Broadsheet Trailer Park: Watchmen


What you may need to know.

1. Game of Thrones is kind of the only game in town (for another week or two anyway), so this teaser for HBO’s upcoming small-screen adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel Watchmen got lost in the mix a little bit.

In case you’re not familiar, the ground-breaking 1986 original depicts an alternate past and present where crime-fighting superheroes not only walk among us, but were directly involved in major turning points in US history, including Vietnam and the successful cover-up of Watergate. Decades after vigilantism was eventually outlawed, the Watchmen are called out of retirement to investigate the murder of one of their own.

It was previously adapted by Zack Snyder in 2009. His version was faithful to a fault, mimicking the source novel’s glacially slow pace and sombre atmosphere. It was also a miracle of production design and overall ambition; Watchmen was one of those novels previously considered “unfilmable”. It also boasts one of the most memorable opening sequences of any film you could name.

4. As you would expect, not a lot is known about HBO’s new version. It’s immediately clear that it’s not completely faithful to the original, being set in a more modern era. According to executive producer Damon Lindelof (Lost, Star Trek), it is set “after” the story depicted in the original. One wonders in that case if it’s a sequel to Snyder’s film, which had a considerably different ending to the book.

Despite the modern aesthetic, it looks to remain faithful to the original in other ways. The blocking, colour schemes and camerawork are very reminiscent of artist Dave Gibbons‘ original frames.

6. The cast includes Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Louis Gosset Jr and Regina King, who recently won an Oscar for her role in If Beale Street Could Talk.

7. With Game of Thrones gone (for now), HBO is angling for its next global hit. WestWorld was a pretender to the throne but disappeared in a puff of its own self-importance, while smaller shows like The Deuce and Big Little Lies, while great, just don’t have the longevity.

8. In my opinion, the real test of a series’ potential in the current era is whether it is forward thinking enough to set up its own endgame right from the start. Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones got people addicted on day one by asking “how is this going to end?”

9. It’s not the only way. Mad Men, The Sopranos and The Wire meandered through their seven seasons with multiple storylines and thematic explorations rather than one big buildup.

10. The crucial difference there was that they were much more grounded in reality and a depiction of (relatively) everyday life. The higher the concept, the higher the stakes need to be, so if Watchmen wants to find as wide an audience as possible, it’s going to have to work extra hard to keep viewers interested.

11. After all, the original Watchmen was one big whodunnit, so the stage is set already. Let’s see if I’m right.

Doug’s verdict: Tick tock

Release: “Fall” tbc

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7 thoughts on “Broadsheet Trailer Park: Watchmen

  1. Slightly Bemused

    Not having seen the graphic novel, I must admit I loved the film. So many scenes so beautifully set as images from a novel.

    I hope the series is as good!

  2. Jayzus B.Christ

    At the risk of sounding horribly clichéd, the graphic novel is way, way better than the film.

    1. Slightly Bemused

      A little late of a reply, but I just wanted to acknowledge this. My friend has said the same. He also has not lent me the graphic novel so I can check for myself…

  3. phil

    Point 8. wont be a problem with Damon Lindelof involved, he got a battering because of the way Lost ended , and took that on board for the Leftovers , which I thought was excellent …

  4. postmanpat

    I don’t have high hopes for this. The Wire and Sopranos years of HBO are long gone. GOT went bad after S5 and the show was remarketed for #GOT fifteen year olds, where the sex was cut out and the violence amped up to ridiculous levels. Good old Trump-era Christian right America . bad storytelling /fear sex/ embrace violence. Speaking of ultra violence, Westworld turned out to be little more than a bloodbath which relied on lame Johnathan Nolan time era memory loss and remembering gimmicks that weren’t clever. The usual JJ Abrams mystery which only served to mask the shallowness and ridiculous of the entire premise. The Deuce? EastEnders set in 70 NY. It even has its own version of the Queen Vic and the Caff and lame unintimidating gangsters. Not one but two charisma vacuum James Francos , and even then he is still more likable than every other character on the show because they are all so horrible to look or listen to.

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