The Wheel of Time season 2 embraces the excitement of the fantasy genre, with the high bar set by other shows adding to the anticipation and expectations of the audience.
The Wheel of Time stands out among the current influx of fantasy TV shows by offering a captivating escape into the rich world crafted by Robert Jordan. With a multitude of characters and a steadfast dedication to staying true to the books, it guarantees a promising future.
As the show garners better audience reviews, the creative team behind season 2 of The Wheel of Time has made adjustments based on fan feedback and competition from other fantasy TV shows. Inspired by Robert Jordan's novel series of the same name, the show follows a group of women with mystical powers who believe that one of five young villagers may be the reincarnation of a powerful channeler capable of either saving or destroying the world. Season 2 takes place some time after the events of the first season, with the group dispersed across the world while Moiraine (played by Rosamund Pike) faces the challenge of losing her powers.
In preparation for the show's return, Screen Rant visited the set of The Wheel of Time season 2 and had an exclusive conversation with director Thomas Napper and director/executive producer Sanaa Hamri. When discussing the modern fantasy TV genre and the influence of fan feedback and the larger television landscape on the new season, the duo acknowledged that these factors were "briefly" taken into consideration. However, they emphasized that author Robert Jordan's unique universe played a significant role, allowing them to maintain a distinct vision for the show. Here's what Napper and Hamri had to say about it:
Thomas Napper: In my opinion, it's an incredibly exciting time to be involved in this genre. Seeing the remarkable work being produced by other companies only adds to the thrill of working on this show. It sets a high standard and raises the expectations of the audience. However, it's important to note that Robert Jordan's universe is in a league of its own. With 5,400 named characters spread across 14 books, this is a vast world. Our primary focus is to bring the Wheel of Time books and scripts to life as faithfully as possible.
Sanaa Hamri: The key is to stay true to our vision and create the best possible product. Comparisons to other shows are irrelevant, especially in the high fantasy realm. There are countless dramas, cop shows, comedies, and various other types of shows available for viewers. Each offers a unique experience, and that's what matters. In today's world, people yearn for an escape from reality, and Wheel of Time provides that opportunity to immerse oneself in Robert Jordan's captivating world.
Editor's Note: This article was created amidst the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, and the production discussed in this piece would not have come to fruition without the collective efforts of the writers and actors belonging to both unions.
Fantasy TV Is Currently At Its Peak
The changes made for The Wheel of Time season 2 are evidently paying off for the show, despite Napper and Hamri advising against excessive contemplation of competition and feedback. With its first two episodes premiering on September 1, the show currently maintains a robust 76% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes. This does represent a slight decrease from the "Certified Fresh" 81% rating that season 1 achieved; however, it also demonstrates the show's consistent longevity. Conversely, audiences have expressed much more enthusiasm for The Wheel of Time season 2, as indicated by an impressive 89% score, which is nearly 30 points higher than season 1's 60%.
In the past year, the fantasy genre has experienced a resurgence on streaming platforms during the two-year gap between seasons. It started with House of the Dragon in August 2022, followed by The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power in September. House of the Dragon premiered on HBO before HBO Max, while The Rings of Power had a massive debut on Prime Video with over 25 million viewers worldwide within the first 24 hours. However, subsequent reports revealed that only 37% of US viewers and 45% of international viewers completed season 1 of The Rings of Power. Despite this, Jennifer Salke, the head of Amazon Studios, considered the show a success internally.
Both House of the Dragon and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power have been renewed for a second season. The latter has even set its sights on a five-season run, indicating that fantasy TV is at its peak once again since the conclusion of Game of Thrones in 2019. Although it's unclear how The Wheel of Time compares in terms of viewership to its competitors, the creative team's commitment to staying true to the original work and Robert Jordan's novels provides some reassurance about the show's potential future.