Another ‘Westworld’? E.A Henson on HBO’s ‘Watchmen’ Debut

Who watches the Watchmen? I watched the Watchmen! As far as intros go I’m reasonably confident that hasn’t been done before ever in the history of comics journalism. I’ll be awaiting my Pulitzer or Canadian equivalent now. A Juno?

Sometimes all it takes to push my feelings on something from “like” to “love” is knowing that it made some troll irrationally angry. Perhaps that’s petty but we’ll circle back to that.

HBO’s Watchmen is an adaptation (no, not that one) and somewhat of a sequel (no, not that one) to the 1986 graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. If you’re a comics fan born within the last 32 years, you’re issued a copy at birth and it is mandated that you read and agree that it is the greatest comic ever to grace the printed page (even that supplemental material at the end of every issue and especially the pirate stuff). It was long claimed to be impossible to adapt to film and that was proven to be true in 2009.

When the news broke a couple years ago that HBO was doing a Watchmen TV show (no doubt someone woke up and realized it was a viable IP that they owned) a lot of questions were raised. Was it going to be a miniseries adapting the classic comic? Was it going to be all of those Before Watchmen books from seven years ago that no one seems to remember? Or was it going to be something different?

Lucky for us, we got something different and HBO may have another Westworld on their hands if the pilot episode is any indication.

Set in the alternate history world of Watchmen some thirty-plus years after the events of the comics (that’s right, the comics!) this show explores life in…Tulsa, Oklahoma? We’re given our first glimpse into a world post-Ozymandias’ staged attack on New York City in 1986. There are little differences from the world we live in, cellphones don’t exist, Robert Redford (played by…Robert Redford) has been president for thirty years, and it rains tiny squids on occasion. I think that last bit was to make up for there being no giant squid in the 2009 film.

The first episode throws a lot at the wall and pretty much all of it sticks. I try not to get too much up my own ass about the underlying themes of the show (Westworld shows us how androids are more human than actual humans, maaaaannnn), but obviously there will be hot takes on race relations, the militarization of the United States police, and probably some more heady, cosmic themes whenever Doctor Manhattan shows his blue dong (this IS and HBO show after all).

After viewing the episode last night I went on IMDb (I had noticed a familiar name in the credits and then potentially spoiled something for myself, don’t do what I did) and I noticed it was sitting at a healthy 8.7 star rating. I also noticed in the user reviews section there was a dreaded 1-star review which I will quote thusly, “More PC globalist propaganda. The agenda was evident even in the trailer. Why do they feel the need to make all the white…” and it goes on from there.

As of this writing, the rating sits at 7.3 stars and a deeper look reveals that they’re currently being review bombed with impotent nerd-rage and garden variety racism. It turns out that racists don’t like being portrayed as the bad guys! The initial threat in the show is a group of Rorschach-inspired white supremacists known as the Seventh Kalvary and some weenies took offence to that. If you’ve got a few spare minutes and some spare self-loathing the IMDb reviews are good for a chuckle. Look upon their works and despair!

Watchmen definitely has its hooks into me and I’m fascinated to see where this show is going to go.

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