Thursday Open Thread: Creative License and Book Adaptations

First, it was movies. Now, TV. The trend to make live media entertainment based on something already written — a book, you could call it — is certainly the thing to do. I’ve mentioned this trend before, both is positive and negative ways. And honestly, there are some good stories out there in books. I’m a book fan. I enjoyed reading Vampire Diaries and while it was a movie, not a TV series, I’m a huge fan of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Don’t judge me on the book choices. Don’t worry; I have others that I like that I’m just not mentioning.

The only problem with books that turn into things like TV series is that the series already has a set fan base. Sure, you have a lot of people already ready and willing to watch the show, but what if it’s not exactly like it? One of my best friends refused to watch Vampire Diaries because Elena didn’t have blonde hair. That’s some high standards.

So how much creative license do writers have on shows that are based on books? Should they be exactly the same, or can they make it different?

Obviously, there has to be some differences. After all, with something like The Vampire Diaries, the book series ends. The show may go on longer than that story line provides. But what about that first season and the setup of characters right at the start. Does that have to be the same?

I’m sure JC will jump in about Game of Thrones, as he’s read them all, so I’ll focus on an example that looks incredibly different: The Secret Circle. Of course, when I first heard there would be a series based on the book, I knew there would be some changes. For example, a TV show can’t handle a coven of 12, so I was sure that a bunch of the characters would merge together into one. But I certainly didn’t think it would merge into a mere six.

Are the characters the same? Well, Nick certainly is different based on the six-minute preview. I wonder if he still kisses like an iguana. What bothers me a bit is the fact that this changes his personality; I don’t like that. Now, appearances? Sure, it bothers me that Diana isn’t a blonde (she stands as the polar opposite of dark-haired Faye, so it’s a symbolic thing), and Adam isn’t nearly what I thought he would look like, but I can get past that. It’s the personality differences that will get to me.

What about setup? Well, Cassie’s mother dies (which in itself feels too much like Vampire Diaries setup than the unique setup the book has), and clearly the villain is very different from the book. In fact, the entire setup is different — completely different. Ok, so maybe that’s getting to me a bit. I really wanted to see the series I read on TV; if you’re going to make all these changes, why not just do your own witch series? Where’s the connection to the book.

The writers lean on this and call the show a “companion piece.” I consider this a copout. I guess to answer my question, I don’t need the show to be exactly the same (certainly not in appearances), but I need more than the names to be the same with a somewhat similar theme (witches, vampires, whatever). I’ll still check out Secret Circle, true, but my excitement is a bit muted now.

So that was a long schpeel. What do you think?


3 thoughts on “Thursday Open Thread: Creative License and Book Adaptations

  1. I think this is a difficult question. The mediums of novel and television are so different that certain changes will be absolutely necessary, as I’ve noticed so far in Game of Thrones. I’m generally OK with this, and I’ve started to notice that if I can see the reason why they changed something (having a different person explain a plot point in the show, because in the book it happened in someone’s head as an internal monologue, or something like that) I have an even easier time understanding it. In Game of Thrones, there have been a number of scenes that were never present in the book, but that I liked because they were really well written. Beyond that, even, there are three characters whose personalities and motivations seem to me to be presented in slightly different ways than the book, and I’m actually enjoying the TV portrayals more because I think they’re more interesting. That said, the show should stick to the overall vision and themes of the original work. Thrones has done an awesome job of this so far, which is why I don’t have much to complain about… But what if they kill of a character earlier than the books, or skip over an event that I consider important? I can’t believe I’d be too happy then.

  2. I do see your point, which I guess is why I don’t understand the change in setup for Secret Circle. The only reason I can see is because they want an entirely different plot than those in the books. If that were the creative license taken, would it bother you?

  3. I’m a stickler for keeping a similar character, including what shapes them. I feel like Cassie’s coming into the situation in a completely different way with a completely different background. Here, it’s a traumatic situation, while in the books, it was normal girl. Sure, it’s still a surprise that she’s a witch, but it makes for an entirely different Cassie.

    Now, I’m still torn whether that’s good or bad. But either way, it is an adjustment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s