I had mixed feelings watching the pilot of the new Watchmen HBO series – adapting the classic graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Well, in truth, a sequel to the original story.
The pilot itself was intriguing, the characters were well-crafted and the performances were strong. However, there was no need for this to be called Watchmen whatsoever!
The references to the graphic novel are superficial and when set in the present day – more than thirty years after the events in the graphic novel – are so far removed from the original to make it irrelevant.
In fact, it is clear that the only reason why the Watchmen name is attached to this is for brand recognition. HBO and Damon Lindelof could have come up with an original story with no connection to Watchmen and it would be just fine. I would have much preferred that. But of course, commercial considerations reign supreme once more.
Also, whereas the original Watchmen was a deconstruction of superhero tropes, there are no superheroes in this sequel. The story appears to be centred on white supremacy and the police. Again, it has nothing to do with Watchmen, except superficially.
In that sense this sequel would have been superior to DC comics hack jobs i.e. Before Watchmen and Doomsday Clock if it was not framed as a sequel and written as an original standalone series.
Sure, there are token references to Adrian Veidt (Ozymandias) & Doctor Manhattan (who is still on Mars for some reason, contradicting the graphic novel). Not to mention a racist cult worshipping Rorschach – the 7th Calvary – who quote from Rorschach’s journal. Now how would that be possible without exposing Veidt’s deception to the world? Makes no sense whatsoever.
By shutting out the Watchmen references, I was able to take Lindelof’s folly at face value – I am a fan, after all – and see the merits of his narrative. But it all falls apart when he tries to shoehorn the world of Moore’s Watchmen into this.
This is a tragic train wreck, even if I probably will not be able to keep my eyes off the insidious event. Sigh.
… still there’s more …