Oof. On one hand, Watchmen is a very HBO show. Violence all over the place, blood spraying, nudity (both male and female), language.
On another hand, it’s Watchmen. At first, it feels like a completely new story set in the same world. There are vague comments relating to the series, but where the graphic novel (I need to reread that) and movie were set decades ago closer to where Watchmen’s Alternate Reality splits, this show starts and mostly stays in the world of the 2010s America. Things circle back towards the end (in a rather satisfying way, at least in my opinion), but it’s still very much it’s own story.
And oh, what a story that is. Take the Tulsa race massacre, bring the equivalent of the KKK kicking and screaming into the modern day, and this time put all of the cops in masks, with some of the ‘good guys’ as the masked vigilantes of the show. It’s a fascinating bit of worldbuilding, made all the more poinent (if possible) after the ever more increased racial tensions of the barely two years since Watchmen game out, not to mention everyone actually wearing masks because of COVID-19. Sometimes, life really does imitate art.
Castingwise, Regina King was great as Angela Abar/Sister Night and carried much of the show. Tim Blake Nelson was… somewhat distracting. I never will not see him as his character from O Brother, Where Art Thou (which I mentioned in The Incredible Hulk. He’s still wonderfully weird, but hard to see any way else. Jeremy Irons was a wonderful Adrian Veidt . Other than that, no particular thoughts either way. Good enough casting.
Plotwise, the first few episodes really do feel all over the place. There is all manner of ‘they did what now’ and I was absolutely sure, seeing Damon Lindelof’s name on the tin, that we weren’t going to get any answers. And it wasn’t perfect, but you know. They actually pulled it all together. It really is the sort of show that you have to watch all the way through though. Things really do spend rather a while not making the least bit of sense.
I think my favorite subplot was Jeremy Irons' characters' exile. I won’t really get into more of it, you’ll see it when you see it (or you won’t)–but man. I guessed some of where they were going with that, but it was a joy to watch all the way.
Overall, it’s a bloody, gruesome, glorious mess of a show (as I mentioned, very HBO) and I enjoyed it greatly. If they ever made a season 2, I’d watch it in a heartbeat, but if not, it stands alone well enough. Well worth the watch if you’re into that sort of thing.