[WARNING: Contains minor spoilers for the first season of Willow.] Look, I wanted to like Willow, I really did. On paper, the series had everything going for it. It had Warwick Davis returning for new adventures. Joanne Whaley’s Sorsha would make an appearance. The series would tie to and make the original 1980’s epic fantasy film relevant for a new generation of fans. What could possibly go wrong? A lot, it turns out. So much, in fact, that not only did the series fall flat, Disney has not yet committed to producing a second season. So where did things go awry?

Willow; DIsney+
Image: Disney

To answer that question one need look no further than the show’s writing. Inexplicably, the show’s writers decided to “modernize” the dialogue, juxtaposing modern, teen slang against the fantastical setting of the Willow universe. I’m not alone in my opinion that doing so was an utter and complete failure. I’d expect terms like “sleazoid” and phrases like “where you at” from a CW production… Not in the sequel series to one of the most beloved fantasy movies of the eighties. One review I came across somewhere (apologies, I can no longer find the citation), importantly from a fifteen year-old girl, perfectly summed up the issue:

“It’s like this was written by adults who’ve never actually met a teenager. Most of us don’t talk like that and we can’t stand the ones who do. Why would they think we’d want to watch a show about them?”

A fair question, indeed.

Willow fails to live up to the original

Willow (Warwick Davis) smiles here, but he was barely an afterthought in his own series. (Image: Disney)

Perhaps a result of the writing, the acting, or both, the series suffers from another major fault. None of the characters, even Willow at times, are remotely likeable, save Erin Kellyman’s Jade. Between Kit’s (Ruby Cruz) incessant brooding, Elora’s (Ellie Bamber) constant whining, Boorman’s (Amar Chadha-Patel) idiocy, and Airk’s (Dempsey Bryk) pretty-boy (surfer dude?) persona, it’s difficult to root for any of the main characters. Even Graydon (the usually dynamic Tony Revolori, who plays Flash in the Sony Spider-Man franchise) came across as stiff and wooden. Do not get me started about the trolls, either.

Perhaps the greatest injustice is the fact that Willow, the titular character, seems like an afterthought in his own series. Other than his presence and some tangential references, there is very little to tie the series to the original film. Yes, Elora Danan is central to the story, but she could be any other orphan with magical powers. Sadly, there’s nothing particularly special that makes this truly feel like a Willow sequel. Rather, it’s just another YA teen romance more befitting the aforementioned CW network than Disney+.

One of, if not the most endearing scenes in Willow. Bring us more Mims! (Image: Disney)

Since Disney has not yet renewed the series, we don’t know if it will get a chance to right some of these wrongs in its sophomore season. If renewed, we hope that the writers take some of the extensive criticism of the show’s first season to heart. Willow didn’t need to smash us over the head with teen angst and kitschy slang. Doing so took away from what otherwise could have been a fun adventure story. Here’s hoping they move past that should it earn a second season.