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HBO’s ‘Watchmen’: a mini-review and discussion

| Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Claire Kopischke | The Observer

HBO’s new series “Watchmen” is a direct sequel of the renowned, similarly-named graphic novel “Watchmen.” It is only the second live-action adaptation of the source material, with the other being the 2009, theatrically released film “Watchmen.” The show is intended for superhero and comic book fans in general, but it is specifically geared towards those who have read the original DC graphic novel or, at the very least, viewed the 2009 film. The show is incredibly unique in comparison to the other superhero television series that have aired over the years, and, as a result, it may not be suitable for viewers who are unfamiliar with the source material or do not like superheroes in general.

Having read the 1986 graphic novel by Alan Moore and viewed the 2009 film by director Zack Snyder, I thought I would find the new “Watchmen” series interesting and worthy of my time. Let me tell you now, I could not have been more right. The show is insanely mesmerizing. First-off, everything producer David Lindeloff (“Lost,” “The Leftovers”) works on is done extremely professionally. “Watchmen” feels like the high-budget superhero show it is without lacking any of the dramatic weight that some may argue is inherently absent in today’s massively overproduced Marvel Cinematic Universe.

The actors and actresses in the series give some of their best performances to date. Even the legendary Don Johnson (“Miami Vice,” “Django Unchained”) exhibits his phenomenal talents well in the series premier episode, “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice.” Then you have Jeremy Irons (“The Lion King,” “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice”),  who is nothing short of fantastic in his role as the now-aged main antagonist from the original comic. The show’s main hero, Angela Abar, is portrayed by the increasingly popular actress Regina King (“American Crime,” “If Beale Street Could Talk”). King owns the role and gives her character genuine decency, in a stark contrast to the more flawed nature of the other characters. Yet, out of all these characters, my favorite may perhaps be Jean Smart’s (“Legion, “Fargo”). Smart also plays an original “Watchmen” character in Laurie Blake, otherwise known as the Silk Spectre. She delivers her lines with a wit and sass that is much more natural than the other characters. Again, that is saying something because all the other acting is also outstanding.

The plot of the series is unlike any other that I have seen. The show possesses costumed cops that resemble vigilantes, actual vigilantes, a potential villain eerily similar to the original film’s Adrian Veidlt, a new white supremacist group inspired by one of the heroes of the graphic novel and a political landscape where Robert Redford is now president after Richard Nixon has abolished term limits and subsequently served until his death. Besides the uniqueness of the show’s plot, the way it is told also leaves many unanswered questions. The series takes many massive turns right away.

Of course, this show is not for everyone. Many who claim to be fans of the graphic novel and 2009 film have turned on this new version of “Watchmen” due to its political themes. All I am going to say about that is that I really don’t get it, especially considering the controversy which accompanied the graphic novel upon its initial publication.

There are racially divisive sentiments present in the show and it does not always paint American history as a pretty picture. With that said, America, while great, is not perfect and has a troublesome past. The show only illustrates this past for educational purposes and storyline narratives. The divisiveness of the show is not reflective of today’s politically divisive climate. And, if you are unable appreciate that, the show is not to blame.

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About Dillon Begley

Dillon is a student from the tri-campus community. He is currently a senior at Holy Cross College who is majoring in business and pursuing a double minor in Political Studies and English. A local, Dillon enjoys reading, discussing and watching film/tv, listening to music, being an avid Notre Dame football fan, and contributing socially while being politically active. He particularly enjoys superhero movies, fiction novels, the NFL, playing Xbox, and having respectful and worthwhile political discourse with people from all walks of life.

Contact Dillon