The voracity in which I consume young adult fiction is probably unhealthy and at least a little telling as to my general mental state. That being said, I was very excited when attempt number two at The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare was announced. Originally I was thrilled for this book to movie adaptation, and then I saw the movie. Let’s just say there is a reason The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones has a 12% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Despite the first failed attempt I was excited for round two: Shadowhunters the TV series. Again, I was disappointed early because the show was picked up by Freeform, the new ABC Family, which automatically locked in its destiny for cheesy lines, green actors, and lack of thorough character development.
My general reaction was “meh”. I’m still willing to give the show a second chance in the hopes that Clary grows some brain cells and the plot becomes appropriately paced.
In the books Clary Fray is full of youthful spontaneity and recklessness, but she is intelligent and passionate. In Shadowhunters, Clary is a dimwit with really wonderful hair. I mean really wonderful hair (see above photo courtesy of screencapped.net ). But it isn’t beautiful enough to entirely make up for her low IQ. Rather than being an inspiration, Clary is an average teen and really slow on the uptake. Her fighting spirit comes off as stupidity and her passion as fear. The show opens with her interview for a fancy art school and the topic is never revisited which I believe is a missed opportunity for serious character development. Her passion for art could have made her a more inspirational character but instead it was pushed aside. Finally, her ignorance of the differences between vampires and warlocks is disappointing for your average fantasy fan who wants to at least enjoy the main character of a show.
My second major critique may be biased because of my book knowledge. Those who are watching the show without having read the book (insert shaming finger waggle) may not have found the plot to be as painfully obvious and overly quick as I did. One major positive to The Mortal Instruments book series is that there is always something that you don’t know. Each book in the series reveals a new hidden tidbit, some obvious and some not, which keep you wondering about what’s around the next corner. The two major reveals from book one were clearly given away in this very first episode. Those who didn’t read the book may not have figured out the location of the mortal cup, but at minimum I’d bet most watchers know who Clary’s absentee father is and, as a bonus, maybe even parts of Luke’s interesting past. This first episode had in itself a major contradiction. By the end of the episode the main character still has no clear idea of what is going on, partially due to her inability to note context clues. However, the audience has a good idea of every major plot point that will occur in the entire season. Something here just isn’t quite right.
Ending on the positives, I do think their casting team did a good job locating actors that at least looked the part even if they can’t all act. And the props department is on point with some beautiful imagery and attention to detail. While their weapons are not what I had originally pictured, the shining swords do add to the other worldly feel of the storyline and heighten the excitement of the fight scenes. Lastly, the decision to do 13 episodes instead of a regular American season can only serve to benefit this series.
Procrastination and Giggles,
The Red Queen
P.S. Points to whoever wrote the episode titles for this season. http://tmisource.com/2016/01/09/shadowhunters-season-1-episode-titles-revealed/