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Adam's Wheel of Television: Season 2 Wrapped


Werthead
  • The Wheel of Time has wrapped production on its sophomore season. Let's look at the wrap news and also the challenges faced by any show heading into its second season.


Adam Whitehead is Dragonmount's TV blogger. Adam has been writing about film and television, The Wheel of Time, and other genre fiction for over fifteen years, and was a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer in 2020. Be sure to check out his websites, The Wertzone and Atlas of Ice and Fire (including The Wheel of Time Atlas!) as well as his Patreon.

 

The Wheel of Time has wrapped production on its sophomore season on Amazon Prime. Amazon made the formal announcement today.

 

 

 

Season 2 began shooting on 19 July 2021, meaning the production of the second season took ten months in total.

 

That’s a huge improvement on Season 1, which shot for twenty months from 16 September 2019 to 14 May 2021. The immense shoot was, of course, delayed by the COVID19 pandemic, which resulted in two breaks in production for lockdowns and filming suspensions.

 

Despite rumours circulating, Amazon has not so far formally greenlit a third season. They have also not confirmed yet when Season 2 will air.

 

The second season is always an interesting time for a TV show, either allowing it to build on the successes of the first season and become even bigger or failing to maintain the audience and excitement from the debut season, which can put it on the path to cancellation.

 

Second seasons can be rough. Producers and writers might have several years to write the first season (or the pilot) and just months or even weeks to write the second season. Sometimes writers just want to repeat themselves from Season 1, leading to accusations of resting on their laurels (the fate of many a Star Trek sophomore season). Sometimes writers decide to throw in a whole ton of new characters, sometimes at the expense of the original cast, leading to criticism (arguably the fate of Lost and Heroes). Sometimes the writer will go really left-field and set the second season in a different location to the first, following different storylines and leaving behind characters and stories from the debut. David Simon pursued this course with The Wire, to the annoyance of not just fans and critics, but also some of his best actors who found themselves with a lot less to do. Of course, in the long run the move was vindicated. For True Detective, which changed absolutely everything including the entire cast, it was not.

 

Other shows thrive in their second season. They take on board the lessons learned from the first, tighten up the storytelling, maybe lose the stand-alone scene and character-setting episodes from the debut year and move forward with greater verve and confidence. Shows like Babylon 5 and Buffy the Vampire Slayer made absolutely massive strides from their first to second year, upping the quality of writing and storytelling in a huge way and sometimes delivering a season that would go on to be regarded as the best of the whole show. Agents of SHIELD – on which a certain R. Judkins worked as producer and writer – famously had a divisive first season followed by a blistering second season which threw together a whole bunch of great concepts (Hydra, Inhumans and two factions of SHIELD) and moved with tremendous pace and skill, and was credited with saving the show and ensuring it went on for a full seven-year run.

 

For The Wheel of Time, it’ll be interesting to see how the scales fall. And, of course, as an adaptation of a book series, it has its own unique challenges to handle.

 

The first challenge will be integrating the new cast of characters with the cast from the first season. To some extent this problem has been reduced because many characters who debuted in the second novel have already shown up in Season 1: Siuan Sanche, Liandrin and Alanna Mosvani are good examples of that. This means that Season 2 can focus on introducing a smaller cast of new characters, since some of the heavy lifting has been done for them. There are a few counter-examples though, of Book 1 characters who have been delayed to Season 2 (like Elyas Machera and Elayne Trakand), and even Book 3 characters who are being introduced this season (most notably Aviendha). With only eight episodes to work with, the show has to be careful on how it divides its attention between its existing cast and the newcomers. Part of this will also be integrating Dónal Finn as the new actor playing Mat Cauthon (after Barney Harris’s departure during the filming of Season 1), giving him time to settle into the role.

 

To this end, Wheel of Time can take some tips from the second season of Game of Thrones, which also brought in a substantial number of new characters (Stannis, Melisandre, Roose Bolton, Davos, Margaery Tyrell, Brienne) and was able to make them as popular and enjoyable to watch as the (quite large) existing Season 1 cast.

 

However, Wheel of Time has a bigger challenge as well. With the show likely to only last seven to eight seasons of eight episodes apiece, the show has more than twice as much book material as Game of Thrones to cover in fewer episodes. With Season 1 almost wholly restricting itself to material from The Eye of the World, Season 2 will probably cast its net further afield and adapt elements from not just The Great Hunt but also The Dragon Reborn, and maybe even other books in the series. Doing so in a coherent manner will be challenging to the writers.

 

It will also be a challenge to some of the fans. The first season of The Wheel of Time attracted reasonable critical reviews and a strong audience for Amazon, but some devoted fans of the books struggled with the deviations from the text, in characterisation, the changing of plot points or worldbuilding details. Season 2 will probably have no choice but to take the TV series even further away from the books in terms of fidelity to the source material, as it has to adapt a broader range of material from more books. Inevitably, fan-favourite characters and storylines will not make the cut.

 

Season 2 should benefit in one area: how it handles production during a pandemic. Season 1 was three-quarters shot when the COVID19 pandemic shut down production for several months, before shooting on Season 1 could wrap under heavy quarantine restrictions. It’s clear that the crew were scrambling to implement restrictions and make them work whilst also maintaining a crisp and efficient filming schedule. For Season 2 they were much more prepared for this kind of filming, which hopefully should have helped make things go more smoothly.

 

The second season of The Wheel of Time does not have a release date yet. As usual, we will keep you informed of all the relevant details. For more information, visit our TV show section of the website

 

As usual, please continue to follow developments on our casting and news pages, and the forum, and stay tuned for more info as we get it.




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Cranglevoid

Posted (edited)

"Second seasons can be rough. Producers and writers might have several years to write the first season (or the pilot) and just months or even weeks to write the second season."

 

Which really, really doesn't bode well for this show, considering the state of the writing in the first season. I sincerely hope that they've managed to turn this thing around and actually do something that even comes close to being worthy of the books.

 

Rafe really needs to let go of his pride and actually tell Robert Jordan's story, rather than something he made up himself. He simply doesn't have the talent to "modernize" what Jordan wrote.

Edited by Cranglevoid

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I really, REALLY want season 2 to be fantastic.

However, after last year's debacle, I am not holding my breath.

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Miso Beast

Posted (edited)

Season One was fine.  It wasn't great and it wasn't bad.  I expect Season 2 to be the same and I will be content.

 

Unfortunately, book fans (in general) seem to be an incredibly touchy lot when they don't get a near literal translation on Film or TV versions. 

 

Personally, my favorite adaptions are shows that ADD something interesting to the original.  For examples...Yen's backstory in The Witcher TV show and The Emperor clone story in Foundation.  Admittedly, new material can just as well fail...the whole Witcher 2nd season Baba yaga (sp?) thing.  Take the bad with the good and move on.

 

It seems there is no middle ground.  Shows are either great or awful.  Non readers tend towards the former....book fans the latter.

 

I've read a lot of the WoT complaints.  Many (most?) are hung up on details and then go on to say details are critical!.  Well...yes and no.  World building details?  Sure!  Cities and their locations are important.  I can't be the only one who thinks Jordan's description of every room and article of clothing is maddeningly overbearing however. 

 

Complaining about minor changes that don't drive significant plot points seem silly though.  Perrin being married from the start, (witcher) Eskiel minor plot change...etc.  Go ahead and complain if Perrin is made a Darkfriend or Eskiel is the Emperor of Nilfgaard.  Now those would be changes to justifiably raise eyebrows.

 

Does the WoT TV show need more braid tugging?  Dress smoothing?  Bosom references?  Women!  Men! comments?  2000 characters? 

 

Take the bad with the good.  Enjoy it or simply tune-out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Miso Beast
clarification

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18 hours ago, Miso Beast said:

I've read a lot of the WoT complaints.  Many (most?) are hung up on details and then go on to say details are critical!...

 

Complaining about minor changes that don't drive significant plot points seem silly though...

It's not the details that are the problem, it's the fact that the whole thing was completely rewritten, and not in a good way! And I wouldn't really call things like Egwene healing death without even breaking a sweat as a "minor change." That changes the entire magic system of the story!

 

The frustration is that there was a brilliant story already there. Yes, it would need to be heavily edited down. But not changed completely. There is barely a single scene or conversation in season 1 that is actually in the book.

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Werthead

Posted

On 5/25/2022 at 9:52 AM, Irvyne said:

It's not the details that are the problem, it's the fact that the whole thing was completely rewritten, and not in a good way! And I wouldn't really call things like Egwene healing death without even breaking a sweat as a "minor change." That changes the entire magic system of the story!

 

The frustration is that there was a brilliant story already there. Yes, it would need to be heavily edited down. But not changed completely. There is barely a single scene or conversation in season 1 that is actually in the book.

 

Was the whole thing rewritten? In the novel Moiraine arrives at the Two Rivers, recruits a bunch of youngsters to help her save the world and takes them to do that, via visits to Shadar Logoth, the Ways, Fal Dara and the Blight, where it is revealed that Rand is the Dragon Reborn. In the TV show the exact same thing happens. A lot of the details have changed for reasons understandable (cost, time) and unfathomable, but the broad strokes of the story are the same.

 

It doesn't help that the show does present things confusingly, though. Nynaeve was probably simply severely injured and Egwene was able to Heal her by drawing on Nynaeve's own strength (linking?), but Nynaeve's injuries did look severe enough so that people could confuse her with being dead.

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I wonder where the limitation of 8 or 9 seasons came from. Does anyone know? I think 10 would give the show enough time to hit on the important points while consolidating some things and reducing the amount of time spent on unnecessarily drawn out plot lines. 
 

With the exception of the finale, I am quite pleased with the show so far. And I am willing to give the finale a lot of leeway after learning about the shitstorm that they were forced to deal with, including the devastating blow of losing one of the primary cast members. I am honestly struggling to understand why so many other book readers are so insistent on being so hard on the show. As far as fidelity goes, S1 stuck to the books VERY closely compared to most book to screen adaptations, again excepting the finale, which was understandable. 
 

It’s obvious that MANY things will have to be changed, whether because of logistics, time constraints, budgetary constraints, or the fact that some things just don’t translate from the written word to the screen. There’s a reason that it’s taken so long to get a screen adaptation of this series. It’s DAMN hard to do! But the entire writing and production team are doing their best to tell the heart of the story, going so far as to hiring Maria, who knows every aspect of the story every bit as well as RJ did, to make sure that they tell the story correctly as much as possible. They check every single change with her to make sure that they can make it work with the story as a whole. They also have Harriet closely involved in decision making processes. As production and writing teams go, these are genuinely trying their best!
 

My main wish is that they get approval to extend the seasons to 10 episodes, because it’s probably not realistically possible to introduce the necessary lore in an understandable way with such short seasons while simultaneously having to consolidate plots and characters. 

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On 6/11/2022 at 8:46 AM, Wise One Yenna said:

As far as fidelity goes, S1 stuck to the books VERY closely compared to most book to screen adaptations, again excepting the finale, which was understandable. 

 

Sorry but I do not agree. Rather I believe the opposite, this adaptation is not faithful but very loose which is why many fans are critical and unhappy. Game of Thrones Season 1 was way way more faithful to the source material than the Wheel of Time Season 1, also the Lord of the Rings movies were more faithful adaptations and similarly the first few Harry Potter movies. You can be pretty sure that Season 2 of the Wheel of Time will be way less faithful than Season 2 of Game of Thrones was.

 

Some Wheel of Time fans don't mind, some even want more changes and prefer a loose adaptation, but many fans are unhappy because they want to see a true adaptation of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time (and yes, some changes are always necessary for the visual medium, but not what many deem almost amounts to fan fiction in the same universe). Dropping say Rivendell in the Lord of the Rings movies but having Frodo travelling to Mordor with the One Ring would also keep the 'heart of the story' but would still make many fans frustrated/critical and rightly so. The trailers for the coming Lord of the Rings tv show indicate another loose adaptation with many changes to that world and its lore which many fans already criticize on Youtube. Some would say all this is a product of our times.

 

Season 1 of the Wheel of Time had many problems reg. writing, choices, changes, pacing, lack of necessary lore etc and also too few episodes as you mention, and even fans who enjoyed it as a separate version of canon mostly agreed this was a new Turning of the Wheel. For fans of the books who want a faithful adaptation it does not bode well that everything points at Season 2 and onwards deviating even more from the books. As everyone knows the more changes you make at the start, the worse it becomes later with storylines deviating etc. The end result easily becomes totally different than it should have been. One therefore must take care not to make too many changes too soon.

 

One should not be surprised that a portion of the fanbase are deeply concerned. Personally I think this adaptation needs at least 10 seasons or more and needs lots more episodes pr season than any other current fantasy adaptation because of the huge source material which f.ex. dwarfs Game of Thrones as is mentioned above. I have through the years doubted whether this story could or should be adapted to the screen because I have feared it is too difficult to do sufficiently well because of the enormous source material (14 books), much internal POV in the books, incredible detail and sophistication which I feared would be overlooked by showrunners or changed, but I was moderately excited when I heard there would be a tv show and thought I would give it a chance.

 

Now having experienced Season 1, which was ok but far from what it could have been, I am still highly uncertain whether it is possible to do this momentous fantasy story justice or whether the task is simply too huge especially within a thin 8 season 8 episode framework. I will watch Season 2 next year and see how that goes - and I too do believe the showrunners have the best of intentions with their work, more a question of ability and choices and fidelity to canon - but like many fans I am concerned and uncertain if this will ever do Robert Jordan's majestic work and legacy justice.

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