- HBO's "Watchmen," from "Lost" and "The Leftovers" cocreator Damon Lindelof, is an exhilarating and relevant sci-fi mystery that could fill the gap left by "Game of Thrones" for genre fans.
- Other HBO shows that aired after "Game of Thrones" ended have been hits, like "Chernobyl" and "Euphoria," showing that viewers can stick with the network for quality programming.
- The series tackles today's politically charged climate in a similar way that its acclaimed source material, the graphic novel of the same name, took on the rising tension of Cold War-era politics.
- There are plenty of callbacks to events and characters from the novel to satisfy fans, but it's also intriguing and action-packed enough to reel in those unfamiliar with the source material.
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"Watchmen," first published in 1986 in single-issue comic format, is considered one of the greatest graphic novels of all time and was the only one to be included on Time Magazine's 2010 list of the 100 best novels.
So HBO's latest attempt, a timely TV follow-up to the events of the novel, had a lot riding on its shoulders. Fortunately, it lives up to expectations.
"Watchmen," created for television by "Lost" and "The Leftovers" cocreator Damon Lindelof, is both a worthy successor to its source material and an exhilarating sci-fi TV series on its own terms. While the two series are incredibly different, "Watchmen" should satisfy genre fans — even those unfamiliar with the graphic novel — who are looking to fill the gap left by HBO's hit "Game of Thrones."
A widely cited survey earlier this year predicted that a good portion of HBO Now subscribers would cancel if a specific program ended (presumably "Game of Thrones"). But that hasn't appeared to be the case. Other HBO programs that aired this year after "Game of Thrones" ended, like the limited series "Chernobyl" and "Euphoria," were hits and showed that audiences could stick around for quality programs. "Watchmen" should continue that trend.
Lindelof has called his "Watchmen" series a "remix" as opposed to a straight adaptation. Dave Gibbons, the cocreator and artist of the novel, said at New York Comic Con this month that he liked Lindelof's vision because it wasn't a sequel or prequel, but an "amplification." After watching the first two episodes, that description is quite accurate.
The episodes called back to events and characters of the novel in a way that was satisfying. It's also thematically relevant for today's politically charged atmosphere in a similar way that the novel tackled the rising tension of Cold War-era politics.
The series brings "Watchmen" into the near-future, centering the narrative around racial division and the rise of white supremacy. Vigilantes have been outlawed, police officers wear masks to protect their identity after a horrific event, and a white supremacist group called the Seventh Cavalry has returned.
But the series is intriguing and thrilling in its own right. While Zack Snyder's 2009 film adaptation lifted the novel almost exactly from the page to the screen, Lindelof's show goes to great lengths to make this accessible for those coming at it from a fresh perspective. Actress Regina King owns every bit of time she's on screen, but the supporting cast — from Jeremy Irons to Don Johnson — is fantastic.
There's a mystery at its heart that should instantly reel viewers in and I'm excited to see where the rest of the series goes with it. Lindelof is known for leaving questions unanswered with his other TV shows, but he said at NYCC that "Watchmen" season one will wrap up in a more concrete way — so much so that a season two isn't a sure thing.
But director and producer Nicole Kassell told Business Insider in an interview that she thinks there's enough content for a second season or more. Based on what I've seen so far, I hope that's true.
"Watchmen" debuts this Sunday, October 20, on HBO.
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