The showrunners behind Paramount's Halo TV series admitted to having never played any of the Halo games prior to developing the series adaptation - and it shows.
This week saw the first episode of the first season drop on Paramount's Plus streaming network and to the dismay of many Halo fans, it failed (hard) to captivate and replicate the wonder, imagination and excitement of the games of which it is based on. Across the internet, fans have voiced their likes and dislikes of the show's pilot episode, the latter of which far outweigh any praise. What exactly went wrong? What went right? We'll break it down for you.
What they got right:
The series is off to a rocky start, but that doesn't mean it can't redeem itself as the show evolves. Creatively, the show did get some aspects of Halo right:
- Spartan suit designs - Master Chief looks like Master Chief and the other Spartans looked the part as well. Costumes looked proper.
- Covenant Elites accurately portrayed - The Elites are ruthless and merciless, just like in the games. They're tough to kill and deal a ton of damage.
- Weapons looked right - Weapons from the UNSC's arsenal as well as the Covenant armory all looked exactly how they do in-game.
- Combat scenes were well choreographed - The best parts of the first episode were definitely the combat sequences between UNSC and Covenant forces.
- Some* Visual and Practical Effects - Visually, the sequences involving UNSC Pelicans taking flight, the few moments where Master Chief was CGI, the Covenant ships, Elites, etc... Although there were some VFX sequences that seemed unfinished, most of the large-scale action shots looked great.
Where they dropped the (Odd)ball:
- Poor, lazy Writing - When there isn't any combat or action sequences, the story falls flat and it's difficult to remain engaged.
- Too many politics - The focus on UNSC politics detracts from the excitement and lore and fails to keep any interest.
- Master Chief takes his helmet off - a major letdown, done in such a casual fashion, 20 years worth of mystery behind the helmet washed away in under an hour.
- Terrible new characters - nobody cares about Kwan, yet she remains one of the series' main characters. Her story arc is boring, her dialogue is painful and overall just feels like a bland character to throw into the mix. Alternate timeline or not, a Halo TV series should focus on Master Chief and his turmoil.
- Some effects looked unfinished - If you pay attention, you'll notice some of the practical effects props used in episode 1 weren't actually finished. Paired with a few poor VFX transitions that look ripped out of a PS2 video game, the episode did not feel polished at all.
- Human characters are for the most part, very boring - In the Halo games, even the other Marines and civilians had more engaging dialogue and interactions. This could have easily been the case for the show as well, if the writers ever played any of the games.
- There's a Human in the Covenant - what feels like a cheap cop-out to save on the visual effects budget, in the games, the Covenant despised Humans and saw them as competition. There's no chance the Covenant would bring on a Human to lead them.
- The Halo theme music was altered - No reason for it.
- Showrunners never played Halo.... Not much else needs to be said.
It's evident the people behind this series don't really know much about Halo and its lore. They are trying to establish a new timeline (dubbed the Silver timeline) to avoid acknowledging any of the canonical details which would otherwise make this show way more enjoyable.
The big question now is - who is the Halo TV series for exactly? If it's goal is to cast a wider net and bring in new fans to the franchise who might otherwise not have been avid gamers, sure, but if those new Halo fans get inspired by the show and pick up Combat Evolved for the first time, they'll be so confused by the disconnect. If the show is intended to benefit the hard core fans of this franchise who have been invested in its lore for two decades, then they really have no idea of what they're doing. Either way, it's unclear what the goal of this series is, besides showcasing once again, why Halo's live action adaptations have remained (and should remain) in development hell.
With all that being said, the Halo TV series has already been green-lit for a second season, insinuating Paramount are confident (or at least hopeful) that their use of the Halo IP will captive a wider audience and retain a profitable viewership. Given that fact, we hope Paramount listens to the fans of this beloved franchise and starts doing Halo justice.
Have you watched Halo yet? What were your impressions? Sound off in the comments below!
Episode 2 drops next week!