Fans of Alan Moore's Watchmen have been anxiously awaiting the upcoming series from HBO and Damon Lindelof, creator of Lost and The Leftovers, unsure of what to expect from a series that has been shrouded in mystery. Based on the show's trailer, people were able to conclude that Watchmen wouldn't be following the book's narrative, especially considering Regina King is clearly starring in a role that wasn't included in the comics. Having seen the first four episodes (and without giving away any spoilers), we're happy to report that Watchmen will satisfy both fans of the comic and people who just enjoy epic television. If you're not familiar with the book, the show will give you all of the relevant information you need to know. If you are a fan, don't worry, the series doesn't waste too much time on exposition.
Set in Tulsa, the new series follows Detective Angela Abar (King) in an alternate future where vigilantes are outlawed and cops keep their identities hidden beneath masks. Taking place 30 years after the events of Watchmen, the show follows Abar as she uncovers secrets about a dangerous hate group called the Seventh Kalvary, the police force she works for, and her own past.
The show's pilot, "It's Summer and We're Running Out of Ice," was directed by Nicole Kassell, who has tackled episodes of Westworld and Castle Rock, with great precision and care. Kassell manages to give subtle nods to the comic with her direction without making any shots feel forced or overt. The show sets up a world that will feel vaguely familiar to any Watchmen fan, but it also makes a clear statement that this show is operating on its own terms. While everything that occurred in Watchmen is canon in the series, the show takes place many years later, which gives it room to grow as its own, separate story. That being said, this is still Watchmen, and a couple of fan-favorite characters from the book are key players in the story. In fact, if you hold out for episode three, you will be transformed by Jean Smart's portrayal of Laurie Blake. The Legion star manages to lift the former Silk Spectre right off the page and suck you right back into the old Minutemen drama.
The only questionable factor in the show's first episode is the fact that the police are perceived as good guys whose biggest opposition are white supremacists. They fight against the Seventh Kalvary, who uses Rorschach's diary as a guidebook, a fact that probably wouldn't make the vigilante, who was killed in the comics, particularly proud. That being said, Watchmen doesn't seem to be pushing a pro-police agenda, and we're willing to bet King's character is going to uncover some uncomfortable truths about the organization she works for as the show progresses.
In addition to being a compelling, well-shot story that blends a beloved comic book with some of the biggest issues facing our country today, Watchmen is also filled with excellent performances that manage to excite, frighten, and stun.
King was the perfect choice to lead such a heavy drama, carrying the show with grace and ease. Not only is it refreshing to see a woman of color be the front and center of a comic book story, but her character has a great romantic partner in Yahya Abdul-Mateen II's Cal Abar. Their relationship is a reversal from the gender roles we typically see in these stories, and Cal doesn't act emasculated or threatened by his wife's work.
At 83-years-old, Louis Gossett Jr. is proving that he's still got the acting chops that earned him an Oscar back in 1983 with the role of the enigmatic Will Reeves.
While Hong Chau doesn't show up as Lady Trieu until the show's fourth episode, her character's mysterious and somewhat unsettling tendencies make you instantly enthralled.
Tim Blake Nelson also deserves a shout-out for his role as Looking Glass solely for having to act in an incredibly constricting mask, which probably makes his job ten times more difficult.
Just in case you've managed to go this long without learning who Jeremy Irons is playing, we'll keep it a secret as to not spoil the fun. However, it's worth noting that he manages to create a perfect balance between creepy and genial, which makes him the most fun aspect of the entire show (so far).
Overall, we recommend giving Watchmen a try when it premieres, and if the first two episodes don't hook you, we have a strong feeling episode three will seal the deal.4comments
Rating: 5 out of 5
Watchmen will premiere on Sunday, October 20th at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.