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His Dark Materials Series

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Fuck this.Waiting an entire 7 days to see the next instalment of something you know is going to be good?

No.Not falling for that one.

Except,of course,I am.

Loving it.Great to see Kevan,Jeor and Sallador too!

ETA I believe a thorough reread+ is indicated.

Edited by redriver

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Just watched it on HBO Go. It was amazing. I need to read the books again, but it was rather great. Great acting, great cinematography, overall... Looking forward to the next episode.

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Loved the whole thing, and was especially relieved that the Daemons looked good - after Watership Down’s “rabbits” i had concerns about the Beeb pulling this off. Guess the HBO partnering was a help there.

Ruth Wilson as Mrs. Coulter :bowdown: so much presence on the screen, its almost like she was tailor made for this role. I did like Kidman’s Coulter in the film (the acting anyway) but this is a brilliant choice!

Appreciated the tidbit from La Belle Sauvage at the beginning and makes me wonder if we might get the subsequent volume of the Book of Dust adapted. The plan is five seasons I believe? And we know season two introduces Will, so i don’t think they will string book 2 and 3 for four seasons. But then maybe they do - that last book is pretty hefty after all. As i said before, i also think The Amber Spyglass is probably the hardest adaptation to pull off what with the muelfa and such. But we’ll see.

(given their casting so far, i’m also very excited to see who they get as Mary Malone).

And looking at the preview that showed the weeks ahead, they are either trying to avoid showing too much or the season will stop short of Svalbard

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I did quite enjoy it apart from two problems. The first was the audio mix, which was shite. I ended up with the subtitles on to catch some of the dialogue, from Lyra in particular. The BBC did this with Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell as well, to the point they got so many complaints that they had to remix the entire rest of the series on the fly before the rest of the series aired. Interesting to see if that happens again.

The second was that almost none of the random people in the show had their daemons in evidence. The staff in Oxford, the other passengers on the airship, half of the Gyptians etc were all daemon-less. This was particularly in evidence when Lyra was running through the large kitchens and there were lots of staff around without their daemons in shot at all, despite them needing to be in relatively close proximity (and this becomes a major plot point with Mrs. Coulter, which is even mentioned in the preview for next week's episode!). On the airship at the end it was also pretty silly that only Lyra and Mrs. Coulter had their daemons with them and no-one else did.

22 hours ago, williamjm said:

I think that's what their current plan is to do one season a book.

There's some talk of doing The Amber Spyglass as two seasons, but that would be a mistake. It's not that so much longer than the first two books, it's batshit insane and it's very weird even compared to the first two, so I don't think dragging it out over 16 episodes will improve it.

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1 hour ago, HelenaExMachina said:

Appreciated the tidbit from La Belle Sauvage at the beginning and makes me wonder if we might get the subsequent volume of the Book of Dust adapted. The plan is five seasons I believe? And we know season two introduces Will, so i don’t think they will string book 2 and 3 for four seasons. But then maybe they do - that last book is pretty hefty after all. As i said before, i also think The Amber Spyglass is probably the hardest adaptation to pull off what with the muelfa and such. But we’ll see.

I remember hearing that they had moved away from the original five season plan, although they could always return to it by adapting some of the Book of Dust. I was wondering whether they would have the rights to the Book of Dust, but including the scene from La Belle Sauvage suggests they do (unless they mention the Great Flood in the original trilogy, which isn't something I remember).

The Amber Spyglass seems like a tricky book to adapt. They've been very faithful with what we've seen so far and I think that should work well for the first two books but maybe less so for the final book.

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5 minutes ago, Werthead said:

The second was that almost none of the random people in the show had their daemons in evidence.

Pullman has remarked on this:

 

I wonder if in seeing the daemons in the film in scenes like the banquet sequence made him realize that it worked fine in text but it was visually distracting for a show. Still, I would have made them at least show a bunch of daemons as setup to a scene and then just have them "out of shot" unless they did something useful (the banquet sequence in the film did this by having the animals politely seated at the feet of their humans rather than perched willy-nilly).

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Part of me wants to add that daemons should be depicted as a mundane part of this world, and it would it would be wrong for the camera to focus on the daemons of extras for no reason... but only part of me. :P
 

I really liked the episode. It felt like it moved at a breakneck pace, but I suppose it had to in order to get everything moving.

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It' so weird for me to hear Daphne Kean speak with an English accent, After hearing her yell at Hugh Jackman in Spanish.....lol.... she is a bright star, that one. 

... fun 1st episode... 

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17 hours ago, Martini Sigil said:

It' so weird for me to hear Daphne Kean speak with an English accent, After hearing her yell at Hugh Jackman in Spanish.....lol.... she is a bright star, that one. 

... fun 1st episode... 

She is of both Spanish and English descent so not sure which is more ‘natural’ for her. Watching interviews though she sounds much like she does on HDM

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Fantastic! I'm still not sold on James McAvoy as Lord Asriel but perhaps I'll finally ease into it. (I thought Daniel Craig fit the bill .YMMV.)

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5 hours ago, kairparavel said:

Fantastic! I'm still not sold on James McAvoy as Lord Asriel but perhaps I'll finally ease into it. (I thought Daniel Craig fit the bill .YMMV.)

For all its problems the casting of the main characters in TGC was perfect. 

Weirdly I'm not sold on Lyra, after Logan I was blown away, and really pleased with the casting. She has been a bit of a let down so far. 

Edited by BigFatCoward

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5 hours ago, kairparavel said:

Fantastic! I'm still not sold on James McAvoy as Lord Asriel but perhaps I'll finally ease into it. (I thought Daniel Craig fit the bill .YMMV.)

McAvoy as Asriel was my only ‘not sure’ casting wise too. He a fine actor i’m just not sure he fits my idea of the role, but we will see how he progresses.  And yes, also like Daniel Craig as Asriel

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That 'up next' trailer must be covering the next few weeks, no way is that all happening in episode 2 surely? 

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1 hour ago, BigFatCoward said:

That 'up next' trailer must be covering the next few weeks, no way is that all happening in episode 2 surely? 

It felt like the longest "next on" I've ever watched! I think it was supposed to be in the tone of the dr who christmas specials where they teased the upcoming series?

The show was great although i wish they'd given us a 2 parter opening. Not a bad thing wishing to have more though!

Also reassured and impressed they included a little bit from "belle sauvage". It'll be interesting to see what else gets incorporated from the book of dust series.

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51 minutes ago, red snow said:

It felt like the longest "next on" I've ever watched! I think it was supposed to be in the tone of the dr who christmas specials where they teased the upcoming series?

The show was great although i wish they'd given us a 2 parter opening. Not a bad thing wishing to have more though!

 

It worked though. My wife was a bit indifferent when ep 1 finished, then she watched that trailer and was 'oooooh, have we got another one taped?'. 

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11 hours ago, BigFatCoward said:

For all its problems the casting of the main characters in TGC was perfect. 

Weirdly I'm not sold on Lyra, after Logan I was blown away, and really pleased with the casting. She has been a bit of a let down so far. 

An acquaintance of mine who has been rereading the books commented after seeing the first episode that the show was getting Lyra wrong - she wasn't enthusiastic or imaginative enough in comparison with Lyra in NL. I can't remember exactly what Lyra was like then since it's been so long since I've read it, but I'd be interested in whether other people have the same impression. 

I was okay with this Lyra, though not instantly blown away. (Though very impressed by some of the smaller roles - Roger & Lord Faa). I liked James McAvoy's Asriel - I think he was a gentler version of the character, more in line with the one we see in Belle Sauvage than NL perhaps. 

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Well, I'm surprised that anyone would have issues with James McAvoy. I think he's fine here. 

As I said before, the jury is out on this Lyra. It's not bad...yet. Let's see what happens next time.

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McAvoy is a good actor always, but when you’re not bewitched by the magic he does look like an undernourished Glaswegian.  Asriel is probably supposed to be a bit more imposing.

(by the way, wtf is Lord Asriel lord of?  If I ever knew I’ve forgotten)

I’m not totally convinced by Dafne Keen’s acting.  I like her facial expressions and the muttering under her breath fits the character.  But some of her dialogue seems overdelivered with that kind of precise enunciation kid actors do.  Guy that plays Roger did it too but worse.  Stranger Things still the gold standard of kid acting as far as I’m concerned.

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The casting of Lyra, Asriel and Coulter is particularly good given lyra looks like she could be the child of the two of them (especially the mother daughter resemblance)

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My appraisal of the first episode is a little less glowing, perhaps, than many of the reviews on here - although I would still rate it positively - indeed very positively in parts. (I note that the professional critiques have been more mixed, as opposed to the near-universal acclaim with which it has been received on the forum, with some - like the Guardian and Telegraph in Britain - loving it and others more along the lines of 'like but not love'.) 

Overall, I enjoyed the episode and was especially intrigued by the 'rest of the season' preview at the end - so no doubt, I will defo be watching episode 2.

I think the bar for Act I of the fantasy streaming wars has been set high, with Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance on Netflix and now His Dark Materials on HBO/BBC.

Here's hoping The Witcher, The Wheel of Time, The Lord of the Rings & House of the Dragon can keep the momentum going. (The one bum note for me was Carnival Row, a little ominously Amazon Prime's first high-budget fantasy foray, which makes me slightly nervous for WoT and LotR given that they're the ones I'm most hyped for, along with the GoT Targaryen prequel. Please don't be shit!).

But I'm not entirely sold on this as the definitive adaption of Northern Lights quite yet, although I concede that it's already leagues ahead in terms of quality than The Golden Compass (2007) fiasco (which, nonetheless, had largely note-perfect casting in Nicole Kidman as Mrs Coulter, Daniel Craig as Asriel and Dakota Blue-Richards as the titular protagonist Lyra, despite it being otherwise dreadful overall in practically every other respect except for visual effects).

Things I liked:

1. The intro

I loved the insertion of Book of Dust material at the beginning - before the opening credits - with baby Lyra handed over by a desperate Lord Asriel to the Master of Jordan College. I think this backstory is a really nice touch, for fleshing out (and rounding out) the complicated, prideful and sometimes mercurial/conflicted anti-hero Asriel and his relationship with his daughter. It shows us a more sensitive and paternal side to his nature. 

2. The sets, costumes, CGI (mostly, apart from a few small red herrings), 

I thought Lyra's Oxford looked, felt and sounded great - both familiar yet alien, as it should be, with neo-Gothic spires seamlessly admixed with the sight of zeppelin airships and art deco interiors, the sound of anbaric (as opposed to our real world electric) vehicles/instruments, the distinctive costume styles (ranging from the 1930s-esque glamour of Mrs Coulter and Indiana Jones-like explorer kit of Lord Asriel complete with snow-goggles, to the clerical garb of the Magisterium hierarchy - which is like a sinister cross between a priest's vestments and a businessman's suit (with the collar being the only real 'clergyman' giveaway), excellent for the all-powerful church officials who in this world are the government) and finally the rustic, 'hand-me-down' clothing of the Gyptians). 

I thought the interior shots of the Magisterium's British HQ were phenomenal - really imposing and creepy, with awe-inspiring auditorium space, exuding power and propagandist influence. 

The CGI was largely very good - although there were a few glaring exceptions that sort of took me out of my investment in the realism of the world-building. The initial shots of Oxford during the Great Flood looked a bit too 'computerised' for my liking, as did one shot of an airship. 

The Daemons, however, were vastly improved on the 2007 film - and appeared very naturalistic to me. I too noticed their absence from many scenes but such economy I think was necessary to avoid cluttering the screen, even if it is a little internally inconsistent - and especially glaring in the scene with Lyra and her mother Mrs Coulter in the zeppelin, where they appeared to be the only people with daemons! 

3. Ruth Wilson as Mrs Coulter

revelation. I thought she embodied the poise, elegance, classiness and beauty of this character splendidly - with the ominous flickers of malice behind her impeccably dressed and kindly demeanour, especially in the eyes, intonation of her voice, mannerisms and the way she walked (well, strutting really - as if she owned the place!). 

I really liked Nicole Kidman's Coulter in the film (the only real bright spot of the entire thing) but I appreciated Wilson's fresh take on the role, which was noticeably less-Stepford-wife-ish than Kidman's and really had me convinced that we had here not just a fashion-conscious, Hollywood-style screen goddess but in addition to that a female scholar/scientist and formidable idealogue/propagandist (for the Magisterium) like Leni Riefenstahl as well. 

I thought this was note-perfect casting. A brilliant villainess. 

Things I was less keen on:

1. The Gyptians

The only design that felt 'off' to me in this otherwise rich attention to detail and aesthetic was that of the Gyptian culture. I'm not convinced by the decision to depict them more along the lines of Irish Travellers with lower-class English accents than the more stereotypical Romani look as in the film. I preferred the latter, as I think it hits home better the differentiated customs and identity of the Gyptians. 

I also didn't feel very connected to the Gyptian characters - like Ma Costa, who is a brilliant character in the books but I found her portrayal in this episode by Anne Marie-Duff quite lacklustre and unconvincing.

The scene where the Gyptian boy is stolen by the Gobblers was also not very impactful for me, or particularly intimidating (and child-snatching should 100% be, like, one of the creepiest and most frightening things imaginable). 

2. The structure 

While it largely followed the book (outside the opening prologue from La Belle Sauvage and a few other deviations), something about the transition between different scenes felt slightly disjointed and uneven to me. 

If I were not so conversant with the source material, I think I would have found the structure and flow of the narrative confusing - like a series of fast-changing vignettes - and having spoken with folks who haven't read the book, this is the feedback I got. 

3. The dialogue - hit and miss

While many lines were excellent, there were some really bad, clunky ones as well. Lord Asriel's statement to Billy from the airship - "everyone's special" and (in my opinion) the worst line in the entire episode - the exposition-heavy "the gobblers are REAL!" from James Cosmo's Farder Coram, which are both cases in point of lines that didn't land with me. 

Things I'm undecided on at present but will judge once I've seen more of the series:

1. The casting of Lyra

Daphne Keene was fantastic in Logan and so I was expecting her portrayal of Lyra to be an absolute shoe-in for me - but I'm not sure if I like it. 

I think the problem may be less to do with Keene's acting ability (which is not in doubt) and more with the way the showrunner has directed her to act, which doesn't evoke Lyra to me as strongly as Blue-Richards did in 2007. Lyra in the books is a precociously shrewd, adventurous fibber of a girl, whereas Keene's Lyra is more.....I don't know....just not quite like that, I guess? I'll see how her characterisation develops. 

2. The casting of Asriel

McAvoy, while I bristled at the earlier suggestion that he looked like an "undernourished Glaswegian" (awotch! I'm Scottish! Talk about an ethnic slur!), I'm not entirely persuaded by his portrayal. McAvoy is a versatile and dependably great actor who has a real presence in front of the camera - but the characterisation, again, as with Lyra feels slightly underwhelming to me and a bit forced in places, as for instance when he delivered his oration to the scholars about the discovery of Dust and parallels worlds (a bit too stagey/Thespian/exaggerated?). 

So, that's my take...

Overall, I enjoyed the episode and am looking forward to the second one - just maybe a bit less enthusiastically than the general tenor of this thread would suggest others are, I guess.

Edited by Krishtotter

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