddic, the biggest, most menacing, loner guy with the largest sword in the shire replies, “why doesn’t someone just kill her?”

“She can’t be killed!” the wizard declares. “She is protected for 100,000 years by the Great Magic that even we wizards cannot undo!”

Which is I suppose the major reason tales like that had never appealed to me. I have always felt they are too “easy.” Some contrived plot device will appear that I cannot predict, which in turn prevents me from feeling a real emotional interest in what is going on.

“You peaceful Juanuks cannot possibly all walk 100 miles in one day to reach safety! The Questrians will descend upon your homes after sunset! I cannot alone face them!” the blooded, unwashed, hair dangling down all over the place, his sword nearly broken, Gwyneddic warns the elders.

Ah, never fear, in the opening to the very next episode before dusk the entire village is teleported unexpectedly by the Great Wizard of Ion to the distant happy lands of Eonia, and everyone is now okay…

…well, they are for now, anyway. LOL! 😉

Hope you are having a good weekend. 🙂 We all so wish we could be teleported so easily. And if only the Wizard could find a cure for the COVID-19…