Critical Condition: A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches | SoHo2, 7.30 Wednesday/Neon

☆☆☆A Discovery of Witches was a hit 600-page novel by Deborah Harkness in 2011 that imagined vampires and witches as academics in modern-day Oxford, expecting us to find nothing strange about supernatural beings stalking the city’s libraries and cloisters. It’s now brought faithfully to the small screen with all the expensive sheen you’d expect from a big Sky drama, but with a certain restraint too. While incurable fans of urban fantasy will lap it up, don’t expect even a bite of fanged horror … Very silly, but played very straight.” — The Times.

☆☆☆☆ “A bubbling cauldron of fantasy cliches … Adapted from Deborah Harkness’s All Souls trilogy, A Discovery of Witches is kind of Harry Potter and Morse boiled up together with eye of Twilight and toe of Being Human tossed in, too. If historical fantasy is your thing then I imagine you’re in heaven. Or hell, or wherever it is a historical fantasist most wants to be.”  — The Guardian.

☆☆☆☆ “Matthew Goode and Owen Teale, both bags-of-character actors with magnetic faces, appear to be slumming it, a little, in Sky’s A Discovery of Witches. This reworking of Deborah Harkness’s books is absolutely grand, as far as it goes. It features an unwilling witch, the fiery new Aussie Teresa Palmer, and Oxford, and vampires. It’ll do splendidly until the next Potter/Morse/Twilight derivation comes along.” — The Observer.

☆☆☆☆ “In both its tranquil typically-English setting and magical mysteries, A Discovery Of Witches, so far, struggles to differentiate itself from its obvious comparisons like Twilight, Harry Potter and, to some degree, X-Men. It’s a show about species being downtrodden by society, driven along by a young hotshot historian who simply wants to forget her witch heritage. The tone doesn’t quite find a comfortable groove, falling somewhere between 90s throwback fantasy and something more racy like True Blood.” — Metro.

☆☆☆☆ “The series has a strong cast and Matthew Goode in particular puts in an assured performance as the eerily still vampire in hot pursuit of the young witch. Goode does his best with the dialogue he is given, but ultimately the cast is let down by a clunky, plot exposition-heavy script that appears to want to cram in as much of the novel’s rich detail as possible, but removes all intrigue and ambivalence in the process.” — Digital Spy.

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