Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The TV Series Is An Improvement

Disney's "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" stars Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson, Leah Sava Jeffries as Annabeth, and Aryan Simhadri as Grover. (Disney)

Following a pair of feature films, Rick Riordan’s best-selling book series is getting a new adaptation in Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

The author did not play such a key role in the development of the earlier films. He’s not just an executive producer on the TV series but he also created it and writes some of the scripts. One thing to take away from the series is that it’s not completely rehashing the earlier film in the same way. Obviously, there are similar plot developments in the adaptation of The Lighting Thief but this was to be expected. I think the changes are something that fans will also appreciate. And again, the fact that Riordan is more involved is proof enough that the series will be more faithful.

It’s already a key win that they are telling the story in a series format rather than film. Storytelling is at a different place in 2023 than it was back in 2010. The series format is what will allow Riordan and company to better develop characters on screen. After watching the first two episodes, I can honestly understand complaints about the earlier films. However, I will say that the series suffers from a similar problem as the live-action Star Wars series: inconsistent run-times. I’ll defer to series co-creators Rick Riordan and Jonathan E. Steinberg as they certainly have their own vision. Anyway, the plan is to adapt at least five books assuming Disney gives the greenlight.

Much like the films, the series introduces us to Percy Jackson (Walker Scobell), Annabeth Chase (Leah Sava Jeffries), and Grover Underwood (Aryan Simhadri). They will be the main trio that we follow through Percy’s quest in finding the lightning bolt and returning it to Zeus. The first episode sees Percy beginning to learn who he really is. After being expelled upon attacking a classmate at the MET, Sally Jackson (Virginia Kull) drops the bombshell: Percy is a demigod and monsters are hunting him. The only place safe for Percy is to be at Camp Half-Blood. It’s not just a safe haven but also a training ground. Unlike the films, Percy has no idea who his father is at this point. Meanwhile, Capture the Flag plays very differently than the films.

Percy is 12 years old in the first book, younger than actor Logan Lerman (17) in the 2010 film. The aging up of the trio was the first place that the filmmakers strayed away from source material. Scobell and Lerman might be portraying the same character but Riordan was more involved with the series than the films, which he probably dislikes even more than the facts. Despite changes from how characters were described, Riordan responded to racism from the fan base. Never mind the fact that the film had budget issues, which doomed its special effects, not to mention rewriting key moments from the books. I’m glad that Riordan decided to give Hollywood another chance because fans are going to be all the better for it. If the series is able to survive the Disney+ budget cuts, fans will be even happier.

Rick Riordan became something of a literary sensation overnight with the creation of Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Yes, this series also follows three teenagers in its storytelling. A big difference is that Riordan also supports those of us who are LGBTQ. For that, I’m grateful. In any event, I’m curious to see what other ways that the series will differ from the films in its approach.

The fact that author Rick Riordan is involved with the TV series adaptation of Percy Jackson and the Olympians should be reason enough to give the series a chance.

CREATORS: Rick Riordan & Jonathan E. Steinberg
SHOWRUNNERS: Jonathan E. Steinberg, Dan Shotz
DIRECTOR: James Bobin (1-2)
WRITERS: Rick Riordan & Jonathan E. Steinberg (1-2)
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Jonathan E. Steinberg, Dan Shotz, Rick Riordan, Rebecca Riordan, Ellen Goldsmith-Vein, Bert Salke, Jeremy Bell, D.J. Goldberg, James Bobin, Jim Rowe, Monica Owusu-Breen, Anders Engström, Jet Wilkinson
CAST: Walker Scobell, Leah Sava Jeffries, Aryan Simhadri
GUEST STARS (1): Megan Mullally, Virginia Kull, Timm Sharp, and Glynn Turman
GUEST STARS (2): Jason Mantzoukas, Charlie Bushnell, Dior Goodjohn, Jason Gray-Stanford, and Glynn Turman

Disney+ will premiere Percy Jackson and the Olympians with two episodes on December 20, 2023. New episodes will air weekly. Episodes 1-2: Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.