The Watch isn’t an adaptation; it’s a “modern and inclusive series” inspired by Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels (at least that’s how BBC America is describing it). At today’s NYCC panel, the producers and their charming cast shared a new trailer, a first look at the show, and a release date: The Watch begins on January 3, 2021.
As executive producer Simon Allen put it, The Watch focuses on “a flawed but adorable band of magical misfits in a corrupt fancy city that they’re kind of loitering in the margins of when we meet them.”
The NYCC panel offered a few sneak-peek scenes from the series, including one with Wendell Pierce’s Death (who looks rather like an oversized jawa) and the following scene featuring four members of Ankh-Morpork’s City Watch: forensics expert Constable Cheery (Jo Eaton-Kent), the sozzled Captain Vimes (Richard Dormer), the fresh-faced Constable Carrot (Adam Hugill) and Corporal Angua (Marama Corlett). Earlier this year, BBC America released the first images from the show, but this is the first time we’re seeing these characters in action.
Executive producer Richard Stokes explained, “What was very clear from the early part of development was that none of the books individually lend themselves to an 8-part series, which is what we were making.” He described the adaptation as “kind of a pick and mix” of elements from Pratchett’s books.
The trailer is… the best word might be chaotic—it yearns toward roguishness but all the jokes land just shy of their targets. Whether or not you’ve read the books, it’s not at all clear what’s going on; the focus is all on a punky tone that doesn’t give audiences much to hold on to or connect with.
The Watch also stars Lara Rossi as Lady Sybil Ramkin, Anna Chancellor as Lord Vetinari, Ingrid Oliver as Doctor Cruces, Matt Barry as the talking sword Wayne, Sam Adewunmi as Carcer Dun, James Fleet as The Archchancellor, Ruth Madeley as Throat, Hakeem Kae-Kazim as Captain John Keel, and Bianca Simone Mannie as Wonse.