Shadowhunters – Season 1, Episode 1: “The Mortal Cup”

Shadowhunters – Season 1, Episode 1: “The Mortal Cup”
Grade: C-

The Mortal Instruments books (and all the Shadowhunters Chronicles books) by Cassandra Clare is one of my favorite series. I read City of Bones while I was still in high school, possibly 2009 or early 2010. I’ve read all of the books that are published, including the Bane Chronicles and partway through the Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy book, and I’m very excited for Lady Midnight. I must note that I don’t remember much from the first book, only the basic scenes and plot points. In a way, that’s benefitting me not to be able to nitpick the show to death with differences from the book.

I have been excited for this show for a while. I hadn’t seen the movie, because I didn’t have any time/money to see it in the theater and then never bothered after I heard it wasn’t that great. I was still going to watch , eventually, until I heard of the show. I immediately kept my sights on the show, knowing that it probably wasn’t going to be very good and that I should set my expectations very low.

Fortunately, my expectations were exceeded! The show wasn’t that bad, though the first episode needed a lot of work and had a lot of flaws in it, I’m pleased with where it’s going. The changes to the books are necessary for the beginning of this show, allowing a more well-paced beginning to a full series. Some of the changes I liked: Dorthea’s change to being a warlock that was helping Clary’s mother and giving her more of a role; the aging up of the characters seems like a good idea, giving them options without needing to change too much of the plot; and introducing Maureen earlier might be interesting!

Some changes I didn’t: Luke being a cop seems to have done nothing for the story, though it does give more to the fact that the werewolves have their headquarters at an old police station in the books, other than that it’s a useless change that (as of me watching the fourth episode before writing this) doesn’t give him much to do for a while; Valentine in Chernobyl seems so out of sync with the show and completely unnecessary. The show easily could have taken too much plot of the books in the first few episodes, but it paced itself well. It’s not rushing through the books, even though there’s plenty of books to work with for a series. It seems like they’ll be sticking to the first book for this season, with possibly some of book two. There’s six in total and there’s always the possibility they’ll work in The Infernal Devices as either a spin-off or part of the show in some way, expanding with Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, and maybe even The Dark Artifices. Six books could give them at least five to six seasons at this pace, which is great.

The acting and effects could be better—a lot better. But I think with time, a larger budget and some more time for the cast to fit together, it will start to improve. The writing is what killed it for me. I couldn’t even count how many lines I wish were tweaked, strengthened, or just cut altogether. Some of it may have been the delivery of the lines, but for the most part, it was the weakest part of the first episode. Simon’s character, however, is definitely the bright spot—funny and acted well. I think all the characters were cast perfectly, too. The editing seems to be slow, too. The fight scene in the club didn’t show well and just didn’t work for a convincing fight scene.

Overall, the episode was okay. It could have been a lot better, could have been worse.


HIGHLIGHTS

Pacing is good
and bringing the book to screen in the right way, taking it easy and not rushing through the plot. They’re expanding slightly to be able to keep this pace, and that’s a good thing. That’s how it should be done when adapting books to TV.

Simon Lewis
and the actor playing him, Alberto Rosende, is fantastic. He’s definitely the best part so far.

LOWLIGHTS

Acting and effects
are definitely on the low end, but improvement is possible (and happens in future episodes).

Unnecessary changes from the books
detract from the overall story. A few changes are necessary and for the most part, they’re sticking with the book well and changing things that should be changed for TV, but somethings are added or changed for no apparent reason.

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