Review: SHADOWHUNTERS Episodes 1-3


We know we’re jumping on the Shadowhunters bandwagon pretty late, considering 10 episodes have already aired, but we wanted to make sure it at least has some positive reviews before we started watching. That, and we prefer to marathon TV shows and waiting a week in between episodes is just too painful, so we’ll be doing our reviews in three episode chunks.

Okay, so first we’ll start with a movie/TV show comparison – it’s hard to resist!

  1. Trivially, they’re sticking with ‘All the legends are true’ as their tagline, which is what the movie did. Yeah, it doesn’t really matter that much, it’s a pretty terrible tagline anyway, but it doesn’t really separate the show and the movie to begin with.
  2. Aesthetics:
    a) Casting: I miss Jamie Campbell Bower and Lily Collins! They were the perfect Jace and Clary, they seriously looked the part! Alec and Isabelle however look closer to how I imagined them in the TV show, so it’s a pretty equal split. Although I do miss Aidan Turner as Luke and Lena Headey as Jocelyn. Valentine’s got that stereotypical bald evil guy look. It’s still not accurate to the refined, white hair from the book, but if it works to cliches…
    b) Setting: What is with this techno-Institute?! They’re warriors not spies. If it’s supposed to look like the inside of an ornate church it should look like the inside of a church not an A-style underground bunker.
  3. Special effects: they’re on a lower budget, so the demons have the same features and aren’t as grotesque and…blobby, as they are described in the books. Also the bursting into flames/bright lights is stupid, especially in episode three where the vampires flash into a skeleton silhouette before disappearing.

Episode One

As with all pilots the dialogue was forced and stilted. It just wasn’t good. The humour fell flat and Dominic Sherwood’s delivery wasn’t Jace-like. It doesn’t feel as effortless as the movie, that’s for sure. When Jocelyn’s taken and Clary’s weeping in the antique shop that is definitely the emotional crux of the episode. Strong emotions are easy to act, but the little in-character moments that trip this show up. Basically, there was a lot of CRINGING on our end throughout the whole show.

The in media rez beginning was interesting and gave the episode a hook but seeing Jace be so obvious with “YOU HAVE THE SIGHT?!?!” was awkward, and even worse we had to watch the scene a second time, later in the episode.

In episode one Clary is confused and disorientated by the whole thing, and then in episode two she’s found her inner Shadowhunter with seemingly no effort and is the new spokesperson of the group. It’s a quick, if slightly unbelievable, turnaround.

We think they’re moving quickly through the events of the first book, so that they can establish the world and then digress. Hopefully the episodes later in the season will be better even if they don’t follow the books.

Episode Two

Clary and Jace’s journey into the City of Bones had the same feel as the movie minus all of the chemistry Bower and Collins had. New Jace and Clary have no chemistry whatsoever, but have regardless become extremely intimate after only an hour and a half. What happened to begrudging Jace? There’s no snark it’s just out-of-nowhere affection.

On the other hand Sizzy is way more overt. This is probably because Isabelle’s character is very sexualised and has a lot more screen time – not by much – than the movie. Her possessive/playful arm grab of Simon is pretty cute, but she looks at him lie he’s a piece of meat when at this point she should just be intrigued.

This episode felt like an improvement.

Episode Three

This episode felt like a disaster. It makes a point of shoving the relationship dynamics in the audience’s face, which does nothing for character development or subtlety.

It follows the formula of ‘how can we keep people watching? I know, let’s add sex!’ I find that insulting because it’s completely unnecessary. We don’t care for these characters yet, so getting ten minutes of make-out sessions means zero and actually detracts from the progression of the plot. It was even more awkward because the characters still haven’t got their chemistry yet. Except Simon and Clary, their friendship is the only one that feels real.

We constantly question the logic and necessity of the character’s actions. Why did they need the bike? Why did they need to know where the back entrance was if the same number of baddies that would be at the front were going to be there anyway? Hotel du Mort in the movie is more atmospheric and grungy not opulent vampire palace with sketchy telephone communications.

Finally, the CG pulsing of Clary’s jugular at the end of the episode was just bad. Simon looking at her neck would’ve sufficed and I think this sums up the entire show so far, it goes that one step further when it really doesn’t need to.

We plan on watching the whole series, though, so however bad it gets we’ll still be here! In other news Shadowhunters got picked up for a second season, so it has to get better, right?


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