There have been many fantasy shows this year, some of excellent quality and some not so much. Sadly, Netflix’s Witcher origin story falls into the latter category. Set 1200 years before the world of The Witcher, this limited series focuses on seven outcasts who unite in a quest for vengeance and to go against an unstoppable power. In doing so, one becomes a prototype Witcher in a conflict that brings together the worlds of monsters, elves, and men to become one.
In The Witcher, there is a lot to love with fans raving about many aspects of the show and being adapted from an acclaimed book and game series, there was a lot to draw on. Sadly, that cannot be said for this series with a lot of the blame being placed on flat performances, pacing that does not make sense and cheesiness that makes The Witcher: Blood Origin feel like a discounted fantasy TV show made in the early 2000s but with a big budget.
Complex characters are non-existent in this series, but there is a variety for you to pick one you like the most only for any interesting development with them to fade away. Included in the group of outcasts is Éile (Sophia Brown), a warrior who left to become a traveling musician, Fjall (Laurence O’Fuarain), a man born into a clan of warriors sworn to protect a king, but instead sets out in need of vengeance, Scian (Michelle Yeoh), the last member of a nomadic tribe of sword-elves on a mission to retrieve a blade stolen from her people, Callan aka Brother Death (Huw Novelli), Meldof (Francesca Mills), with Syndril (Zach Wyat) and Zacaré (Lizzie Annis), celestial twins. Rounding out the cast include Merwyn (Mirren Mack), princess to the elven kingdom of Xin’trea with links to some of the outcasts, Chief Druid Balor (Lenny Henry), an authoritarian ruler, and Eredin (Jacob Collins-Levy), captain of king’s royal guard. There was a mystery in the original series, but anything mysterious is resolved instantly, leaving no room to build. Too much time is spent on mundane aspects with any development for the characters left out. Out of the seven outcasts, the only ones with any intrigue are the celestial twins; but they are not given enough focus. When there is any mystery or anything interesting, a voiceover narration will come in to explain what just happened or is about to happen, breaking the fundamental rule of storytelling: show don’t tell. Eredin is another character that held promise, but there was not enough of him or his plot except for two scenes that highlighted any of that.
With a fantasy show set in the world of The Witcher, well-choreographed fight scenes given the violent nature and the world-changing conflict are expected but is another addition to the lacklustre failure of this show. The action is not exciting to watch, looking stagnant and stiff. Adding to that is a laughable script filled with moments that are so badly executed and written that will make you laugh. Two notable moments is when Éile does a cheesy cape-flip and another when a character, in all seriousness exclaims, “Fuck the fucking fuck off.” This was a real line. A serious line.
The worst episode is the first with minor improvements as the series gets on, but with no focus on interesting characters or their development, it is a slog to get through. When there is something interesting, the show cuts away from it and does not let the good moments grow. The narration does not help; the pacing is detrimental to the story, and the acting is stiff. Unfortunately, the most notable in that respect is Merwyn, whose face keeps the same expression and cadence regardless of the situation. That character also has the worst costumes and makeup that offer little distraction to an awful performance and terrible writing. At least you will get a laugh out of it. As bad as the character is, Merwyn at least offers events that will move the plot forward so that Merwyn will be the MVC but one of the monsters was close to getting it.
If you love The Witcher, there is no need to watch this as it adds nothing to the universe and delivers extraordinarily little of anything interesting. Moments are saved by a few characters, but the series is too hurried to delve into any of the characters that could have saved it. A laughable script, stiff performances and bad CGI make this series one to skip.
The Witcher: Blood Origin will release 25th December 2022, only on Netflix.
The first season was screened for review.