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The Watch: BBC's Terry Pratchett adaptation rocks out with first teaser and deathly clips

By Josh Weiss
Death The Watch

The Watch, the BBC TV adaptation of Terry Pratchett's famous Discworld novels, brought its first rockin' teaser to this year's New York Comic Con. Set in a fantasy world chock-full of contemporary wit and general absurdity, the show will premiere on BBC America sometime in January 2021. Game of Thrones' Richard Dormer leads the cast as Captain Sam Vimes, leader of the City Watch, a band of dysfunctional misfits trying to save their city (a place where crime is legal via certain guilds) from catastrophe.

"The world that [Terry] wrote ... is so warped and upside down and off its axis," writer/showrunner Simon Allen said during the virtual NYCC panel hosted by Yvette Nicole Brown. "This city is ruled over by a dictator, who largely uses sarcasm more than anything else." Touching on how the rampant crime affects the protagonists, he said: "It pushes them further into the margins — it means they're impotent and can't do anything. The story is about how they fail and fumble and comedy their way through the margins of this world into the center. They begin to realize they can do more than just watch." 

"We've sort of said, 'Well, look — our show is in the corner of this little multiverse,' and we've been able to do something unique and original with that," executive producer Richard Stokes added. "We're incredibly proud of it and we can't wait for an audience to see it."

Watch the teaser trailer below:

Allen and Stokes also showed off a number of different clips, one of which sees Vimes meeting the physical embodiment of Death, who is voiced by Jack Ryan's Wendell Pierce. It sets up a Good Omens-y relationship, which makes sense when you remember that Pratchett co-wrote that book with Neil Gaiman.

Death constantly "gets mixed up with our heroes quite a lot because they're always in near-death situations and he turns up to kind of collect their souls," Allen explained. "And then they get themselves out of it and he's like, 'What?! You're messing with my schedule!' He's this grumpy, comedy [version of] Death, who is absolutely amazing."

You can watch that scene (and two others) below:

"It's a story about hope in the face of helplessness," Allen continued. "But it is also a completely insane, demented, absurd, righteous, comedy romp. ... It's a show that's got so many things in it that have never been done before and never been seen before," Allen continued. "It has an energy that's hopeful and joyful and unique. I think if you give it a shot, you'll end every episode feeling up rather than down and feeling like maybe you can do something on your watch, too."

The Watch also stars Lara Rossi as Lady Sybil Ramkin, the last scion on nobility; Adam Hugill as the naive yet heroic Carrot; Marama Corlett as the mysterious Angua; and Jo Eaton-Kent as forensics expert Cheery. 

Paul Kaye, Ralph Ineson, Sam Adewunmi, Anna Chancellor, James Fleet, Ingrid Oliver, Ruth Madeley, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, and Bianca Simone Mannie help round out the cast.

Watch the full panel below:

Click here for SYFY WIRE's full coverage of New York Comic Con 2020.