Set in an alternate history where masked vigilantes are treated as outlaws, Watchmen embraces the nostalgia of the original groundbreaking graphic novel of the same name, while attempting to break new ground of its own.
Set in an alternate history where masked vigilantes are treated as outlaws and must embrace the nostalgia, Detective Angela Abar investigates the reemergence of a white supremacist terrorist group inspired by the long-deceased moral absolutist Rorschach.
In several scenes we see videos of Treasury Secretary Henry Louis "Skip" Gates Jr. helping visitors to the Greenwood Cultural Center trace their genetic backgrounds. Henry Louis Gates Jr., a real scholar of African American history and genealogy, is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, and he has become popularly well-known as the host of the history, genealogy, and DNA-tracing PBS TV series "African American Lives" and "Finding Your Roots." In 2009, Skip Gates was the victim of a racial-profiling controversy when one of his Cambridge, Massachusetts, neighbors called 911 to claim that Gates was "breaking into" his own house. The incident led to a national conversation about race and policing, and culminated in a meeting at the White House between Gates, the arresting officer, President Barack Obama, and Vice-President Joe Biden that became known as the "Beer Summit." Contrary to his role in this TV show, however, Gates has never held any elected or appointed political office. See more »
Throughout the entirety of season 1, many characters are saying "calvary" instead of "cavalry" when referring to the Seventh Kavalry. See more »
The blood-stained yellow smiley-face badge falling from the New York skyline flips over to reveal the Warner Bros and DC Comics logos, which are also yellow and blood-stained. See more »
When stans of this new follow-up say that we're the ones who don't "get" Watchmen, are they saying we gave it too much credit?
TV-Watchmen fails in two ways that ought to be mutually exclusive; it can be hard to follow for those who haven't read the original novel and know all the names/references by heart, but it also has little to do with Alan Moore's source (especially by the start). Even when it does finally explain things to new viewers that old fans might understand immediately, e.g. the presence of a bizarre squid rain, it's done briskly in a way that may befuddle newcomers but provide hollow fanservice for the old-timers, not that member berries excuse all the other key points missed by the show (early on, for instance, I didn't feel that this was the same universe that famously deconstructed masked superheroes and made them pitiful).
However, let's ignore the fact that the very idea of a sequel to the comic book also ruins the openness of its ending, where the reader is permitted to look at Rorschach's ever-changing inkblot mask and either see a champion of ultimate truth or an enemy of world peace; where Ozymandias (for some reason played here by Jeremy Irons) either successfully brought the nations together through his conspiracy, or failed when/if Rorschach's journal was released.
Let us simply accept the reality that someone wanted to do big-budget fanfic about what happened next in this alternate history and what became of the world after Ozymandias' masterstroke. What we can then ask questions about is why the show's answer to the novel's timely Cold War anxiety is to kinda-sorta adapt the AntiFa vs. white supremacist squabbling, why Rorschach would become a symbol of freedom/truth only for ethno-nationalists when his truth leaked (unless we buy that Moore sincerely thinks his best character was no more complex than a right-wing as***le), why the VFX used to bring this universe alive have gotten worse since Snyder's attempt, or why the dialogue sounds like it is from a much dumber comic that isn't as satirical about the ridiculousness of masked heroes.
When I reviewed the first episode, this was one of my main complaints. We're definitely meant to think it looks super cool when Tulsa officer Angela Abar (Regina King) dons the Sister Night habit and beats up men thrice her size, doing the work no regular Tulsa policemen will. However, I now feel like figures such as Looking Glass (Tim Blake Nelson) and Red Scare (Andrew Howard) shine a light on the more pathetic side of costumed heroes, the way Watchmen ought. Red also confirms that the show doesn't kiss the derriere of every faction within the modern radical left, as geeks aplenty have feared.
We also get Jean Smart as Laurie "Silk Spectre II" Blake, because I guess she eventually became okay with bearing The Comedian's last name, and she apparently lusts after the vanished superman Dr. Manhattan after breaking up with Nite Owl. Don Johnson plays "one of the good ones" amongst white policemen but you can guess what sort of twist they build towards. Louis Gossett Jr. appears as a mysterious survivor of the Tulsa riots. Hong Chau portrays a character that seems to rival Ozymandias in terms of intelligence and creativity. As I said, Ozzy himself is played here by Jeremy Irons, and his increasingly outlandish subplot was more intriguing than anything taking place in Tulsa.
Of course, there is always the issue of experiencing Watchmen within a set number of minutes. With the novel, you could spend as much time on a given page, going back and forth between the panels as you want, which is thematically significant when you consider how Dr. Manhattan experiences time (you can read the panels in any order you want, but the timeline remains preordained). For what it's worth, the show has some clever ways of communicating how he perceives existence.
I won't reveal who eventually plays Manhattan or how they justify the casting, but it seems like another non-veiled middle finger to the perceived white supremacist fanbase. They do something similar with Hooded Justice and while making creative choices out of pure spite (especially toward white supremacists) is way up my alley, why co-opt the Watchmen IP for this?
I guess it's because Watchmen is loved by nerds, and nerds are supposedly prone to racism and sexism (especially if they dare not worship Captain Marvel and The Last Jedi, the monsters) but still. You can't just say "the book also had political allusions" and decide that ergo it makes sense for the TV version to simply sneer at one side and pander to the other. If you aren't gonna do justice its satire of the superhero or its distinct, purposeful visuals, can you at least give me its complexity and difficult questions? What am I even saying? It's HBO.
Still, did I enjoy the finale and how everyone and everything came together? I suppose. I just don't know that I needed to wade through all of that cringe factor to get there.
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