Ugh, all of the things I have to say about this show. First of all, my general opinion of the show is rather meh on the verge of just not really liking it all, which is such a shame because I so wanted to like this show. The Mortal Instruments, though not as good as The Infernal Devices in my opinion, is a great series and it really deserved something that did it justice. A couple of years ago they made a movie that followed the first novel in the series, but it was meant with criticism from fans of the series and newbies alike. I, myself, was disappointed with the movie and so when I found out that they were making a TV show I was ecstatic. TV shows have more time to tell a story because instead of just having about two hours to tell it, they get several 45 minute episodes (not counting time for commercials) to tell the story and I think part of the problem with the movie was they tried to shove too much in too fast. When I saw the first images of the cast, I was even more excited; they got an actress who actually looked like Clary this time, and the rest of the cast seemed, at least appearance-wise, to match their characters. But then the show started, and each week I became more and more disappointed, with only tiny moments of redemption mixed in occasionally, I for the most part just did not like the show.
I want to start off by saying that yes, I know there are going to be changes to the story and characters. That is inevitable any time a book is turned into a movie or show. I have no problem with the changes in shows and movies like the Harry Potter series, The Walking Dead, The Hunger Games, etc; of course there were/are things in all of them where I wish they had stayed true to the books/graphic novels, but overall, I enjoyed the film/show adaptations of all of them and was happy with some of the changes that were made. So yes, I understand that there are going to be liberties taken with the script, and that it’s not going to be exactly like the books, but if you’re going to make changes, at least make them for the better, something I really feel like this show didn’t do. BEWARE SPOILERS AHEAD.
So we’ll start first with the characters:
Clary–Although they definitely found an actress that looked the part of Clary, they didn’t fully capture Clary’s personality and I really either don’t like the actress that plays her, or they just somehow managed to give her the cheesiest lines possible, pretty much completely ruining her character (or maybe a combination of both). Everything she says feels too forced and like she’s trying too hard and it’s something that is really difficult to get passed. Being that she is one of the main characters of the show, I want to like her, but I have extreme difficulty doing so.
Jace–Again someone who looks like the character should, but doesn’t fully have the personality of the character, Jace is less disappointing then Clary is, but I’m still not a fan nonetheless. He’s missing the sarcastic, cockiness that is Jace in the novels and just like in the movie, he becomes too romantic too quickly with Clary, which is another problem I have, they rushed the romance between the two in the show.
Simon–I really like the actor playing Simon, I think he’s nerdy and funny and, for the most part, everything Simon is supposed to be. Unfortunately, just like in the movie, they screwed up his transformation of becoming a vampire. In the books, Simon drinks a tonic that turns him into a rat, he eventually ends up biting Raphael which, in turn, turns him into a fledgling, and then when he decides one night to go to the Hotel Dumort, he’s bitten by a vampire, and Raphael takes him to the Institute where he gives Clary the choice to either have him turned completely or let him die. Camille had nothing to do with Simon’s turning, in fact, Camille doesn’t even show up in the books until City of Glass, but we’ll get to her further down this review. I can understand changing the story a bit in the way that he is turned but I really did not like the way they went about it in the show.
Alec–Ugh possibly one of the biggest frustrations I have had with this first season is Alec. One thing I will give them is that they choose an actor who looks and for the most part acts like Alec, but ughhh. First of all, Jace means everything to Alec, he may not agree with everything that Jace says or does but he never completely turns his back on him like he nearly did in the show. And also, although I appreciate the addition of the character Lydia, I ended up really liking her by the end of the series, what the hell was Alec doing nearly marrying her?! Sure, it takes Alec a while to come out in the books, but seriously?!
Isabelle–Another character who was either cursed with a bad actress or just bad script choices. I really like Isabelle in the books, she’s a complete badass, who is very comfortable with herself and her body. I will say that aspect of her definitely translated into the show, but I just don’t care for either the actress or the script, can’t really tell which.
Magnus–Another of my most favorite characters, I thought they did a decent job casting Magnus. I think the actor that plays him does a good job of showing Magnus’s character, but I like the movie version slightly better. I don’t know why but the guy who played him in the movie felt more like Magnus Bane to me then the guy who plays him in the show. But overall, I think they did a pretty good job staying true to Magnus, except the whole him practically begging to be with Alec, that is definitely not like the Magnus we see in the books.
Luke–This is another character that I really wish they had stayed true with. Luke is not a fighter, he does so when he has to, but other than that, he’s pretty reserved and quiet and in the books owns a bookstore, he’s definitely not a cop, or the type of character to become a cop. When it comes to Luke, violence only comes out of necessity, and although years have turned him into a better fighter, he’s certainly not as good as he’s made off to be in the show. I’m just not a fan of the cop angle that they have for him at all.
Valentine–I feel very meh about Valentine. I really don’t know what it is about the show version but he just doesn’t feel as intimidating as he should and definitely doesn’t seem as manipulative as he is.
So now for the other characters who weren’t as major. Jocelyn–I thought they did a decent job casting her, but seriously rushed the storyline, she should still be in a coma, for a good while longer technically. Mr. and Mrs. Lightwood–I think casting-wise they did a decent job, but again things feel rushed, and I just didn’t like their early introduction into the show. Lydia–I started off not really caring for her but by the end of the season really liked her. Lydia is not from the books, but I am happy with her addition into the series and hope to see her in the future. Raphael–I think they got an actor that looks to old to play Raphael. He was a young teenager when he was turned and that’s what made people underestimate him so much. Dot–Dot is another addition to the series that I liked but I was sad to see her go so quickly. It’s clear Dot was the replacement for Madame Dorothea in the books, but I actually really appreciated this replacement, and would have rather her been saved somehow. Hodge–Since when is Hodge a kickass fighter. Hodge is a glorified librarian who has been cursed to forever reside in the New York Institute; yet in the show, we only ever see him practicing his fighting skills, not that I really mind it, but part of the reason Hodge was cursed as he was, was because he was weak.
Next we’ll go into things in general that I did not like about the show:
- The Institute–The Institute rarely has other people in it other then the Lightwoods and Hodge, and yet this Institute in the show is booming with people. Part of the whole reason Jace, Alec, and Isabelle get away with doing some of the things they go out to do, is because they have minimal supervision, but in the show there are all of these other shadowhunters there.
- Technology–It was even mentioned in Lady Midnight that the shadowhunters rarely use technology, and that for years computers have been banned within the Institutes and yet here we have an Institute filled with computers, surveillance equipment, cameras, etc.; very un-Clave like.
- The rushing of the storyline–There are certain characters who didn’t show up until later in the series, just as there are certain things and events that also don’t happen until later in the series. The book of the White is one example, as is Jocelyn waking, and so on.
- The rushing of the romance–Jace is a flirt and kind of a jerk at times in the book, but Clary and he feel drawn to one another until Jace’s ego gets in the way, as it does so often. In the show though, Jace immediately wants to do anything to save this girl, and he becomes too interested romantically too quickly.
- Camille–They somehow managed to turn the badass, manipulative, evil character that is Camille into something much less than. Camille doesn’t show up until a little later in the series and it is made clear very early that she is someone to fear, and yet in the show she seems so weak and not the character that we all know her to be. I don’t know, I really just hated how they introduced her and how they handled the different version of the story that they choose for Simon and her. Also she didn’t look like Camille in anyway.
- Valentine–Although Valentine does steal the cup, he never has the chance to create the new Shadowhunters as he had hoped, instead he eventually steals the mortal sword and creates an army of demons, which he eventually uses to attack the Clave, and personally I like the story better in the book when it comes to that aspect of things.
- The fact that they turned one episode into a giant ad for the next Alice in Wonderland movie–This is probably the most infuriating thing in the whole series. I really hate marketing like this, it completely ruined the whole episode for me, it annoyed me that much.
These are just a few of the problems that I have had with the show. Honestly I can’t even remember everything that I didn’t like, as I have blocked out most of the episodes in my mind. There were some redeeming qualities throughout the show, but nothing that was enough to make me change my mind about how I felt. I will continue to watch on though to see if it gets better in season 2 but based on this season, I have my doubts. I really hate to seem so negative about the show, but I just don’t like it for so many reasons, and I really, really wanted to like it.