Streaming Services: Power Rankings Summer 2023, and What's Up With Paramount+

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
I was trying to work out why Witcher landed so much better than Wheel of Time cinematically. Both big budgets, talented actors etc. I don’t think it comes down to ironed clothing. That seems a trivial reason not to like something. Particularly hard when I so wanted to love the show.

The main reason I can think of is how The Witcher indulgently revels in every moment of the books. slowly exploring characters and themes adding details and expanding the world as it seems appropriate.

Whereas Wheel of Time feels like it’s rushing to get where it’s going. Trying to get through the books as quickly as possible. It’s not a surprise for me that my favorite episode in the series was largely about something not detailed in the books (the stilling of Logain).

I’m hoping that with Season 2 and that headlong run out of the way the series can slow down and try and enjoy things some more.
I think comparing similar series across streamers is good for this power discussion. Each platform seems to have chosen a certain release schedule. Netflix dump at once, and Prime launch with a block, and then proceed to weekly release. Seems Prime is aiming for some happy medium between the dump and traditional weekly release.

There is something I have noticed with Prime content over numerous series. A certain cycle, writing style, pace mechanism, etc.. I have come to call it the "Prime Template". How it works is you get three episodes to launch the season of the show. Often, this is the best content you are going to get all season. This block sets in motion the entire plot of the season like a traditional first act. Next you get these weekly releases that are what I can best describe as wheel spinning. The characters ask themselves the same questions over and over without any real resolution. Things happen, but they are so minor that you feel like you are inching towards the finish line instead of building up to a great finish. Worst part about this, the writing isn't worth waiting week to week, unlike prestige programs like those on HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc.. Finally, you are treated to a rapid fire resolution finale that has to wrap up an entire season of conflict and set up the next season of the series. It's just so much that if you blink you miss it in the 45-60 min they have left themselves for all this heavy lifting.

I have noticed this across many Prime offerings. The Expanse was pushed into this format, Wheel of Time, The Peripheral, and especially The Boys. It is even more apparent after I saw Reacher. This series was actually produced by another company and Prime merely got the streaming rights. It's one of few offerings that doesn't slide into the template. ROP probably does too, im not sure because like most folks I didn't finish it.

What does this have to do with Witcher vs WoT? Presentation is much better with The Witcher. It's simply written better episode to episode. It's not bogged down by any release template. Even if it was, it would view better episode to episode than WoT. Also, The Witcher hits a homerun in the action/comedy/fantasy recipe. This is the kind of thing Hercules and Xena were attempting in the 90s, but not bogged down by low budget. WoT takes itself too seriously, and there really is only room for one LotR. Even LotR only has room for the original story as the lack of interest in ROP seems to suggest. Too derivative, without any of its own charm. That's my take both on the content itself, and the how the streamers produce them.
 

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Zardnaar

Legend
I think comparing similar series across streamers is good for this power discussion. Each platform seems to have chosen a certain release schedule. Netflix dump at once, and Prime launch with a block, and then proceed to weekly release. Seems Prime is aiming for some happy medium between the dump and traditional weekly release.

There is something I have noticed with Prime content over numerous series. A certain cycle, writing style, pace mechanism, etc.. I have come to call it the "Prime Template". How it works is you get three episodes to launch the season of the show. Often, this is the best content you are going to get all season. This block sets in motion the entire plot of the season like a traditional first act. Next you get these weekly releases that are what I can best describe as wheel spinning. The characters ask themselves the same questions over and over without any real resolution. Things happen, but they are so minor that you feel like you are inching towards the finish line instead of building up to a great finish. Worst part about this, the writing isn't worth waiting week to week, unlike prestige programs like those on HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc.. Finally, you are treated to a rapid fire resolution finale that has to wrap up an entire season of conflict and set up the next season of the series. It's just so much that if you blink you miss it in the 45-60 min they have left themselves for all this heavy lifting.

I have noticed this across many Prime offerings. The Expanse was pushed into this format, Wheel of Time, The Peripheral, and especially The Boys. It is even more apparent after I saw Reacher. This series was actually produced by another company and Prime merely got the streaming rights. It's one of few offerings that doesn't slide into the template. ROP probably does too, im not sure because like most folks I didn't finish it.

What does this have to do with Witcher vs WoT? Presentation is much better with The Witcher. It's simply written better episode to episode. It's not bogged down by any release template. Even if it was, it would view better episode to episode than WoT. Also, The Witcher hits a homerun in the action/comedy/fantasy recipe. This is the kind of thing Hercules and Xena were attempting in the 90s, but not bogged down by low budget. WoT takes itself too seriously, and there really is only room for one LotR. Even LotR only has room for the original story as the lack of interest in ROP seems to suggest. Too derivative, without any of its own charm. That's my take both on the content itself, and the how the streamers produce them.

Shadow and Bone gets overlooked. Season 1 was something like 60-70 million dollars and it's better than RoP and WoT.

All about the writing.
 

payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
Shadow and Bone gets overlooked. Season 1 was something like 60-70 million dollars and it's better than RoP and WoT.

All about the writing.
That was sort of forgettable for me. If they removed all the main plot line with the light one dark one yadda yadda and just made a series around the crows id be hooked.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I was trying to work out why Witcher landed so much better than Wheel of Time cinematically. Both big budgets, talented actors etc. I don’t think it comes down to ironed clothing. That seems a trivial reason not to like something. Particularly hard when I so wanted to love the show.

The main reason I can think of is how The Witcher indulgently revels in every moment of the books. slowly exploring characters and themes adding details and expanding the world as it seems appropriate.

Whereas Wheel of Time feels like it’s rushing to get where it’s going. Trying to get through the books as quickly as possible. It’s not a surprise for me that my favorite episode in the series was largely about something not detailed in the books (the stilling of Logain).

I’m hoping that with Season 2 and that headlong run out of the way the series can slow down and try and enjoy things some more.
Well, something that The Witcher, Skull & Bones, Rings of Power, and House of Dragons have ove the Wheel of Time, is that while they are also adaptations...the short stories that Witcher started off adapting, the young adult novel Skull & Bones, the 3 pages of outline Rings of Power is riffing on, and the light spinoff material House of Dragonsnisnusing...none of thst is anywhere near as dense and packed as Eye of the World. It is insane how much of the novel isn't even hinted at it in the show, I'm not sure where future seasons will be able to go. And the next Season is covering two books instead on one! Longer books!
 


One of the things I find shocking is how little folks actually talk about ROP. More folks talk about Wheel of Time and seemingly nobody even liked that show.

All the set up is fine, but if folks are not tuning in; how will the numbers get better?
My experience of the experiment in hack adaptation that was Wheel of Time is one of the principal reasons I haven't watched Rings of Power. I actually kind of enjoyed the series, and then I read the first book and realized that all the weak points of the series were places where the people making the show had diverged from the book, caused the many carefully woven threads of the story to unravel, and just let there be massive holes in the narrative or patched them with random crap.

And the main reason I haven't watched RoP, in a similar vein, is that rather than adapt the Silmarillion or some other substantial bit of Tolkien's writing they optioned Lord of the Rings and decided to pad out the appendices. And hours upon hours of padding out Tolkien with crap made-up by some Hollywood writers on a deadline just holds no appeal for me, even dressed up with Peter Jackson-esque production design. And the reason it holds no appeal is that I already got burned by the cash-in that was the Hobbit trilogy, and those were from a proven team and only about 50% crap-padding made-up-in-a-hurry (though, at least Rings of Power presumably doesn't have the insult of there being all the necessary pieces for an excellent one or two movie adaptation of the Hobbit buried amongst all the bloat).

It's not that I think Hollywood writers are bad at their jobs, its that I think epic high fantasy is just something that requires a strong vision (easiest with one person, but possible with more) and a lot of time to carefully work and rework until all the moving pieces move together, especially when working within an already carefully crafted fantasy setting. That's just not the sort of environment TV shows are written in; they're usually to some degree done by committee and what they produce is whatever they can get done before it needs to shoot. Ironically more money being spent on the show often means less flexible deadlines for scripts, and less flexibility in general when something isn't really working. And TV writers are up against a lot of other crap as well, which is why they're striking right now. It's just not fertile ground for a good Middle Earth project to be born in.

I should be prime audience for any Tolkien adaptation. I've read all the major Tolkien works a couple of times, seen the Peter Jackson trilogy a dozen times, and grew up with the Rankin-Bass animated versions in regular rotation. WotC was able to lure me back to Magic cards with their Lord of the Rings tie-in set. I own Amazon stock and would like to see it succeed. I've watched all the competing medieval fantasy shows. But that doesn't mean I'm interested in every bit of Middle Earth fanfic, even when Amazon throws a billion dollars at it. Had I heard lots of positive buzz I probably would have given it a go by now, but given that my prediction was that it would probably have terrible plotting and writing and what I've heard is a bunch of complaints about the plotting and writing, I'll probably continue to give it a pass at least until I start hearing that season two is a vast improvement or what not.
 
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Parmandur

Book-Friend
My experience of the experiment in hack adaptation that was Wheel of Time is one of the principal reasons I haven't watched Rings of Power. I actually kind of enjoyed the series, and then I read the first book and realized that all the weak points of the series were places where the people making the show had diverged from the book, caused the many carefully woven threads of the story to unravel, and just let there be massive holes in the narrative or patched them with random crap.

And the main reason I haven't watched RoP, in a similar vein, is that rather than adapt the Silmarillion or some other substantial bit of Tolkien's writing they optioned Lord of the Rings and decided to pad out the appendices. And hours upon hours of padding out Tolkien with crap made-up by some Hollywood writers on a deadline just holds no appeal for me, even dressed up with Peter Jackson-esque production design. And the reason it holds no appeal is that I already got burned by the cash-in that was the Hobbit trilogy, and those were from a proven team and only about 50% crap-padding made-up-in-a-hurry (though, at least Rings of Power presumably doesn't have the insult of there being all the necessary pieces for an excellent one or two movie adaptation of the Hobbit buried amongst all the bloat).

It's not that I think Hollywood writers are bad at their jobs, its that I think epic high fantasy is just something that requires a strong vision (easiest with one person, but possible with more) and a lot of time to carefully work and rework until all the moving pieces move together, especially when working within an already carefully crafted fantasy setting. That's just not the sort of environment TV shows are written in. Ironically more money being spent on the show often means less flexible deadlines for scripts, and less flexibility in general when something isn't really working.

I should be prime audience for any Tolkien adaptation. I've read all the major Tolkien works a couple of times, seen the Peter Jackson trilogy a dozen times, and grew up with the Rankin-Bass animated versions in regular rotation. WotC was able to lure me back to Magic cards with their Lord of the Rings tie-in set. I own Amazon stock and would like to see it succeed. I've watched all the competing medieval fantasy shows. But that doesn't mean I'm interested in every bit of Middle Earth fanfic, even when Amazon throws a billion dollars at it. Had I heard lots of positive buzz I probably would have given it a go by now, but given that my prediction was that it would probably have terrible plotting and writing and what I've heard is a bunch of complaints about the plotting and writing, I'll probably continue to give it a pass at least until I start hearing that season two is a vast improvement or what not.
You know what, the reason the Tolkien estate chose the Rings of Power pitch (HBO wanted to re-do Lord of the Rings as a TV show, which is what I would have done, and Netflix wanted to so a Tolkien spinoff cinematic universe about the background of all the characters) was that the show runners had their own original story to tell...which means that nothing in any Tolkien text is really being butchered or mangled, as with Wheel of Time. Like it or hate it, it is at least essentially original programming in terms for character, dialogue and plot (within a framework established by Tolkien).

I have no idea how the Wheel of Time showrunners plan to take the series forward: the plot of Wheel of Time is quite intricately woven, and the threads are already hopelessly scrambles less than 10% of the way through...
 

You know what, the reason the Tolkien estate chose the Rings of Power pitch (HBO wanted to re-do Lord of the Rings as a TV show, which is what I would have done, and Netflix wanted to so a Tolkien spinoff cinematic universe about the background of all the characters) was that the show runners had their own original story to tell...which means that nothing in any Tolkien text is really being butchered or mangled, as with Wheel of Time. Like it or hate it, it is at least essentially original programming in terms for character, dialogue and plot (within a framework established by Tolkien).
I do know that, or at least I know that that is the claim that has been made. Too much money has changed hands to trust anyone's claims about what else they liked about the project.

And I neither like it nor hate the show produced. I'm just indifferent enough to it to have no particular interest in watching it. But I would contend that managing to make me indifferent to a Tolkien-based anything is quite the feat of a misguided choice in project. Just because all the other would-be projects were also terrible ideas, doesn't make this one a good idea.

I have no idea how the Wheel of Time showrunners plan to take the series forward: the plot of Wheel of Time is quite intricately woven, and the threads are already hopelessly scrambles less than 10% of the way through...
And this first season was the one where they were taking their time, and mostly just adapting one book. The other seasons are supposed to move faster...

But I think I know how they plan to take it forward: they're going to vaguely raid the books for ideas and just tell some other story that they make up until eventually it get cancelled.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I do know that, or at least I know that that is the claim that has been made. Too much money has changed hands to trust anyone's claims about what else they liked about the project.

And I neither like it nor hate the show produced. I'm just indifferent enough to it to have no particular interest in watching it. But I would contend that managing to make me indifferent to a Tolkien-based anything is quite the feat of a misguided choice in project. Just because all the other would-be projects were also terrible ideas, doesn't make this one a good idea.
That was how I felt before hand aswell, actuslly...and then I gave it a shot and binged it in two days.
And this first season was the one where they were taking their time, and mostly just adapting one book. The other seasons are supposed to move faster...

But I think I know how they plan to take it forward: they're going to vaguely raid the books for ideas and just tell some other story that they make up until eventually it get cancelled.
Unfortunately, that's probably about the size of it. That's particularly crazy making in that the books actually dorm a very coherent story that ends very solidly. Stuff that seems meandering along the way actually is setup and pays off, big. But this show won't get that...

It'd be better off as a long form animated ahow, like The Last Airbender (which is obviously very much unspired by the Wheel of Time, itself).
 


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