Netflix has announced that they are making a TV show based on The Witcher. These are a series of dark fantasy novels that are written by Andrzej Sapkowski, which were adapted into a highly acclaimed and commercially successful video game series. The series is still in the early stages of development and we are already getting some contradictory information about its story. When The Witcher was first announced, it was said to be an adaptation of the novels and not the games. The director has since claimed that Geralt will be based on his video game counterpart, which suggests that other elements from the games might make their way into the show as well. We are still a long way from seeing The Witcher on TV screens, so the final product could be something entirely new.
We are here today to lay out the groundwork for what The Witcher TV show needs to do in order to make it worth watching. From the aspects of the source material that should be used, to the epic scope that the show needs to have.
Here are 15 Things We Need to See In The Witcher TV Show!
15 Don't Copy The Stories From The Video Games
From what we know so far, The Witcher TV show is supposed to be an adaptation of the novels. This gives the producers of the show a lot of material to draw on, especially as the author of the books is supposed to be on board with the project.
The thing is, the book series is nowhere near as popular as The Witcher video games are. While the books have a significant following in parts of Europe, they don't have anywhere near the fanbase that something like A Song of Ice and Fire had in the English-speaking world. As such, the temptation will be there for the producers to lean heavily on the familiar stories and characters from the games.
A TV show based on The Witcher needs to form its own identity away from the books and the games. This is especially true of The Witcher video games, as their stories can be found all over YouTube. Would a TV show replica of The Wild Hunt match up to what we saw in the games? Netflix would need to spend a lot of money in order to recreate something that was already flawlessly made.
14 Introduce Ciri Early (If She Is Going To Be Important)
The character of Ciri is an important figure in The Witcher books and The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. She is a Source, which means that she possesses the power of Elder Blood. Ciri has the ability to influence time and space, which includes the ability to travel between worlds (at least in the books). The Wild Hunt have been pursuing her since she was a child, as they want to control her powers.
Ciri's importance to the story came as a surprise to long-time fans of the video game series. Her name was barely mentioned in the first two Witcher games, and her importance was only hinted at. That all changed in The Witcher III, where Ciri suddenly became a massively important character to the story. Geralt and his friends drop everything they are doing to help Ciri, including laying down their lives for her sake. Ciri's abrupt introduction to the story shows that CD Projekt Red hadn't planned her importance out at the start. If the TV show wants to use her, then they should build her up from the beginning.
13 Keep The Eyes
In The Witcher video games, all Witchers have yellow eyes with cat-like slits. These immediately identify them to strangers, which means that Witchers cannot hide their true nature (unless someone popularizes cool shades in their world). The eyes of a Witcher seem like an obvious thing that needs to be included in the show.
The problem with recreating the eyes of a Witcher is that they would require the actor playing Geralt to wear colored contacts for extended periods of shooting time. Wearing contacts can be painful when worn for too long, which is why you are only supposed to use them for a few hours at a time. There have been instances of TV shows changing how characters look in order to prevent the need for colored contacts. Daenerys and Viserys in Game of Thrones have purple eyes in the books. The actors who portrayed them in the show tried colored contacts out but found them difficult to work with. This could easily happen with The Witcher if the eyes start causing issues.
Not all actors have a problem with colored contacts, however, as Brent Spiner had yellow eyes when he played Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation. It could just be something that needs to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
12 The Show Needs To Be R-Rated
The Witcher video games have an unusual history when it comes to adult content. The first game in the series was mocked for its "Sex Cards" system. When Geralt romanced a lady in The Witcher, the camera would cut away and the player would be rewarded with a picture of the woman he had slept with. These cards were initially censored in America and didn't show any actual nudity. The censorship was removed in the Enhanced Edition of the game.
Everything changed with the second and third Witcher games. These titles went to great lengths to show nudity and included sex scenes as part of the story. The games also received praise for the romance plots that you were allowed to follow and the more adult way in which relationships were dealt with (at least as far as video games are concerned). This sets the bar high for The Witcher TV show, as it will receive fan backlash if it relies on Game of Thrones style sexposition and fan service. They also cannot abandon the human sexuality aspect of the story, as it is one of the central aspects of The Witcher. The way human desire shapes the world is something that has been embraced by the series and it is not something that should be left out.
11 Stay As Far Away From The Last Witcher TV Show As Possible
It might come as a surprise to learn that there has already been a TV show based on The Witcher novels. It was called The Hexer and it was first released in 2001. The Hexer started out as a TV show that was still in production when the decision was made to take some of the footage and edit it into a movie. This meant that people's first introduction to the show was through a movie that made no sense, as it was made up of footage of a project that was still being made. The Hexer TV show came out the following year to slightly more acclaim, as the extended length allowed for more time to tell the story. Andrzej Sapkowski has been very vocal about his hatred of The Hexer and how it may have tarnished his franchise in the eyes of the audience.
The creators of The Witcher need to stay as far away from The Hexer as possible. It's fine if they want to hire Geralt's old actor as an extra and put him in the background of a shot, but that's it.
10 Keep The Setting Bleak
The world of The Witcher is a bleak one. This isn't Middle Earth we are talking about here or even Westeros. The world of Game of Thrones at least knew many years of peace and prosperity, which inevitably devolved into wars. Geralt's homeland does not even have that luxury, as his world has been consumed by pointless wars throughout most of his life.
In the world of The Witcher, the nations of the south wage war with those of the north. This is to say nothing of the other realms that are often caught in the crossfire. The world is filled with monsters that prey on mortals for food and sport. Every village has to be on the lookout for supernatural threats. The Witchers are the only organisation that are dealing with the monster problem and they are treated like pariahs. Wizards and sorcerers are hunted by xenophobic kings and fearful lords, whilst the demihuman races (like the elves and dwarves) are treated with outright racism.
This is the world of The Witcher and it would be a disservice to the source material to treat it any other way.
9 Don't Skip Geralt's Backstory
The version of Geralt that we see in The Witcher games is an adult man and an accomplished Witcher. We hear many stories of Geralt's adventures but are only privy to a few of them. This adds to the mystique of the character and makes him feel like more of a fleshed out person, though it doesn't explain why groups of level 5 bandits think they can take him on in a fight.
We have seen pieces of what Witcher training looks like across the series (like in the Ciri flashbacks in The Witcher III), but we haven't seen everything. An episode dedicated to Geralt's upbringing in Kaer Morhen would make for an excellent introduction to the world of The Witcher for new audience members who aren't familiar with the source material. It would also provide fans an opportunity to see a part of Geralt's life that they have yet to experience on screen.
8 Abandon The Dark Retelling Of Fairy Tales Aspect From The Novels
The first book in The Witcher series chronology is called The Last Wish. It is a collection of short stories that are told by Geralt as he recovers from wounds inflicted in battle. Each of the short stories is meant to be a dark retelling of a famous fairy tale, such as Beauty & The Beast and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. These stories generally added sex and violence, as well as Geralt's presence into the narrative.
The Last Wish was released in 1993 when the idea of dark fantasy reworking of fairy tales was somewhat more novel. It is now 2017 and that idea has been done to death. There have been numerous comics, TV shows, movies, and video games that have deconstructed fairy tales in every way imaginable. If a Witcher TV show is going to be made, then it should skip to Geralt's later adventures, rather than the original stories of the series.
7 Keep The Monsters!
The primary role of a Witcher is to hunt and kill monsters. This is the reason why Witcher's have their bodies altered at a young age and why they are taught the basics of magic. The monsters of the world don't mess around and the Witchers need every advantage that they can get in a fight.
It is unlikely that The Witcher TV show will abandon the monsters totally, as they are so central to the core of what Witchers are. They might tone down the relevance of the monsters a lot, however, in order to save money. CGI creatures and green screen effects aren't cheap, as we saw with the diminished appearances of the Dire Wolves and Dragons in Game of Thrones. The temptation will be there to minimize the importance of the monsters in order to focus on the human drama. This would be a huge mistake and would likely turn off fans of both the books and the games. Netflix chose to adapt a show that features fantastic creatures, so they have to follow through on the promise of their appearance.
6 Make A Choice About Whether Geralt Is A Man In Love Or A Womanizer
The story of The Witcher follows the doomed love triangle between Geralt, Yennefer, and Triss Merigold. Geralt was originally in love with Yennefer. He later lost his memories and wandered the world as an amnesiac. It was then that he encountered Triss Merigold, with whom he also fell in love. Geralt's original memories returned and he realized that he now loved two women. It is up to the player in The Witcher III to decide which (or neither) of the two ladies he should be with.
This never stopped Geralt (or rather, the player) from romancing and sleeping with numerous other women on his journey. Geralt also found room in his heart for the likes of Keira, Madame Sasha, Jutta, Shani, and Syanna. This isn't counting the numerous prostitutes Geralt can sleep with on his journey.
Is Geralt a man torn between two women? Does Geralt just sleep with everyone he meets as he may be eaten by a monster on his next mission? The TV show needs to make a clear decision on the matter.
5 Keep The Dandelion Bromance
The story of The Witcher isn't all monsters and warfare. If it was then people would grow weary of it quickly. There are moments of levity and fun in Geralt's life and they usually involve Dandelion.
Dandelion is one of Geralt's best friends in the world. He is like a Dungeons & Dragons bard who is trapped in the wrong setting. Dandelion loves to write and sing, as well as go on adventures across the world. He gave up a cushy teaching job in order to travel, which is how he first encountered Geralt of Rivia. Dandelion's adventures tend to end up with him getting into trouble, which Geralt inevitably has to help him out from.
Geralt's affection for Dandelion is one of the most humanizing aspects of his character. It might be tempting to drop Dandelion's importance to the story for Triss or Yennefer and that would be a huge mistake. Dandelion is one of the bright spots of The Witcher's world and his presence in the story is needed.
4 Bring Charles Dance Back!
The comparisons between a Witcher TV show and Game of Thrones will likely be inevitable. If the show is anything like the source material, then a dark fantasy world that is littered with political intrigue and excessive sex scenes is going to look like Westeros to the untrained eye. This won't matter in the long run, so long as The Witcher is a good show. It also wouldn't be surprising if any of the Game of Thrones actors were cast in The Witcher, as they have experience working on a similar show.
Charles Dance is the one actor who has worked in both franchises. He played Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones and Emperor Emhyr var Emreis in The Witcher III. Dance even used the same voice for both characters, which left a lot of Witcher fans wondering where they had heard the voice of the Emperor before. If there is one actor they need to bring into The Witcher TV show, it's Charles Dance. He was incredible in Game of Thrones and has prior experience of Geralt's world.
3 Make Sure Geralt's Powers Are Consistent
Netflix was given the chance to make TV shows of famous Marvel characters. The first of these was the excellent Daredevil, which was the first step in creating a new Marvel crossover franchise that was separate from the movies and the other TV shows. Daredevil also helped to redeem the character on the screen, as the previous Daredevil film was atrocious.
The Daredevil movie did one thing better than the Netflix show, however, and that was in its portrayal of Matt Murdock's powers. Daredevil's powers didn't have a consistent visual aesthetic in the TV show, which seems like an unusual thing to overlook.
One of the main abilities of a Witcher is their enhanced senses, which allows them to hunt monsters. The Witcher TV show needs to avoid the Daredevil mistake and decide on how best to interpret Geralt's abilities to the audience, while keeping it consistent.
2 The Fantasy X-Files
One of the best ways to introduce fans to the world of The Witcher is to use the "monster of the week" format. The primary role of a Witcher is to travel from town to town and hunt monsters... for a price. This gives a solid framework for the story that can ease anyone into the strange setting of the show. The fact that Geralt possesses enhanced senses can also add some detective elements into the story, which can turn any basic monster hunting quest on its head. The Witcher games showed us that even the simplest of missions could have more going on in the background than meets the eye. Geralt's friends can also be introduced as allies on these missions, as they play the Scully to his sword wielding Mulder.
Starting out The Witcher series with several disconnected stories of Geralt's adventures would be a great way to lay the foundation for what is to come. With that being said...
1 Go Big Or Go Home
The story of a traveling Witcher can only remain interesting for so long before the audience will start craving more. If the series is going to flourish, then it has to grow on an epic scale. Geralt needs to become involved with the politics of the world, to be caught up in massive wars, and to face monsters that threaten life itself. This is what happened in the video games and it needs to happen here as well.
We know that Netflix isn't afraid to make big budget shows, as they did the same with Marco Polo. The Witcher needs to be on as grand a scale as Marco Polo, if not more so. If The Witcher is going to be successful enough to justify its cost, then it needs to beat Game of Thrones at its own game.
Is the story of Geralt of Rivia interesting enough to make for an epic television show? CD Projekt Red managed to make one of the most highly acclaimed video games of all time out of Geralt's life. Netflix has the cash, but do they have the right people to pull it off? Only time will tell...