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The Two Characters Fans Want To See The Most On BBC's The Watch

Terry Pratchett's Discworld series is a weird and remarkable thing. With 41 novels and over 80 million copies sold, they should represent an easy mark for film and television producers, but the strangeness of the subject matter has historically put the denizens of Ankh-Morpork and the surrounding areas at odds with the studio system. Pratchett used to delight in telling fans about a proposed movie adaptation of his book Mort, which tells the story of Death's new apprentice. According to him, the studio loved everything about it, except for "the Death angle."

With that in mind, The Watch had a steep hill to climb when it debuted on the BBC in January of 2021, especially after Discworld fans seriously weren't happy about the first trailer. The first live-action adaptation of the Discworld series in over a decade, it represented a bold step toward a larger franchise, and fan expectations were both high and seriously unmet. Reactions to the premiere episodes landed with a rough thud. Three days after it first aired, The Watch boasted a 4% audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics pointing out that the show's target demo was longtime readers, the kind that would be particularly critical of any changes to the source material. 

Now, a few vocal Discworld devotees have hit Reddit with their reads on where the show went wrong, and a pair of absent characters seem to be at the heart of some grievances. It's all summed up by one exuberantly punctuated post to the /r/discworld forum: "No Colon and Nobby?!"

Discworld fans are up in arms about Nobby and Colon's absence

Fred Colon and Nobby Nobs: two of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch's most recognizable members who, despite the laws of morphic resonance, are each more absent from BBC's The Watch than the other.

Colon and Nobby made several appearances in the Discworld novels, generally not displaying the sorts of character traits that you look for in a hero. Nobby chain-smoked, stole, and spoke his mind, while Colon facilitated, his days punctuated by cartoonish ineptitude. Sort of a greasy, fantasy world Laurel and Hardy, they were — by the recollection of Redditors — somewhat problematic. One user even backed the decision to abandon them, labeling the duo "decidedly unwoke" and insisting that "The show's producers did the correct woke thing. They cut them out as if they never existed."

The absence of these stalwart lawmen is far from the only liberty that The Watch takes with its source material. Genders have been swapped and storylines abandoned, on top of a perceived tonal shift in the decidedly punkier imagining of the Disc. It can't help that the late Pratchett's daughter described the series as sharing "no DNA" with the original stories. 

Whether the show will move in a more hubward direction as time goes on remains to be seen.