The anticipation ran high for Freeform’s newest young adult drama “Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments,” based on author Cassandra Clare’s series of books. However, the transition from page to screen sometimes can be a challenge, and this show, which is trying to combine mundanes (humans), vampires, angels, werewolves and warlocks into one cohesive story is failing on all fronts.
However, there is still hope for Clary (Katherine McNamara), Jace (Dominic Sherwood), Simon (Alberto Rosende), Alec (Matthew Daddario), Magnus (Harry Shum Jr.) and Isabelle (Emeraude Toubia).
It’s time to check “Shadowhunters” into rehab. The Freeform series is less than halfway through its premiere season, but based on its first five episodes, here is a tailored 12-step rehab program in which this new one-hour drama can get back on its feet.
1. Remind the writers the viewers aren’t dumb
It is easy to see that Jace is in love with Clary, and that Simon is in love with Clary, and that Clary is in love with Jace. There is no need to have it spelled out for audiences. Lines like “Are you so blinded by your love for Clary that you can’t see what’s happening?” can be omitted.
2. Have more fun
Everyone understands that Simon is “the funny one” (also something that doesn’t need to be announced in each episode) but the constant broody tone cheats the really emotional scenes. A few more light-hearted jokes and scenes would help balance out the soapy drama.
3. Take it slower
Audiences are smart but when the unknown worlds of six different types of magical life are introduced within a few episodes, it’s so hard to keep track of what’s what that it’s easy to stop caring about everyone in general. “The Vampire Diaries” didn’t introduce every single existing type of threat in the first season, or even in the first three seasons. Scale back the information bombs, so people can actually digest all the different aspects of the Shadow World.
4. A lot more Isaiah Mustafa
The wrong cast members are being shown in the sex scenes. Luke, or “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” in the Old Spice commercials, is meant to be shirtless, and it should happen often.
5. Lightwood family backstory
The brother/sister relationship of Alec and Isabelle is fascinating and fun to watch since they support each other no matter what, and after introducing their fierce and intimidatingly powerful mother, knowing their backstory sooner rather than later will help flesh these characters to be more than “the sexy girl” with “the secretly gay sexy brother”.
This step may seem extreme, but listen up. There’s no denying that Katherine McNamara is a beautiful young woman with a gorgeous head of hair, but her breathy voice and over-exaggerated facial expressions fail to convey any real emotion. She either needs to take lessons from “The Originals’s”Phoebe Tonkin, who can make any dramatic storyline seem painfully real, or Clary needs to be replaced with a long lost sister, or maybe a werewolf doppleganger? There are numerous options.
7. Jace needs to figure out Alec is gay
Everyone is aware that Alec is gay, except for Jace, which seems ridiculous as he is supposed to be the leader of the pack. You know, the smartest, handsomest, fearless, future of the Shadowhunters, so him remaining totally unaware that Alec is actually gay and in love with him may have worked in the books, but on screen, it’s annoyingly dumb.
8. Explain why The Mortal Cup is so special
Everyone wanting to get their hands on the cup, for whoever has The Mortal Cup rules the Shadow World … but the show won’t explain why. What magical powers does the cup have? Until audiences know its power, no one actually cares about this apparently special kitchenware item.
9. Be truthful
Maybe the script was written in stone before the roles were cast — but when Isabelle joked to Clary that she wishes she were as flat-chested as Clary, it had everyone scratching their heads. McNamara is extremely well endowed, so one of the few scenes that could make this show pass the Bechdel test was awkward. And not the good kind of awkward.
10. More Magnus and Alec
These two have the most chemistry out of all the budding relationships, and that’s saying something. The overtly flamboyant and confident Magnus interacting with the sad and angry Alec is an interesting opposites attract kind of match-up. Be bold. Go deeper with these two before it’s too late. (Meaning, before the show gets canceled).
11.Explain what’s happening to Simon
He’s all of sudden got super human strength since being kidnapped by vampires, but what’s actually going on? Keeping some mystery is a good thing, especially since Simon is such a likable character, but there’s a lingering feeling that he’s turning into some entirely new kind of creature, one that can just be added to the list of the ones viewers already don’t understand.
12. Throw in a Freeform crossover character
Take a note from the CW crossover episodes, and start shaking up the Freeform family! Grab someone from “Pretty Little Lairs” or “Young and Hungry” — or anything. Sure, it doesn’t vibe with the books, but it will definitely get people to watch.
“Shadowhunters” airs Tuesdayas at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Freeform.