Today I want to talk a bit about fantasy television. Honestly, I’ve only recently made the effort to explore the possibilities of this side of fantasy, so when ‘fantasy television’ is mentioned, I’m really thinking of The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones because they’re really the only visual fantasy that I’m familiar with.
I watched the LotR movies twelve years ago (christ, has it really been that long?) when I had a small interest in fantasy, but not nearly to the extent that I do now. Honestly, I don’t remember the movies too well, but twelve years is a long time, especially when you consider the fact that I am only nineteen. Still, the movies were very memorable– there are parts that I can remember pretty clearly even after so long. One thing I recall, though, is that the world was rich and the magic, with some exceptions, was sparse.
GoT, which I have watched more recently, is somewhat in the same boat. The world is so enormous that like LotR, if we abandoned the primary storyline altogether, there are hundreds of different points in the universe where we could stop and pick up a story that’s completely separate. There being very little magic is also an interesting point. The television series ditched part of the plotline that involves the most magic (a subsection of the plot surrounding the red priestess), but the decision was counter-productive for one simple reason: Magic does not often translate well onto the big screen.
It’s unfortunate, but true. The kind of movies that get the best special effects are often blockbusters, and fantasy is only just gaining enough popularity to make that possible, with several exceptions such as LotR. Don’t get me wrong– there are tons of fantasy movies and television shows, but most of the ones that feature magic are lackluster. The effects are terrible and often times the acting even seems to take a hit because of it. It’s unfortunate because, as my favourite genre, I’d like to watch some more fantasy.
I’ve recently taken an interest in the television series The Adventures of Merlin, a series about the wizard Merlin and Prince Arthur on his journey to becoming king. The nature of the show is written for a younger audience and so the cheesy scenes and awkward acting can be excused, as I’ve found it pretty humerous. The first season of the series was filmed in 2012, but despite this, the effects for the magic are often terrible and disappointing.
The first episode for Shadowhunters– based off the YA fantasy novels by Cassandra Clare– aired sometime within the last two weeks. I thought the funding for the show would have been much higher considering the series is, as far as I know, rather popular. However, once again, it appears that this was not the case, as their portrayal of magic has so far been cringe-worthy at best.
There does appear to be some hope, though. Another new fantasy series, The Magicians (based off the novels by Lev Grossman) is to air on SyFy in just a couple days. The premiere episode was released in December, and I have to admit that what I saw was promising, magic-wise.
I have no idea what the budget for these types of shows looks like, so my expectations could just be much too high. Still, it’s disappointing to read about a world with fantastic magic and characters, only to see it come to life in a way that’s really lackluster. It makes me feel that, as a fantasy writer who would love to someday have a book made into a movie, I should instead be aiming for an animated series/ cartoon. Maybe I’m wrong and am just overthinking it a bit too much, but maybe my stance will change as special effects become easier to create and fantasy becomes even more popular.
Are there any fantasy movies or tv shows that you like? What do you think about the magic that appears?