Disclosure: This author is an employee of WarnerMedia.
Watchmen, the impressive graphic novel from writer/illustrator duo Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, is hailed as the king of its genre. Yet its adaptations have ranged from underwhelming to bizarrely mishandled, leaving fans craving something that accurately depicts the depth and brilliance of Moore’s story. Call in HBO, and watch them deliver.
The pilot for HBO’s adaptation proves that they are in this for real, out to make the most creative and memorable companion to the graphic novel possible. So creative, in fact, it may not be instantly recognizable as the superhero mystery associated with the name, but it is undeniably Watchmen.
The HBO series is a sequel of sorts to the graphic novel, but it certainly stands alone. Set in an alternate America where the US won the Vietnam war and political corruption seeped to dangerous levels, the story follows protagonist Angela Abraham in the year 2019, where she works as an undercover cop in Tulsa, OK chasing down a rising white supremacist organization known as the Seventh Calvary. The Calvary have another target, though — the police force.
The pilot is a visually and intellectually stimulating piece of television that uses the current reign of superhero media in our culture to its advantage, all while approaching different issues in different ways. The show roots itself in race issues in a straightforward fashion, starting off with a disturbing recreation of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre, but then additionally works to highlight implicit viewer bias with several clever reversals.
Regina King is a stand out star in this pilot, and I can already tell that Angela Abraham will be a praised addition to HBO’s lineup of memorable and beloved characters.
This pilot keeps to racing to catch up, doing double takes, and forcing you to confront what you thought you knew, and that’s exactly what a good show opener should do. Right now, it’s hard to say just what Watchmen’s final goal will be, but I’m eager to jump on this journey.
Whether you like DC properties or not, give this a watch because what it truly does best is getting you thinking and keep you guessing.
Watchmen airs Sunday nights at 9pm on HBO.