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Season 1 [Premiere].

Aired On: Disney+.

Release Date: 11/20/23.
Action. Adventure. Fantasy.

"Demigod Percy Jackson leads a quest across America to prevent a war among the Olympian gods."


Rick Riordan’s middle grade urban fantasy series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, is notoriously cursed with bad adaptations. Not only in the Logan Lerman-fronted films that, though good enough entertainment in their own right, share almost no resemblance to the source material other than its core concept, but also in the graphic novel adaptations that make a lot of cuts potentially due to their budgets which create a lackluster reading experience. There is, however, an off-broadway musical that has a stupendous soundtrack and the show has been heralded for its quality and efforts. But once this show was announced for Disney+, with the author of the books being heavily involved in the creative process, Percy Jackson fans were ecstatic, even if a little worried given the quality of some of Riordan’s recent works.


“Look, I didn’t want to be a half-blood,” Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson states in the opening seconds of the pilot, kicking off a monologue very reminiscent of the book with a few changes to fit better in the film medium. It’s an opening sequence that shows audiences that this is going to be different from the movies you may have seen, that it’s not a Disney-produced remake done for a cash grab but instead a redo with a different story to tell. A story, fans will be relieved to hear, is both faithful to the source material and even strengthens it.


Similar to Amazon Prime’s approach to Invincible, Percy Jackson feels like a new draft of the original book, updating elements that may not have aged well and strengthening the relationships between the characters. Sally Jackson, portrayed by Virginia Kull, has more of an edge this time around which simultaneously grounds its New York City setting. When characters interact, there’s a sense of history between them all, notably the bond between Percy and Grover, which is given an interesting dramatic conflict I look forward to exploring in future episodes.


Now, is this a perfect adaptation? Not quite. A common issue with adapting a story like this to the film medium is how clunky exposition feels when world-building. There’s a particular scene where it’s directed as a high-octane moment, but suddenly plateaus for a solid minute as a worldbuilding element is explained to Percy and the audience. An element, I may add, that doesn’t quite feel necessary at the moment. Also, though the cinematography and editing are superb, the direction of this first episode is merely serviceable, having scenes that feel like it hypes up a cool moment like a one-shot fight then quickly ditching the idea for a series of quick cuts that are hard to keep track of then ending that action scene rather anticlimactically.

In short, this take on Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a solid watch for newcomers and fans alike, which, in translation for the fans, means we hit gold. If the creators can find a stronger way to incorporate exposition through drama and get a better grasp on directing action, this has a potential to be one of the strongest shows ever produced that the whole family can enjoy together.

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