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With a failed movie already based on The Mortal Instruments, there now being a TV series leads you to wonder why someone out there sees something within this franchise worth saving? Especially to the point of switching formats and getting the opportunity to cover many things which a movie naturally has to cut. Enough of the speculation though, let’s talk about the pilot.
Trigger Warning(s): Death (foaming at mouth and skin peeling)
Characters & Story (with Commentary)
For almost ten years Carly (Katherine McNamara) has been kept in the dark about who she is, as well as who her mother Jocelyn (Maxim Roy) is. Reason being? Well, Jocelyn was once a shadow hunter. A being neither demon nor angel, but a protector of humanity nonetheless. Which, as you can imagine, is a dangerous occupation. One which almost led to her child, at the age of 8, dying.
So, between protecting Carly, and hiding what is known as “The Mortal Cup,” Jocelyn and Carly disappear for 10 years. However, during Carly’s 18th birthday, in which it seems the biggest thing she may have to worry about is college, her world unravels. Her mom begins to slowly reveal who they truly are, and then is kidnapped before she can flesh out her answers; it seems almost everyone, but perhaps her best friend Simon (Alberto Rosende) maybe out to get her; and then, on top of that, she encounters the modern day Shadow Hunters. Of which, only Jace (Dominic Sherwood) seems to be really invested in her being protected, while the siblings Alec (Matthew Daddario) and Isabelle (Emeraude Toubia) are cautious about her knowing too much about them.
For good reason too for we learn there are possibly multiple shadow hunter factions, all of which seemingly are fighting against demons for humanities best interest, but with different desired methods. When it comes to the ones Carly finds herself aligned with, they use energy swords and use technology to track troublesome demons. However, when it comes to The Circle Club, led by a man named Valentine (Alan Van Sprang), it seems their goal is to ultimately control the demons themselves. A plan which Jocelyn once seemingly was aligned with, but it seems Valentine’s methods eventually strayed from the original sell, and that is likely what set everything in motion. So now Jocelyn is within the headquarters of Valentine, and poor little Carly is forced to rely on Jace and his team for survival and as the only hope to save her mom.
With an entire book series, and a sort of failed movie (it made a lot of money, but not enough to be profitable) you’d think this TV series would be pulling out all the stops. Sadly though, it doesn’t. To begin, everyone is really friggin generic. I mean, in comparison to the movie version which had Lena Headey, Robert Sheehan, and Jamie Campbell Bower, we get some of the most basic actors. Ones which don’t bring any real personality to their characters, don’t have the most interesting tattoos or looks to make them at least seem awesome, and then you got McNamara as Clary who doesn’t have anything really to latch onto. She seems like someone in the background of a ABC Family show who suddenly got called up to be a lead.
Another issue is that Clary has that all too familiar story of something big happening around a milestone birthday, in this case 18, and on that day she falls victim to circumstances beyond her control and finds herself saved by someone who finds her fascinating. Why? Well because she is different, and I bet you she becomes some sort of chosen one who is far more special than she seems. Oh, and let’s not forget the one who saved her becomes a love interest, while her friend from the normal days longs for the way things used to be when he seemingly didn’t have competition.
On The Fence
To me, perhaps the only real cool thing in the episode were the sword fights Jocelyn had with members of the Circle Club. For while Jace and the Shadow Hunters had an almost Power Rangers/ WWE fight with demons, Jocelyn going sword to sword was kind of cool. Not awe-inspiring, nor enough to compensate for the rest of the show, but a small beacon of light amongst so much darkness.
Final Thought(s): Don’t Watch
It is so hard to imagine why someone decided to give this franchise a second chance at making it. Granted, I have never touched the books, so maybe there is potential there I am unaware of, but based off vaguely remembering the movie, and sitting through this pilot, I just don’t see it. Sure, in the future I bet Carly will become some sort of bad ass, in her own way, and become some sort of savior, but that story has been done so many times before and it gets less interesting every consecutive time. Especially in cases like these in which there is nothing here to help break the monotony. There are no actors who just steal the show, or an ensemble as a whole who just pop; there isn’t any sort of clever writing, in terms of dialog or story, which doesn’t make this just seem like decent background noise for a nap; and, most of all, the sole feeling you are left with is that someone thought this could make money, and didn’t necessarily care if, in itself, it was a good show. Hence the Don’t Watch label for there isn’t anything really for anyone here. It is just a lame attempt to see if a franchise which failed at the box office could at the very least become a dependable show. Which, considering the movie made 60 million dollars, it could very well do, but I can’t imagine any fan of the books really thinking this is what they have been waiting for.