tv show: neverwhere

neil gaiman's neverwherei ordered this off amazon, and had it sit on my shelf for quite a while. having decided to use my sunday as a complete rest day, i thought it would be the perfect time to pop this on the dvd player as well.

a bit of a backgrounder;

neil gaiman’s NEVERWHERE was a television series in the UK filmed and aired back in the mid-90’s. according to neil gaiman, he decided to write the book when he saw that the television series wasn’t the series he imagined it to be. in not as many words.

the story follows richard mayhew, a paper-pusher whose life suddenly takes a turn to the fantastical when he meets the bloodied door. door is a person, in fact, she’s a sort-of royalty in london below. london below is a whole different city that co-exists with the london we’re familiar with, except no one really pays any attention to london below. save for the unnoticeables.

richard mayhew is an all-around nice guy, whose life is taken from him when he decides to help door. to find out how to take his life back, he decides to follow door into the london below, and joins her journey to avenge her family’s death, so he could learn how to return to the life he used to lead.

that’s the basics of the plot without revealing too much away.

now, the television series pretty much tells the same story as the novel that came out because of it. there are a few changes, but that’s to be expected as books generally don’t have the budget constraints that tv shows have. but the biggest difference that concerned me was this: NEVERWHERE the television series was underwhelming, while the book was an amazing read.

yes, television or film can never trump the magic of the imagination. but there are films, like THE LORD OF THE RINGS, or even like HARRY POTTER, who manages to have the magic of the book even without following the series faithfully. NEVERWHERE looked and felt like a really bad daytime soap opera.

i think my younger sister, who watched it with me, said it best: if she hadn’t read the book, she would’ve never been interested in watching the television series.

the biggest problem, in my opinion, with the television version of NEVERWHERE is the fact that for the story to feel as magical as it does in the book, london the city has to look different. it has to look more dangerous, bigger than life, while at the same time maintaining the familiarity of the city. the television series didn’t do that. also, there were way too much interior shots, and the exterior shots we get felt very gratuitous. the story could’ve been set anywhere, when london the city should’ve been a character in itself.

my thought though is, if the team of today’s DOCTOR WHO were to remake NEVERWHERE, they’d do a much better job at it. and i would watch it, without fear that the material would feel less magical.

then again, i had known that the production values of NEVERWHERE was outstandingly awful–as i’ve read online, but i still decided to buy it. having watched it, i’d probably do the same. NEVERWHERE the television series is really something you should watch, if only to appreciate the book version more.


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