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The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

Sadly, “Percy Jackson” Disappoints

The much anticipated “Percy Jackson” TV series has left many fans wanting more from the new version of this iconic story. 


Disney+ excited the “Percy Jackson” community when the company announced they would retell the story in a new TV series. The involvement of Rick Riordan, author of the “Percy Jackson” books, was one of the main selling points. Plus, unlike the 2010 and 2013 films, Riordan was involved in the writing, casting and overall production of the show. Fans of the book, including myself, looked forward to seeing an adaptation of the books that was more faithful to the original story than the movies given Riordan’s creative control. 


To the show’s credit, it has been very faithful to the books. However, being faithful does not necessarily correlate with being entertaining. After watching the series, I was ultimately disappointed by the show’s pacing, acting and overall writing. 


Like the books, the show follows Percy Jackson (Walker Scobell), Annabeth Chase (Leah Jeffries) and Grover (Aryan Simhadri) on a quest to recover the stolen lightning bolt of Zeus, king of the Greek gods. At its heart, the story is about the three kids uniting and helping each other. But the three lead actors each have tall tasks in bringing their characters to life and, sadly, had disappointing performances. 

Scobell is a great sarcastic actor. His ability to be funny on screen seems to make him a perfect Percy. But, for whatever reason, the writers haven’t allowed Scobell to be funny. 

Jeffries and Simhadri have also not impressed me as actors. One of their main flaws is the lack of range in their facial expressions. Regardless of the situation, the two always have the same reaction. The director should help them nail down their roles, but for whatever reason, they are left stranded. 


A major gripe about the series is that it doesn’t follow the rule that entertainment should “show, not tell.” The series has struggled in adapting the first person narrative in the books which allows them to make it clear what the main character, Percy, is thinking. In the show, the writers have had everything stated aloud for the audience. There are often slow scenes where the trio talk about how they feel at any given moment, which hinders the pacing of the show. 


Repeatedly, there are quick, unimpressive fight scenes followed by long scenes where the trio recaps how they feel about the situation. Suspense comes and goes quickly, so we are mostly left with dialogue. This would be fine if the dialogue was entertaining, but it really falls short. In the books, you also have direct access to Percy’s thoughts, expressed in various sarcastic, funny and entertaining ways that are completely lost in the show. A constant Percy narration would have been interesting. When they included his narration in episode one, it felt more like you were listening to the real Percy than at any other time in the show. 


The writing makes it difficult to connect to any sort of emotional stakes for the characters. There never seems to be real danger. 


The iconic Lotus Hotel and Casino scene in the 2010 film was not going to be replicated. In lieu of that scene, we get Percy solving the mystery as to how they had entered the casino easily, without any help and without getting sucked into the Casino’s whimsy, amnesiac atmosphere, which was disappointing. 


The same goes for the Procrustes scene. Right away, Percy recognizes the villain Procrustes from the mythological story, and  he doesn’t allow himself or his friends to get kidnapped, even for a little while. The three walk into Procustes’s shop and immediately get the better of him. 


The stakes are also incredibly clear: if Percy doesn’t return the bolt before the solstice, there will be a war between the gods. Yet, when time passes and Percy doesn’t return the bolt, nothing happens. The stakes that were set at the beginning of the show and in the book were totally pointless. 


I was initially excited when the budget that Disney+ had given the show came out. With the budget for each episode ranging from around $12-15 million, there were high hopes for the effects and visual design. However, the show just does not look good. Camp Half-Blood was not done justice. We only see a tiny bit of it and it does not have the same grandeur the books gave it. The CGI also has not been impressive. It was particularly notable when Percy uncapped his sword offscreen so it didn’t need to be animated. I genuinely don’t know where the money has gone. 


On a more positive note, Disney+ is in this for the long haul. Hopefully, they will listen to the complaints and the writing will have more of the feel of the books. It’s also important to note that the actors are young and, hopefully, they will grow into their roles.

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