The gods are waiting.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians is a 2023 television series created by Rick Riordan and Jonathan E. Steinberg, produced by The Gotham Group, Mythomagic, Quaker Moving Pictures, 20th Television, and Disney Branded Television. The series is based off of Rick Riordan's novel series of the same name, with the first season being based off of the 2005 novel, The Lightning Thief. It stars Walker Scobell and Leah Sava Jeffries.
"You shall go West, face the god who has turned." - The Oracle
After mysterious attacks from various monsters, twelve-year-old Percy Jackson finds sanctuary at Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for demigods. When Percy learns that Zeus's master lightning bolt has been stolen, he embarks on a quest to find the bolt and prevent a war between the gods.
For those who don't know, I love Percy Jackson. I read the series in elementary school and then re-read it right before this show came out to refresh my memory. I have been waiting for a proper adaptation since elementary schools, because the movies suck. And when they announced this show, I was ecstatic.
The best thing about Percy Jackson & the Olympians is Walker Scobell. I loved Scobell as a kid version of Ryan Reynolds in The Adam Project, and I thought he was the perfect person to play the son of Poseidon. I was correct. Scobell nails the comedic timing and sarcasm of Percy while also expanding his ability as an actor with some great emotional acting. I cannot wait to see this kid in more stuff. He is incredible.
I also appreciate that this adaptation is way more faithful to the novels than the movies are. There are definitely changes (and I'll get into that later), but there are iconic scenes from The Lightning Thief that were not in the movies that finally get justice on the small screen. I loved that they included Ares and Echidna and Kronos. That was awesome.
I also really enjoyed the dynamic between our three main heroes. Percy, Annabeth, and Grover clearly parallel other iconic trios (Harry, Ron, and Hermione and Luke, Leia, and Han), and, while they aren't as good as those other two mentioned, they have that "Golden Trio" aspect to them. Leah Sava Jeffries and Aryan Simhadri are not on the level of Walker Scobell, but the three of them do all have good chemistry and are all very likable.
If you like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games or any other YA book series, you will like Percy Jackson & the Olympians. It has the child-like wonder and creativity of those books with this rich connection to Greek mythology that I think is awesome. With the overcrowding market of cinematic universes, it feels like we've lost the classic hero's journey template, and Percy Jackson returns to that.
I also love the look of the world of Percy Jackson. The movies have bad CGI and ugly set pieces. The show (while still having some spotting CGI) has some awesome set pieces. Both the Underworld and Olympus look super cool. Camp Half-Blood looks great. The costumes and monsters look great. I loved the production design here. It was fantastic.
I have to be honest: I think this show could've been better.
I still liked it. I wouldn't even say I was disappointed. But I feel like the mistakes they made were so fixable.
The biggest problem with this show is the changes from the books. Unlike the movies, there are not really any big changes. But there are tons of small, minor changes that just make it feel slightly worse. I think movies should only change things from books if they will not work on screen or if they need to be cut down to make a manageable runtime. This show makes so many unnecessary minor changes that I really was not a fan of. It feels like these changes are not made to improve the source material...rather, they are made just to be different from the book. I don't think trying to differentiate from the book is a justifiable reason to change something.
This show also has a similar problem that Sorcerer's Stone had. This is the first season in a fantasy series. It has a lot of world-building to do. But, oftentimes, instead of showing us the world, the characters will just dump exposition to tell us what a thing is. Or, even worse, we will know exactly what a thing is, but the characters will still take time to explain to us what it is. It's like the writers don't trust themselves enough to build out the world so they have to just over-explain everything.
I also think that this show could've taken more time to flesh things out more. Every episode is about thirty-five minutes. It feels like it rushes through a lot of these important scenes and beats from the book. Certain events are given entire episodes. And other events are given a two-minute scene. I found that to be strange. And I think it would've helped if this show was closer to forty-five minutes per episode or just had more episodes.
Finally, I think the dialogue is downright bad. As I said before, it over-explains everything. But beyond that, the dialogue is just cringe-inducing and generic. It feels like this also affects the acting, because the lines are so unnatural and stilted that the actors have trouble expressing emotion while saying these ridiculous things. If there is a second season, there should be a writer change. The show could've been a lot better with better writing.
Final Thoughts and Score
Percy Jackson & the Olympians is a mostly faithful adaptation that benefits greatly from a strong lead performance by Walker Scobell even if the dialogue and story can sometimes be shoddy.
I will go Savory here. Age range is 7+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
"Percy Jackson & the Olympians"
Fun Factor: 8/10
Created by Jonathan E. Steinberg and Rick Riordan
Rated TV-PG for fantasy violence and action, disturbing themes and images, thematic elements
Premiered on December 19, 2023
Episode runtime: 35 minutes
Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson
Leah Sava Jeffries as Annabeth Chase
Aryan Simhadri as Grover Underwood
Virginia Kull as Sally Jackson
Glynn Turman as Mr. Brunner / Chiron
Megan Mullally as Mrs. Dodds / Alecto
Charlie Bushnell as Luke Castellan
Adam Copeland as Ares
Toby Stephens as Poseidon
Jason Mantzoukas as Mr. D / Dionysus
Dior Goodjohn as Clarisse La Rue
Andrew Alvarez as Chris Rodriguez
Nick Boraine as Kronos
Timm Sharp as Gabe Ugliano
Olivea Morton as Nancy Bobofit
Jessica Parker Kennedy as Medusa
Suzanne Cryer as Echidna
Timothy Omundson as Hephaestus
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Hermes
Julian Richings as Procrustes
Jay Duplass as Hades
Lance Reddick as Zeus