Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Bitten 1.01 Review: Everyone Just Wants to be Normal

This is a friendly reminder for all those that have yet to watch last night’s Canadian series premiere of Bitten, titled ‘Summons’, or are waiting to watch the U.S. series premiere tomorrow night, that now would be the time to exit this screen. For this is not a spoiler free blog. THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS! You’ve been aptly warned.
There were a number of things wrong with this series premiere that I took issue with, even when ignoring the source material this series comes from. But I’m going to ignore that second part for now, and focus solely on my issues with the notable departure from the books. Just to forewarn you, this may be a long review.
Now, I’m a big fan of the book series, of which this series is based around the first book Bitten by Kelley Armstrong. I’ve been a big fan of the Women of the Otherworld series since I was twelve, making that nearly a decade that I’ve been reading this series. And when I say big fan, I do mean big fan – I’m a member of the author’s website, have read the books several times, and consider the series to be my favourite books (and I read A LOT of books). So when I say that I take issue with this adaptation of the first novel in this book series, it’s a big deal to me.
Let’s begin with the actors. I have to say that Laura Vandervoort was about the only one that suited her role in the looks department, but I’ve seen this woman in a number of roles (beginning with her sisterly role in the Canadian series Instant Star) over the years, and she’s not the strongest of actresses. She can be good in supporting roles, but I have yet to see her acting strong enough to play a leading lady. But, I suppose, at least she actually looked like what the character was supposed to look like.
Then there’s Clay (short for Clayton Danvers), played here by Greyston Holt, to which I’ve only seen as secondary characters in a few shows I watch. To paraphrase, he was supposed to be a gorgeous, young looking, animalistic man with a Southern drawl he never quite got rid of, despite not remembering his own family from before he was bitten as a child. Holt may be an attractive enough man, but not in the Greek god like way he was written as in the books. Phillip was more attractive than him. And even ignoring the fact that this could be Elena’s – as our narrator – bias, he was still seen as devilishly handsome by others – that he ignored because he only had eyes for Elena – evident with how many women fawned over him. There was none of this in Clay, nor was it evident that he could not stand to be around humans, nor that he was more wolf than man a great deal of the time. I tried to give Holt the benefit of the doubt, and maybe part of it is the writers’ fault, but even if he seems like he could be a good actor, the man was not right for the role, and the role not right either. I mean, he didn’t act ANYTHING like the beloved sadistic character of the books.
Then there are the other members of the wolf pack. This consists of Jeremy (played by Greg Byrk), Antonio (Paulino Nunes), Nick (Steve Lund), Logan (Michael Xavier), and Peter (Joel Keller). Now, I had no major issues with Lund, Xavier, or Keller in the looks department with their respective characters, although Keller didn’t quite appear young enough, but I did take issue with how they were characterized. It was Byrk and Nunes I took greatest issue with. Byrk was no where near young enough looking to play Jeremy, and he certainly didn’t look like he was the quiet, cunning type of Alpha that was also a wonderful painter. And Nunes just did not look anything like his son, or young enough at all to play Antonio.
In regards to Nick, Logan, and Peter’s personalities, I found Keller to be quite like he was playing the role, rather than embodying it. Nick just did not have any personality to him, and the whole threesome thing made absolutely no sense. My issue with Logan was, despite that I enjoyed getting to know his character and seeing him, he just wasn’t that involved in the book. Plus, werewolves have no place for humans in their lives, so I didn’t really understand the whole Rachel thing.
My final irk with the characters had to do with Phillip and his whole family. Now, in the books Phillip and Elena met when living in the same building, but this time around she’s best friends with his sister and that’s how they met. This just doesn’t make sense because Elena doesn’t get along with women, and Phillip’s sisters are all supposed to be far older. And then there was the whole mother issue. In the books, Phillip’s family loves Elena, and kind of adopts her as one of their own, which just goes to explain the reasoning behind how family-centered Phillip is. This antagonization from the mother towards Elena’s character makes no sense and does nothing to assert Phillip’s adoration of his family. I just, really cannot stand it. Plus how business-centered they all seem to be, like family isn’t what’s most important to them, it doesn’t really help to depict how these characters are supposed to be.
A few other nitpicks I have with how this series changed from the books included Elena’s job change. Why did they need to change her from a journalist to a photographer? Because it’s a prettier, more visual job? Honestly, she was a journalist for a reason; it was so that she’d be able to help cover up werewolf activity, and it also helps her to meet another character down the line in the book series. So, please, tell me what changing her to a photographer adds to the story? Also why include Logan in her life so heavily. Yes, she was in contact with him as opposed to the other pack members she’d taken leave from, but she didn’t see him on a daily basis, and there was certainly no running with other wolves in Toronto. I just, I find that this changes her character more, that she doesn’t have to feel so extracted from her werewolf life. And that whole thing with her mentioning to her friend that she’d had a dark past? There’s no way she would have spoken about that! She wouldn’t not say it because of pride, but the book Elena felt that it wasn’t an excuse to be used, just a point in her life to move past. And I’m pretty sure Clay was about the only one who knew how bad she’d had it in the foster care system. Yes, this is a television series and we don’t get as much into her head, but there’s no good reason she needed to mention any of that. I just, I think that by doing this it shows how comfortable she’s gotten in this new life, but Elena never felt fully comfortable in the books.
Now, when it comes to strictly what was wrong with the show, not in correlation to the books, there were several other things to mention. First of all, the first victim of the serial killing werewolf (that would be serial killer that is also a werewolf, not that he’s a serial killer of werewolves) was a TERRIBLE actress. Honestly, it felt like she’d been picked off the side of the street and told to read these lines. Not good. Also, being that it is a Canadian made show, the CGI was a bit obvious when it came to the werewolves in wolf form. And, finally, I felt like there wasn’t quite enough well done background music. It felt too plain when it came to that, like we could hear the characters speak most of the time too well.
All in all, about the only things I really did like were, despite my issues with it, that we do get to see Logan more than in the books, and also the opening credits. Anyone that has read my review of Dracula and Sleepy Hollow can likely attest to that. Now, I will give this series a couple more episodes to find its footing and get better, but I’m not sure how much better it can get. I loved these books, and it pains my heart to think I won’t be able to watch this show because of how badly it’s being done.
My rating: 6 out of 10.

No memorable lines.

My apologies if this seems a bit confusing for a page and a half, because I wrote that part on Sunday, otherwise I just finished the rest now. Now, I’m really behind on reviews, so I may not get to all of them. That includes one of two Almost Human episodes, one of two Trophy Wife episodes, one of two Cougar Town episodes, the last American Horror Story: Coven episode, one of two Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes, and the last episode of The Crazy Ones. I will be trying to review Bones last episode, mostly because I haven’t watched it yet, as well as Revenge, Shameless, this week’s Almost Human, Teen Wolf, How I Met Your Mother, Sleepy Hollow, The Blacklist, and tonight’s episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Trophy Wife, Cougar Town, The Originals, and Supernatural. My apologies about all this, I’ve been really plowing through a rewatch of Gilmore Girls lately.

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