I was thrilled when HBO picked up “Game of Thrones”, one of my favorite fantasy series of books. But my all-time favorite fantasy series is “The Wheel of Time,” and I figured that would face bigger hurdles to TV adaptation. It’s a much longer series (yes, much longer than GoT). It’s going to require major visual effects (yes, more than GoT). It has a huge ensemble cast of characters (yes, more than GoT). And the author, Robert Jordan, is deceased, so he can’t have any input into the creative translation from books to screen.
When GoT proved successful, other TV studios began to experiment with book series adaptations, and then we all knew it was just a matter of time until someone tried to adapt the WoT. But I’m sure something this colossal is a hard sell. I mean, it’s colossal. If HBO threw $100 million at the first season of the GoT, and all the copycat series were less successful, then how can any studio justify giving a gigantic budget to yet another fantasy series adaptation? If the money managers are not fans of these books, they won’t necessarily understand why this one has potential to be as popular, or more popular, than Game of Thrones.
So Amazon Prime wants to make a big splash into the land of original TV content. Maybe they see the potential here.
According to this article, Amazon signed a director/producer who is a fan of the WoT books. So that’s good.
It sounds like they are going to focus the first season on Moiraine rather than on the main characters in the books. That may work, or it may end up coming across as boring. Moiraine is a female Gandalf; she isn’t the most personable of characters. However, the books have a great ensemble cast, which is key in making a great TV series.
“Game of Thrones” got an excellent adaptation, in part, because George R.R. Martin knew the TV industry well. As a former director and executive producer, he was able to recognize the kind of talent who would do his story justice in TV format and negotiate contracts with them. That won’t be the case with the “Wheel of Time.” And while I admire Amazon as an innovative company, they also have a rather industrial and non-artistic approach to their ventures, which could be an impediment to top-notch film-making.
The source material gives this TV show great potential, but there is also great potential for screw-ups.