Frankly, I can’t wait to watch Bitten, based on the first book in Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Underworld series, though I am a bit wary of the overall presentation.
Going from book to television is not the easiest transition to make. Both Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files and Stephen King’s The Dome are shining examples of what happens when the vision can’t be reproduced. Both suffered from the inability to bring the magic from the books on to the screen.
This problem is especially true in urban fantasy. Fans are notorious for not being very forgiving when someone messes with the key components of their favorite books and characters. They are favorites for a reason; don't change them. Also, many authors themselves are filled with trepidation that the director and producers will veer away from the storyline in order to make the show more marketable. Take, for instance, Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series.
True Blood, produced by HBO, was a phenomenal hit in its first season. Everyone we loved from the series came to life in glorious color and the season followed the book’s storyline fairly consistently. With the second season, the show was still a hit, but we saw signs of the televised version beginning to subtly shift away from the book. Now in its sixth season, it bears very little resemblance to the books.
That is my biggest fear—that the show won't be able to give us the magic of this world and the people who inhabit it. The strength of Elena tempered by the vulnerability she tries to hide. The wildness in Clayton, barely contained by his humanity. The quiet humor and strength that allows Jeremy to be the alpha he needs to be. Kelley Armstrong addresses many of those concerns on her blog, Paperback Writer.
Bitten premieres tonight in the United States, having first aired in Canada (watch a trailer for the series here and look for a recap of Episode 1 on H&H tomorrow). The show has 13 episodes planned. The first episode is entitled “Summons.” I have a feeling there will be plenty of flashbacks throughout the first season as we not only have to play out the storyline but integrate into it how Elena got to where she is now. I suspect a strong emotional story will play out in here, intertwining with the arc.
How far will they go? Will each season be a book, or will they borrow from additional books in the series to create a more cohesive story? I did notice that the last episode of the season is titled “Stolen.” Could that be a way to introduce book two, which is also titled Stolen? Also, this series does not revolve just around Elena. Book three—Dime Store Magic—is actually a new storyline centering around characters we meet in Stolen.
It’s not until the sixth book, Broken, in fact that Elena becomes the main protagonist again. So, if the show picks up, will they continue to keep Elena as the narrator and play loose with books 3-5 or will they build a base with the other narrators in order to smooth the transition? Of course, all this depends
on how well the public reacts to the first season.
A majority of the cast has already been picked and seems to be for the most part, an adequate representation for the characters they are playing.
Laura Vandervoot is set to play Elena Michaels. Vandervoort, who played Kara (Supergirl) in the WB’s Smallville is a beautiful icy blond who has a certain aloofness to her that bears well for her portrayal of Elena.
I will admit I’m not all that pleased with the choice of Greyston Holt for Clayton Danvers. Clayton is described as a traffic stopping beautiful man with the face of an angel, a body for sin, and an aura of danger. His blonde tousled curls are remarked upon many times in the book. For me, I see Henry Cavill, Charlie Hunnam, or Ryan Phillippe as Clayton. Greyston just doesn’t do it for me in this role. Holt also doesn’t have Clayton’s sultry panty-dropping southern drawl and it’s been noted he won’t have it for the role. (Editor's note: Another H&H blogger, Chelsea Mueller, on the other hand, included Holt in her Top 5 SyFy Man-Candy Morsels post.)
Greg Byrk was chosen to play pack alpha Jeremy Danvers. Jeremy is a handsome somber man with a lean, yet muscular, build. His intelligence and ability to blend in with humanity are his strengths. Well, those and Clayton, the pack enforcer and his adoptive son. I can see Byrk bringing his subtle charm to the role.
Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld is a strong urban fantasy series that celebrates the strength of women. The fantastic world building combined with the complex characters and evolving arc makes this a series that continues to shock and awe its readers.
For those just starting the series or want to know the reading order, I have listed the series (including novellas and shorts) in chronological reading order.
- “Rebirth” (short story)
- “Infusion” (short story)
- Savage (novella)
- Ascension (novella)
- “Demonology” (short story)
- “Birthright” (short story
- Beginnings (novella)
- “Becoming” (short story)
- “The Case of the Half-Demon Spy” (short story)
- “Expectations” (short story)
- “Truth and Consequences” (short story)
- “Territorial” (short story)
- Bitten (novel)
- “Ghosts” (short story)
- “Escape” (short story)
- Stolen (novel)
- Dime Store Magic (novel)
- Industrial Magic (novel)
- “Wedding Bell Hell” (short story)
- Haunted (novel)
- “Adventurer” (short story)
- Chaotic (novella released in the anthology Dates from Hell)
- The Case of El Chupacabra (novella)
- “Bargain” (online short story)
- Broken (novel)
- No Humans Involved (novel)
- “Framed” (short story)
- Personal Demon (novel)
- Living with The Dead (novella)
- “Checkmate” (short story)
- “Recruit” (short story)
- Frostbitten (novel)
- Counterfeit Magic (novella)
- Waking the Witch (novel)
- Spell Bound (novel)
- Thirteen (novel)
- From Russia with Love (bonus story in Thirteen)
For those planning to watch, what are your hopes and fears for the series?
Bitten premiered on Saturday night on Space in Canada and debuts tonight on SyFy in the U.S., so set those DVRs!