When HBO first introduced that Damon Lindelof can be making a TV present primarily based on the Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons graphic novel, Watchmen, our response was unsurprisingly skeptical. Lindelof has earned himself a divisive popularity since his days with Lost and Watchmen stands as one of the crucial infamously anti-adaptation comics of all time–it’s not that it is a notably difficult translation from web page to display, however it’s been a private campaign for Alan Moore for years to battle in opposition to any and all efforts to offer the Watchmen universe the franchise therapy. And that is to say nothing of the dubiously fashionable 2007 film model of the supply materials that left rather a lot to be desired for Watchmen followers all over the place.
So, no, the preliminary announcement of the present did not have us all that excited. Slightly curious, certain, however principally nervous, which actually wasn’t helped by the truth that each HBO and Lindelof stored the precise premise for the sequence tightly below wraps, at the same time as the primary trailers started to drop. It wasn’t till the primary episode truly aired, proven to the general public for the primary time at this 12 months’s New York Comic-Con, that we lastly obtained some concept of what the Watchmen TV present would be–and simply how improper we have been to ever doubt it.
Rather than try to adapt the graphic novel, the Watchmen present was a sequel, treating the comedian like the actual historical past of an alternate universe. The present posited what a modern-day Watchmen universe would appear to be in 2019, had caped crusaders truly had a hay day again within the 50s and 60s, an atomic superbeing named Doctor Manhattan truly existed, and three million folks truly been worn out by a faux psychic monster assault. The outcome was fascinating–a setting that was unexpectedly completely acquainted and utterly alien. But that was solely half of the equation. In order to essentially make use of this new and engaging world, Watchmen needed to even have a narrative to inform that was worthy of the one which got here earlier than. That was the actual problem, and one which Lindelof and his crew executed higher than we may have ever hoped.
By focusing the modern-day Watchmen story not on any acquainted comedian e-book characters, however a completely new star, a police detective in Tulsa, Oklahoma named Angela Abar (Regina King), Watchmen crafted a narrative that felt recent and distinctive, even for viewers who’ve been steeped in Watchmen comedian lore for the final thirty-plus years. Angela’s journey, which finally intersected with a number of the largest and most iconic characters from the comedian in completely surprising methods, each added to and interrogated the legacy of individuals like Ozymandias, Rorschach, and Silk Spectre. But maybe extra importantly, her story felt worthy of the Watchmen name–a twisting, turning, mind-bending path filled with hard-hitting social commentary and an unflinchingly sincere look into the character of issues like historical past and legacy. She might not have existed for Gibbons and Moore, however she was undeniably as a lot a product of that world as any of their authentic vigilantes.
Add to that HBO’s intelligent reply to comedian e-book backmatter (the essays and tales you’d discover on the finish of every Watchmen difficulty to flesh out the world) the Peteypedia, and you have your self the recipe for a puzzle box-style story that simply retains you coming again for extra. Sure, it might have been dense and packed to the brim with self-referential Easter Eggs and the form of tiny particulars you’d solely catch after a number of viewings, however it by no means felt like a burden. Watchmen wasn’t making an attempt to make its viewers do homework–it simply requested on your full consideration, and rewarded you wholeheartedly if you gave it.
At the top of the day, Watchmen threaded the needle. It supplied a superbly paced, poignant nine-episode run that informed a whole and satisfying story in a wealthy world that was a pleasure to observe. With any luck, it’s going to be the form of TV that may proceed to gas conversations, each in regards to the story itself and in regards to the real-world points it tried to deal with.