Terry Pratchett’s Discworld he has not had good luck in his translation to the screen. The complexity of the universe designed by the writer of the hat makes it quite difficult for the essence of these funny, deep and thoughtful fantasy novels to be well captured. The last clear example is ‘La Guardia’ (‘The Watch’), a series that arrives on Friday on Movistar + after passing through BBC America and that although as a work it is quite nice, as an adaptation it is insufficient.
Something that, on the other hand, was already seen coming since the first images and the trailer began to circulate. Rhianna Pratchett assured on Twitter that the series did not share not an iota of DNA with his father’s work. That and the one who disassociated himself from the project in its early stages he already put us on notice.
It is not that Simon Allen’s proposal as chief scriptwriter ignores the most characteristic elements of this fantastic universe. Many of the things are there – and not only from the Guard Saga – but it remains a distortion of the original. Characters, tools, inventions and other characteristic ingredients of the Discworld are recognized but it is not as it should be to capture the author’s intentions.
Corrupt Ankh-Morpork Police
‘The guard’ takes us to the heart of Ankh-Morpork, the filthiest and most chaotic city above the Great A’Tuin in which an impotent urban guard finds that there is not much to do since practically all illicit activity is self-regulated through of the Guilds. The theft of a book from the Invisible University library and the encounter with a specter from the past of the self-destructive Captain Vimes (Richard Dormer) it will be the opportunity to prove the worth of the Corps.
Along with Dormer the main cast is made up of Sam Adewunmi like Carcer Dun, Anna Chancellor as Lord Vetinari, Adam Hugill like Carrot, Marama Corlett like Angua, Jo Eaton as Jovial Little Ass, Lara Rossi como Lady Sybill Ramkin, Ralph ineson like the voice of Detritus and Wendell Pierce like the voice of Death, among others.
Aesthetically, the series indulges in reinforced concrete and a certain steampunk touch when it comes to presenting both the city and its characters. An approach away from others more traditional school imagery which followed Sky’s films (which adapted ‘Papa Puerco’, ‘The Color of Magic’ and ‘Letters in the Affair’) and which contrasts a bit more with what Pratchett describes.
Lost in adaptation in a fantastic that brims with sympathy
This includes Death, who looks more like a nazgûl from ‘The Lord of the Rings’ that the mystical entity that we all know. This and other things such as ignoring elements of Carrot’s ancestry (and the joke is a bit loaded with her height because Jo Eaton is tall) or changing Lady Sybill’s occupation, among others, are a clear example of the process of mixture of elements, refinement and redesign that has been developed to end up making ‘The Guard’.
However, if we come without knowing anything about the Discworld (or if we decide to ignore what we do know) the result is not bad. ‘La Guardia’ is a very nice and entertaining series of urban fantasy that works great when they are carried away by that irony and that trademark comedy.
What works the worst is, precisely, the main character: Dormer’s Vimes is too old a screw character that immediately causes some unease when watching the series. Fortunately, the dynamics of the rest of the characters are much better drawn (differences aside) and they manage, somehow, to balance the balance.
It is in the moments in which Allen manages as a screenwriter to tame the ingredients he has in his hands when ‘The Guard’ breathe better and one even manages to enjoy the proposal. Although as an adaptation it is not successful, as a fantasy fiction it is quite solid and even provides a good time.