Disney’s Percy Jackson disappoints

New series fails to live up to high standards of book, capture true bonds of characters; lacks “magic” aspect
2005 beloved book series, Percy Jackson & the Olympians, gets an eight episode series 14 years after the live-action movies first release. While the show gained a lot of traction, it failed to fully recreate the magic captured in the book.
2005 beloved book series, “Percy Jackson & the Olympians,” gets an eight episode series 14 years after the live-action movies first release. While the show gained a lot of traction, it failed to fully recreate the magic captured in the book.
Sophie Leung-Lieu
Percy Jackson and the Olympians (2023) released on Disney+ on Dec. 19.

The beloved fantasy series Percy Jackson, written by Rick Riordan, follows Percy, a demi-god, as he discovers truths about a side of himself he hadn’t realized existed. Readers follow Percy as he grows up facing continuous quests and challenges in a world that always seems to be intent on his demise. Percy Jackson and the Olympians was adapted into a movie, which was released in 2010 starring Logan Lerman. But having been uninvolved in its making, Riordan did not approve of the movie. Riordan advocated for the books to be readapted, and his efforts were realized with the Percy Jackson and the Olympians TV series, which premiered on Dec. 19. 2023, with eight episodes released weekly. This time, Riordan had direct involvement in the production of the series. The show gained major attention, getting 13.3 million views in the first six days of being released, according to Variety.

This TV series had such great potential, already having such a large fanbase due to the books; however, it fell short of many fans’ hopes. It is understandable that filmmakers must change some aspects of a book when they convert it to a film, but like the movie before it, there were so many elements of the books that were missed in the television series. There were countless defining scenes in the book, such as when Percy gets claimed by Poseidon, that didn’t happen the same; in the book, Percy falls in a lake during a battle and is able to use the water to gain strength to win the fight, whereas in the show he gets pushed into the lake after the battle is already over, making the scene less dramatic and not illustrative of how Percy gains strength from water. 

But the problem with the show goes far beyond just a couple of changes to specific scenes. The plot feels very rushed. While it is understandable to keep the adaptation of a book at a swift pace due to the amount of action the adaptation must cover, the show dwells on specific moments and rushes through crucial scenes. Not only does this take away from the plot, but it also makes it confusing.

Percy Jackson (Walker Scobell) prepares to face off against Medusa in episode three of Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Photo by Disney/David Bukach. Photo reposted here under the doctrine of fair use.

Even though I have read the Percy Jackson books countless times, I was sometimes still a bit lost on what was going on in the show. This poor plot speed also takes away from the character development and the developing relationships between Percy, Grover and Annabeth. There is little time the audience is able to see these three build and navigate a friendship because of how rushed the show is. One of the best parts of the book series is the dynamic that these three have, and this could have been portrayed much better in the show, allowing more time in the series for them to develop the chemistry that is so loved in the books.

Every once in a while the lead characters are humanized and show emotion, but these character changes feel out of place because of their rarity throughout the series. Luckily, these moments of vulnerability also reveal the capabilities of the actors, which often doesn’t come through. But the chemistry between the cast is not always there, and it is painfully obvious throughout the series, especially near the beginning and in scenes where there isn’t any action that felt awkward because of the absence of chemistry.

The chemistry between the cast is not always there and it is painfully obvious throughout the series.

While the series could use some work, this is only the first season and its possible that the series might grow into something in later seasons. The books are quite complex, and the series definitely has embraced the idea and spirit of the original. And while it did have many faults, it also had some good moments. A lot of the battle scenes were put together quite well such as Percy’s battle against Ares and his battle against Luke at the end of the series. Even though the acting could use some work, all of the lead actors are still young and will improve their acting skills with experience. Their capabilities need to be put to better use by making the scripts better and making sure that the scripts match the actors’ style. The leads have to ensure they are always putting forth their best performance and are not being held back by some lines that don’t flow.

Even though I enjoyed watching this series because of my love for the books growing up, I was still disappointed with this season. But I am hopeful that if Disney and Riordan make another season following the second book: The Sea of Monsters, and take the feedback into account, the series has the potential to go from being mediocre to a timeless classic.

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  • D

    DakotaApr 7, 2024 at 11:06 am

    This article, like all articles claiming a movie or TV show was a disaster, is completely opinion based. The Percy Jackson TV show on Disney actually has many, many positive reviews. The author of the book gave the writers of the show permission to change details of HIS book, and they were good changes. Rick Riordan was involved in the making of the TV show. Get over the changes that were made and look at everything with a new perspective, not how you thought it should’ve been. You’re not the writer of the show, you’re just a viewer.

  • A

    AnneApr 1, 2024 at 2:33 am

    Beuh the show was lit and went mostly by the book. You can’t expect everything to be the same, that would be copyright which is illegal so if you don’t like it just don’t watch it and I’m pretty sure the show was ment for kids.

  • C

    CyprinMar 28, 2024 at 5:48 pm

    This review was too nice. I knew going in I wasn’t getting a kid born in the 90s humor and perspective, but the age of the characters is so crucial to the continuing plot, so Gen A kids are what’s available. I don’t even care that not everyone looked like what I imagined.

    But MASSIVE details were either changed or left out entirely. The entire Lotus Casino was wrong, Myth-o-Magic is a book 3 concept. WHY WAS KRONONS EVEN MENTIONED? No Stoll brothers, barely any time in camp, Hades was spineless! And that’s just insulting to his actual reputation, Blue Hercules Villain would have been better.

    Since Rick is involved, I expected perfection and while the humor was good, the story was overall lackluster for long time fans due to poor planning and timing. I don’t know if I want to keep watching, but my heart beats for the di Angelo’s and Thalia, so I have hope.

    • D

      DeannaMar 29, 2024 at 1:06 am

      I am actually a whole-hearted fan of how much they were able to include in a short season of only 8 episodes. They should have made it 10 or 12 to work on that character development, but I felt the magic of the books in this instantly in comparison to the sheer disappointment that came from the movie they did before. Nothing is perfect, but if the book WRITER signed off on this, there is no reason for anyone to complain about how the show played out. I never missed the shuttle changes that many directors find necessary to make due to several factors: budget, location, actors, safety laws, content, maturity ratings. The reality is, they did an amazing job of finding a balance between what the book presents and what the show was able to reflect of that.

      • A

        AnneApr 1, 2024 at 2:36 am

        Facts say it how it is and plus money is hard to get you gotta work with what you got

  • P

    PeaceMar 24, 2024 at 11:23 pm

    This entire article is the equivalent of complaining about the texture of baby food. complaining about shit that isn’t created for you, but the next generation of kids who will enjoy this series. Ur actually unproblematic bye 😃