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Watership Down is an adult animated action adventure-drama fantasy thriller miniseries directed by Noam Murro. It is based on the 1972 novel of the same name by Richard Adams and adapted by Tom Bidwell. It was released on 22 December 2018 in the United Kingdom and internationally on Netflix the next day. The BBC broadcast comprised two back-to-back episodes per day.

The music video for "Fire on Fire" (from Watership Down) by Sam Smith was released on 21 December 2018.

Cast[]

Soundtrack[]

1. Another Day In Sandleford
2. Fiver's Vision
3. Everyone, Run!
4. That's Our Home
5. Birds
6. Allow Me To Take You To The Great Burrow
7. Frith In A Basket
8. Saving Bigwig
9. Well Done, Hazel-Rah
10. Leave One Alive For Questioning
11. El-Ahrairah
12. General Woundwort
13. Back To Efrafa
14. The Escape
15. Black Branches That Fire
16. The Black Rabbit Of Inlé
17. Clover In The Mist
18. From Hutch Rabbit To King Rabbit
19. Don't Look Up!
20. I'm Going To Take Great Pleasure In Killing You
21. Super 8 Memories
22. Kehaar To The Rescue!
23. Farewell
24. Those Of You Not Loyal To Me...
25. My Name Is Hazel
26. Good Times In Watership Down
27. By Frith I Will Defend It
28. War
29. Goodbye, Captain Holly
30. They're Coming In From Above!
31. Your Plan Is Dangerous Hazel
32. I Fear Nothing
33. Fiver Is Alive!
34. My Leader, My Brother, My Friend
35. Join My Owsla
36. 10,000 Enemies (Emeli Sandé)
37. Fire on Fire (Sam Smith)

Episodes[]

No. Title Directed by Written by Original release date
1 "The Journey" Noam Murro Tom Bidwell 22 December 2018
Concerned by troubling visions his brother Fiver has about an encroaching threat, Hazel and several other rabbits set out in search of a new safe haven.
2 "The Raid" Noam Murro Tom Bidwell 22 December 2018
Efforts to liberate female rabbits to join the new warren lead to trouble for its members. At Hazel's behest, Fiver endures another haunting vision.
3 "The Escape" Noam Murro Tom Bidwell 23 December 2018
The rabbits plan a daring rescue from Efrafa that requires crafty infiltration by Bigwig. Questions arise about loyalty amongst the female captives.
4 "The Siege" Noam Murro Tom Bidwell 23 December 2018
Hazel and the others finally find a place to settle. But General Woundwort and his Efrafa rabbit army launch a costly full-scale attack on the new warren.

Reception[]

Watership Down received generally positive reviews, with praise for the narrative and performances of its voice cast, but receiving criticism for its tone and the quality of the computer animation, described as "soulless" and "clunky". On Rotten Tomatoes, the miniseries has an approval rating of 77% based on reviews from 22 critics, with its critical consensus reading "Though its animation leaves something to be desired, Watership Down is a faithful adaptation that will resonate with viewers of any age." On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 76 out of 100 based on 5 critics, indicating "generally favourable reviews".

The Guardian and The Independent both gave it two stars out of five, calling the production "tame, drab and deeply unsatisfying." and "spectacularly ho-hum – less tooth and claw than head shake."

The Times was more positive, giving it three stars out of five, writing "this was a meaty, lovingly made production that, spread over two days, felt far too long." While the New York Times noted that though the adaptation "fails its potential, it benefits from strong voice performances and a solid central story. Even this easy-listening version, which lays on the romance, jokes and limp dialogue, has moments of grandeur and the sweep of a fantasy epic."

The miniseries won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class Animated Program.

Differences from the book[]

Story differences[]

  • Pipkin, Silver, BuckthornAcorn, Speedwell and Captain Mallow are completely absent.
  • This marks the first time Bluebell has appeared in a screen adaptation.
  • Holly goes to Efrafa with Bluebell and Blackberry (instead of Silver, Buckthorn, and Strawberry) and also goes there of his own accord after being told about it by Kehaar rather than being sent there under Hazel's command and consent.
  • Sandleford is destroyed with mechanical shovels instead of poison gas.
  • Clover and Haystack are the only hutch rabbits to successfully escape. Also, Clover gets captured and taken to Efrafa in this version.
  • After learning of Hazel's location after being shot, Clover goes out and looks for him instead of Fiver.
  • The use of a boat to escape the Efrafan forces is omitted, with the rabbits instead opting to hide inside a nearby human village.
  • Hazel and Clover fall in love while Holly and Hyzenthlay fall in love. In the original novel, these romances where the opposite (Hazel and Hyzenthlay, Holly and Clover)
  • Bigwig falls in love with Strawberry (in this version a doe), instead of with Thethuthinang.
  • Captain Vervain is killed by the train instead of Captain Charlock, who isn't mentioned at all.
  • Captain Orchis has a much larger role, replacing Vervain as the secondary antagonist.
  • The Efrafan Wide Patrol Bigwig accidentally leads a fox onto is being lead by Captain Campion instead of Captain Mallow, who isn't mentioned at all. Bigwig doesn't attempt to warn them and instead runs right through them. Also three members of the patrol (not including Campion) are killed by the fox instead of just one.
  • Holly is killed during the final battle (this is the first adaption where he dies).
  • Captain Campion questions Woundwort's intentions before and during the siege of Watership Down. He betrays his chief at the end by refusing into the Watership Down warren with him and kill the enemy rabbits, declaring that he would rather be a good rabbit than a good soldier, something said to him by Holly. He then leaves with several other deserting Efrafans and is never seen again.
  • Bigwig and General Woundwort don't meet until just before Kehaar attacks the latter.
  • General Woundwort is given a slightly different backstory, his entire family having been massacred by a fox which scarred and blinded his left eye (this is notably the only screen adaption that provides an explanation for Woundwort's blind left eye, a description not given in the original book). The rest of his backstory and his rise to power is not explained, though he reveals to Clover that he briefly lived in a hutch, implying the rest of his story went the way it did in the novel.
  • Woundwort also becomes interested in Clover, partly because she used to be a hutch rabbit like he was (this is the only adaption so far where he shows interest in a doe) and offers to let her become his "queen", indicating he wishes to start a lineage with her. However, he later rejects her offer to be his queen if he stops Hyzenthlay's execution, saying that he is not a rabbit who makes deals.
  • Fiver and Blackavar go with Hazel to lure Bob to Watership Down instead of Dandelion and Blackberry. Despite being the fastest rabbit, Dandelion doesn't help with the raid due to having been injured at the Battle of Watership Down.
  • When Bigwig ambushes Woundwort, he bites and injures the General's hind-leg instead of his foreleg.
  • Instead of Hazel, Fiver is the rabbit that releases Bob before getting caught by Tab and rescued by Lucy.

Character differences[]

  • Despite Dandelion retaining his status as fastest runner, Bluebell is presented as the storyteller for the rabbits (this marks the first adaptation where Dandelion is not the storyteller).
  • Along with being given Dandelion's storytelling abilities, Bluebell also displays a more innocent and timid side to his character, incorporating an absent Pipkin's personality as well.
  • Strawberry and the Black Rabbit of Inlé are portrayed as does instead of bucks.
  • Bob, the Nuthanger farm guard dog, is a Rottweiler instead of a black Labrador.
  • Tab the farm cat doesn't talk.
  • Kehaar is a bit more selfish in this version, as he initially refuses to help the Watership Down rabbits and briefly left them after having believed that his wing had healed.
  • Bigwig is considerably more aggressive and confrontational, showing much less of a softer side than his previous incarnations.
  • Hyzenthlay is far less trusting.
  • General Woundwort is more secluded, as he mostly leaves the running of Efrafa to his officers. He is even more ruthless, as he plans to massacre every rabbit living on Watership Down, unlike in the novel where he intends bring the deserters back to Efrafa. He also kills one of his own soldiers just for questioning him, something he has never done before in previous adaptions. Woundwort also seems to lack the special respect for Campion that he has in previous adaptions.
  • Campion is shown to be more conflicted about his loyalty to Woundwort (much like in the TV series), and is uncomfortable with some of Efrafa's brutal policies, particularly the policy of "marking". As mentioned above, he ultimately betrays Woundwort out of disillusionment, unlike in the novel where he abandons him out of fear when Bob attacks the Efrafans.

Trivia[]

  • Unlike the 1978 movie & TV Series, the miniseries does not include the song "Bright Eyes".
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