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Halo TV show episode 1 review

Halo TV show episode 1 review

The Halo TV series is off to an odd start with clumsy writing and some odd choices.

SerfaSam

After what feels like decades of waiting for an actual Halo TV show or movie, Paramount’s Halo series is finally here. I didn’t immediately jump on board, partially because I had no idea whether the powers at be would be generous enough to allow Australians to sign up and watch and mainly because signing up for yet another streaming service seems to be slowly taking us back to the day of signing up for multiple packages of Foxtel. But I’ve bitten the bullet, signed up, and watched the first episode of Halo, and I’ve got some thoughts.

Let’s not bury the lede or mince words here. So far, I am unimpressed with what I’ve been watching. As a long-time Halo aficionado, writing that pains my soul. There are a multitude of problem I’m having with the show and the all kind of revolve around the presentation of Master Chief, his team, and the writing.

As far as Master Chief goes, the Mjolnir armor looks great. This massive Spartan-II looks imposing standing – and even sitting – next to other humans. They’ve also maned to nail the head-to-body size ration, which is often where a lot of costumes fail. I am, however, irked that we see Chief’s face in the first episode. I think waiting for a more dramatic moment or just plain avoiding showing Schreiber’s face like Wilson from Home Improvement would have added a nod to the games.

But one element of Chief’s armor made me recoil in horror, and that was the first-person perspective with the radar, grenade count and the Assault Rifle to boot. It feels so forced and doesn’t really add a whole lot to the experience of Chief’s power. In fact, the narrow field of view actually made it feel claustrophobic and limiting, and I’m not entirely certain that was the intention.

Aside from that, Chief’s movement throughout the scenes, fighting or otherwise, does seem to imitate the rigid nature of the military and John’s robotic nature. In saying this, there looks to be a great flow to the action as the Spartan’s work together to kill any Elites they encounter.

Where the whole experience starts to fall down is with the narrative. For some reason, the show is starting in the midst of the Covenant war, prior to the destruction of Reach, and before the discovery of Halo. There’s no initial discovery of the Covenant forces, no introduction of the Spartan-II program, no easing in to the grand narrative like there is with Apple TV’s Foundation.

Furthermore, the lack of iconic characters from the books and games is glaring oversight. For starters, who the hell is Riz, Vannak, and Kai? Why is it called Silver Team? What happened to Linda, Kelly and Fred? And most importantly, where is Mendez and Johnson?

All of this pales in comparison to the clumsy writing. To set the scene, the Spartans arrive at a colonist compound to fight a squad of Covenant Elites. The only survivor is a young girl, who Chief takes with him. Miranda Keyes requests that the girl make a propaganda video, praising the Spartans, and when she refuses, Chief is given the order to kill the girl. The whole exchange is clunky and formulaic, where the outcome of the scene is exactly as you would expect.

At this point, we’ve got Chief basically going rogue in the first episode, an event that is happening far too early compared to the timeline of the games. So while Chief struggles with refusing a direct order for the first time, Miranda talks with her dad, Jacob. The exchange is as follows:

“We’re murdering a teenage girl and I’m complicit.” Says Miranda.
“We’re in a war, Miranda. The future of humanity–” Replies Jacob.
“What’s the point in saving humanity if we’re going to give up our own?” Says Miranda.

It’s too early in the season to be throwing around such on-the-nose lines. I think the audience could have figured out the age old theme of losing humanity to save society without having a main character literally speak the words.

And it all just kind of continues from there. Really, at no point, does a scene challenge the viewer to think about what’s going on or call into question the motivations behind characters. It feels rather surface level, which isn’t what I would expect from a Hollywood writer’s room, especially following other fantastic sci-fi shows like Foundation (I also hear The Expanse is quite good).

There’s still hope for an interesting story to come of this, but I think the moment-to-moment exchanges between characters has reached its depth. One element that I hope eventuates into something worthwhile is the human living among Covenant society.

If you’re a fan of Halo, you’re likely going to be of two minds about this: more forgiving of the problems because it’s Halo and more Halo is always great and more critical of this, because you know the franchise well.

Review for
Halo TV Series
5
5
Pros

Armor looks cool

A new Halo story

Cons

Ham-fisted and on-the-nose dialogue

Who the heck is Silver Team?

First-person shots are weird

No Halo yet

From The Chatty
  • reply
    April 10, 2022 8:18 PM

    As a long-time Halo fan, it’s tough to be confronted with Halo content that should be a clear win, but is instead a bit of let-down.

    Read more: Halo TV show episode 1 review

    • reply
      April 10, 2022 8:31 PM

      I liked it which kind of surprised me

      • reply
        April 10, 2022 8:37 PM

        Awesome! I'm really glad it's being enjoyed, as I do want more, despite not really *loving* it.

        • reply
          April 10, 2022 8:43 PM

          I would have liked a different Master Chief actor though. I guess he fine but the dude who plays Reacher would have been perfect

    • reply
      April 10, 2022 8:34 PM

      [deleted]

    • reply
      April 10, 2022 11:56 PM

      After all the internet banter I expected it to be absolutely awful and only checked it out to laugh at how bad it is. Instead I've been pleasantly surprised by how much I like it. Its downright not awful.

    • reply
      April 11, 2022 1:50 AM

      [deleted]

    • reply
      April 11, 2022 4:08 AM

      Im enjoying it. The lore changes they’ve made make sense for producing a story that works on tv.

    • reply
      April 11, 2022 9:31 AM

      It seems best described as a spiritual predecessor to the Halo: Combat Evolved user manual rather than an adaptation of the story at large from any game or even the established cannon.

      I agree with the script. It feels like a YA novel level of dialogue, which is very odd juxtaposed against the on-screen vaporization of children lol.

      I'm sticking with it because visually it's all there, and at the end of the day I just want dumb 'splosions and cool action and it looks like this will deliver.

      • reply
        April 11, 2022 4:20 PM

        That's basically my motivation as well. I'm here because it's Halo, and though I am finding issue with things, I'm enjoying it because it's Halo.

    • reply
      April 11, 2022 11:56 AM

      I think the direction of the show helps keep it fresh and not predictable. The main thing they nailed I think are the aesthetics and I particularly like how brutal combat against the Covenant would be. That latter part surprised me.

      Overall they lean more on the books as a source than the games. There are some books the show has borrowed.

      So far only seen the first episode. I just got a free month of Paramount Plus using code TARGET30 which worked for the premium tier and mine was an existing account too.

    • reply
      April 11, 2022 12:03 PM

      There is no point in watching. It's about 10 years too late and the writers took too many creative liberties. It doesn't fit in with the games we all knew and played.

      Halo is a dead fucking franchise and it has been for a number of years now.

    • reply
      April 11, 2022 12:04 PM

      Episodes 2 and 3 are better than 1, IMO. It's not an amazing show by any means, but I'll keep watching it.

      • reply
        April 12, 2022 6:10 PM

        Oh for sure, I hope I'm not being misread as saying I won't keep watching it.

        I will continue to watch the Halo TV show in hopes that it gets better and better! I'm enjoying it as a bit of gratuitous TV viewing.

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