Friday, February 9, 2024

Percy Jackson and the Olympians was an all right show and the Greek gods feel like bad boomer parents.

Like many people across the world, I finished watching the Disney+ adaptation of Percy Jackson made from the Rick Riordan series that stars the hero. I've never read the books, but I did see the movies that came out starring Logan Lerman. They were "one watchers" for me back then. I feel pretty much about the same with regard to the series. To clarify, I'm not saying that it isn't entertaining and good. I'm just saying that maybe my tastes lean toward older fare starring older actors and more complicated human dramas. So, I've watched season one once, and I'm looking forward to season two...which I will watch once :).

One of the things that I find so fascinating about the Percy Jackson series is how many young people are just in love with what they are seeing. Their passion is real, and to me, it kinda just looks like the Greek gods were bad boomer parents who (for the most part) were self-obsessed and just left their kids to fend for themselves no matter what happened. So all of these demigods are kind of like latchkey kids of my generation. The only difference is that they are latchkey kids with amazing quests, and magical things that make them seem critical and important. Real latchkey kids had no importance in their parent's eyes and were for the most part, just a liability to building wealth that they could spend on themselves.

But to see young people expressing a desire to actually be a latchkey kid (okay, okay...they are really saying they want to be a demigod) has my head turning a bit. But you only arrive at "latchkey kid" if you take away the obvious wealth and magic of the narrative and drop in lots of "boring" and "chores" and things like that. No one is actually asking for that. But it is still fun to think that a demigod is at least 50% something that many people really lived through, and that in today's world, kids are really coddled as opposed to "you can fend for yourself, and I don't care what you do." There were literally entire days where my mom kicked me out of the house in the summer and told me not to come back until it was dark, and I just wandered everywhere around my small town (I was driving at the age of 13). I wonder sometimes why that isn't acceptable parenting anymore. And that being said, it's obvious that the "Greek Gods" of these shows are just terrible parents and are toxic, like many of the boomers are seen these days. Yet, because of that very trait, it's good for storytelling, and not so good if you have to live through it.

The young adult I'm watching the movies with, a young woman named Moira, has declared that the series is a faithful adaptation of the books. She wants me to read the books but honestly, I don't think I could bring myself to enjoy a book where Medusa sells statuary and makes sandwiches and where Ares rides around on a Harley Davidson. It all just seems too clever to me, which is usually the gut-reaction I get whenever I explore any urban fantasy these days. Someone taking a clever take on something we see everyday like (for example) a red mustang and then relating that to the car that the Incarnation of War drives around (the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse). I've seen so many of those "types of things" that I just can't anymore. But to fresh eyes, they probably seem really clever and smart. To jaded eyes like mine, they just look like cliches.

From a person who has never read the books, here are my observations. First, the casting seems really good. Second, I was surprised at how mundane some of the scenes were. For example, the chimera in the St. Louis arch just kinda was there, and then Percy fell into the water and that was it. We didn't see that creature again. The battle with Medusa was a blink and you'll miss it moment, unlike the big buildup in the movie, The Clash of the Titans. Third, there's more Bear McCreary music scoring. This guy has done the scoring for Rings of Power, Outlander, Black Sails, Foundation, Davinci's Demons, and now Percy Jackson. That's just off the top of my head. He's obviously the modern equivalent of John Williams and by the end of his composition career, he will be recognized as the greatest living composer.

In the final episode, you do get to see Mount Olympus, and I really enjoyed that because it looks gorgeous. Think of what the Thor movies did for Asgard and Disney basically did that for Olympus. 

And that's basically my thoughts on this series. On Monday, I want to talk about Shogun by James Clavell. I'm reading the 1300 page best of a novel right now, and I have some thoughts that I want to express about it before the new miniseries lands at the end of February (it looks epic). 


  1. While "latchkey kid" can often have a negative connotation, it doesn't always mean the parents are neglectful or don't like their offspring. It just sometimes means the parents both have to work (or there might only be one parent) and they can't afford to have someone look after the kids. I was not a latchkey kid since my mom didn't work. Would there have been a big difference if she had worked? I dunno.

    Your reaction to this was kinda like mine to when I read the first Harry Potter. It was fine but I just didn't really care enough to read the other books or watch the movies. I had similar books I loved growing up (Lloyd Alexander's Prydain books mostly) and didn't really need these.

    Bear McCreary is just the TV version of Hans Zimmer. Neither of them is really going to replace John Williams when it comes to iconic theme songs. The thing about Williams's most iconic themes is they're very hummable. I mean you can easily hum Star Wars, Superman, Indiana Jones, and Jurassic Park. I can get them stuck in my head for hours. While I like the stuff a lot of these other guys like Zimmer, McCreary, Ludwig Gorannson(sp?) do it's not really something you can hum while you're driving or whatever.

  2. They're redoing Shogun?!?! Oh my. I don't know if my heart can handle that.

    This generation's kids might appreciate the whole latchkey thing because they've lived the opposite. They got more helicopter parents than we did. Just like we might have appreciated a more hands-on approach, they would like more freedom. (I wasn't so much a latchkey kid. I never felt neglected either.)

    1. @Liz: Yes, "Shogun" has been redone and it looks crazy good. Check out my post on Monday, and I'll talk more about it.

  3. Agree it was a one and done watch. Bit too much angst. Like you, I'd like to see more mature fantasy. When does season two of House of the Dragon drop again?

    1. @Alex: It's scheduled to come out in the summer. That's all I know.