The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Opinion | The ‘Percy Jackson’ show is disappointing

Photo courtesy of IMDb
Walker Scobell in 2023 Disney Plus series release, “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”

Fans of the “Percy Jackson” series and fantasy television enthusiasts alike were elated when the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” show adaptation was announced in 2020. After the much-maligned 2010 film, fans were thrilled to hear about a new, supposedly accurate, series in the works with heavy involvement from the author, Rick Riordan. 

News about the show has been buzzing since the casting for the main trio revealed a Black actor for Annabeth Chase and South Asian actor for Grover. As expected, some were unhappy that actors’ races did not match their book counterparts. But promisingly, we saw much more resounding support and appreciation from fans who were excited to see these age-appropriate actors bring our beloved characters to life, regardless of ethnicity. 

The series’ first two episodes were released on Disney+ on Dec. 19, with new episodes following weekly. The response to the series has been overwhelmingly positive; people love the actors as well as the book scenes coming to life. However, these responses seem to be blinded by loyalty to the books or love for the cast, because the show is honestly rather dissatisfactory. 

To preface, none of the issues with the show have anything to do with the casting. These actors are children and cannot be faulted for not giving Oscar-worthy performances in such a big setting. They are doing their best, and unfortunately, the writing and production of the show are not setting them up for success. 

Each episode feels very stagnant, with action scenes and emotional dialogue falling flat left and right. For example, in the first episode, Percy has to fight the Minotaur after it seemingly killed his mother. This is meant to be a pivotal moment for him; his only family just “died” in front of his eyes, he just learned about gods and his father a few hours ago and now, he has to fight a really dangerous monster without any fighting experience. 

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The scene only lasted one minute and eight seconds. 

It was silent other than the fighting sounds and the Minotaur roars; there was no music accompanying such an intense fight, making it rather unpleasant and awkward to watch. The movie scene had swelling, intense music, evoking the panicked and confused terror Percy should have been feeling in that moment. 

Similarly, in episode four, Percy has an incredibly lackluster confrontation with the Chimera in the observation deck of the St. Louis Arch. The scene lasted a couple of minutes with no time for the audience to feel any stakes or tension because Percy was saved by falling into a river in the conclusion of the episode. 

In the next one, the Chimera plot is abandoned and they just move on to the next issue. 

The show tends to build up expectations and anticipation for these mini climaxes, especially within an episode, but consistently fails to deliver on those expectations. 

When visiting Auntie Em’s Garden Emporium in the book and movie, the trio is unaware that they have wandered into Medusa’s lair. However, in the show, they recognize that it is Medusa’s establishment before even arriving.

An iconic and beloved scene from the movie at the Lotus Casino occurs when the characters eat lotus flowers that distort their senses and make them forget their quest. This diversion from their mission is an important conflict in the book that creates tension and suspense.

In the show, they arrive at the casino and immediately understand the dangers, erasing any semblance of conflict that the audience hoped for, except for with Grover. Grover forgets his friends and the quest, but Percy and Annabeth are essentially perfectly fine. Everything is absurdly easy for the heroes because they either somehow know everything or their issue can be resolved comfortably in less than five minutes. 

The most tension and fear I felt for the trio was when Percy, a twelve-year-old, tried to drive a car for the first time out of a parking garage. 

Not only is the action dull and boring, but the dialogue and dynamics between the trio fall flat for an adaptation in which the author of the series is heavily involved. 

Instead of building Percy and Annabeth’s relationship with quipping and banter, the show relies on furthering their relationship through emotional outbursts and confrontations. In the rushed format of an eight-episode show, the slow-burn romance loses its charm and becomes much more dramatic than it was in the novels. 

I know this is controversial, but I strongly believe that the two movies from the 2010s were better entertainment than this show. Even though it was inaccurate, it was brimming with personality and life from the actors, dialogue and action. 

Accuracy, which is the only trait this show can laud itself for, does not excuse the mediocrity of its execution.

There are countless other criticisms of this series and its flaws, despite promising to be the premier adaptation of a beloved book series. The series will conclude by the end of January, after about a one-month run of rather mediocre writing and direction. 

Hopefully, it can pick up in the later seasons after everyone has found their stride, but as of right now, the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” television series is a disappointing attempt to bring the books to life.  


Vidhi is a junior in LAS.

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