Next summer, in London, someone not named Daniel Radcliffe will take the stage to embody the Boy Who Lived in the new play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. If the thought of anybody but Daniel Radcliffe playing Harry Potter sounds weird to you, don’t worry: it sounds weird to him, too. But we can no longer stay beholden to Radcliffe’s Potter portrayal, because the true home for the story of Harry Potter belongs on television.
Radcliffe told Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live that he wouldn’t play Harry Potter again, but that “it would be very weird to see someone else play him.” And while he’s right—it is going to be strange; Daniel Radcliffe is Harry Potter, and a damn good one at that—it’s time for all of us to get over it. Especially because the Harry Potter movies weren’t all that great.
J.K. Rowling has previously stated that Harry-on-TV won’t happen, but why? The books work as a serial far better than they ever worked—or will work—as a collection of standalone movies. The world-building is just too vast for a few hours worth of movies. With each book being a self-contained mystery that ultimately works towards a greater story, they line up perfectly for a TV show. Plus a series would allow the ever-praised levels of complexity and details from the books to not be lost in the adaptation.
I hate to say it, but as a Harry Potter fan that loves the books, the stories, and the overwhelming majority of performances in the movies, the films do not accomplish the aforementioned complexity. There might be one that I’d call “good” (Half-Blood Prince), and one or two that rank as “okay” (Deathly Hallows Part 2 and the first half of Prisoner of Azkaban), but the rest range from bad to terrible.
Which isn’t to say that they weren’t perfectly cast. Alan Rickman is the embodiment of Snape, and you couldn’t find a better Ron and Hermione than Rupert Grint and Emma Watson. It would actually be easier to list the performances you don’t think are fantastic, and even then, few, if any, are bad.
My own desires for a televised series are decidedly selfish: I want to see so much more from the books make it onto my screen. I want to see Kreacher cry; I want to see every flashback to Voldermort’s past; I want to see Neville’s mother giving him a bubblegum wrapper. The books are full of these powerful, wonderful moments, and these two-hour installments offered by the big screen weren’t enough to include them all.
Yes, the Harry Potter movies gave us wonderful portrayals, but not wonderful stories. A Harry Potter television series would have a chance to be as good as the books. We shouldn’t give up on doing this right, as the books mean too much to too many. Even if it’s strange for all of us to think about someone else playing Harry, it would be stranger to pass on an opportunity to make something great.
Image Credit: Warner Brothers