- Based on characters created by George Lucas
- Developed by Jonathan Kasdan
- November 30, 2022 to present
- Willow Ufgood-Warwick Davis
- Elora Danan-Ellie Bamber
- Princess Kit Tanthalos-Ruby Cruz
- Jade-Erin Kellyman
- Prince Graydon-Tony Revolori
- Thraxus Boorman-Amar Chadha-Patel
- Prince Airk-Dempsey Bryk
- Queen Sorsha-Joanne Whalley
- Commander Ballantine-Ralph Ineson
- Merrick-Sifiso Mazibuko
- Lieutenant Keene-Kenny Knight
- King Hastur (King of Galladoorn and Graydon’s father)-Derek Horsham
- Queen Arianna (Queen of Galladoorn and Graydon’s mother)-Talisa Garcia
- Prunella-Eileen Davies
- Jørgen Kase-Simon Armstrong
- The Scourge-Joonas Suotamo
- The Doom-Daniel Naprous
- The Lich-Vitas Le Bas
- The Dag-Claudia Hughes
- Karthy-Simeon Dyer
- Silas-Graham Hughes
- Mims-Annabelle “The Daughter of Warwick” Davis
- Libby-Sarah Bennett
- Hubert-Hannah Waddingham
- Anne-Caoimhe Farren
- The Crone-Jane Carr (voice) / Chus Lucas and Annabel Canavan (Crone stunt doubles)
- Crone’s form of Lili–Rosabell Laurenti Sellers
- Dermot-Mario Revolori
- Rool-Kevin Pollak
- Ganush-Amelia Vitale
- Scorpia-Adwoa Aboah
- Lori Toth-Charlie Rawes
- Allagash-Christian Slater
- Sarris-Tom Wilton
- Falken-Dee Tails
- Voice of Wiggleheim-Danny Woodburn
- Zeb-Julian Glover
Twenty years after the defeat of Queen Bavmorda a group of heroes join together to save their world from the evil Gales.
I cannot say the original Willow blew me away. It was good enough but not great despite George Lucas’s involvement. There was certainly potential there and I could certainly see a film sequel or a series continuing that film in some manner. There were certainly ways to grow the story of Willow Ufgood (Warwick Davis).
Willow does not do that. This show starts out a lot like a teen drama and pretty much stays there in the depiction of its characters and many of its important points. It’s pretty sad actually. You have a well-regarded property (even though it’s based around one film) and you go into the teen drama area.
I am stuck on ‘teen drama’ as the focus of the series is not Willow whose name just coincidentally is in the title but every barely legal character they can introduce. The previously very important Elora Danan (Ellie Bamber), Princess Kit (Ruby Cruz) who has a not-so-secret love for knight-in-training Jade (Erin Kellyman), Prince Graydon (Tony Revolori) who is the Prince of Galladoorn that is marrying Kit to seal a blood alliance with Tir Asleen but falls for Elora, Thraxus Boorman (Amar Chadha-Patel) who is a self-proclaimed treasure hunter and former squire of Madmartigen, and Prince Airk (Dempsey Bryk) who is the twin brother of Kit that has few physical similarities to Kit. All get way more time than Willow in the story and Airk is not even seen for two or three episodes!
It reaches a point where it appears Willow is there more to help tell their story than to expand upon his. It’s highly unlikely Warwick Davis could be molded into an action star, but he should certainly be much more prominent in this series than he actually is. For a series with his name character’s name on it, Willow participates in very little. Even in the finale he is a minimal factor. If you removed the character of Willow events would proceed largely unchanged. There is nothing that makes him important to the narrative.
I also cannot think of a moment he even really bonds with any member of the group nor does any member of the group really connect with another to become a team of some type. They are together because they are supposed to be for purposes of the story and not because the characters become a bonded unit.
I’m wondering if Warwick Davis was sold on there being a much bigger part for him than he ultimately got. He performs his stuff well, but he doesn’t get very much stuff to perform. His whole involvement in this series as an unimportant participant is alluded to in the first episode when he doesn’t show up till the very end.
The character of Kit is just utterly unlikable. It’s one thing to have a character be angry but have them be angry to the point of being utterly unlikable and yet acting as if it’s all justified is a whole other thing. She is angry for reasons. Yet she is a much more significant character in this in Willow.
Boorman is perhaps the standout character of the series and much more entertaining than anyone else. He is humorous and yet has depth. A charming rogue who is something of a cross between Han Solo and Madmartigen.
Graydon starts out as an annoying character but he actually grows. By the end he is in a different place than where he started despite his final disposition. He experiences character growth by going from a meek and unsure individual to a sure person who knows what he wants and is willing to take risks.
Elora Danan starts out as a castle servant known for her muffins who is the latest tryst for Airk and ends a mildly confident user of magic. But as a character her change comes in the last half of the final episode though she is nervous in the closing minutes.
Willow was never as unique a world as Conan or Excalibur, yet it was different enough. Willow though is so generic in execution that it makes the film look positively imaginative. The creativity for this world only goes into high gear in Episode 5 with the introduction of the trolls who rather than being lumbering brutes border of effete yet vicious. They are humorous yet a genuine threat. From there the visuals kick get good too.
What is with this need for modern music to be in the end credits? It feels very out of place in a similar fashion to a Rihanna song in Star Trek Beyond. What are they going for? Edgy? I don’t know. For example covers of ‘Blackhole Sun’, ‘Crimson and Clover’, ‘Good Vibrations’, and the final episode ends with ‘Money for Nothing’ by Dire Straits. Huh? I’m not even sure if they knew what they were going for here at all. While Willow was not the finest of James Horner’s musical scores (even legends cannot be great 100% of the time), it did not use Top 40 music as I recall.
The language used feels very real world as if this is a group of cosplayers having a discussion and not people existing in a medieval fantasy world. It was anything you would hear in everyday life. And more often than not it is dialogue heard in a program aimed at teens.
Much has been made of the romance between Kit and Jade. My issue is that it is a major plot element that like so much else here does not involve Willow. It is not a subplot but a main element that has an effect on everything. It causes issues during conflict as does Kit’s general anger.
And that’s an issue with the series. So many things happen in this show that don’t connect to the character in the title. There are moments when you feel that the people behind this had a story to tell and the only beloved property they could hijack was this. What was done here feels like a less severe version of Velma.
They hang a lantern on this and point out that ultimately it is indeed Kit’s story. Not only does Kit get some big deal magical armor that only the good can wear but Willow announces that it was ultimately Kit’s story. This is not Willow’s story or continuation thereof. Not even Elora Dannan is that important ultimately to things. The worst character is the main character for reasons.
And Willow makes the mistake of ending on a cliffhanger that alludes to much more to come. The film hinted at more to come, but in and of itself was a self-contained story. Leave open the possibility of more but do not say “This is not the end.”
With clunky dialogue and a title character who is barely in it, Willow is a mediocre and bland series. There’s just not much of a reason to watch if you’re expecting a continuation of the story. If you like the CW shows, then this is for you.
2 thoughts on “Willow: It’s That Bad”
These current ‘creatives’ seem to think most of the hard work is done by adopting some old property and then rebooting it, maybe with a dose of diversity or some other liberal agenda thrown in, you know, to make it ‘current’ and of the ‘now’ as if that’s necessarily better.
That being said, as we Brits say, this was on a dodgy wicket from the start by picking Willow as an IP, because the film was no great shakes. I remember seeing it at the cinema and being very disappointed. Back then, you’d swear that a live-action Lord of the Rings was impossible, because Willow proved it.
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The more I think about it the more I feel the major and ultimately most damaging issue was that the title character was not the main character.
And it felt like a teen drama