Just as prelude to this post, I would like to state that I feel the inevitable comparisons to Game of Thrones are unwarranted. The only things these two fantastic series have in common are that they are both a part of the fantasy genre. And that’s it. That’s where the similarities begin and end. However, the comparisons are inevitable and I’ve included it in this post for the sole purpose of proving a point.
This past week it was announced that, finally, a Wheel of Time TV series is being produced. This announcement was received, as usual, with a flood of both excitement and caution by fans of the series. Personally, I was over come with joy after hearing the news. I thought that it was wonderful that finally, this amazing (though slightly flawed series) is going to be brought to life on screen. I did however have some reservations. Reservations that I think most people would agree need to be handled with the proper care and attention for this series to be finely executed.
Firstly, there is the issue of pacing. The show runners will have a mammoth task ahead of them. I think we can all agree that The Wheel of Time was insanely detailed and, at times, overly verbose. Everything was described in detail, and then repeated again a couple chapters down the line. In that respect, the show runners will have a simple task in that descriptive repetition is not needed in a visual medium. The difficult part for the show runners is going to be the streamlining of senseless plot lines that became convoluted over the series and “simplifying” the story for TV. This will no doubt anger hard core fans, but unfortunately, it is a necessary process that needs to be properly executed. Now this does not necessarily mean that plot lines need to be cut out or whole characters killed off (*glares at Game of Thrones*) but instead the show runners will need to streamline certain narratives by fast tracking the less interesting parts and spending more time on the parts that are more intriguing. For example, in The Great Hunt, there are many chapters showing Rand and the gang just traveling with no real exposition in between. The show can either choose to remove some of the traveling (and use establishing shots to inform the viewer of their current destination) or use the traveling time as expository moments. And while it pains me to see details cut out from TV and movie adaptations of books, I see the necessity in doing so and The wheel of time will need simplifying and streamlining much more than any other TV show or movie has had before. If the show runners are able to crack the code on the pacing and simplification issue, The Wheel of Time could become one of the greatest shows to ever air on television.
Unfortunately, pacing is not the only issue that will be plaguing The Wheel of Time’s TV adaptation. The show runners are going to have to find a way to make this story appeal to a large audience. While Game of Thrones is a fantasy series, it is not your general, conventional fantasy like The Wheel of Time. It had its politics, sex and nudity, main character deaths and the fact that a lot of the show is grounded in reality (especially the first couple of seasons), to appeal to massive audiences. That is, arguably, why Game of Thrones has done so well (in addition to the great writing, directing, acting etc.) The Lord of the Rings is more of an apt comparison for The Wheel of Time in that it’s more of a classic fantasy and getting a mass audience behind classic fantasy is not as easy as it might seem. Personally, I have met many people who would look at you in derision when you discuss The Lord of The Rings but will join you in a heartbeat when you want to discuss anything about Game of Thrones. I believe that this is going to be The Wheel of Times greatest hurdle; especially in the first couple of books where the focus is mainly on channeling and the powers of each of the characters as opposed to the politics.
Furthermore, the show will have to ensure that they cast the characters properly. Casting is probably the most crucial element in getting this show right. The producers are going to have to use some “Marvel Studio level” casting in that they have to cast correctly. Marvel Studios has yet to cast a character incorrectly. If the producers get the right actors, they will most definitely succeed. A list actors are not a necessity. Good actors are a necessity. The biggest hurdle here will be the marketing department. They will push for A list actors even if they do not fit the role; just so that they can put a name on a poster. The producers are going to have to stand their ground and insist on actors that are right for the role and not just because of their name.
Lastly, this show is going to have to get a proper budget and will have to air on the correct network. Without a decent budget, this show will most definitely crumble. There is no way this show will be anywhere near decent if they’re stuck with a lousy budget. Last years’ dreadful Winters Dragon “prequel” is proof enough. However budget is not the only concern. The show will also have to have a proper home. There is no way this show will prosper on an ordinary network with censors and restriction. While The Wheel of Time doesn’t really have any nudity or sex in it per se, it is most definitely hinted at and if the show runners are anywhere near clever enough, they will exploit. However, the nudity and sex is not the reason this show needs a proper network. That reason is due to the violent nature of the series. The Wheel of Time is incredibly violent and while the details in the books aren’t near as gory as they could’ve been, it’s still an extremely violent series and I would hope that the show runners not hold back when it comes to this. HBO is obviously first choice, if possible. Netflix and Amazon are probably the next best thing if HBO decides they’re not interested.
Honestly, I believe that The Wheel of time has the potential to be one of the greatest television series ever made. It has a rough road ahead of it but if the producers and show runners do their jobs properly and with great attention to detail, they may just be able to pull off something amazing.