Finally watched Watchmen, the TV series, up to and including episode 7 (not sure if America is further along).
It’s very good, on a wide variety of levels, from the sort of “technicals” (acting (barring a couple of characters), casting, directing, most of the writing - a couple of episodes have notably worse dialogue, set design, etc.) to the deeper stuff with themes and ideas. Lindlehof is clearly still a bit obsessed with this idea of processing trauma and how trauma changes us and so on, but that dovetails perfectly with the source material.
I was also very surprised and pleased to see that this is a straight sequel to the comics, set in 2019, which is something they’d always been vague about. Despite Moore having made sure his name isn’t on it and having no involvement, it’s very close to the concept and spirit of the comics, without being slavish. There are some bits which seem a bit “broad”, not quite sure how to put that, but that was also true in the comics, again. Regina King is absolutely flawless as the lead and makes you wonder why she hasn’t been the lead in more stuff before. The only real downside is that there are few places where it feels, or in one case demonstrably is, extremely contrived, which don’t necessarily work well with the realist vibe it’s going for. Overall rating is A to A+.
Massive spoilers from now on, specific commentary only for those who have seen it:
Lady Trieu and her “daughter” are the least convincingly-acted characters. Trieu says the words and has clearly been written as Ozymandias 2.0, now possibly even more insane and dangerous, but it just doesn’t really I dunno, work? Virtually every other character seems like who they are (particularly King’s Sister Night and her colleague Looking Glass - but even Don Johnson’s briefly-appearing character is extremely believable), Trieu just seems like a comic-book supervillain of a more standard kind. It doesn’t help that she dresses like Yoko Ono was blown through an Issey Miyake store, and has a blank, passive expression most of the time, which seems really “on the nose”. I guess the daughter is more forgivable once you know what’s going on but it’s still a bit much.
Ozymandias’ whole situation and being completely fucking bonkers and so on seems like it kind of warrants a bit more of an explanation. I suppose it will arrive eventually but he doesn’t seem to match up terribly well with his portrayal in the comic. How did he go from cold and precise to actual raging delusional psycho? There are times he gets close, but the slightly austere, seemingly technophobic “Lord of the Manor” deal doesn’t seem to really fit with his obsessive Orientalism, love of ultra-tech, and so on. Seems like there’s a whole thing with his cultural appropriation and fixation on a romanticised vision of the East which is oddly untapped, even overwritten with a more standard British deal (and what is the accent Irons is doing?). Plus the entire Alexander the Great (which was part of the whole Orientalism, as Alexander basically invented it - the world’s first “weeb” one might unkindly say) deal was reduced to one mention of the Gordian knot and his horse being called Bucephalus. The whole deal is certainly interesting and has a Lost vibe in a good way, and the reveal of the situation was pretty fantastic, though the mock-trial scene was a bit eye-roll-inducing and was seemingly 100% pointless, because it revealed nothing about any of the characters, or the situation, nor did it actually advance the plot. No way Moore would have failed to cut something like that. Also the makeup on him for the 1985 videotape was terrible, and made him still look like he was about 65 and this was bad because I was genuinely confused by what I was supposed to understand - I know TV shows can de-age people way, way better than that, and Jeremy Irons looked GREAT in the 1980s (and also exactly like comics Ozymandias). The clones are amazing though and there’s no doubt Iron is 100% the right actor for the “older Ozymandias” role.
The big reveal in episode 7 was well, um, not very surprising. I’m not sure if it was intended to be, of course. Cal always seemed like he must necessarily have been hiding something pretty huge, didn’t seem to have a job, or a life, or friends, and just sort of hung around being tall and hot and reading books like some kind of romance novel cover. I mean Judd got more actual characterization in the one episode he was alive! I dunno which episode I started assuming he was maybe Manhattan, but sometime after Will mentioned that he might be hiding in human form, and before Trieu mentioned him having absolutely no memory, because that was when I thought “Oh he definitely is then…”. I hope he’s stopped being so radioactive, that blue bastard!
The flashbacks in general have been really well-done and avoided the tediousness associated with 99.9% of TV flashbacks (Lost and Fringe had mixed records on this), and the stories there told pretty well, though Hooded Justice suddenly being in bed with Captain Metropolis for real was a bit surprising as the only hint of a vibe that way was the hand touch in the previous scene. But that is actually interesting and worked well and explained a lot. I don’t really buy the very fiction-esque “If I told you it all at once you wouldn’t believe me” deal though - I don’t think in all of human history anyone has ever actually thought that except fiction writers desperate for an excuse to space things out. But I guess we can forgive that rather ridiculous contrivance given some of the scenes afterwards. The fucking elephant in the room jesus christ lol.
Hooded Justice is also a lot more believable and seems to have a lot more meaning here than he does in the comics, where he was always the most “random” seeming member of the Minutemen, and his outfit makes vastly more sense this way (when it was just confusing before).
Silk Spectre II (sorry I really think of all the characters by their more memorable superhero names - Laura Blake, which actually does matter as she is taking her father’s name, despite knowing he’s scum) is very good, and her being a total dick to everyone all the time, telling terrible “jokes” and having absolutely zero sense of humour whilst she thinks she is hilarious is spot-one for someone who clearly regards themselves as the heir to the Comedian, who was similar. I did very much enjoy her “What the fuck are you doing?!” - that felt very real. Another very well-cast actor and her character is very believable, though the FBI being able to just take over a police department like that is possibly the least plausible thing in the entire show (that is not how it works, not even slightly - the police asking “Who is in charge now?” was also a nonsense - there’s a clear chain of command for precisely this sort of reason - ranking officers like that would know exactly who was in charge).
Also did literally anyone not immediately spot that “Lubeman” (well… if you’re going to pour lube on yourself, expect a name like that… I’m sure he thinks of himself as “the Eel” or something) was her aide? Because like, that is one funny-lookin’ dude, even in a suit, he’s close to Doug Jones in levels of unusual build-ness.
I do feel like a lot of this might be kind of impenetrable or just confusing if you haven’t read the comics. Be interesting to hear what someone going into it “blind” thought of the whole thing.