Book-to-screen adaptations are a popular trend in today’s pop culture. Just because they might have been tried once (going down in epic failure), doesn’t mean following the adage “try, try again” is off the table. The just-launched Freeform (formerly ABC Family) series, Shadowhunters is out to prove its better than its predecessor counterpart.
Turning eighteen is a normal teenage milestone for Clary Fray (Katherine McNamara). But for her mother (Maxim Roy), it’s the beginning of a dangerous world Clary knows nothing of yet has little choice in embracing. On her 18th birthday, a series of events lead up to her entire world upending. Not long after the exciting news that she’s been accepted to art school, Clary’s birthday night out along with best friend, Simon (Alberto Rosende), is interrupted when she serendipitously meets Jace Waylen (Dominic Sherwood). A boy she isn’t supposed to see, Jace is on the trail of dangerous prey, and doesn’t have time to wonder at the fact that a human can see him – a daemon hunter known as a Shadowhunter.
When Clary follows Jace into a club to get some answers (answers to why her friend can’t see Jace and why the stranger’s tattoos show up in her sketchbook), she is witness to a murder. Confused, angry and feeling like she’s going crazy, Clary turns to her mother. It’s then that she learns her mother has been lying to her; there is such a thing as a Shadowhunter… and Clary is one of them. When their home comes under attack, Jocelyn sends Clary to the only person she can trust, Luke (Isaiah Mustafa). Hoping that by protecting Clary, she can protect the one thing the evil Valentine (Alan Van Sprang) really seeks.
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In 2012, this young adult novel was adapted into a big-screen film. Based on the best-selling novels by Cassandra Clare, the story isn’t exactly my ideal cup of tea however I did see the film. It didn’t tempt me to read the novels and some cursory reading confirms this. Then news of a new series was born, and as I watch the first two episodes, the film comes to mind.
Much as I try not to do so, comparisons inevitably happen in any re-tooling. Such is the lot with this new hour-long drama. Though I don’t remember the film all that well, I can say with 99% certainty there is one important thing that’s superior to this show. This is the character of Clary Fray. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m not convinced by her character in this. I’m leaning more towards the actress (who, don’t misunderstand, isn’t bad, I just don’t think this role suits her) who plays her. It stands to reason this is more the reason as I do like the character, but whatever the reason, I cannot put my finger on it. The rest of the cast is fantastic including the much buzzed about Dominic Sherwood; and Alberto as Simon seems perfectly ideal for the role.
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In the end, I did enjoy this in a “guilty pleasure” show kind of way. There’s lots of flashy appeal which is amped up to pull in a trendy, young audience. All of this jumpstarts in the “hook” opening sequence that, I’ll admit, draws me in from the moment the series opens. If nothing else did, I’d have to admit the filming of that opening intrigued me. As a “show to watch,” this certainly has potential. I’m not convinced everything it chose to do worked though it must have done something right enough. It hooks me enough to tune in for a third episode, and no matter the show, that’s always the end game.
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You can find Shadowhunters, Season One: Episodes 1 & 2.
Content: aside from the magical elements – daemons, murders and other mythical themes, there is really no content to mention. Isabel dresses immodestly. The show has a deserved TV14 rating.