When ITV boasted it was birthing a new Beowulf TV series, we blessed our luck. But now a trailer traces the trajectory of this translation to television. And you can judge whether these jesters have done justice to the poem, or created junk.
Beowulf bows on Jan. 23 on the bonny Esquire network, but beware. For critics in the United Kingdom have caviled at its callow actors and clumsy creation. (The series was started sooner than Stateside, launching Jan. 3 on ITV.)
They were hoping to cash in on a spurious Game of Thrones/ Tolkien/ Vikings vibe that might loosely be described as Saxonpunk without doing any of the work or betraying any understanding of what makes a hero or a story. Plenty of daffy names – Slean, Barghest, Hrothgar Healfdene also known as Thane of Heorot – but, and now here’s a singular thought, I truly don’t care! Everyone might as well be have been called Norbert Dentressangle or Gyppo McScoosh. On they scrabbled with Abrecan, the Huskarl, the Mud-Born. It is starting gently to grieve me that I briefly possess this information.
If you’ve ever watched Game Of Thrones and thought, “Gosh, my elderly mum / kids / prudish pal would love this, if it weren’t for all the gore and shagging”, then ITV’s more family-friendly fantasy epic Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands should be essential Sunday night viewing.
The Telegraph tells us that this television show is “a flop,” adding:
Perhaps the biggest letdown is Beowulf himself. The eponymous hero (Kieran Bew) was no longer a mysterious swordsman from across the seas but a bland hunk seeking to make peace with his adopted family following the death of his stepfather... Judged as medieval soap opera, Beowulf delivered the occasional cheesy thrill. Yet it lacked the otherworldly flourishes and rich world-building of the source material – or of Game of Thrones for that matter. There was plenty of blockbuster sparkle here but little true magic.
The Times slays the series with one star out of five (though a paywall pushes away from peeping their paper).
Sure, I have not seen the show myself, and can only share these others giving short shrift. But it seems Beowulf is not bloody or brilliant enough to brag about.
Charlie Jane Anders is the author of All The Birds in the Sky, coming Jan 26 from Tor Books. Follow her on Twitter, and email her.