Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

Since 1923 • For a greater Loyola

The Maroon

REVIEW: Take a chance on “Percy Jackson & the Olympians”

Margo Weese

The Disney+ Percy Jackson & the Olympians series is not the adaptation fans have been waiting for… but it sure could be!

For those out of the loop: this new series from Disney+ adapts Rick Riordan’s middle-grade book series of the same name. Many may recognize the first book of the series, “The Lightning Thief,” from the 2010 film starring Logan Lerman and featuring Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”. less, however, may know of the 2014 off-Broadway production of “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical”. But now, 2023 has brought us “The Lightning Thief” in its latest incarnation.With a spectacular cast of kids, a Marvel-sized arsenal of visual effects, and Rick Riordan himself at the helm, season one of “Percy Jackson & the Olympians” is undoubtedly an absolute treat for longtime fans of the series!

But alas, it is not perfect. Marketed as the first truly faithful adaptation of “The Lightning Thief,” the book’s original problems have unfortunately been translated to the screen.

The book was written with early 2000s middle schoolers in mind. Therefore, the dialogue is cheesy, the characters are basic, and the plot is a whirlwind of high-stakes battles and mythological creature cameos without so much as a breath between. As a result, the pacing of the show suffers as the script attempts to capture the events of the book in an episodic format. Exposition is messily dumped, scenes feel unfinished or drawn out, and a considerable portion of the action described in the books is skirted entirely in the show.

Many of these issues can probably be attributed to the fact that the big-bad corporation Disney is behind the show. Each episode is only given between a 30-50 minute runtime, with the standard nowadays for an eight-episode season being hour-long episodes. Longer runtimes could have accounted for more natural exposition and scene execution. Elements of the original story, like Medusa’s severed head or Sally Jackson’s first kill, being silently removed from the show could be due to Disney deeming them not family-friendly content. And nowhere is the “Disney-ifcation”of Percy Jackson more blatant than the finale’s “I’m going to Disney World!” from Annabeth. It can only be hoped that this obvious product placement secures a second season for the series.

Of course, not everything is Disney’s fault. Some aspects of the series are simply just bad TV. While the books are told from Percy’s first-person perspective, TV is not shackled to this restriction. However, the show makes little attempt to remedy this while adapting to the new medium.

One of the best scenes of the season is a flashback of Sally Jackson and Poseidon, Percy’s parents, discussing a younger Percy’s trouble in school. It’s serious and sad and it was not a part of the books. Percy is not present for the conversation, and yet it tells the audience so much about the mother that Percy is putting the entire world at risk to save. This makes it a wonderful addition to the narrative. More scenes and flashbacks such as this, in order to flesh out other characters and their relationships with one another outside of Percy, would really enhance future seasons.

Furthermore, it could be said that even greater divergence from the books could benefit the show. Often the show writes the characters to be “too smart.” They already know of every monster they come into contact with and they wiggle out of strenuous situations a little too easily. But in episodes such as “We Visit the Garden Gnome Emporium” and “A God Buys Us Cheeseburgers,” both the characters’ and viewers’ expectations are subverted by depicting new scenes or scenarios.

In the show, Medusa is introduced as a survivor of the abusive gods, not a monster. This further exemplifies the series’ overarching themes of morality. When Annabeth and Percy venture to Waterland, Percy’s added sacrifice and Annabeth’s promise to save his mother deepens their relationship better in one scene than the entirety of “The Lightning Thief” novel could in 416 pages.

The original novel is a great starting place, but it is not perfect. An adaptation should be used to polish the original story, not simply recreate it.

While the Disney+ adaptation is off to a bumpy start, TV shows rarely hit their stride within the first season. The story of “Percy Jackson & the Olympians” is not just one book, movie, or even musical. It is an entire world that needs time to be developed and explored. The reason Percy Jackson resonates so much with its fans is because they get to watch the characters grow up together. Season one sets the foundation for five full seasons of television, jam-packed with plenty of hilarious and emotional moments. And these moments that lead up to its grand conclusion will be amazing. Its finale will be truly epic.

So if you haven’t already, please take a chance on the mythical, magical world of Percy Jackson. You just might love it.

4/5 (Ariel Landry)

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About the Contributor
Addison Laird
Addison Laird, Social Media Coordinator
Addison Laird is currently The Maroon's Social Media Coordinator. She was previously the Managing Editor for Digital and has written for The Maroon on multiple occasions. She is a third-year visual communications major, with a minor in women's studies. Originally from Mississippi, Addison enjoys repeatedly rereading the same five books and hate-watching cheesy movies with friends. She can be reached at [email protected].

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