BBC America’s upcoming limited series The Watch is one of those shows that’s been in development hell for as long as most people can remember.
A TV adaptation of acclaimed fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels – specifically starring the popular characters who make up the bumbling yet heroic Ankh-Morpork City Watch – was first announced in 2011 and then almost immediately delayed. Filming was intended to begin in 2015, but Pratchett’s death delayed it indefinitely, and fans believed the project had once again been cancelled. It was not until late 2019 that BBC America officially announced that the show had entered active development.
The Watch has been announced as an eight-part limited series which will premiere on January 3, 2021. It will not follow the story of any one Discworld novel, but will instead incorporate elements of several to tell an episodic “crime of the week” story inspired by procedurals such as CSI. The show will star Richard Dormer (Game of Thrones) as Watch leader Captain Sam Vimes, Marama Corlett (Blood Drive) as Corporal Angua, Lara Rossi (Crossing Lines) as Lady Sybil Ramkin, and many others. Some originally male characters, including Ankh-Morpork’s Lord Patrician Vetinari, have been rewritten as female.
The Watch panel at the all-digital New York Comic-Con 2020 included a brand new trailer, several clips from the show, and an in-character Q&A with Wendell Pierce (The Wire) who plays one of Pratchett’s most famous and beloved characters, Death. The trailer is available to watch on YouTube:
Unfortunately, the trailer was met with mixed feedback from fans and critics alike. Many felt that the “punk rock” look of The Watch was too far removed from Pratchett’s original vision of Ankh-Morpork, and the characters were generally inaccurate (although Dormer did receive some praise for his interpretation of Vimes.) In particular, both fantasy author Neil Gaiman and Pratchett’s daughter Rhianna spoke out against the show, with Rhianna Tweeting that the Watch series “shares no DNA with [her] father’s Watch”. She did, however, strongly encourage fans not to blame or attack actors on social media, indicating that negative fan response may have gotten extreme.
Look, I think it's fairly obvious that @TheWatch shares no DNA with my father's Watch. This is neither criticism nor support. It is what it is.
— Rhianna Pratchett (@rhipratchett) October 9, 2020
What do you think about The Watch? Are you excited or nervous? Do you think it will be a faithful adaptation or not? Let us know!