All These Rabbits in ‘Watership Down’ Look The Same

And They All Have British Accents

I was flipping through Netflix, desperately looking for a show that was going to entertain me for the next few hours. I came across Watership Down, a new miniseries based on a novel. Of course I’ve heard of the book. Although I’d never read it, I had a fairly good idea what it was about. I thought to myself, “How the hell are they going to make a good show about rabbits?”

At that point though, I had no other options, so I somewhat begrudgingly turned on the show. I noticed they’d done the majority of Watership Down through computer animation. It looked like something a student would create in a computer-science class. The style worked for the show, though. They were able to give the rabbits emotions and make them do things real rabbits definitely wouldn’t have been able to do, like talking or fighting a bird.

Since it’s based on a classic novel, there’s definitely a deeper message to the show, even though it seems like it’s just about a bunch of rabbits trying to find a home. The rabbits constantly talk about how the humans with machines are the biggest threat, but there’s not anything they can do about it. This is a recurring theme, even though there are few prevalent human characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed Watership Down. With multiple interesting plot lines and good character development, it had all the elements of a well-made, compelling mini-series. The fight scenes were well-done and intense, which is impressive considering that they featured computer-animated rabbits. You actually felt for the characters, or at least the ones you could tell apart from one another. And this leads to the one problem that made Watership Down seriously hard to watch: all the rabbits look the same.

All The Rabbits Look The Same!

One or two of them had some distinct feature, like a mane or a missing eyeball, that set them aside from the rest, but all the other rabbits were exactly the same. Maybe they had lightly-changed sizes or a different shade of brown fur. This pissed me off. There’d be a scene transition and I couldn’t tell who any of the characters in the scene were. It turned into somewhat of a guessing game at times. I’d have to wait for them to say the rabbits’ names.

Their voices didn’t help me tell them apart either. They all just had similar-sounding British accents that left me scratching my head and wondering, “Is this one of the good guys or one of the bad ones?” The voices nearly drove me to insanity at one point. Who was John Boyega? Who was James McAvoy? Why is Nicholas Hoult? Was Rosamund Pike the female rabbit? And why couldn’t I tell any of them apart?

It’s kind of hard to keep up with the plot of a show when the characters are all the same computer-generated rabbit who sounds like Benedict Cumberbatch. Of course in a book, it’s fine to have 50 different rabbits, because they all have names and there are few pictures to confuse the reader. In a TV show, where the majority of the storytelling is done through visual elements, you quickly start to jumble up the rabbits.

Watership Down was a short four episodes, which is honestly the maximum amount of rabbit drama I could bear. It definitely isn’t a masterpiece, or anywhere close to it, with flaws in character design that drastically took away from my experience. If it were any longer than four episodes, I would say it wasn’t worth the time. But if you’re into stories full of scenes of rabbits running frantically through fields and fighting each other, then this will be your favorite show ever. That was definitely the best part.

 

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Elijah Pollack

Elijah Pollack is a high-school student in Austin, Texas. He's the cohost of the Extra Credit podcast on Audible, and has written for Observer.com.

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