A few years ago, I discovered Kelly Armstrong’s Otherworld series, and read as fast as my little brain could go. (although I’ve been seriously lax, because I found several books on her site that I hadn’t read yet!) I really enjoy Elena, Jeremy, Clay and the others in this world, so when I saw there was a SyFy television show about them, I couldn’t pass it up. Actually, I tried to pass it up, but wasn’t able to resist. I’d gone one a long journey with these people, and I didn’t want to be disappointed by who Hollywood may or may not have turned them into. Fortunately, I am far enough removed from reading the books that nothing bothered me too much. I watched all fourteen episodes in a week. (Yeah, I know bingeing on anything whether it is television, food or booze is a bad idea.)
I felt like Elena was cast well, although she comes across a bit angrier in the show than I remember in the book. She also doesn’t have the edge that I believe has to be inherent if you’re playing the only female werewolf in existence. (They might also mention she’s the only female werewolf earlier, since it plays a huge role in the motivation of other characters.) Maybe that anger I see is meant to be her “edge” but, if so, they didn’t get it.
Clay tries to do “Southern” and fails spectacularly, but doesn’t do too badly with much of the rest of the character. The books discuss the animalistic side of Clay quite a bit, but that doesn’t come across too well in the show. Some lengthy looks and flashback scenes are providing the sense that Clay embraces the animal more than some of the others, and a creative writing teacher once told me that needing to use flashbacks is a sign of substandard writing. This feels like they had to use the flashbacks because there was no other way. While Armstrong doesn’t use a lot of flashback, if any, in the novels, she also has the ability to draw on that internal monologue that you can’t get across on the screen. Truthfully, I think they would do better to have a character watching a documentary about wolves in the wild explaining all the posturing and complexity inherent in the pack system than using flashbacks to depict what’s going on with Clay and Elena. (Their history gets a bit…complicated.)
Jeremy was the one that bugged me the most. The casting for this character is essential because Jeremy plays such a huge role and ties together other characters as well, and it isn’t that he’s terrible by any stretch of the imagination. He just lacks the certain oomph (yes, that’s the technical term) that the alpha needs. After a few episodes, I saw a bit more of what I think is needed, but it was a developed sense of his power and menace. If this hadn’t been a Netflix viewing, I probably wouldn’t have watched another episode after that first one.
After watching the first season, I am inspired to re-read the series, and pick up the books I’ve missed. The show was picked up for a second season, and will return to SyFy in 2015. I’ll probably watch it…but only if it doesn’t conflict with a better show. This may be a great for people new to this story, but for long-time fans like me…it didn’t live up to what I think could be done with this world and these characters.
‘Til next time,