*All of our episode recaps contain spoilers*
Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments book series has already undergone an unsuccessful film adaptation. Last month the new TV series Shadowhunters debuted onto our screens. But the results are decidedly mixed.
But first to the set up. Clary (Katherine McNarama) is a normal teenager whose about to turn 18 when her mother reveals she is a Shadowhunter, someone who protects everyday humans from demons, vampires and other downworlders. Before she can explain more, her mother is kidnapped and Clary ends up having to rely on her fellow Shadowhunter Jace (Dominic Sherwood) and his friends. Can she adapt to her new powers and save her mother?!
If I I'm honest, if I wasn't a fan of the book series I probably would have given up on Shadowhunters after the first episode. What was fun and engaging in Clare's hands feels clichéd and tedious here. Plenty of YA series have a story set around a 'chosen one' but Shadowhunters fails to make their show stand out. The spunky dialogue is now robotic and the action is bland and after four episodes the plot is not moving quickly enough.
I was not a big fan of the film version of The Mortal Instruments, but I did feel the casting of Lily Collins and Robert Sheehan, as Clary and Simon respectively, was spot on. Here, McNarma is fine but I don't warm to her as I did Collins. And as for Simon, played by Alberto Rosende, the mixture of bad writing and lackluster performance has made one of my favorite characters in the book the least appealing in the TV series.
However, some of it does work. After initial reservations in the pilot episode, I'm enjoying Isabelle's (Emeraude Daddario) character. Sherwood is also an improvement on Jamie Campbell Bower from the movie. Changing Luke's (Isaiah Mustafa) profession to a detective is also a smart move. While Harry Shum Jnr isn't quite how I imagined warlock Magnus to be, he does - like Isabelle- bring some fun to the preceding and even manages to bring a genuine smile to closeted Shadowhunter Alex's face (actor Matthew Daddario is wasted being perpetually moody all the time).
It may be that Shadowhunters needs time to develop its own style and figure out its strengths while fixing its weaknesses. Let's just hope it still has an audience by then.