Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments – season 1 – review

Director: various

First aired: 2016

Contains spoilers

The YA series of books by Cassandra Clare has already been adapted into a film, and I looked at that here. It received an Honourable Mention because its vampire activity was minimal and quite low key.

One of the things this series (which was a Netflix Original in the UK) does bring to the party is a much larger role for the vampires and so the series gets a review – unfortunately for the series.

Jayce and Clary
The story is pretty much the same as the film – following ordinary art student Clary Fray (Katherine McNamara) who discovers when she turns 18 that she has always been special but her mother, Jocelyn (Maxim Roy), had a warlock called Magnus Bane (Harry Shum Jr.) block her memories. Clary’s parents were both Shadowhunters – essentially Nephilim, who carry the blood of angels and who are meant to protect humanity from demons. Her father, Valentine (Alan Van Sprang), was a rogue Shadowhunter who went against the Clave (the ruling body) and wanted to destroy all downworlders – vampires, werewolves etc.

Jocelyn stole the Mortal Cup – an angelic instrument that can create more Shadowhunters and took their daughter into hiding. As her perceptions of the shadow world grows Clary starts to see things her mundane friends (mainly Simon (Alberto Rosende)) can’t see. Her mother is placed in a magical sleep and stolen by her father and she meets three young Shadowhunters: Jace (Dominic Sherwood, Vampire Academy) and the brother and sister Alec (Matthew Daddario) and Isabelle (Emeraude Toubia).

David Castro as Raphael
The vampires play a larger part, as I mentioned, at first run by Camille (Kaitlyn Leeb) until she is usurped by Raphael (David Castro). Simon is turned in this series. It is here that the show runs in to the trouble that mars it – the characters. There is little in the way of character development and they just tend to spend the episodes whinging. So when Simon thinks he’s turning we get to see that his mother (Christina Cox, Blood Ties & Forever Knight) and sister (Holly Deveaux, Hemlock Grove & Lost Girl) are concerned about him – and suspect drugs. Once he is actually turned they are never mentioned again.

drinking blood
None of the characters get to be properly rounded, centred or developed. The show does do some interesting things – they make Isabelle a strong, female character, they have an accidental incest moment that is left unresolved and they have an openly gay (and bisexual) blossoming relationship with no fuss around it bar the question of marriage for power and the path of the heart. But for these great additions the series stumbles along with the characters, making choices both unbelievable and jarring as important issues are suddenly dropped and ignored, and the incessant whining is just too much.

The braver aspects earn this 3.5 out of 10 – but it was nearly lower.

The imdb page is here.

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