Created by BBC Studios’ for BBC America, ‘The Watch’ is a fantasy drama series that follows Captain Sam Vimes, a law enforcement official of the city police force, and his group, as they try to solve various crimes and mysteries in a lawless and dystopic land. It stars Richard Dormer, Anna Chancellor, Lara Rossi, Ingrid Oliver, James Fleet, Marama Corlett, Sam Adewunmi, and Jo Eaton-Kent in pivotal roles. The sardonically humorous and sci-fi narrative piqued our interest, and we decided to look further into the origins of the story. Here’s what we found out!
Is The Watch Based on a True Story?
No, ‘The Watch’ is not based on a true story. It is inspired by Terry Pratchett’s ‘Discworld’ series, and the characters are derived from its canon. Pratchett’s ‘Discworld’ series is a science fiction narrative set on Discworld, a flat planet that rests on the back of four giant elephants, who, in turn, are settled on a turtle floating through the abyss of space. The city of Ankh-Morpork is situated in Discworld, a lawless land where organized crime rules the roost.
The criminal organizations are regulated by certain rules that actually controls the violent nature of the city. The city’s police force is led by Sam Vimes, an alcoholic filled with angst but sharp and astute in his crime-solving abilities. Vimes is aided in his quest by characters who range from a werewolf to a troll and a human raised by dwarves. This motley crew of characters spawns 41 books in the Discworld series, which is considered a gigantic literary work, coming out from England.
‘The Watch’ was under development since 2012. Terry Pratchett was involved in the pre-production and the writing process, but things couldn’t get materialized for the screen. After Pratchett passed away in 2015, the pre-production continued but slowly drifted away from the original canon. Simon Allen, the show’s writer, acknowledged that it was challenging to adapt a literary work with a huge fan base. Being true to the story’s origin and condensing the voluminous work was a shade too complicated.
Thus, the show ended up being inspired by Pratchett’s characters rather than being a concrete adaptation. It created divisive opinions among fan circles, and even authors of international repute like Aliette de Bodard, Neil Gaiman, and Rhianna Pratchett, Terry Pratchett’s daughter, lodged their discomfiture with the show. ‘The Watch’ situates its setting in a punk world instead of the books’ medieval setting.
Certain elements of the character design are also influenced by glam rock and hair metal, as evident from their costumes. The inaugural season follows the story arc from Pratchett’s ‘Guards! Guards!’ and borrow eclectically from the novels in the ‘Discworld’ series. Although ‘The Watch’ is not a dedicated adaptation of Pratchett’s magnum opus, it will be safe to say it is definitely inspired by his quirky and politically charged fictional world.
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