Who watches The Witcher?
Updated: Feb 25
Who watches The Witcher? Well, lots of people, and quite right too.
Into the gaping hole which Game of Thrones left in many of our televisual lives, Netflix has thrust The Witcher. This eight-part series debuted on December 20 and I, like many others, have devoured the whole lot and am sat ready for more.
The Witcher is set in a fictional land, inhabited by humans and magical creatures and divided into kingdoms which seem to resolve their political disputes with mages and massacres. Before you start crying “plagiarism”, it is based on a series of Polish novels which were published between 1993 and 2013 and the video game which was released in 2007. For those keeping track, the first Game of Thrones book came out in 1996.
Anyway, among the inhabitants of this this mystical mire we find Henry Cavill’s Geralt, an unholy cross between Sandor Clegane and Newt Scamander who seems to be simultaneously wandering aimlessly and running from his destiny.
The series, which has already been renewed for a second season, promises to give Cavill the franchise he rightly deserves after a couple of abortive attempts which were not his fault. DC Comics and The Man From UNCLE, I am looking at you.
At first, Cavill struts through The Continent seeking and slaying magical creatures while grunting at most of the human characters he comes across. Indeed, he seems far happier with the monsters than the people.
This is a problem for Geralt, as the series’ other leads, the mage Yennefer and Princess Ciri, are also wandering The Continent on odysseys of their own, but with all three drifting towards an increasing inevitable union.
As Yennifer, Anya Charlotra is excellent and her character undergoes more of a development than every other person put together. The beauty of The Witcher is that, while Cavill has dominated the posters, this is clearly a three-handed story and plays out as such.
On the subject of how it plays out, bear with it. There was a moment at the end of the second episode where S and I nearly gave up. The Witcher, like its lead character, is not always big on exposition and usually delivers it in one of two forms – drip-fed or sledgehammer.
But the fog begins to clear early in episode three and once you have caught on not only will you be fine, but you will realise what a carefully crafted epic you are watching.
Much like Game of Thrones, whose fans The Witcher is clearly and successfully targeting, the story is packed with excellent supporting characters. Lars Mikkelsen as Stregobor and Jodhi May as Queen Calanthe are laying it on thick as the smug elder sorcerer and archetypal warrior queen respectively. Meanwhile, Joey Batey pours in welcome light relief as he steal every scene he features in as the bard Jaskier.
We raced through the first season of The Witcher in a week and I suspect many of you will too. The bad news is that the second series is not due until next year; in the meantime, the new series of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina lands on Friday if you need a magical fix.