'Twas a few nights before Christmas when Netflix dropped both The Witcher and the ball.
With the pop culture dominating Game of Thrones now fading into a disappointing memory the heat is on to recapture the public's imagination with more of the same.
Which explains why Netflix wanted to race ahead and get a premium television adaptation of a popular fantasy book series out before anyone else. And I also understand the argument for releasing it in the parts of the world where winter has come and houses are covered in decorations and snow leaving everyone trapped inside for a few festive days.
Press play, binge away and feast like kings on Christmas leftovers.
But here, in our bright little corner of the world, who wants to be inside watching telly when you could be outside soaking in these hot, summery nights? Me, actually. If I'm being honest. But a family roadtrip to see and stay with the extended family in a couple of popular New Zealand holiday hot spots ended any delusions of television I'd been fostering.
It was only this week that I got back to life, back to reality and back to work. The remote got dusted off, the TV got flicked on and the first few episodes of The Witcher finally got watched.
So is The Witcher the Game of Thrones slayer we were promised and that Netflix desperately wanted?
But Game of Thrones wasn't Game of Thrones right away either. It took a little time for people to start talking and the buzz to start buzzing about this crazy, politically intriguing new show that was filled with backstabbings, betrayals, beheadings, buckets of blood, an abundance of boobs and oh-so-much grim death for the word of Westeros to spread.
Netflix clearly got the memo on the blood, boobs and grim death part, as episode one of The Witcher is a literal cornucopia of those three things. There's even a shock major death like the fate that befell GoT's Ned Stark.
But the hype, which was palpable pre-launch, has passed by. It's not even been a month since launch and there's not much chatter. Aside from the odd meme-flavoured remix of the show's breakout song, 'Toss a Coin to Your Witcher,' the show hasn't had much impact. And even that song is dwarfed by the full force, star power of The Mandalorian's meme-centric phenomenon Baby Yoda.
In this instance Netflix's commitment to the binge and strategy of dumping a full season at once doesn't appeared to have paid off. It's great for the impatient who no doubt blazed through its eight episodes in a couple of sittings but it hasn't done its pop cultural impact any favours. Rather than interest being piqued, teased and cultivated weekly for two months, Netflix instead got a week of attention out of it before the world moved on.
By comparison look at the weekly release strategy Disney+ followed for their premium action-adventure series, the aformentioned The Mandalorian. The drip feed of episodes allowed people time to talk and hype to grow. By the time the final episode dropped the audience, appetite and attention for the show had grown considerably.
But back to The Witcher. On its shiny, armour plated surface all of the Game of Thrones' boxes are ticked. The characters all have unpronounceable names, there's swords and sorcery and you better believe the nudity is gratuitous. No dragons, yet, but the series opens with our hero Geralt fighting a very large, very scary, spider-type creature.
From there the show rushes to build its fantasy world. As its based on a series of novels there's plenty to build off, but as there's only eight episodes in this season and people's attention spans are shot these days it does so a blinding pace. There's three main stories to keep track of and all of them left me momentarily confused at one point or another. I didn't know who was invading a kingdom or why, I didn't know if Geralt was in that kingdom or a different one, and I didn't know why two characters started pashing up after displaying all of zero chemistry or previous interest in each other.
But, curiously enough, none of that hampered my enjoyment of the show and it didn't really matter. The show's almost campy fun, which I don't think is the vibe they were going for but it's what they ended up with. And there's certainly a lot to like; the extremely brutal and bloody swordfighting, the creature designs, especially whatever the elf/goat dude was. There's lols and corny dialogue and it's kept me entertained even without being 100 per cent invested.
I wouldn't say it's the Game of Thrones killer Netflix were wishing for, but The Witcher is still worth a watch. Unless, of course, it's nice out.