The Watch: 5 Things We Need To See In The Discworld Miniseries (& 5 We Hope We Don’t)
Way back in 2011 we first heard reports about The Watch, a fantasy police procedural series set in the Discworld universe. It was said to center around Sir Terry Pratchett’s Ankh Morpork City Watch and was set to be it’s own franchise, rather than a straight adaptation.
After several years of speculation and rumor, it appears that the show is finally coming to air and soon. In October of 2018, it was announced that BBC America has commissioned an eight-part series which was said to have begun filming in September 2019.
So, assuming it’s not an adaptation, here’s what we’re hoping to see and some things we’d like to avoid.
10 Need To See: Sir Terry Pratchett’s Humor
A huge part of what makes the Discworld series so engaging is its humor. Almost every page of the novels contain jokes, quips, and amusing footnotes. A large amount of the humor in the books is contained in the characters and the setting as well as the little details.
If the series is to work it needs to ensure that while the story is unique the humor is not lost. In the recent Good Omens adaptation, you could see both Gaiman and Pratchett’s humor shine through. Our hope is that The Watch manages to pull off the same feat.
9 Hope We Don’t See: The Removal Of Its British Heritage
When looking at the humor we also need to explore the very British heritage of the novels. Pratchett was very much a British author and many of his novels reflect this in both humor and style. They typically include some very British references and quips.
One of the biggest fears for the series is that, especially since it is funded by BBC America, many of the British quirks become ironed out, making the essence of the characters and setting feel flatter and less vibrant.
8 Need To See: The Diverse Character Line Up
The Ankh Morpork City Watch has had an impressive line up over the years. After the Night Watch and the Day Watch were combined into the City Watch, under the leadership of Sam Vines, the roster grew considerably.
Diversity came to the Disc and notable Watch members included a werewolf, a zombie, and a dwarf (female). We’ve also seen a troll, vampire and even an Igor added over the years. The Watch has also employed both a gargoyle and a gnome.
While we know some of these characters will be included, such as werewolf Corporal Angua von Uberwald and Dwarf Sergeant Cheery Littlebottom, others are less likely. It would be fantastic to see as many as possible over the run of the series.
7 Hope We Don’t See: Glamorized Characters
The City Watch is full of very gritty characters. Almost every single member has something weird, quirky or downright crazy about them. That’s why fans love them so much. No one is perfect and The Watch’s roots are very dirty and tangled.
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We want to see a warts and all version of The Watch and it’s members, not a polished and dramatized one. Give us the grit and the drama, rather than a glamorized version. The biggest fear is a shiny gloss being spread over the messy band of colorful characters.
6 Need To See: Sam Vines Character Growth
Speaking of messy characters, in the Discworld novels Sam Vines undergoes a huge transformation, taking him from a drunken Night Watch policeman to the head of The City Watch and a respected member of the aristocracy. While he ends up as both a knight and duke, married to Sybil Ramkin, we’re hoping the series goes back to his roots.
A huge part of the greatness of reading about Sam Vines is discovering how he gets to his esteemed position and we hope that the series tracks some of his character’s growth and progression.
5 Hope We Don’t See: Excessive CGI
With the inclusion of a range of fantastic races, as well as more unconventional beings, such as The Luggage, it would be easy for the series to end up reliant on CGI. However, excessive CGI can often be a curse, just look at The Hobbit.
Our hearts want to see traditional prosthetics and great acting, rather than a screen full of special effects. Grit is the heart of The City Watch and practical effects feel more likely to be able to capture that fully.
4 Need To See: The Wizards Of The Unseen University
During the novels, the wizards of The Unseen University have their own stories and dramas but are still very much a part of Ankh Morpork and an integral part of the city and all its tales. We’d love to see them as part of The Watch series.
The wizards are incredibly quirky and very clumsy and their antics would surely require intervention from Sam Vimes and his intrepid crew on occasion. While not a focus, they’d make a fantastic sideline and a great bonus.
3 Hope We Don’t See: Rehashes Of Existing Stories
Several Discworld novels have already been adapted for the small screen, including Hogfather, Going Postal and The Colour Of Magic. This project was always intended to be different, bringing new material to the screen inspired by the novels and set in their universe.
Since Pratchett was on board with that idea, it feels like the most respectful and best way to honor the creator, who passed away in 2015. Especially since we know we won’t see his penmanship in the series, due to the fact that his unpublished works were all destroyed at his request.
2 Need To See: Discworld Universe References
While we expect the series to focus on Ankh Morpork’s residents it would be great for fans to see some nods to the wider Discworld universe. A few subtle references, a couple of cameos and some in-jokes would be perfect.
We don’t want the stories from the books recreating but some small nods to more of the series we’d love to see. Just keep them relevant and humorous and we’ll be fully on board.
1 Hope We Don’t See: Bad Casting
So many adaptations are ruined by bad casting and we’re hoping this doesn’t happen here. Pratchett’s characters are quirky and unconventional and if they are played by actors who don’t understand the quirks then the series will be over before it’s begun.
Right now everything is just pure speculation but we’re hoping the series follows in the footsteps of Good Omens and brings Pratchett’s work to new audiences in an engaging, enjoyable and humorous manner.