HBO’s “Watchmen” New Episodes: A Violent Mixed Bag

New HBO series changes the "hero narrative". / HBO

“Watchmen” is a nine episode crime drama that made its debut on October 20, 2019 on HBO. The show is loosely based on the iconic graphic novel of the same name, and takes place after the events of the novel. 

Set in 2019, 34 years after the events of the comic, “Watchmen” follows the story of a detective who, along with the rest of the police force, covers her face in order to hide her identity from the general public. This anonymity is revealed to be due to an event called ‘The White Night’, where a group of white supremacists attacked police officers in their homes on Christmas Eve. 

The pilot episode centers around the police force hunting down the same white supremacist group fearing their return despite years of being dormant. Meanwhile, the second episode focuses on the protagonist as she comes to grips with the death of her captain while investigating the circumstances behind his murder. 

With this being the start of the series, I feel the need to point out now that fans of either Alan Moore’s graphic novel or Zach Snyder’s 2009 movie are likely to be disappointed.

Thus far, the show has almost nothing to do with the events of either productions, and shows no sign of connecting to them in any meaningful way. Instead, the show opts to take a more modern approach to the source material, focusing on the theme of racial injustice in America.

But, in spite of its insistence to move away from the source material, the show rather curiously calls back to it in several ways that will likely leave first time viewers rather confused. 

But, even equipped with that knowledge, there is still another issue for those looking to leap right in. Some details of the show, in regards to what has happened since the events of the graphic novel, are not explained in the episodes. Instead, you must go on the HBO website if you want the full scoop of what’s really going on.

While some compared this to the graphic novel, which separated chapters by using similar files and newspaper clippings to build the world, I saw this as an unnecessary step and lazy on the side of the writers. 

With that background out of the way we can get into the elements of the show itself. Without delving into spoiler territory, the show’s story does move along at a quick pace, even if it can be a bit difficult to understand what’s happening. The show has a nasty habit of not explaining things and expecting the audience to fill in the gaps.

Despite that, the first episode’s action was impressive and enough for me to sign up for the next episode. And while the following episode did keep things moving, it lacked some of the intrigue that the pilot held. 

As for the acting, it’s solid all around. Regina King gives a great performance as the aggressive and intelligent Angela Abar. Other supporting characters, like Tim Blake Nelson as Looking Glass and Don Johnson as Judd, round out the cast to make the story come alive.

And while the dialogue isn’t what I would consider spectacular, there were a couple of lines that made me chuckle, while others had me rolling my eyes in frustration. 

Right now, I would give both episodes a hesitant recommendation. While it does divert rather heavily off the source material, I can’t deny that there is definitely something happening so far.

“Watchmen” does a good job of holding your attention by keeping things moving. Whether or not it is actually building towards something worthwhile is something that we will have to wait and see. 

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