It's taken nine years, but the Halo TV series is finally here, and it's not streaming on Netflix but on rival service Paramount Plus instead.
Paramount Plus showed off the first two Halo episodes off this week at the SXSW festival, and it'll be available to stream on the service from March 24. And excitingly - and worryingly for Netflix - the early word says that Paramount may have a Halo-shaped hit on its hands.
The show isn't a straight retelling of the game story, which is just as well: in my case that would involve a lot of rage-quitting after enduring verbal abuse from eight-year-olds. But it appears that for maximum enjoyment you're going to need at least some knowledge of the game or of its spin-off lore, because if you don't there's very little in the way of explanation: you're told that humans and the alien Covenant are in an epic war, and that's about it. That does mean it gets off to a quick start, but if you're coming cold to the franchise you may end up wondering what the hell is going on.
Paramount Plus has also dropped a second Halo trailer, which you can watch below.
Chief and cheerful
The people who have watched the Halo TV show have had mixed opinions on how it deals with the Halo fiction, but the most marked thing about the commentary so far is how positive or well-received the show is, as too how epic it is. Darren Scott, Editor of SFX magazine, for example said that:
Loved #HaloTheSeries - I’m a complete newbie to the franchise as I’m not a gamer, so as a sci-fi action series it’s giving me everything I want so far! Watch on the biggest screen you can!#ParamountPlus pic.twitter.com/sBrhIRK9LbMarch 14, 2022
There's also been some negative reaction, too, but that's largely been based on how the show redesigns Cortana.
If the negative fan reaction to the show's different Cortana is anything to go by, though, the Halo series is going to be divisive no matter how good it is – and there is some legitimate criticism of the two episodes so far, in particular some shonky-looking CGI in the action scenes and clumsy writing in the second episode. But a lot of the reviewers I'm seeing on social media are basically saying the same thing: it's not the Halo they expected, but it's a welcome addition to the franchise.
Rather than keep the Master Chief as the cipher he is in the games, the Halo TV show attempts to make him more human and relatable than just a big, gruff guy in a green metal suit.
Personally I'm just happy to see the Chief make it to the screen: I've been hoping for a fun Halo movie or show since Neill Blomkamp got us all exited at the prospect way back in 2007. If you haven't seen it, we've included it below.
What's most interesting about Halo looking like a hit is that it could end up being a watermark show in tempting people to subscribe to Paramount Plus, as the service's range of originals is really starting to grow and its movie and TV library content also impressive. Paramount Plus also grants access to watch live sports, too, which in contrast is something that Netflix does not do.
Indeed, T3's Deputy Editor Robert Jones recently considered cancelling Netflix in order to subscribe to Paramount Plus, and shows like Halo are only going to strengthen the case for making that switch.
Obviously, in an ideal world everyone would be able to subscribe to every streaming service, but with the cost of living skyrocketing in 2022 that is not feasible for many people. And that's why big shows dropping on rival services is bad news for Netflix, as it is going to if anything accelerate losing of subscribers, which has been marked at the start of this year. It's clear Netflix is going to need new big hit shows of its own to buck the trend.
Here at T3 we're now just counting down the days to March 24, when we can get stuck into the Halo TV series ourselves.