Thursday, February 29, 2024
ReviewTelevision

Percy Jackson and the Olympians Episodes 1 and 2 Review

There’s something about the fantasy genre that often makes them sprawl into sagas several
books long, this makes them prime material to be adapted for the screen, giving a franchise that
can be revisited again and again. This is most prominent with titles like Harry Potter and A Song
of Ice and Fire, and now for Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series which was first brought to the
screen as a movie in 2010 and has now been made into a show courtesy of Disney Plus, with
the first two episodes streaming on December 20.


The series follows the story of Percy Jackson, a boy who finds out he’s actually a demigod, and
the son of the Greek god of the sea Posiedon, no less. To keep him safe, he’s taken to Camp
Half-Blood, a training camp where the sons and daughters of the gods are trained to be heroes.
There’s a crisis brewing on Olympus, however. Someone has stolen Zeus’s lightning bolt, his
symbol of power, and if it isn’t returned, there will be war among the gods. To save the world
from this danger, Percy, along with fellow campmates Grover Underwood and Annabeth Chase,
has to find the bolt and return it to Zeus in time.


Right from the start you can see this is a series that’s taking the books as its main base. This
might seem like the obvious thing to do, but so many adaptations fai badly at this, needlessly
straying from the source material to try and be different. Percy Jackson and the Olympians isn’t
like that. So far it’s sticking to the main story as shown in the books, including the big scenes
and main characters from the first chapters of Riordan’s first novel in the opening episodes. It’s
not just faithful in the big things, though, there are lots of small details that will please any fan of
the books. These are the things that really make it feel truel to its source, like Percy’s love of
blue food and the minotaur wearing tighty whities to keep it family friendly. No doubt this comes
from Riordan adapting the series himself: he’ll have spent years hearing from fans about their
favorite things from the books that stood out to them, and knows which bits to include to please
them.


This doesn’t mean that the show is slavishly devoted to the source material or that it will only
appeal to anyone who’s read the books. Most of these small moments only serve to enhance
the characters and lend a certain feel to the world that’s being built, whether that’s on page or
screen, and helps make the transition more seamless without feeling like they’re only included
as fanservice.


The series is actually starting to deviate from the book in a few ways, with scenes being cut or
shortened to better fit into the episodes, but also with a change of viewpoint. The novel is written
in first person, with everything being shown from Percy’s perspective, but onscreen there’s a
chance to look at other characters too. This has only been shown so far with one or two small
scenes involving Grover, but it’s likely it will expand as it progresses.

If there was one word to describe the series it would be “fun”. It gives a unique slant on the
Ancient Greek myths, translating them into the 21st century, and plays around with what that
would look like, such as Percy’s sword being disguised as an ordinary ballpoint pen. There’s no
need to have any knowledge of the ancient world to enjoy the series, it’s confident in telling the
audience everything they need to understand without overloading on exposition. It’s also fast
moving, sliding quickly from scene to scene, never lingering too long in one place.


The actors add to this sense of fun, particularly the main trio. These three deserve a lot of praise
for their performances, Walker Scobell as Percy, Leah Sava Jeffries as Annabeth, and Aryan
Simhadri as Grover. They all capture their characters perfectly and have the kind of chemistry
that makes them easy and enjoyable to watch.


A lot of the first two episodes was spent on setting up the story and introducing us to the world
of Percy Jackson, and it’s likely to only get more exciting as the series progresses and they start
their quest to find Zeus’s lightning bolt, but if you’re looking for a fun series that has not just
laughs but also heart, look no further than Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

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