While most of us won’t be able to watch The Witcher: Blood Origin until Christmas Day, the reviews are starting to come in and critics mostly agree on the miniseries. According to the consensus, the first spinoff series of Netflix’s The Witcher feels like a rushed and formulaic project unworthy of the source material. The opinions of reviewers, of course, don’t necessarily translate into audience response; but this is still crushing news for the franchise, coming so soon after the announcement of Henry Cavill’s departure from the main series.
Judging by many of the reviews, most of The Witcher: Blood Origin‘s weaknesses stem from the shaving down of the miniseries from 6 episodes to 4. For example, the show’s three main characters are Sophia Brown’s (The Capture) Éile, Michelle Yeoh‘s (Everything Everywhere All at Once) Scian, and Laurence O’Fuarain’s (Vikings) Fjall; and many reviewers complain that the story is so whittled down that we hardly get a chance to know them. TechRadar‘s Tom Power, for instance, writes that “[i]t’s difficult to care about them when their backstories are reduced to passing remarks.”
The fault never seems to be laid at the actors’ doorsteps either. Critics seem to see the heroes of The Witcher: Blood Origin as ones with potential, but that the story simply doesn’t allow time for the audience to get acquainted. One reviewer gives the example of two of the leads falling into a romance that is shocking simply because no foundation was ever made for it.
The Witcher: Blood Origin‘s current critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes is a disappointing 36%. Considering that rating — as of the time of writing this article — is based on only 11 critics’ reviews, that score should be taken with a grain of salt. Not to mention that according to the reviews being aggregated at the site, the news isn’t all bad.
Reviewers praised the action in the series and some — like ComicBook.com‘s Matthew Aguilar — found themselves engaged by the heroes of The Witcher: Blood Origin in spite of their truncated storylines. “It’s the characters and their short time together that will stick with me most, and I’m glad I had a chance to tag along,” Aguilar wrote.
This may sound unintentionally sarcastic, but the good news about The Witcher: Blood Origin‘s comparatively short length is that it may convince already skeptical fans to give it a shot and see what they think for themselves. In the age of streaming and binge-watching, 4 episodes is a relatively meager commitment. Fans already disheartened by the announcement of Cavill’s departure from the franchise might be more willing to check out Blood Origin if they know that — good or bad — the entire series isn’t quite as long as most streaming seasons.
For those still willing to check it out, The Witcher: Blood Origin begins streaming on Netflix on Sunday, December 25.