…would be awesome, right? And here’s how I would do it.
Ever since the third movie, I’ve felt that movies can’t adequately tell the Harry Potter story. The world is too rich. There are too many characters, too many magical creatures, too much backstory. Subplots upon subplots must be left out for time, but this causes confusion and sometimes story changes.
The first two books translated well enough, as they were short and simple stories, but as soon as complexity came in, the overall tale started to suffer. It probably would have been best to make two films each from Azkaban onward.
Still, movies can’t beat television when it comes to telling complex stories, because television has the time to do more. It’s why I’ve all but stopped going to the movies, but still watch TV (though not much, to be honest). It’s why when I’m scanning through Netflix to find something to watch, I usually avoid the movies and look for a series to sink my teeth into. Maybe this says something about a decline in the quality of movies in general; I don’t know. I just know that I like to be engaged with many characters and a deep plot and an interesting setting, and I don’t get enough mental stimulation from most movies.
In any case, I’ve long thought Harry Potter should be done as an animated series with 30-minute episodes. I’d prefer some really pretty anime art, but the brilliant Iron Man: Armored Adventures has me reconsidering the potential of CGI 3D cel-shading. Regardless of how it’s animated, it needs to look beautiful and magical. (This was one thing that kind of felt off to me about the Harry Potter films; many things that should have been beautiful were not, including the centaurs. The mermaids were supposed to be fearsome, of course, but that doesn’t mean everything had to be frightening.)
The series would have a team of regular writers, and, assuming she wanted a hand in it, J.K. Rowling would be the producer, and she’d sign off on all the story concepts. In general the main plots would follow the books pretty much to the letter. We’d get to see all the scenes we’ve imagined, maybe not the way we imagined them, but in a new and interesting way.
There would also be some original one-off episodes thrown into the mix. I’d let the writing team write some of these, but I’d also woo guest writers, people who’ve written good stuff for other shows, and just see what they might do for Harry Potter. Rowling would have to have veto power, but I imagine she’d be open to some different interpretations and situations for her characters, and would only speak up if she felt like a writer had misunderstood a character. These one-offs would be stand-alone; they could not affect overall continuity in any major way (although minor effects would be fine, and background characters could get more spotlight. Wouldn’t you love “A Day in the Life of Luna Lovegood”?).
Story arcs would flow from the canon material pretty naturally. I’m not sure how the episodes would break up into seasons, since the books are all different lengths, but this is something the writers could discuss and figure out. The original episodes could help with padding a season out when needed. Also, just because the series would be following the books wouldn’t necessarily mean there couldn’t be expanded flashback episodes. I’d love to see a story arc about Dumbledore, a story arc about Snape, a story arc about James and Lily, a story arc about Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs. Even the diary flashback about Tom Riddle from The Chamber of Secrets could be expanded into an episode, or perhaps worked into a longer series about Tom Riddle and Voldemort that would go with the Half-Blood Prince episodes. Following Harry’s story doesn’t mean the series would have to only follow him. Maybe some of the original episodes could spend more time with Hermione. The possibilities are endless.
The point would be a robust series, with a known beginning and end, and a lot of known stuff in the middle, but then plenty of possibilities for new stories and new visuals and new music and new actors and a fresh, full way of experiencing the universe J.K. Rowling envisioned.
Would that not rule?!