Television shadow

Published on April 7th, 2016 | by William O'Dell

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Shadowhunters (The Series)

Feel our explosive nerd rage pour over you with the Netflix adapation of Shadowhunters, a hack job done on the best-selling books by Cassandra Clare.

Almost 20 years ago, The Boy Who Lived came to life for readers. Eight years later, a girl fell in love with a sparkly vampire. Between those two series, the landscapes of books and movies changed as we know it.

Everyone was clamouring, perhaps a bit too much, to release new novels in the YA and Teen Sections. Some of their work caught the interest of studio execs that like to mine fields of imagination until those fields are barren and cliché.

The latest example of a hack job on the small screen is Shadowhunters.

Written by author Cassandra Clare, The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices, a linked series, are bestsellers across North America. While the books play in the urban fantasy genre, there is no doubt as to why they were popular with the teen crowd.

In the books and the show, a young woman, Clary Fray, finds out that she is the key to finding the Mortal Cup, which will help stop a war from spilling over into the Muggle, oops, I mean Mundanes’ world. Fortunately for us Shadowhunters (half-human, half-angel warriors) are ready to defend everyone from a demonic host led by main villain, Valentine. Oh and everyone also includes the despised Downworlders who are either vampires, werewolves, faeries or warlocks. Fortunately, Clary has a group of young Shadowhunters to help guide her through the dazzling world of love triangles and potentially incestuous relationships.

Luckily, that outrageousness translated well into the first movie flop, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Once was not enough, so execs decided that they needed to do what any sane person would do — reboot a horrible movie into a horrible television show!

One would have thought that Netflix in Canada and particularly Free Form (once known as ABC Family) in the States would shy away from the series’ major love-story anguish point, that their female protagonist falls in love with someone who is found out to be her half-brother.

Or is he? That’s right, Shadowhunter Jace Wayland is fair game again by the second or third book. Of course, this sticky little point was glossed over in both the TV series and movie. Funny that — another example of how studio execs cut and chop to fit what they think audiences will swallow.

As this season ends and a new season has been assured, the question remains — why?

Like The Shannara Chronicles, the studio and the author seem to think that the audience won’t mind if parts of series are omitted or even added in from later books. In this case, there is no clear delineation between City of Bones and any of the other books in the first trilogy as they have started pulling in elements from all the books.

The best part of the books was the world that Clare created. It was once a fun frolic through an interesting world. And then the teen angst and drama spilled all over the books.

Yes, most teen novels revolve around that now. I digress …

The actors must have looked at their character and thought to themselves, “I don’t need nuance.” The overacting goes from Katherine McNamara’s weepy Clary to Dominic Sherwood’s constipated Jace to Harry Shum Jr.’s clichéd gay warlock Magnus Bane. Don’t get me started on Isaiah Mustafa as alpha werewolf Luke Garroway; every time he graces the screen, I expect him to say, “Now I’m on a horse” from his Old Spice commercials.

Shadowhunters also suffers from a common TV and movie issue of convenience and lack of continuity checking. A prime example of this is when Clary and Jace must break into a police station to retrieve something of significance.

It is extremely convenient that they happen to know how to give themselves night vision using runic tattoos. How helpful when the power is cut and the building is black! But wait, why do they need a light to see in the evidence room then? Oh yes, because they can’t give themselves away to the police officer who happens to check the room a second later.

Or how about the idea that in the TV show, the Shadowhunters’ base of operations is a bustling centre of activity (not so in the books), but the main Shadowhunter trio and Clary are the only people you ever see going out. What is the point of making it such a technologically advanced lair when no one else does anything?

As someone vaguely interested in the series due to having read 11 of the books, I am inclined to finish at least this season on Netflix. However, if you are not a die-hard fan of the books or a die-hard fan of teen dramas, then you may want to leave the Shadowhunters shrouded in secrecy and out of your sight.

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About the Author

William O'Dell

is usually found cooking spicy Gluten Free food, playing Magic: The Gathering, or writing about those experiences, Bill will watch or read anything that is animated or has a lightsaber, a cape, or a dragon in it. If it’s anything else, it’s not on his radar.



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