American Gods: Head Full of Snow   Show Only 
May 14, 2017 7:29 PM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Shadow questions his employment when Mr. Wednesday informs him of his plan to rob a bank. And just when Shadow thought his life couldn't get any more complicated, he returns to his motel room to a surprising discovery.
posted by oh yeah! (13 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I figured I better watch this, what with the buzz and the Golden Age of TV aura.

It's been boring. I laughed when another checkers game started up. As a "show only" person, I think they've failed to turn this into something that a general audience can engage with. I just don't know what the point is, and the ride has not been fun (with these exceptions: the slave ship opening; Bilquis Part I; the barely-established Lucille Ball vs Wednesday vs Techno Boy thing, umm...). I didn't mind the opening here, but how many more peripheral god-characters do we need already?

I have no right to criticize camera work, but this episode felt really weird to me in that regard too, like the camera was pulling me out of scenes rather than into them. Overly tight cropping, cut-off heads, etc. This episode was the first one where "amateurish" was a word that came to mind, and no, I ain't trolling.
posted by sylvanshine at 11:16 PM on May 14


("Cheesy" is the word I wanted to use; calling big-name TV "amateurish" is above my station, of course. This show reminds me of Preacher, of all things, but those characters had pinache. If there are Big Messages in this show, as the breathless reviews would have me believe, they're zooming right past me, coming off two episodes featuring a cartoonish Eastern European stereotype. I slot this into a private category I have, "existing fans have a big investment in wanting to like it, so they're gonna find reasons to.")
posted by sylvanshine at 12:21 AM on May 15


I thought this episode was excellent. I think the show has hit its stride.

Poor Scott Thompson.

"I want knowledge over comfort, over all things, always."

Heh, yep, that's the god who traded an eye for knowledge.
posted by homunculus at 12:22 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


As a show-only viewer, I am continuing to feel like this show was made with the assumption that everyone watching it has read the book.

I am enjoying it, but after three episodes I still see no semblance of a plot. I understand there has to be some world-building and that Shadow (as the audience surrogate) is just as confused, but I pretty much have no idea what is going on and I have to look up who the characters are after watching the show. Mr. Wednesday is the only obvious one. Maybe this show makes more sense if you have a degree in mythology.

I see the show has been renewed for season 2. I hope they don't spend all of season 1 building the world and not going anywhere with it.
posted by bh at 1:40 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


so they're gonna find reasons to

This seems to risk becoming a rationalization for dismissing opinions that disagree with one's own. Just as often, if not way more often, existing fans are harsher critics. I think it's easier to assume that people really do like the things they say they like.
posted by Ipsifendus at 4:15 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty much done with the show at this point. Grumpybearbride read the book and concurs with the assessment that the show has bitten off more than it can chew, resulting in a patchwork format that kills the momentum.

I will say I was extremely impressed with most of the salesman / fire-eyed cabbie love scene. It was extraordinarily well done right up to the point where they turned into Mind's Eye-era CGI. That is really the show's Achilles heel.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:48 AM on May 15


I think it's easier to assume that people really do like the things they say they like.

I agree, but it's a lonely feeling, not enjoying something that a bunch of others do, and when one is trying to figure that out, "hype"/"predisposition to like" are factors that I can't help but consider. I mean, we all know that marketing exists to create a "predisposition to like", so I don't think the factor can be dismissed when considering the collective response to a piece of popular art.
posted by sylvanshine at 10:38 AM on May 15


I read the book when it was published but barely remember it and, not only that, I do recall that I didn't like it very much, mostly the idea of it. I'm not a Gaiman fan. So I don't think I have a vested interest in liking this show.

But I do like it. It can't be because I read the book because the only thing I remember about the book is, basically, Wednesday. But I'm not having trouble following what's happening.

Now, I'm very much predisposed towards shows that are slow-paced. I'm not predisposed towards style-over-substance and that's why I've been ambivalent about Fuller, having watched all his shows. I was not a big fan of Hannibal and didn't watch the last season.

So I like that the show is being very deliberate and not plot-focused. I like that it's different and I think the acting is quite good -- Shadow is sort of meh, but most everyone else has been excellent. I think the hodge-podge of styles and tones actually is thematically appropriate, given that we're talking about a patchwork of barely-remembered gods and folklore.

Anyway, I found the sex scene to be amazing. I'm straight and I don't think I'm homophobic, but it made me a bit uncomfortable I guess just because other gay male sex scenes in TV/film have tiptoed around stuff and this felt new to me. In a good way; I liked the discomfort. And it was very touching and sensual. I don't really understand what happened to Salim and the djinn, though. I like that sweater.

I think I come down pretty negative on the "snow". It sure didn't look like snow to me. I hated that it was falling while the trees were green, but that was sort of the point. It's just that if that was the point, I really needed to be sold on the realism of the snow. They should have rented a genuine ski resort snow machine or something and really put it down on the street and sidewalk. Maybe that was a bridge-too-far for the filming permit or whatever?

Otherwise, I don't mind that the CGI looks like CGI. I really think that's deliberate. Maybe it's a function of limited funding, but I've been working on the assumption that, as Shadow says, this is supposed to be like a dream, not look like it's real. The CGI calls attention to itself -- all the fantastical stuff is ostentatiously fantastical. I think that's intentional. So maybe, likewise, the snow wasn't intended to look like snow, but the idea of snow.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:04 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


As a show-only viewer, I am continuing to feel like this show was made with the assumption that everyone watching it has read the book.

That's exactly the reason why I'm reading the book right now.
posted by Pendragon at 2:37 PM on May 15


Tough room.

I have to admit I don't see the criticism. I'm show-only -- I mean, I read the book when it came out, but the only thing I remembered was "Wednesday is ____", which I'm 99.9% sure is a dead giveaway.

I like it.

It's meandering, which is fine. I can see why people tuning in expecting two-fisted action where Mr. Wednesday and Muscle Moon fight a monster/god-of-the-week, or a driving plot where clearly established villains are trying to thwart our heroes on the weekly, might be disappointed. But it's a pretty ramshackle concept, and if we spend a season just kinda rambling around checking in with the weird minor deities that have washed up in America, I'm fine with it.

The camerawork seems... good? I don't analyze things shot-for-shot, but nothing's jumped out at me as being bad. There's a pedestrian quality to the "mundane" scenes, which make a lot of sense if we're going to make the splashy fantasy sequences pop. And the CGI seems fine, too. I grew up with '70s-era Doctor Who. Most CGI seems fine to me, frankly.

"hype"/"predisposition to like" are factors that I can't help but consider. I mean, we all know that marketing exists to create a "predisposition to like", so I don't think the factor can be dismissed when considering the collective response to a piece of popular art

There's also such a thing as being so determined not to be "suckered" by hype that you rob yourself of an experience by self-saturating with contrarianism just to prove you can't be pulled in like those non-discriminating fans.

I'm not saying that's you, but there's definitely a strain here among the comments on episodes so far of "yeah? Well, I won't be fooled! Sometimes the camerawork is shoddy!" that comes through as kind of a grim and workmanlike determination to not derive any joy from the experience. It's a wooly show about a god gone to seed bumming around America checking in on other washed-up deities, run by a guy who tweeted "On Mother's Day, my mother told me she hopes doing a show where a woman eats a man with her vagina doesn't ruin my reputation." If you're not engaging with it on those terms, you're definitely not going to have a good time.
posted by Shepherd at 4:14 PM on May 15 [7 favorites]


There's also such a thing as being so determined not to be "suckered" by hype that you rob yourself of an experience by self-saturating with contrarianism just to prove you can't be pulled in like those non-discriminating fans.

And then there is simply not liking a show, which is totally OK. I gave it 3 episodes with zero in the way of preconceptions. It failed to enthrall me. I don't hold anything against or question the judgement of those who like it. Kindly extend the same courtesy to those of us who didn't.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:03 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I'm purely show-only in that I'm only vaguely aware that a book existed but with no knowledge of it's plot, etc.

I'm also really digging this show so far. I personally think many of the odd framing and camera work is supposed to be meshing with the general dream-like vibe. We're constantly being tugged both into and out of the world, putting us in a space where we are watching the show while not quite knowing what to make of it. I think if it was more traditionally shot, and if it had more traditional exposition as to who these people were and what was going on, I would have stopped watching it.

The salesman cabbie piece was HOT. I loved it, right from the tentative hand on the shoulder all the way through.
posted by selenized at 6:14 PM on May 15 [7 favorites]


If you read comments about the book in previous threads on MetaFilter/Goodreads/etc, a lot of the same criticisms are leveled against it in terms of plot (or lack thereof,) pacing, etc... and I think they're valid; but I enjoyed the book in spite of these things and I'm enjoying the show because it captures the mood of the book pretty well for me. The vignette with Salim and the djinn was one of the most memorable from the book, and I was amazed by how well and how forthrightly and it was adapted. (More on the handling of that scene: Bryan Fuller Demanded a Reshoot of American Gods’ Gay Sex Scene Because It Wasn’t Gay Enough)

I like the fantastic imagery we're seeing (the climb to the Egyptian desert in the scene with Anubis, the starry night sky in Chicago in the scene with Zorya Polunochnaya, and even the CGI in the scene with Salim and the djinn.) It's refreshing to see explicitly impossible/fantastical visuals like these; it reminds me of things Jim Henson did (Labyrinth/Dark Crystal) and the flavor of a lot of bits in The Princess Bride, where a scene was obviously shot on a soundstage (the duel between Westley and Inigo) but it doesn't matter, because we know we're dealing with a fairy tale world. It seems appropriate for a story that spends a lot of time examining the role of old gods and magic in a world that doesn't much believe in them anymore.

I love Cloris Leachman so much. And Peter Stormare; he's always great, but I don't think I've ever seen him in a role with this much dialog and it's amazing.
posted by Funeral march of an old jawbone at 10:15 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


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