Wheel of Time Discussion - Spoilers(with book spoilers)

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I really dislike this sort of nasty implication. I'm talking about world-building, not race relations. I don't care about the skin color of the cast, just how it clearly ignores any pretense to well-considered world-building for the sake of pandering. From a world-building perspective, the ethnic diversity of the Two Rivers and the world in general doesn't make sense. It could make sense, but they haven't bothered to make it do so.

And just to be clear, it isn't a huge deal, just noticeable and one of the facts that points to sloppy world-building.

Plus, what you say just doesn't make sense. If they "got over their racism 3000 years before" then they'd be more homogenous.
It's the same situation as Denzel Washington playing Macbeth recently, Lin Manuel Miranda playing Alexander Hamilton: film and stage productions aren't about "ethnographic accuracy," it's just not in the nature of the medium. Similarly with old plays having all male casts.
 

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Parmandur

Book-Friend
As for the Horn, I vaguely remember being somewhat disappointed with how Jordan handled it years ago. There really wasn't a proper Hunt, which I thought was a fun idea that he didn't really explore - except the idea that there were all these Hunters wandering around, looking for something that had already been found.

I haven't watched episode 8 yet, but my guess is that we're going to start seeing a greatly reduced plot - even more so than the first season. They have 13 more books to cover and they really can't be planning for 13 seasons. They can't simply combine two books into one season, especially with 8 episodes, so we're probably going to see huge swathes of the books just written out of the show, perhaps including a lot of the GH. Hopefully that isn't too extreme, as it was one of the better books, but they're obviously doing things a bit differently.
They have an 8 Season outline, and apparently Amazon is hardliners about 8 episode Seasons. So, we are looking at the whole story being condensed into about 64 episodes, though I hope the Last Battle gets a feature length treatment.

The showrunner said recently that Mat is skipping straight to his Book 3 plot for Season 2, and they have cast characters from Book 3 fornSeason 2, so a mix of Great Hunt and Dragon Reborn seems likely, and 2 books a season moving forward.
 

Mercurius

Legend
It's the same situation as Denzel Washington playing Macbeth recently, Lin Manuel Miranda playing Alexander Hamilton: film and stage productions aren't about "ethnographic accuracy," it's just not in the nature of the medium. Similarly with old plays having all male casts.
I think because I love fantasy so much, and really care about world-building, it bothers me a bit. And from a world-building perspective, such things matter. Again, not the diversity of the cast, but the lack of any kind of rationale for it. So I don't think it is quite the same thing as the examples you gave. For one, Hamilton was a deliberate subversion - that was kind of the point of the play. And, quite frankly, Denzel can play whoever he wants.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
I think because I love fantasy so much, and really care about world-building, it bothers me a bit. And from a world-building perspective, such things matter. Again, not the diversity of the cast, but the lack of any kind of rationale for it. So I don't think it is quite the same thing as the examples you gave. For one, Hamilton was a deliberate subversion - that was kind of the point of the play. And, quite frankly, Denzel can play whoever he wants.
From a dramatic point of view, however, they don't really matter. The showrunners wanted to find people who could bring the right energy, whatever they look like.
 

Mercurius

Legend
From a dramatic point of view, however, they don't really matter. The showrunners wanted to find people who could bring the right energy, whatever they look like.
See, I wouldn't separate world-building out as unnecessary - for fantasy, it does matter. And I don't think your second sentence is true. It is almost certainly deliberate pandering.

Again, I have no issues with a diverse cast. What I take issue with is sloppy world-building. This isn't the only such issue - there are several things, all mostly minor, but that leave some cracks around the edges that, in total, slightly lessen the overall impact, at least for me. For instance, everything is a bit too clean. The clothes look machine-made and freshly washed (or even, never washed because they just came from some factory). Some of the props also look machine made. Compare this to Game of Thrones, where they took great pains to make everything look like it could have been made by Medieval crafts folk.

My overall feel for the show is still good: I'm enjoying it. I just don't think it is as finely crafted as GoT. But I'm definitely enjoying it more than the Witcher, and it is miles ahead of Shannara.
 


Mercurius

Legend
Oh, please. Are you implying that I'm lying? Me saying that they're pandering doesn't mean I take issues with the cast being diverse. Please don't make the wrong assumption that those two mean the same thing - they don't. I really wish that such remarks could be made without certain ugly implications and assumptions being made. Again, I am simply critiquing their world-building. As I said, a diverse Two Rivers could make sense, if they put a bit of thought and effort into why that's the case.

If I'm making an error, it is being too picky and granular. But hey, I'm a world-building connoisseur and just pointing out where I see fuzzy bits around the edges.

Anyhow, I'm going to stop this line on inquiry, because what I'm saying will almost certainly be misconstrued. I think I explained my perspective re: world-building. Please stick with that, and don't assume anything more than that, just because I question the intentions behind the showrunners.
 
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All in all, I really liked the first season. I think they did a great job with most ofthe material and in establishing just enough to keep folks interested and engaged without just expo-dumping all over the place.

I think it helps that I’m watching with my wife who has no knowledge of the books at all, so I kind of get a fresh view through her. Based on the things she’s asked about, and what she notices versus what she’s missed, I think they’re actually doing a very good job.


Again, not the diversity of the cast, but the lack of any kind of rationale for it.

What rationale do you need that the content of the show does not allow?
 

Mercurius

Legend
What rationale do you need that the content of the show does not allow?

When you say "allow for," sure, the show allows for any number of explanations. But I think greater clarity about how different nations differ in terms of demographics, and different characters--where they are from, what their lineage is, etc--would strengthen the integrity of the world-building.

The Two Rivers is an isolated mountain community, with little contact with the outside world except for peddlers and the occasional stray gleeman or traveler. I think it would bring greater verisimilitude for there to be an in-world reason for why it has such a diversity of ethnicities. One explanation could be that it is a bit of a haven for people from all over the world. But that isn't suggested.

Again, I admit to probably being a bit too picky/granular in terms of world-building, though I think there are numerous instances of sloppiness that add up, as I said above, that somewhat mar my suspension of disbelief. But none of the instances are so large that it significantly lessens my enjoyment of the show. Meaning, I'm not saying the show's world-building is bad, I'm just suggesting how I think it could be better.
 

TheSword

Legend
I really dislike this sort of nasty implication. I'm talking about world-building, not race relations. I don't care about the skin color of the cast, just how it clearly ignores any pretense to well-considered world-building for the sake of pandering. From a world-building perspective, the ethnic diversity of the Two Rivers and the world in general doesn't make sense. It could make sense, but they haven't bothered to make it do so.

And just to be clear, it isn't a huge deal, just noticeable and one of the facts that points to sloppy world-building.

Plus, what you say just doesn't make sense. If they "got over their racism 3000 years before" then they'd be more homogenous.
I’m sorry, that’s not a dig at you. It was a reference to the fact that in the age of legends people were beyond racism and didn’t segregate. I just don’t understand what is sloppy about genetic makeup being mixed across lands, following an enlightened time like this.

If the genetic make up in the mountain town is mixed to start with… then it isn’t going to resemble any one particular group in 500 years time. Also don’t forget that the Edmonds Fielders are descents of a massive city. It’s like if something indiscriminately wiped out 99.5% of Londoners and the survivors started again.
 
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Parmandur

Book-Friend
Oh, please. Are you implying that I'm lying? Me saying that they're pandering doesn't mean I take issues with the cast being diverse. Please don't make the wrong assumption that those two mean the same thing - they don't. I really wish that such remarks could be made without certain ugly implications and assumptions being made. Again, I am simply critiquing their world-building. As I said, a diverse Two Rivers could make sense, if they put a bit of thought and effort into why that's the case.

If I'm making an error, it is being too picky and granular. But hey, I'm a world-building connoisseur and just pointing out where I see fuzzy bits around the edges.

Anyhow, I'm going to stop this line on inquiry, because what I'm saying will almost certainly be misconstrued. I think I explained my perspective re: world-building. Please stick with that, and don't assume anything more than that, just because I question the intentions behind the showrunners.
I'm not saying thst you are lying at all, but those two sentences are in some form of conflict.
 

TheSword

Legend
See, I wouldn't separate world-building out as unnecessary - for fantasy, it does matter. And I don't think your second sentence is true. It is almost certainly deliberate pandering.

Again, I have no issues with a diverse cast. What I take issue with is sloppy world-building. This isn't the only such issue - there are several things, all mostly minor, but that leave some cracks around the edges that, in total, slightly lessen the overall impact, at least for me. For instance, everything is a bit too clean. The clothes look machine-made and freshly washed (or even, never washed because they just came from some factory). Some of the props also look machine made. Compare this to Game of Thrones, where they took great pains to make everything look like it could have been made by Medieval crafts folk.

My overall feel for the show is still good: I'm enjoying it. I just don't think it is as finely crafted as GoT. But I'm definitely enjoying it more than the Witcher, and it is miles ahead of Shannara.
Well everyone in Westeros was white weren’t they? Except a couple of people from Dorne. It takes a lot of care to make worldbuilding that detailed does it?
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Well everyone in Westeros was white weren’t they? Except a couple of people from Dorne. It takes a lot of care to make worldbuilding that detailed does it?
The Wheel of Time books, to be fair, have a detailed and diverse ethnography, in terms of phenotypes and material culture...but that was never going to be translated to a film medium.
 

Mallus

Legend
I think because I love fantasy so much, and really care about world-building, it bothers me a bit.
I care a lot out world-building, too -- let me tell you about my latest D&D setting... kidding! -- and I really liked the casting. For two reasons, mainly.

Reason #1, intradiegetic - the setting for Wheel of Time is post-apocalyptic. We see this in the first episode with the panning shots over ruins that suspiciously look like some type of skyscraper, and it's confirmed in the final episode with Lews Therin living in a vaguely TNG-era Trek looking utopia city, complete with flying cars. It's the aftermath of an advanced global society.

Reason #, extradiegetic - it's a 21st century TV series. Naturally it's going to reflect the cultural milieu it was made in. That's not bad world-building. That's good art. Or at least honest art, which may or may not be synonymous with 'good'. We might call it 'world-building', but what's really being built is a stage -- and all the elves and ogiers and whatever are merely players.

It's not by accident Tolkien's Shire was so Little England. What else are artists going to build their worlds out of besides their lived experiences (and who are they building things for?).
 
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Mercurius

Legend
I’m sorry, that’s not a dig at you. It was a reference to the fact that in the age of legends people were beyond racism and didn’t segregate. I just don’t understand what is sloppy about genetic makeup being mixed across lands, following an enlightened time like this.

If the genetic make up in the mountain town is mixed to start with… then it isn’t going to resemble any one particular group in 500 years time. Also don’t forget that the Edmonds Fielders are descents of a massive city. It’s like if something indiscriminately wiped out 99.5% of Londoners and the survivors started again.
My apologies for misinterpreting. As for your point, you may be right. My admittedly limited knowledge of genetics makes me think that it would be more homogenous, but I could be wrong - especially after 1800 years (Manetheren was destroyed in 1200 AB).
I'm not saying thst you are lying at all, but those two sentences are in some form of conflict.
I don't think so, as I tried to explain. As I see it, having issues with a diverse cast implies either a kind of purism to the books, which I haven't said anything about, and/or other more nefarious inclinations, which I don't think I've given any reason to think I'm implying. My "issue"--such as it is--is solely on the basis of world-building verisimilitude. Really, it should be broadened beyond this one issue - as I said in my previous post to hawkeyefan. Again, they're all just minor quibbles, but they add up to a bit of a "hmm, ok."

I probably shouldn't have suggested that the showrunners are pandering, because I honestly don't know. But...

Well everyone in Westeros was white weren’t they? Except a couple of people from Dorne. It takes a lot of care to make worldbuilding that detailed does it?
I'm not sure what you're saying here. GoT had distinct ethnicities for the various peoples, in a realistic way. But it was a very different world: Medieval fantasy vs. post-apocalyptic fantasy.

The Wheel of Time books, to be fair, have a detailed and diverse ethnography, in terms of phenotypes and material culture...but that was never going to be translated to a film medium.
I can't remember, but did Jordan depict the different nations as distinctly different?
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
My apologies for misinterpreting. As for your point, you may be right. My admittedly limited knowledge of genetics makes me think that it would be more homogenous, but I could be wrong - especially after 1800 years (Manetheren was destroyed in 1200 AB).

I don't think so, as I tried to explain. As I see it, having issues with a diverse cast implies either a kind of purism to the books, which I haven't said anything about, and/or other more nefarious inclinations, which I don't think I've given any reason to think I'm implying. My "issue"--such as it is--is solely on the basis of world-building verisimilitude. Really, it should be broadened beyond this one issue - as I said in my previous post to hawkeyefan. Again, they're all just minor quibbles, but they add up to a bit of a "hmm, ok."

I probably shouldn't have suggested that the showrunners are pandering, because I honestly don't know. But...


I'm not sure what you're saying here. GoT had distinct ethnicities for the various peoples, in a realistic way. But it was a very different world: Medieval fantasy vs. post-apocalyptic fantasy.


I can't remember, but did Jordan depict the different nations as distinctly different?
Yes, very much so: in appearance, clothing, accent, customs, etc. People could see someone as looking like a Saldean or Tarabiner, but there was overlap and variety to be found. The Two Rivers folk, for example, were all black haired and brown-eyed with tan skin...and Rand got remarks for not looking like he was from the Two Rivers because he was so pale and so tall.

But that's not a realistic restriction for a stage or film adaptation, as they want to find actors who fit the particular terms of attitude and delivery.
 

Mercurius

Legend
I care a lot out world-building, too -- let me tell you about my latest D&D setting... kidding! -- and I really liked the casting. For two reasons, mainly.

Reason #1, intradiegetic - the setting for Wheel of Time is post-apocalyptic. We see this in the first episode with the panning shots over ruins that suspiciously look like some type of skyscraper, and it's confirmed in the final episode with Lews Therin living in a vaguely TNG-era Trek looking utopia city, complete with flying cars. It's the ruins of an advanced global society.

Reason #, extradiegetic - it's a 21st century TV series. Naturally it's going to reflect the cultural milieu it was made in. That's not bad world-building. That's good art. Or at least honest art, which may or may not be synonymous with 'good'. We might call it 'world-building', but what's really being build is a stage -- and all the elves and ogiers and whatever are merely players.

It's not by accident Tolkien's Shire was so Little England. What else are artists going to build their worlds out of besides their lived experiences (and who are they building things for?).
All of which I agree with as far as the world as a whole, but still think my "critique" of the Two Rivers stands. As I said, it is an isolated mountain community with little contact with the outside world - for centuries, if not millennia. That is, at least, wobbly world-building that would be stronger with some kind of rationale.

As for the casting, I like it for the most part. I even like some of the changes from Jordan's depiction. Some of the younger actors aren't great at their craft, but none are terrible.

As a general note, though, I'd put some limits on the idea of a 21st century TV series reflecting the cultural milieu - it really depends on the series and the work it draws from. I think it is also important to try to reflect the nature of the art itself. For instance, I'll be a bit more of a stickler to staying true to the source material for the upcoming LotR series, and am already a bit worried about rumors that the actors were told they need to be willing to get naked. This isn't out of any puritanism on my part, but more adherence to staying true to the "spirit of Tolkien" (just as I think it would be silly to make a rated G version of Game of Thrones). But we'll see...just a bit worried they're going to try too hard to appeal to the "Game of Thrones" crowd, when LotR is a very different work.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
As a counter example...it isn't necessarily "good worldbuilding" that three cousins from a small rural community have as wildly different accents as Pippen, Merry and Frodo do in the movies (a Scotsman, an Irishman, and an American all walk into a bar pretending to be English gentry...), but approximately nobody cares.
 

Mercurius

Legend
Yes, very much so: in appearance, clothing, accent, customs, etc. People could see someone as looking like a Saldean or Tarabiner, but there was overlap and variety to be found. The Two Rivers folk, for example, were all black haired and brown-eyed with tan skin...and Rand got remarks for not looking like he was from the Two Rivers because he was so pale and so tall.

But that's not a realistic restriction for a stage or film adaptation, as they want to find actors who fit the particular terms of attitude and delivery.
OK, fair enough. My memory--again, 25+ years old--is that Andor was basically England, and everything outside of it various shades of Europe. Sort of. I also mis-remembered the Aiel as darker, when someone clarified that they were light-skinned in the books, and that Rand's mom was...
not Aiel, but from Andor.
 

Mercurius

Legend
As a counter example...it isn't necessarily "good worldbuilding" that three cousins from a small rural community have as wildly different accents as Pippen, Merry and Frodo do in the movies (a Scotsman, an Irishman, and an American all walk into a bar pretending to be English gentry...), but approximately nobody cares.
This is why I said I was admittedly being picky - it comes down to what you notice, based upon your knowledge base. I notice when some actors have British accents and others American, but not so much whether it is, say, Scottish vs. Irish. That's probably true of most Americans. Actually, my Scottish-American girlfriend is hard-pressed!
 

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