Damson - What we're watching #20
Adapting a comic book into anything is not an easy task, as the fervent fan base are likely to never be totally satisfied, whatever the outcome! When we settled down to start HBO's "Watchmen" series, we were concerned that there was no way it could possibly live up to the hype. This is compounded by the fact that Zack Snyders's movie adaption in 2009 was such a mixed bag. When it was announced that the great Damon Lindelof was creating the "Watchmen" series, hopes were astronomical.
We're overjoyed to say that "Watchmen" the series, is phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal.
Trying to explain the background of the storylines to anyone that isn't familiar with the source material is near enough impossible, so the best thing to do is watch 9 of the best episodes of TV that 2019 had to offer.
It all takes place in an alternate version of 2019. One where Robert Redford (yes, that one) has been the US president for many, many years. What "Watchmen" does incredibly well is delve into some corners of American history that are either unexplored on screen, or have simply been swept under the carpet. The fact that the very first episode opens with a depiction of the 1921 Black Wall Street Massacre, in which the Klu Klux Klan and other white citizens of Tulsa, Oklahoma attacked and killed dozens of wealthy black residents, while injuring hundreds more. Starting your series off with what has been called the single worst incident of racial violence in American history is a seriously ballsy move.
After this, the show skips forward to the modern-day and the story really kicks into gear, and we are slowly introduced to our lead characters. Regina King anchors the show as Angela Abar, a hardened policewoman who lives in Tulsa but grew up in Vietnam. As part of the alternative history in the show Vietnam is known as the 51st US state after Dr. Manhattan (more on this character later) helped the US win the Vietnam war, declaring it as now part of the USA. The Police all wear masks here to protect their identity after an incident years prior made them targets. Angela has a "superhero" esq identity, as Sister Knight, and wears a sort-of Nun's habit and kicks some serious arse. The Police use these disguised identities to combat the threat of a Rorschach (a character from the comic books) inspired white supremacist cult. Yes, that's a lot to take in, and that is only for starters.
Other characters are gradually introduced, old and new. From a policeman who wears a reflective mask and calls himself "Looking Glass" to Laurie Smart who is the comic book character Silk Spectre II, to Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, played by Jeremy Irons who seems to be having the time of his life in this role. While you are acquainted and reacquainted with these characters, the legend and myth of the mysterious Dr. Manhattan looms largely over everything that is going on. We won't spoil it for anyone who doesn't know how this plays out but trust us, you won't be disappointed. It is truly worth the wait.
2019 was a great year for top-quality TV, and even though it came out towards the end of the year, "Watchmen" has to be in the conversation when talking about the best.
At the time of writing this, there was absolutely no doubt in our mind that HBO would capitalise on this and commission a second series. To the surprise of just about everyone, this isn't the case. Damon Lindelof left the project and following this the announcement was made that "Watchmen" the series is no more. Whether this is a permanent decision or not remains to be seen, but if this was a "one-and-done" deal, what a way to go out!
February 1, 2020