"The Patrician was the Woman; she had the Vote."
November 19, 2019 9:18 AM   Subscribe

BBC America has revealed some of the cast for The Watch, the upcoming television series based on Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. Most interestingly, it's Anna Chancellor playing Lorde Vetinari.
posted by MartinWisse (51 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
I... can really see this- she has the look and the chops!
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:23 AM on November 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


Isn't this kind of thin for a post?

Only when they bury the lede by not saying that Ingrid Oliver is the head of the Assassin's Guild.

Oh my Whovian heart, Osgood is coming to Ankh-Morpork, you guys.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 9:33 AM on November 19, 2019 [12 favorites]


Because it's the BBC America, will it be a "BBC season" (i.e., like six shows), or an "American season" of several times that many?
posted by wenestvedt at 9:34 AM on November 19, 2019


I am totally surprised by this and by a female Dibbler, whereas I didn’t bat an eye at the idea of a female God in Good Omens. This sounds like a “Haunting of Hill House” approach to the text, remixing it a good deal, but that turned out really well after all. I’m optimistic.

(I do wish that they had cast a plus-size actress as Lady Sybil, but I would not want to be mistaken for complaining that the actress is black, which is great as far as I’m concerned.)
posted by Countess Elena at 9:35 AM on November 19, 2019 [7 favorites]


(I notice that she’s not billed as Lady Vetinari, for what that’s worth—maybe just a press release usage, but maybe suggesting an interesting treatment of titles and gender.)
posted by Countess Elena at 9:37 AM on November 19, 2019 [5 favorites]


AHHH i am excited
posted by lazaruslong at 9:42 AM on November 19, 2019


Because it's the BBC America, will it be a "BBC season" (i.e., like six shows), or an "American season" of several times that many?

So far one season of 8 episodes has been ordered.

(BBC America tends to split the difference with its original shows but erring more on the BBC season side; I believe Orphan Black was around 10 episodes a season and Killing Eve was also 8.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:44 AM on November 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


I can't think of any reason why Vetinari shouldn't be a woman -- no plot or character points that rely on Vetinari being a man. Oooooh, this could be good.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:51 AM on November 19, 2019 [6 favorites]


Vetinari is so dry and focused that honestly I think of him as asexual more than either male/female binary.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:56 AM on November 19, 2019 [21 favorites]


I am currently re-reading Night Watch. And this post is very much within my interests. Very much.

And of course I would like the characters in my mind when I read be those on the screen. But I am flexible on who plays whom, and how, as long as it is full of wit and flavor.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 9:58 AM on November 19, 2019


I think that, in the current era, a female Vetinari makes infinitely more sense: men have demonstrated that we're not capable of handling power with dignity and control.
posted by howfar at 10:07 AM on November 19, 2019 [9 favorites]


Charles Dance set the bar for Vetinari really high in Going Postal, one of the previous adaptations. "Don't let me detain you" had the exact amount of malice. (Stood out since on the whole, the adaptations have been somewhat forgettable.)
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:07 AM on November 19, 2019 [13 favorites]


Miss Anna Chancellor. I am all astonishment.

Seriously, though, she can bring it.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 10:07 AM on November 19, 2019 [9 favorites]


I've been so excited watching this all come out! I'm very much here for a non-binary person (Jo Eaton-Kent) playing Cheery.
posted by damayanti at 10:17 AM on November 19, 2019 [7 favorites]


Every time I see them describe this as "set in a city where crime has been legalized" I scream a little internally, but I'm sure this is fine.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:18 AM on November 19, 2019 [4 favorites]


Crime has been organized, which is not the same thing.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:28 AM on November 19, 2019 [15 favorites]


I admit, the descriptions of the series have made me go ? a lot, so I haven't been very optimistic, but I'm all here for bold casting choices. Makes it seem much more promising.
posted by tavella at 10:29 AM on November 19, 2019


She does seem a tad young, to my mind? (she's 54)
posted by Chrysostom at 10:41 AM on November 19, 2019


Honestly, as exciting as this announcement is, I'm still completely here for Richard "Beric Dondarrion" Dormer as Sam Vimes, and I cannot wait for this to hit my eyeballs.
posted by hanov3r at 10:47 AM on November 19, 2019 [6 favorites]


I'm hoping for the best, but I'm not sure I've liked any Pratchett-related projects that have been brought to screen. I'd be happy to be wrong, but I think the books rely too heavily on the narrator's personality to translate to dialogue. This is not an original take, I know.
posted by Think_Long at 10:57 AM on November 19, 2019 [6 favorites]


She does seem a tad young, to my mind? (she's 54)

Richard Dormer, Vimes, is 51. Vetinari is cannonically a year older than Vimes. I think she's prefect.
posted by bonehead at 11:18 AM on November 19, 2019 [6 favorites]


I'm hopeful, but dubious. So far I haven't liked a single one of the live action Discworld adaptations.
posted by sotonohito at 11:19 AM on November 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


The problem is that Vetinari has been portrayed by Jeremy Irons and Charles Dance. But Vetinari is supposed ot be sort of timeless. At the time of those productions both were verging on too old themselves.
posted by bonehead at 11:19 AM on November 19, 2019


How do they rise up?
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:45 AM on November 19, 2019 [8 favorites]


arse up
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:47 AM on November 19, 2019 [8 favorites]


So from the characters that are listed, it sounds like they will be covering the events in Night Watch - but there is a significant bit of time travel there, I wonder if that will be happening as well, and we'll be seeing both young and old versions of some of the characters.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:02 PM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


wenestvedt: Eight episodes. ("It ran for 16 years on the BBC - they did nearly 30 episodes!" - Tahani, Good Place)
posted by WCityMike at 12:27 PM on November 19, 2019 [10 favorites]


Night Watch covers the events of the revolution much in the same way Avengers Endgame covers the events in The Avengers, so it could go either way. I know I would very much prefer a version that just plays in the past, without all the timetravely complications.
posted by Ashenmote at 12:40 PM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have any luck finding a listicle with the roles and photos of the actors next to it? My search skills fail me...
posted by Dee Grim at 12:53 PM on November 19, 2019


Consider me amused at the thought that CMOT Dibbler is competent at anything at all...

I wonder if they'll ever give us Constable Detritus?
posted by suelac at 1:20 PM on November 19, 2019


It's been a concept for nearly ten years, but the various press releases give me hope they're going to fulfull the planned 2020 release. The casting of Constable Carrot bodes well. I do hope it isn't terrible.
posted by Peach at 2:18 PM on November 19, 2019


The casting of Hakeem Kae-Kazim is a little confusing since Richard Dormer (50, 51yo) as Vimes suggests a straight adaptation of 'Night Watch.'

Either there's going to be quite a significant change (with most of it taking place in "current day") or Kae-Kazim's role will be fairly limited. Whether a youngSam will be cast will shed a lot of light on this.

Same with Anna Chancellor being cast as Vetinari and the prominance of youngVetinari in the primary work.

So probably a fairly straight-up adaptation with lots of going back and forth between the timelines? James Fleet as Archchancellor - I'm assuming it's Ridcully, he fits the description - someone else will have to be cast as pastArchancellor (iirc, it was someone else back then).
posted by porpoise at 2:57 PM on November 19, 2019


The really wild thing, to me, is that they've cast Keel and Vimes and they're two visibly different people. My vision of Vetanari is with that fussy little beard, so Anna Chancellor is a little unexpected, but Vetinari is so singular a character that it's more important to me that they cast someone who can radiate a genial menace, that is a credible benevolent tyrant that encourages the nobles of the city to plot against each other instead of chancing it against Vetinari.

I'm hoping this flexibility with the source material helps them feel out a good adaptation; I agree that the live-action adaptations have been pretty disappointing thus far (I still hold a lot of fondness for the animated adaptations, but I haven't watched them since I was a kid so I've got a bad feeling about whether they'll hold up).
posted by Merus at 2:58 PM on November 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


they've cast Keel and Vimes and they're two visibly different people.

But isn't that the case in the original timeline? Vimes really was taught by Keel, which is how he knew how to teach himself what Keel taught him.
posted by howfar at 4:10 PM on November 19, 2019


Dee Grim: here
posted by WCityMike at 5:38 PM on November 19, 2019


I can't think of any reason why Vetinari shouldn't be a woman -- no plot or character points that rely on Vetinari being a man.

At some points Lady Margolotta gives the impression of being intended as a female counterpart to Vetinari, but she always loses, so I'm okay with forgetting that detail.
posted by one for the books at 5:57 PM on November 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


This is not objecting to either the casting or the retaining of the title, but is there a female gendered version of patrician? It feels line it should be matrician, but that currently is not a word I the English language. (Matriarch doesn't work, as we have patriarch.)

I am delighted with what I can tell of the casting (I only know of a few of these actors). I am looking forward to this.
posted by Hactar at 8:07 PM on November 19, 2019


It's Discworld, there's nothing saying that the aspect of Vetinari *doesn't* change, so all things are possible, and assuming the issue of gender is even broached, women since the beginning of time have assumed mantles named for the men it was presumed would always bear them.

The important part is that Terry, and more importantly now Rob with the obvious backing of the family, understood later in the game that earliest conceptualizations of the people of Discworld was faultily white-skewing (or faux-diverse in a very Phantom Menacey kind of way) for no reason other than systemic white supremacy and that is great that it's being handled in better ways now, when the estate has the clout to do so in ways that it did not for earlier productions.

This material is so beloved, I get that it's hard to let go of the characters in your head, from the cover art, from the audiobooks, from the words. I also get a pang of disappointment because Lady Sybil was supposed to be shaped like me, and that is not something I get very much in good, smart, desirable characters in media; I hope they find ways to do that with some characters somewhere if it's not going to be her. I suspect she will still kick ass, when necessary, in a firm and practical manner, and Vimes will still love her very much.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:34 PM on November 19, 2019 [9 favorites]


OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG!
posted by evilDoug at 9:11 PM on November 19, 2019


Hmm. I'd say they were going for the approach that normally gendered titles in English are non-gendered on this world, so Lord Vetinari is a female Lord and that's just how it works. Not sure how Sybil will work, though: is she a Lady in this adaptation?

But isn't that the case in the original timeline? Vimes really was taught by Keel, which is how he knew how to teach himself what Keel taught him.

Ah, of course. I forgot that detail and must have decided it was a stable time loop.
posted by Merus at 9:29 PM on November 19, 2019


But who will play the Librarian? Ook! Ook!

And Dibbler had better be given at least one opportunity per episode to say "[Disgusting food item]! Ona stick!"
posted by e-man at 9:33 PM on November 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


Do we have word on Foul Ole' Ron?

bugrem bugrit
posted by Fleebnork at 6:20 AM on November 20, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'd say they were going for the approach that normally gendered titles in English are non-gendered on this world, so Lord Vetinari is a female Lord and that's just how it works. Not sure how Sybil will work, though: is she a Lady in this adaptation?

If they explain it at all (and I kinda hope they don't), it would be easy for them to say that the Patrician is a Lord ex officio, while Sybil's title is hereditary, so she is therefore a Lady based on her personal gender.
posted by Etrigan at 6:50 AM on November 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


I do wish that they had cast a plus-size actress as Lady Sybil

Yeah, I have a very particular English stereotype fixed in my head when picturing Lady Sybil, of the kind of horse-riding, society-making matriarch that ruled over my little village world when I was a child. She should be the kind of woman who casually carries dragons over her shoulder, for practicality's sake, none of this wheelbarrow nonsense. She should be of the kind of noble stock that if born only a couple of generations prior would be quite successfully lugging full plate armour around the battlefield to great effect, and indeed wouldn't be too shy about doing right now. I'm saying that there should still be people nursing mild PTSD after encountering her during her brief but exciting stint on the Quirm College for Young Ladies rugby team. It's a thing, I swear.
posted by Eleven at 7:26 AM on November 20, 2019 [19 favorites]


"Princess Michael of Kent"
posted by Chrysostom at 7:26 AM on November 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


But isn't that the case in the original timeline? Vimes really was taught by Keel, which is how he knew how to teach himself what Keel taught him.

There is some potential weirdness with when Vimes comes back from the past timeline, but we don't know if they're even going to go the full Night Watch route. I love Night Watch but I'm not sure how impactful it is without first seeing the growth of Vimes and the Watch.
posted by kmz at 8:55 AM on November 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'd guess they're going to either do flashbacks with Keel, or compress some timeline stuff and put him into the contemporary Watch. The History Monks will have to put in a bit of overtime, but oh well.
posted by sotonohito at 8:58 AM on November 20, 2019


I assume they're saving Night Watch for a season finale, if they're doing it.
posted by Merus at 1:37 PM on November 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


I was kind of assuming they'd roughly be doing a book a season
posted by mbo at 1:58 PM on November 20, 2019


My expectation is that they're keeping to the same general format that Pterry mooted when he was alive: it's largely a police procedural in a fantasy city, although these days most TV shows are expected to have some kind of overarching storyline, which the novels will probably be the inspiration for. So I'd expect, if they were going to use Night Watch as an inspiration for that season arc, it'll be about Carcer's murders, the revolutionaries remembering the 25th of May, and some of the details about how the city runs compared to previous less effective Patricians, and the season finale will be a somewhat abridged version of Night Watch that leans on everything they've set up in the previous episodes.
posted by Merus at 7:47 PM on November 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


I... regret that Pete Postlethwaite is no longer available to be Sam Vimes. He coulda been so perfect in that role.
posted by ovvl at 7:19 PM on November 21, 2019 [1 favorite]


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