The Witcher: What Viewers Really Think
Why listen to one critic, when you can ask one hundred geeks?
Netflix’s The Witcher runs the storylines of The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny alongside each other, with additions to flesh out the characters for the viewers. I found that, while sometimes it took me a minute to understand the time jumps, I was never so lost that I didn’t know what was going on. You could be questioning the slow pace one scene, laughing in the next, and unable to tear your eyes away from powerful imagery and heart wrenching dialogue in the following scene. Henry Cavill has managed to make the word ‘fuck’ a thing of beauty when Geralt of Rivia utters that single word as though plucking it from the viewers mind – because we’re all thinking it.
Fans of The Witcher were greatly divided when news of the TV series came out. Whilst there was a general air of excitement, many feared that their beloved mythos would be tainted if the show ended up being a failure. Upon its release, floods of reviews came in from critics who just couldn’t reach a consensus of what they thought. Whilst some critics applauded the show, there are many who have unceremoniously dumped it; however, when these negative reviews were shared, we noticed a trend. Most of the comments were disagreeing with the review, claiming that the critics had no idea what they were talking about. Thus, we decided to do a little research. We polled a group of geeks to see what the target audience and actual viewers thought about Netflix’s The Witcher. The poll ran for 24 hours, and here is what we found.
While the poll was aimed at people who had watched the series, there was an option to add responses and one such response was a host of people who hadn’t had a chance to watch it yet but planned to. 36% of our focus group had never read the books, nor played the game, but were interested in watching the series. One thing producers and writers must take into account when doing an adaption of a book or game is that while there are fans to appease, there is also a wider audience of people who have not interacted with the source material but are looking for a good show to watch. The Witcher has clearly captured the attention of this audience, and we found that in the discussion section many people who had little to no knowledge of the source material planned on buying the books and/or games after becoming interested in the Netflix series. In fact, of those had watched and enjoyed the series, almost a third (31%) had not read the books or played the games.
Meanwhile among those who have watched the series a stunning 96% say they loved it, while only 2% outright disliked it. That’s a lot of geeks enjoying a show that so many critics have branded a waste of time. One geek addressed what she thinks one of the critic’s main issues is;
‘I've heard people are complaining about the slow story progression, but I don't think that's the case, the pacing seems pretty decent in my opinion as it's giving a chance to introduce and flesh out each of the main characters properly… I'd rather they take their time and have the chance to build the world and its characters and see it rushed and missed bits out and lose quality for the sake of saving time.’
I agree that there are moments where the story seems a little slow, as is expected from a programme trying to introduce an entire world without rattling it all off like an encyclopaedia. Then, there are moments of such smouldering intensity that you find yourself holding your breath, not realising until you are finally able to tear your eyes away from the scene unfolding on the screen before you. Without those quieter moments to build the tension or relax after the more intense scenes, I think I’d be emotionally burned out halfway through the series.
A second concern was the casting of Henry Cavill. There were many people unsure about the casting of certain characters, with fans worrying about Yennifer and Geralt in particular. With such a divide over the casting of the main character, you would think there would be a clash of opinions Henry Cavill’s performance – however, our discussion section had nothing but praise for Cavill, even from those who were unsure about his casting on the beginning. One geek said; ‘I had my doubts when Henry Cavill was announced as Geralt as I just couldn't see it but now I couldn't imagine anyone else in the role’, while another praised Cavill’s dedication ‘[you] can absolutely tell that Cavill enjoys the role and has read up on his lore’. Other comments included praise for Cavill’s voice, intonation and, of course, sex appeal. Whether you’re a hardcore fan of Cavill, or you felt a little underwhelmed by the choice to cast him, you have to applaud his performance. It’s wonderful to see an actor enjoying their craft.
To cap off our research, we asked people which episode was their favourite. This poll was multiple choice, allowing voters to select more than one option from which the percentages were calculated. A fellow admin said ‘It’s hard when you binge watch, it’s like on long film’ – a sentiment which, I believe, shows just how well the episodes of The Witcher flow and connect with each other, like threads of a tapestry gradually being weaved together. Nevertheless, there was a clear winner – Episode 4 (Of Banquets, Bastards and Burials), which was awarded 33% of the votes. It was followed by Episode 6 (Rare Species) with 17%, and Episodes 3 (Betrayer Moon) and 8 (Much More) in tied third place with 14%. All remaining episodes received a respectable 6% each of the remaining votes.
It has been interesting collecting data from our focus group who have shown, despite negative reviews from critics, that Netflix have struck gold with The Witcher. Perhaps those critics just wanted to be the first ones to hate on a new thing? Regardless; we at Geekology look forward to Season two, and not just for more Henry Cavill.
Spare a view for your Witcher, oh Valley of Plenty.
The Witcher opinion poll was conducted in a 24 hour period between 20/12/2019 and 21/12/2019.
150 people responded to the poll before the data was collected.
Overall (Viewers Only)
48% Played the games, love the series
5% Read the books, love the series
13% Done both, love the series
31% Done neither, love the series
2% Thought the series was ‘ok’
1% Played the games, dislike the series
1% Read the books, dislike the series
0% Done both, dislike the series
0% Done neither, dislike the series
People who enjoyed the series
50% Played the game
5% Read the books
14% Done both
31% Done neither