Watchmen: It's Summer and We're Running Out of Ice   Books Included 
October 20, 2019 4:07 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Angela investigates the attempted murder of a fellow officer; The Lord of a Country Estate receives an anniversary gift from his loyal servants.
posted by MoonOrb (114 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think The Leftovers is one of the finest TV shows ever produced, and Watchman is THE finest comic ever created. On the other had, Lost went seriously off the rails.

So I'm cautiously optimistic about this.
posted by Frayed Knot at 5:58 PM on October 20 [6 favorites]


I don't know what to think about this just yet.

It feels weird as hell, as if someone poured a horror story and dystopian future story into a blender and gently pumped the puree button a few times.

What came out isn't bad, you're not sure if it's good, but it's different. You need to take a couple of sips in order to decide if you're going to drink the whole thing.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:38 PM on October 20 [12 favorites]


The tremendous boldness to start a fictional series with a dramatization of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot... just... Wow. Kudos.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:02 PM on October 20 [13 favorites]


I worry that the final image of this episode might be misunderstood and misused by the same kind of Blue Lives Matter shitheads who unironically paint Punisher skulls on patrol cars.

But at the same time I think that this show wants us to question its depiction of police, and the institution of policing in the real world, as much as the comic wanted us to question its depiction of costumed vigilantes and their real life counterparts.

We're meant to be as terrified by Looking Glass and the rest of the fictional 2019 Tulsa PD as we were by Rorschach. We only see them exercising their violence against undeniable bad guys and racist thugs, but it's still a mirrored twin of the white supremacist policing that abetted the Tulsa massacre in 1921.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:36 PM on October 20 [6 favorites]


Can someone more familiar with the background of Watchmen opine: are show only/books included tags relevant? Wikipedia says this takes place "34 years after the comic ends" so I'm less sure than when I started writing this (which was going to be a pointer to a Fanfare Talk post). If comics background discussion is going to be spoil-y, I'd prefer to see the tags used.
posted by sylvanshine at 8:47 PM on October 20


I've read and reread Watchmen probably countless times between now and the first time I picked it up after getting deep into comics in college ca. 1996 or so, and after watching this first episode I'm honestly not sure how this show might play to someone who hasn't read the comic. And I don't know if it's even possible to meaningfully discuss it without getting into the specific events and broad themes of the comic.

I almost feel like HBO should have sent out a free copy of the graphic novel to all of their subscribers three months ago, the same way Universal Studios handed out those glossaries to everybody who saw David Lynch's Dune in a theater in 1984.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:55 PM on October 20 [3 favorites]


The comics came out 34 years ago. At what point does the need for spoilers end, especially if the show is a continuation rather than recreation? If the show can't stand on it's own it's not a good show. Also, I'd like to hear a good reason for Dr. Manhattan to still be hanging out on Mars.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 8:57 PM on October 20


I haven't read the comic, FWIW. I watched with a friend tonight - it was storming and her dogs were a little agitated so I might have missed a few things. But dang.

The apparent bookending of the episode - with similar themes in the silent movie at the beginning and the last several minutes of the episode - left me with a lot of questions. I'm not sure how spoilery this discussion wants to be so I'll leave it at that for now.
posted by bunderful at 9:11 PM on October 20


I don't think there is any utility at all in books/non-books tags. The show isn't an adaptation of the books or even a direct sequel to the books. It's a new series treating the original as a tool kit of themes, imagery, and motifs.

I've read the books twenty times and the new show is as much a puzzle box to me as to anyone else.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:16 PM on October 20 [4 favorites]


My understanding is that it is, in fact, a direct sequel to the books? Based on what I just saw anyway?

So was Judd Crawford Night Owl? Right age, right general body type, had the Night Owlmobile... but totally wrong accent and such? Yet I have to believe it is as it would provide a perfect hook to get Silk Spectre involved.
posted by Justinian at 9:24 PM on October 20 [1 favorite]


Oh, the parallel with the comic starting with Comedian's death is pretty on the nose. I expected it the moment the Night Owlmobile showed up with Judd inside.

If you want my opinion, 34 years is long enough to forgo spoiler tags. Might as well ask for spoiler tags on Moby Dick.
posted by Justinian at 9:26 PM on October 20 [5 favorites]


Huh. It’s an interesting combination of “What if our government energetically went after white supremacists, but was a dystopian police state?”

Echoing the consensus that I think we’re out of the window of spoilers for the original comic.
posted by tautological at 9:30 PM on October 20 [4 favorites]


I was (and to some extent still am) firmly managing my expectations on this one. Having watched the first episode, I'm intrigued and guardedly hopeful. Lindelhof is super talented but so inconsistent, I mean Lost started out so promising and then turned out to be so... aptly named... but then Leftovers was some of the most astonishing television I'd ever seen... but was that Lindelhof? or was that Tom Perotta? and does that same chemistry magic trick work without the author on board?

So, yeah. Not sure what to make of it yet and afraid to get my hopes up but I'll stick around for a while. Regina King deserves that much all by herself I think.

(nthing that spoiler alerts seem unnecessary, this genie's been out of the bottle a while now)
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 9:34 PM on October 20 [1 favorite]


So was Judd Crawford Night Owl?

I think we were meant to wonder if he was -- not only did Judd seem extremely familiar with how far the Owlship could be pushed, but he also had a copy of Hollis Mason's "Under The Hood" on his desk.

On the other hand, we're also shown a photo on his dresser that looks like it's of him and his father, who appears to have also been a Tulsa police officer.

We know that Dan Dreiberg (the Nite Owl of the book) was the son of a rich investment banker who left behind a large enough fortune for him to live in a New York brownstone and remodel a section of disused subway tunnel into a secret underground HQ, which doesn't seem line up with Judd's presumed backstory at all.

What if Judd's father (or more likely grandfather?) was one of the cops who allowed the white mobs to pillage and burn Black Wall Street in Tulsa nearly 100 years ago, and this was the origin of the Lou Gossett Jr. character's vendetta?
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:41 PM on October 20 [2 favorites]


Makes sense; i'm definitely wondering if he was Nite Owl (it pains me to spell it that way but fine.) But you're right, there are a bunch of inconsistencies with that possibility. Additionally, they seem to be pushing the idea that the kid at the beginning grew up to be Hooded Justice but that would be not just inconsistent but flatly contradicted by the comics. So either I read those hints wrong or DOT is right that this is more "inspired by" than "sequel to" the comics.

Also sure seems like Dr. Manhattan did something to Ozy to keep him contained in a gilded cage. Complete with almost-but-not-quite-human servants. Unless it's common for British people to confuse horseshoes with knives.
posted by Justinian at 9:53 PM on October 20 [3 favorites]


The best part of this episode, by the way, is that the Usual Suspects are all hopped up and raging at the anti-white SJW liberal politics being shoved down our throats. I saw one dude actually have the gall to say that while it's true that the original comics were political they weren't political like this and it's not true to the spirit of the thing.

The fuck you been for 30 years, dude? I assume these are the same people who think Rorschach was the "good guy" and hero of the story.
posted by Justinian at 9:56 PM on October 20 [21 favorites]


Complete with almost-but-not-quite-human servants

Oh! I just remembered how Dr. Manhattan's storyline ends in the original books. That sort of makes sense, right?
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 10:06 PM on October 20 [3 favorites]


I just want to say that I couldn't care less about the comic or the graphic novel, neither of which are in my granny universe. I'm in it for the entertainment, a voluntary submission of my emotions to others' control. I really liked this better than the first episode of GOT, and I think of that a lot. But I look forward to reading fan comments and feeling enriched thereby and further entertained. God knows I need it. Is that a thing? GKINI? It should be.
posted by kemrocken at 10:44 PM on October 20 [3 favorites]


[I've added "Books Included" to the post; let me know if that is a problem.]
posted by taz at 11:39 PM on October 20


That was uncanny.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:49 PM on October 20


trent and atticus absolutely went off on the music for this, holy crap. definitely their most exciting soundtrack work since the social network.

considering viedt was already successfully cloning and gene editing in the original book and that it's been thirty years, i would guess that the servants are his own handiwork. given dr. manhattan's infinite capabilities i think he would be capable of creating humans who know when to use a knife.
posted by JimBennett at 1:59 AM on October 21 [11 favorites]


Interesting start to the series but I'm not sure what to think yet.
posted by octothorpe at 4:36 AM on October 21


Wait, did I miss a reference that Jeremy Irons is supposed to be Adrian Veidt? I thought I saw someone holding a newspaper with a headline that read "Veidt Dies" earlier in the episode.

Random thought: look at all the last minute Halloween costume ideas!
posted by jquinby at 5:10 AM on October 21


Wait, did I miss a reference that Jeremy Irons is supposed to be Adrian Veidt?

It's mainly something that was spoiled through early casting announcements, but there's a couple of visual cues in his scenes (like the purple and gold cake) that point to his identity.
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:32 AM on October 21 [4 favorites]


Wait, did I miss a reference that Jeremy Irons is supposed to be Adrian Veidt? I thought I saw someone holding a newspaper with a headline that read "Veidt Dies" earlier in the episode.

Yeah, that newspaper was in there, and I don't think there was anything in the actual content of the episode to suggest it, but I immediately assumed that that is who Irons was playing.

I'm really optimistic for this one, especially as The Guy Who Liked The Ending Of Lost, but I worry about what Strange Interlude suggests above. I think that the show is going to be a nuanced and interesting take on white supremacy and its interaction with the police state, but yeah, there are a lot of dudes out there who think Walter White is a role model.

I think the Books Included/Show Only split might be a good idea, not because we need to avoid spoilers for the graphic novel, but because there might be folks who would rather discuss the show without a bunch of derails about whether various plot points are or are not consistent with the comics.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:51 AM on October 21 [3 favorites]


I think the Books Included/Show Only split might be a good idea, not because we need to avoid spoilers for the graphic novel, but because there might be folks who would rather discuss the show without a bunch of derails about whether various plot points are or are not consistent with the comics.

Exactly, those sort of side derails are annoying and don't do much.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:59 AM on October 21


There is a "Show Only" post up In FanFare.
posted by octothorpe at 7:19 AM on October 21


Lindeloff's letter to die hard Watchmen fans.

A good pilot, definitely has a Watchmen feel to it. Certainly interested in what comes next.
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:21 AM on October 21 [3 favorites]


It took a Watchmen TV show that's "all about race" to make me realize how little the alternate history of the Watchmen comic dealt with race at all.

(I started re-reading it last night in bed after the episode and I'm curious to see if there's something I forgot.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:32 AM on October 21 [6 favorites]


Moore and Gibbons are from the UK, so it's not surprising that they didn't deal with American racism.
posted by octothorpe at 8:15 AM on October 21


Pagers, but no cellphones in the Watchmen's 2019. A good/convenient way to not have any plot issues that would be easily resolved by having characters call or text when they need help or need to let someone know something. I'm not saying it's lazy world building, but if you make that decision for your alternative world it does make it simpler as a way to not have characters know what others are doing and to increase the stakes when characters are in jeopardy.

And after writing this, I found this interview with Damon Lindelof on EW:
Cell phones and the internet are outlawed.

Can you tell us more about this alternative world beyond the lack of cell phones or Internet — which, of course, are also helpful to eliminate from a screenwriting perspective when telling dramatic stories?

posted by ShooBoo at 8:26 AM on October 21 [1 favorite]


but there's a couple of visual cues in his scenes (like the purple and gold cake)

The clothing his valet picked out for him was purple as well.
posted by sideshow at 8:56 AM on October 21 [2 favorites]


they seem to be pushing the idea that the kid at the beginning grew up to be Hooded Justice but that would be not just inconsistent but flatly contradicted by the comics.

Is it though? IIRC, there's a part of Hollis Mason's biography where he theorizes that HJ might have been a white circus strongman with a similar build, and even goes so far as to suspect that HJ might have been in a same-sex relationship with Captain Metropolis, but the novel never comes down on whether any of that was true or not. For what it's worth, HJ's costume iconography (black hood, hangman's noose around neck) would be just as appropriate if not more so for a lynching survivor-turned-masked hero as anybody else.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:01 AM on October 21 [2 favorites]


I thought the paper said something along the lines of “Veidt declared dead”.

I plan to rewatch just before the next episode airs.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 9:05 AM on October 21


“Veidt officially declared dead”.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 9:09 AM on October 21 [3 favorites]


Wow, I was not expecting what I...ahem...watched at all. About 30 seconds in, I found myself thinking, "Did I accidentally click on the wrong show's thumbnail? What is this?"

But it kept me hooked. I really hope that in about 10 years or so, I see the kid from that opening scene in something excellent and think to myself "Oh, this dude was the kid in the prologue for Watchmen! I knew he'd go on to big things!"

I will continue watching this series, but right now I'm having a hard time describing it to people unfamiliar with the source materials.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:18 AM on October 21


So does the rain of squids signal that the series is based on the comics and not the movie?
posted by octothorpe at 9:47 AM on October 21 [3 favorites]


Yes, it looks like they’ve gone the route of “dimensional incursions” over the nuke plot from the movie.
posted by brand-gnu at 10:42 AM on October 21 [2 favorites]


One of the many ways that Snyder didn't really get the comic.
posted by octothorpe at 11:55 AM on October 21 [9 favorites]


Never read the comics and didn’t like the movie but this ruled. And she drives a Grand National!
posted by Burhanistan at 1:10 PM on October 21 [2 favorites]


Did anyone catch the name of the woman piloting the NiteOwlmobile?
posted by Justinian at 1:12 PM on October 21


When 'Pore Jud Is Daid' started playing, I winced and laughed out loud.

I hope they don't belabor the musical references, but the use of Oklahoma! - an innovative masterpiece of its genre, also kinda dated and kinda whitewashed and kinda problematic - was excellent.

Speaking of musical references - Justinian, the subtitles called the pilot Pirate Jenny.
posted by mersen at 1:21 PM on October 21 [7 favorites]


"When 'Pore Jud Is Daid' started playing, I winced and laughed out loud."

Me, too. But at that point I was super confused about what the show was saying about him. I'm generally confused about how it's dealing with white supremacy, law-enforcement, fascism, and race.

"I hope they don't belabor the musical references, but the use of Oklahoma! - an innovative masterpiece of its genre, also kinda dated and kinda whitewashed and kinda problematic - was excellent."

I really, really like the implication of the juxtaposition of the Tulsa race riot, Oklahoma!, and a Black Oklahoma!. There's so much to unpack there.

I played percussion in the minimal orchestra pit for my high school's production of Oklahoma!. I have forgotten some of the lyrics, which I would have not thought possible, even after 40 years.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:56 PM on October 21


I really liked this?

I ended it with a question mark because I wasn't sure what to expect. I loved the comic, thought the movie got visual cues right but lacked everything else, and never watched Lost beyond the first couple of seasons.

I'm still very cautious after the first episode because I think this could easily go off the rails but I was highly engaged from the very start. Regina King is fantastic, and it's one of the more recent female 'superheroish' characters that I felt was less "Girls rock!" and more - realistic? (Not that I don't like being pandered too now and again but it's nice for something different).

The ticking clock throughout the episode was very creepy and played well (although my generalised anxiety disorder did not appreciate it).
posted by liquorice at 4:43 PM on October 21 [3 favorites]


Moore and Gibbons are from the UK, so it's not surprising that they didn't deal with American racism.

Alan Moore has always been a part of the anarchist left culture in the UK, the sine qua non of 1980s wokeness. Which, obviously, looks very different from the wokeness of thirty-five years later.

He did make American racism the theme of at least one other, earlier, story - the zombie segment of the American Gothic arc in Swamp Thing. But he was writing in 1985, and from my experience of looking across the Atlantic at the US, race didn't seem to permeate everything the way it has come to recently (it probably did, but it didn't seem to), and Watchmen is quite specific about its themes.

But he didn't not make American racism one of those themes because he didn't know about it.

(I wanted to get more negatives into that sentence, but I wasn't sure how.)
posted by Grangousier at 5:29 PM on October 21 [2 favorites]


I really, really like the implication of the juxtaposition of the Tulsa race riot, Oklahoma!, and a Black Oklahoma!. There's so much to unpack there.

Somewhat similar to how I felt about the play about the Game of Thrones in the Game of Thrones, I really, really, really want to see the full production of Oklahoma! from Watchmen, to see what interpretations the characters in the milieu bring to the work.
posted by lord_wolf at 6:15 PM on October 21 [3 favorites]


Did anyone catch the name of the woman piloting the NiteOwlmobile?

The end credits list her as Pirate Jenny. I wonder if this might be some kind of reference to Tales of the Black Freighter.
posted by cazoo at 7:02 PM on October 21 [1 favorite]


Zach Hunt on Twitter: "I’m embarrassed to admit I had never even heard of the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921 before tonight’s episode of Watchmen on HBO. Even then I thought it was part of the show’s hyper violent alternative history.

If you’re as ignorant as me, watch this"
posted by bunderful at 7:23 PM on October 21 [3 favorites]


Ugh, time to read through the comic again. I swear I've done it in the past, but I know I started skipping the supplemental material because 3 pages of dense text is a roadblock in a collected anthology. "Here's your 'zine, kids!"
posted by Kyol at 7:32 PM on October 21 [2 favorites]


I was watching it with a white guy who was also like “whoa this alternate history is dark” and I’m like “wait seriously you never heard of the Tulsa riots and Black Wall Street?” and then we paused the show for like ten minutes for me to explain the whole thing and then continued, so if they have done nothing else they have done this much! But actually I found it quite good.
posted by corb at 8:06 PM on October 21 [18 favorites]


…they seem to be pushing the idea that the kid at the beginning grew up to be Hooded Justice but…

Wait, isn't the guy in the wheelchair supposed to be the kid from the beginning?  He didn't strike me as a retired superhero.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 10:10 PM on October 21 [1 favorite]


I had no idea I'd be on board for a post-Black-Lives-Matter Watchmen. I think the original Watchmen run is sacrosanct and perfect just as is, does not need any embellishment. I thought the movie version was OK (other than the changed ending) but the new comic series is like ashes to me. Was totally not interested in a TV version until I heard the early buzz being good.

Wow this episode was strong. Really nicely told. Plenty of little grace notes to indicate the showrunners respect the original comic and understand it. No use of the old characters, other than their archetypical meaning, so no risk of writing unwelcome plots for already beloved and finished characters. They even acknowledged Dr Manhattan is just off-planet, solving the biggest problem for any Watchmen continuation. They've got a clean slate.

And that clean slate is so powerful. The mix of fascism and friendliness. I think the cops in yellow masks are the good guys? Clearly the white supremacists are bad guys. There's extradimensional squid attacks and more ordinary people trying to be superheroes and.. The real promise here is how Black-centric the story is, starting with the Tulsa Massacre. This seems super ambitious and dangerous for a 2019 TV show, to be honest, particularly a comic book show. But if Lindelhof pulls it off it could be phenomenal.

(At some point a comparison to the TV show Black Lightning seems relevant. But I'm not the one to do it, because I didn't much care for the show and dropped off viewing quickly. It seemed to be too simplistic and formulaic. This Watchmen promises to be problematic, and I'm here for it.)
posted by Nelson at 10:13 PM on October 21 [4 favorites]


I'm extremely on board for a season of whatever the hell that was. A little nervous on where they're heading with some of it, and I would not have figured an expensive Leftovers/Watchmen fusion AU would ring my bell in 2019, but here we are.

I winced a bit too at the reviewers who assumed the Tulsa riots were an alternate history thing, though it reminded me that when I first read Watchmen in high school I 100% assumed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was an alternate history thing, because I had never heard of it. I definitely never learned about either in school, and I was a history major. I guess I don't know how I'll feel about using Tulsa here till I see a little more of what the show has to say about race and racist violence and state power, but it was a hell of an opener. And, much as I loved the lengthy and strange mini-episodes that opened the last two seasons of The Leftovers, I think this will end up tying a lot more clearly to the rest of the story.

Also, friends, the noise I made, when Panda finally came on screen.
posted by jameaterblues at 10:27 PM on October 21 [4 favorites]


[One deleted. It would be better to make a Talk post to hash out whether or not to use "books included."]
posted by taz at 7:03 AM on October 22 [1 favorite]


Pirate Jenny
posted by rocketman at 8:25 AM on October 22 [3 favorites]


Wait, isn't the guy in the wheelchair supposed to be the kid from the beginning? He didn't strike me as a retired superhero.

He's over 100 years old; If he was Hooded Justice, I think we can safely assume that his heroing days ended before most of us were even born. More to the point, the show seems to imply that he was inspired by the example of Bass Reeves (who was a real Old West lawman) in the movie serial and adopted a similar masked identity as a young adult.

Given that HJ is canonically the first costumed hero in the Watchmen-verse, this is pretty huge. Imagine if Superman or Batman's origins weren't tied to being a space alien or an orphaned child of privilege, but were instead tied to being a black refugee of literal 20th century American ethnic cleansing. It would change the raison d'etre of Watchmen's very first superhero from "randomly decided to put on a mask and beat up muggers" to something that feels more like a true and respectable justification, with the bitter irony being that the rest of the Minutemen were all bored white folks who got into it for less honorable reasons.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:40 AM on October 22 [20 favorites]


Ooh, good points! I'd clean forgotten about the Bass Reeves bit at the beginning; it kinda got driven out by the horror that followed right after. That interpretation makes sense in light of it.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 9:55 AM on October 22


Lindelof was inspired to do start with the Tulsa Riots after reading Ta-Nehisi Coates' Case for Reperations
posted by octothorpe at 9:58 AM on October 22 [9 favorites]


Relevant: New in-world documents.
posted by Omon Ra at 10:56 AM on October 22 [5 favorites]


From those documents:

Surgeon General Oz

At first I thought this was an Ozymandias reference, but then I realized who it really was talking about.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:58 AM on October 22 [3 favorites]


Nelson: At some point a comparison to the TV show Black Lightning seems relevant. But I'm not the one to do it, because I didn't much care for the show and dropped off viewing quickly. It seemed to be too simplistic and formulaic. This Watchmen promises to be problematic, and I'm here for it.

Black Lightning is a current-world comic book story, but with a Black-centric universe, which flattens a lot of the potential for the plot to get this deep into current (or historic) racism. There are threads about how superheroes can abuse their power, causing major public damage and injuring civilians, but the police generally aren't the complicated presence they are here.

A closer parallel in Cloak & Dagger (FanFare threads), where police are far more problematic, and issues of race, poverty and privilege are more significant in the plots.

I appreciated the range of how this episode featured the examples of racism and conflicting actions and statements, even down to the small details like the first Seventh Kavalry guy we saw, who was playing Future's "Crushed Up" (Genius). At first, it's unclear if it's the soundtrack from the end of the 1921 scene, but then he turns off his (electrified!) truck and the music stops. Which made me think of a question put forth by many a few years back, including Amandla Stenberg, who asked What if White People Loved Black People as Much as Black Culture? (video on white artists appropriating African American culture without standing against systematic racism and police brutality, via Jezebel)

Another fact: the 7th Cavalry Regiment (Wikipedia) served under General Custer. Per Wikipedia, many men were veterans of Civil War, including most of the leading officers, and before Custer's Last Stand, had slaughtered many women and children in the Washita Massacre. In short, picking the name the Seventh Kavalry draws parallels to experienced soldiers who fought to claim land from "savage Indians" and make it safe for white settlers, and fighting after the Civil War was over.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:59 AM on October 22 [6 favorites]


“Veidt officially declared dead”.

Yes, but his servants were wishing him a 'Happy Anniversary' and the cake had one candle. I'm guessing it's been one year since he engineered his disappearance/death.
posted by BlueDuke at 12:23 PM on October 22 [2 favorites]


Hmmm. The document drop indicates that Veidt disappeared 7 years ago. Maybe the single candle is symbolic?

Also, the documents indicate that Nite Owl is in federal custody—maybe Artie was seized and that's why the police have it?
posted by BlueDuke at 12:36 PM on October 22 [2 favorites]


I was a fanatic for the original book, and Lost, so of course I was very curious to check this out. But I just read that in this version Laurie Juspeczyk goes by the name Laurie Blake, and even fought crime for a while as the Comedienne... in homage to her mother's rapist. WTF? That's so weird and wrong that it kind of puts me off the whole series. The Snyder movie badly misunderstood the book's characters, but nothing in it was THIS shocking. They'd have to do a whole lot of work to convince me that Laurie would ever do something like that.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:05 PM on October 22


They'd have to do a whole lot of work to convince me that Laurie would ever do something like that.

That's suggested by dialogue from the comic. Almost at the very end, Dreiberg suggests to Laurie that they should team up as "Nite Owl and Silk Spectre". She replies: "Silk Spectre's too girly, y'know? Plus, I want a better costume that protects me: maybe something leather, with a mask over my face… also, maybe I ought to carry a gun." The implication being that she is her father's daughter.
posted by Omon Ra at 1:15 PM on October 22 [5 favorites]


That's still a looonng way from Laurie deciding to call herself the Comedienne! Maybe she's come to think that it's not her place to judge her mother's relationship with Blake... but paying homage to the guy?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:36 PM on October 22


It's quite problematic, but in the end her mother forgave Blake. Maybe she did too and had to re contextualize her idea of him in order to be able to live with the fact of having such a monstrous father. We don't know what happens after the end of the book, but Watchmen is constantly pointing out how utterly misguided costumed vigilantism is , so it doesn't surprise me that she would be further damaged and embittered by continuing to engage in superhero work.
posted by Omon Ra at 1:57 PM on October 22 [1 favorite]


Sadly, I don't think it is that far from her adopting "Comedienne" as a new superhero code name. And I don't think the show has misunderstood the book at all in this regard; I do think that Alan Moore has a pattern of sort of...softening, maybe, is the term...the impact of rape.
posted by Ipsifendus at 1:58 PM on October 22 [7 favorites]


I agree with all of you! Ursula Hitler is right that it's problematic. But the others are right that it's completely in-line with Moore's problematic source material.
posted by Justinian at 2:02 PM on October 22 [5 favorites]


so did anyone else accidentally laugh at the horseshoe because of the intrusive thought that Derek is getting pretty advanced after all these reboots but still not quite there or
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:34 PM on October 22 [18 favorites]


I am verrrry surprised to find myself ... tenatively interested in this show. I watched the episode and decided to not cancel HBO yet. (I'd been thinking of it after they hit something of a lull in programming)
posted by rmd1023 at 11:42 AM on October 23


Omon Ra: Relevant: New in-world documents.

Those are really neat, and fill some gaps in the show so far.

I forgot about the giant squid at the end of the original, which segues into the rain of baby squid in this episode. From The Computer and You memo PDF, (on the canonical Peteypedia, the rain of squid started in 1985 or 1986, and people blamed new technology, namely computers and cell phones.

That memo, dated August 29, 2019 also cites the Tech Recall and Reintroduction Act of 1993, which set out a 30 year plan to reintroduce technologies once deemed unsafe or illegal.

And I forgot that Richard Nixon had more terms, serving into 1985 (Watchmen Fandom/Wikia), thanks in part to the repeal of the 22nd Amendment, and the suspicious murders of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (also thought to have been committed by The Comedian), who would otherwise have exposed the Watergate Scandal. So we went from an extended presidency for Nixon, who was followed by Ford, and then Redford, the current president, who is somewhere around his 30th year as president (per an irate radio host -- "Thirty years of Redford and what've we got to show for it? More land we can't live on, more animals we can't kill, and a six-month wait to get a gun for our own protection").
posted by filthy light thief at 11:45 AM on October 23 [5 favorites]


I paused my DVRd episode to check out a theory and suffice to say I now think it's pretty clear that Ozy is being held prisoner by Dr. Manhattan.
posted by Justinian at 2:56 PM on October 23 [3 favorites]


I think you’re correct.

I wonder if Sister Night is at all intended as a riff on Mother Night.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:53 PM on October 23


Lindeloff's letter to die hard Watchmen fans.

AAARGH IT’S TEXT AND INSTAGRAM FIGHTS WITH BROWSER RESIZE KILL KILL AAARGH

Damon, that appears to have been beautifully written and to have copped the Dr. Manhattan timeslice thing but YOUR JUDGEMENT IS ALREADY SUSPECT and now I am mad at you.
posted by mwhybark at 10:24 PM on October 23


Thanks for the link to Peteypedia. Useful, at least at the moment.
posted by mwhybark at 11:09 PM on October 23


Okay, the letter from Lindelhof is ... promising.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:34 AM on October 24


This show inspired me to re-read the comic.

Interestingly, the excerpt from the original Nite Owl's book at the end of chapter two mentions that Hooded Justice expressed sympathy with Hilter's third reich. If the man in the wheelchair turns out to be HJ, I'm curious how the the show will handle that, if at all.
posted by arcolz at 9:44 AM on October 24 [1 favorite]


No one picked up that Jud played Curly in his high school's production of Oklahoma?

There is a LOT to unpack just out of that.

Also, as a Tulsa kid, damn, so much of that was visceral from the massacre to Tim Blake Nelson (Webster High grad) to "Rowland's Hill" at the end. With the added twist that it's clear they're on the west side of town in the first alt-2019 scene... and there are no oil refineries on the horizon, where there are two big ones in real 2019.

I've never read Watchmen so all this is new to me, but seeing such a scary real depiction of Greenwood really hit the feels home.
posted by dw at 10:01 AM on October 24 [4 favorites]


I was re-reading some of the detail too, arcolz, mostly via the fan wiki. Hooded Justice was also a closeted gay man and had a relationship with Captain Metropolis in the 1940-era Minutemen. Some suggestion he was in to some sort of BDSM too but consensual; he's not one of the many abusers. Although he did fail to defend The Sihouette when it came out she was a Lesbian and was thrown out of the Minutemen. (Typing all this I'm reminded just how much back story is packed in to the original comics. These aren't even the main characters, this is all historical detail told in flashbacks! And it's all side material!)

I'd love to see more about Justinian's' theory that Ozymandias is being held prisoner by Dr. Manhattan. It certainly seems possible; Ozymandias is a major villain at the end of the comic, and if anyone knows the scope of his villainy it'd be Manhattan. And that house he's kept in is sure bizarre. We only see one tiny clip of Dr. Manhattan in the first episode, right, a tiny view of a TV broadcast showing him playing in the Martian sand building and destroying castles? Maybe there's clues in all the Ozymandias scenes. Tempted to go rewatch too.
posted by Nelson at 10:06 AM on October 24


No one picked up that Jud played Curly in his high school's production of Oklahoma?

Sure we did, it was in the dialog and then Don sang a song. We just don’t understand the significance of it, because we’re comics nerds, not Broadway fans. Please unpack!
posted by mwhybark at 10:59 AM on October 24


Also, Lindelhof seems conflicted.

Also, re: Pirate Jenny (upthread), from a 1986 Gaiman interview with Moore and Gibbons:

FROM THE AUDIENCE: Is the Black Freighter anything to do with Bertolt Brecht?

MOORE: It certainly is, you clever cultured boy. For those cultureless people in the audience, Bertolt Brecht, Bert as I call him, wrote The Threepenny Opera with Kurt Weill. It’s a magnificent story set around the coronation of King Edward in England. It’s where the song “Mack the Knife” comes from, and it was originally a very nasty bloody song, whatever Bobby Darin did with it. One of the prostitutes in the story, a girl called Jenny, sings a song called “Pirate Jenny.” She works in a hotel, scrubbing floors, and in her head she’s thinking about all these guys smoking cigars who’re sneering at her, and there’s a black freighter waiting out at sea and one day it’s going to come into town with guns firing from its bow, and the pirates are going to teem off the ship and run through the town, and they’re going to be piling up the bodies. It’s this horrible black vision of this ship coming in with a skull on its masthead. Everything’s still in the town, with everyone wondering what’s going to happen, and then this prostitute says, “I step out, looking pretty in the morning with a ribbon in my hair, and a cheer splits the air.” In her dream, she’s the pirate queen, and they’re going to kill all the rich people and they’re going to say to her, “Shall we kill them now or later?” and she’ll say, “Kill them now.” At the end she goes out on the Black Freighter. It’s such a powerful image, this death ship coming in, and in the Watchmen another sort of death ship is coming in — the nuclear war that’s looming. The idea of death that you can do nothing about just coming in on the tide just seemed to tie in so nicely that I thought, “I’ll rip that off. I’ll take the ‘Black Freighter’ and bring it into the Watchmen as one of the pirate comics,” using it as a counterpoint.


(hunh, look at that, a musical being used as the basis for an element of subtext in the book. Lindelhof appears to be going deep!)
posted by mwhybark at 11:18 AM on October 24 [6 favorites]


another version of Pirate Jenny, sung for US TV by Brecht’s ex-wife, Lotte Lenya, who originated the role.
posted by mwhybark at 11:38 AM on October 24 [1 favorite]


We just don’t understand the significance of it, because we’re comics nerds, not Broadway fans. Please unpack!

Curly is the protagonist, Jud the antagonist in Oklahoma! End of the show Curly kills Jud.

I mean, there's something clearly there about the sheriff being the secret bad guy here (and showing a serial of legendary black sheriff Bass Reeves at the front hints at some inversion/bookending there too).
posted by dw at 12:18 PM on October 24 [5 favorites]


This has provoked a reread of the original for the first time since before our current criminal in chief was elected and my god, the book reads less like SF and alternate history than ever. I mean, everyone is wearing, as I am at this exact moment, what appear to be elastic-sided Doc Marten chelsea boots. People vape. Electric cars. etc.
posted by mwhybark at 3:59 PM on October 24 [3 favorites]


I read the comic as a boy when it first came out, and saw the movie. The show seems dissertation level deep into the comic. I don't think it will stop me from enjoying the show though. I found myself thinking about it on and off all week. In fact, I'll probably go back and re-read the comic just so I can get more enjoyment out of the show.

My favorite scene was the interrogation. It was completely psychotic. I loved it. Also, the music was fantastic.

I remember first learning about the Tulsa Race Riot about ten years ago. I couldn't believe something like that had happened without me learning about it in history class.
posted by xammerboy at 9:37 PM on October 24 [5 favorites]


"Dissertation level deep into the comic" is about right, it feels like a new foundation for the Church of Watchmen rather than rote ritual (the movie) or sacrilege (the prequel comics).

Also, Tim Blake Nelson and Regina King are just perfect. Can't wait for the next episode.
posted by kandinski at 11:03 PM on October 24 [3 favorites]


something clearly there about the sheriff being the secret bad guy here

Definitely. He tells his wife he's going to have one of his officers drive him, but then he's driving himself. And what is he listening to? Crank right-supremacist radio.

I think we'll be learning more about who Judd really was.
posted by rocketman at 6:01 AM on October 25 [3 favorites]




I watched this again last night, partly just because I liked it and partly to look for details. It was still great on a second watch! They really nailed the pacing, the tone. The casting; Regina King is fantastic.

There's no question the 5 year old boy at the start of the show is the old man in the wheelchair in the end. In addition to the note he's clutching, the boy has a garishly-visible mole like thing on his face near his right eye that's also present on the old man in the wheel chair.

We're definitely supposed to see a Judd / Nite Owl connection. In the scene where they introduce him and Angela, in his office, she's drinking from his owl mug they're careful to show you in several shots. And then the camera lingers on a copy of Under the Hood, the autobiography of Nite Owl #1 (Hollis). But I'm not sure it's clear that Judd is a Nite Owl, much less Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl #2). He's not the one flying Archie, that's Pirate Jenny. And when he takes the controls he basically makes a mess of it. Dan Dreiberg would have been cool and in control. My last inkling; Judd already has a costume, his uniform and the hat, and no one refers to him ever as Nite Owl. My take on all this is he's a fanboy, nothing more, although that doesn't explain how he came to be in possession of Archie. Maybe we'll learn more from Laurie Jupiter.

I still like Justinian's theory that Ozymandias is being held captive by Dr. Manhattan, but I didn't see much evidence for it. The only real clue is we see Dr. Manhattan making sand castles on Mars, and Veidt is living in a castle in Wales. He doesn't seem like a prisoner; the first scene has him out riding on a horse on a vast estate. Exile maybe, but prisoner? OTOH the whole thing is super weird, particularly the moment when the servant hands him the horseshoe to cut the cake with. I have a suspicion the servants are Veidt's artificial creations, AI/androids he's built. That explains the occasional glitches in their behavior. Also there's a whole lot of heavy emphasis on the theme of watchmaking, down to Alphonse presenting his master with a gift of a watch he made for him. "To surprise him".

I'm really excited for the next episode. I was not in any way prepared to be excited about this show, but so far everything is great.

Has anyone read the 2012 comics, Before Watchmen? Are they any good? Are they relevant to this show? Given they're prequel stories I'm guessing not directly. The Wikipedia summary sure doesn't inspire me to read them.
posted by Nelson at 7:36 AM on October 25 [3 favorites]


Has anyone read the 2012 comics, Before Watchmen? Are they any good? Are they relevant to this show? Given they're prequel stories I'm guessing not directly.

They are not good, and the creators of the show have said that they are not canonical to the show.
posted by Etrigan at 7:40 AM on October 25 [3 favorites]


Exile maybe, but prisoner?

Isn't Portmeirion in Wales? ;)
posted by tobascodagama at 7:48 AM on October 25 [12 favorites]


Indeed, although it’s Rorschach who was crafted with Prisoner references in the book - he habitually takes his leave with the phrase “Be seeing you.”

You know, in 1986 I do not think that show had had a US home video release, although it might have occasionally been licensed to the US market for broadcast. I know I had heard of it by like 1987 and think I was able to check out VHS copies from the public library by like 1988. Hm.
posted by mwhybark at 9:45 AM on October 25


Ah, 1984 (ho ho!) for the US market.
posted by mwhybark at 9:50 AM on October 25


I watched The Prisoner on PBS back in the seventies in the US.
posted by octothorpe at 9:53 AM on October 25


Watched The Prisoner in the early 80s on PBS. It was on right before (or after?) Dr. Who.
posted by jquinby at 9:54 AM on October 25 [2 favorites]


I wonder if Sister Night is at all intended as a riff on Mother Night.

Sister Night is also the title of a 1991 horror novel by F. Paul Wilson; The story concerns a woman who travels to New York City to investigate the apparent suicide of her twin sister, who fell to her death from a hotel room window. So we've got the mirror/reflection/symmetry motif (twins) and the suspicious death-by-defenestration motif right there, but I haven't read it so I have no idea if the parallels might run deeper.
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:03 AM on October 25 [2 favorites]


> Nelson: He doesn't seem like a prisoner; the first scene has him out riding on a horse on a vast estate. Exile maybe, but prisoner?

I think when we are talking about Dr. M, the idea of what a "prison" looks like could be pretty wild. The whole estate might be in a bubble floating in space, or in a glass eye, or it could be in Wales but frozen in time, who knows.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:17 AM on October 25 [5 favorites]


Well, that reread was pretty interesting. It felt as if I had not reread it since before 9/11, which cannot be the case.

The single most outstandingly uncanny aspect of the reread is that I found it absolutely impossible to not retcon the fake space squid plot as analogous to 9/11. We’ve lived through Adrian’s act and it has absolutely, terribly, irreversibly deformed our culture because of the way in which American politics had already failed prior to the attack. Moore and Gibbons depict a Nixonian America in which the consolidation of elite power was accelerated beyond the reality of 1986, and at the same time an America in which the central issues of our time, such as spiraling economic inequity, are elided.

It was also eyeopening to read the book again after #MeToo and BLM, after paying attention to our discussions here regarding microaggressions and so forth. It definitely suffers when evaluated from a contemporary viewpoint along these lines, and it was much clearer than I had expected. I did go into the book with an awareness of current and evolving critiques of the text from these standpoints, so I was certainly reading it with an eye open for these issues.
posted by mwhybark at 10:30 PM on October 25 [7 favorites]


Finally, with regard to this show, I find it very nearly inexplicable that Dr. Manhattan would still be hanging out on Mars. He ends the book implying that he is going away and may in fact become a creator god. Mars seems like small potatoes.
posted by mwhybark at 10:32 PM on October 25 [1 favorite]


i got the sense that dr manhattan has RETURNED to mars to do...something, not that he spent the last 30 years there.
posted by JimBennett at 10:58 PM on October 25 [4 favorites]


The "Doomsday Clock" limited series from DC offers some very...interesting ideas on what Dr. Manhattan got up to after leaving Mars. Specifically, he went over to the DC Universe and started fucking with their history in such a way as to retroactively make HIM the one to blame for the Nu 52 debacle. None of that is canonical to this show, of course, but it would be funny if the show found a way to make "Batman V. Superman" somehow Dr. Manhattan's fault.

Ultimately, I'm going to stick with this show for a bit because it's the first attempt to follow-up the original that doesn't embarrass itself right out of the gate.
posted by Ipsifendus at 6:20 AM on October 28


Finally, with regard to this show, I find it very nearly inexplicable that Dr. Manhattan would still be hanging out on Mars. He ends the book implying that he is going away and may in fact become a creator god. Mars seems like small potatoes.

It's hard to say from the first episode, but my thought having just watched it is that Manhattan can easily split himself into multiple copies that he has full control of.
posted by codacorolla at 7:16 AM on October 28


well, yes, that is canonical to the book. I think part of what we are puzzling over here is to what degree does this show treat the book as canon; I have read speculation that the show universe is a bottle universe of Dr. Manhattan’s creation. I’m not sold on that, mind, and episode 2 would appear to both support and undermine that take.
posted by mwhybark at 9:24 AM on October 29 [1 favorite]


For those mentioning that the original comic didn't deal with American racism - check out how The New Frontiersmen excerpt talks about the Klan in a neutral way and the incredibly racist political cartoon it includes.
posted by artlung at 3:45 PM on October 29 [2 favorites]


And tying in Rorschach to New Frontiersnen—tv news interviews his landlady and in the background we see a giant stack of back issues of New Frontiersman in his apartment.
posted by artlung at 4:11 PM on November 2


Also, the documents indicate that Nite Owl is in federal custody—maybe Artie was seized and that's why the police have it?

I just assumed that sometime in the past 30 years they started using those things instead of helicopters. Does the original use some kind of unobtainium such that [shouting]THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE![/shouting]?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:30 PM on November 2


I assumed the original was electric powered, just like the revolution in electric powered vehicles ushered in by Dr Manhattan.
posted by MoonOrb at 12:52 AM on November 3


That’s upheld by the frame at the bottom of page 11 of Chapter 8, the Halloween issue. Dan and Laurie are heading out in Archie and she is shown holding what appears to be a very large two-pronged plug which connects to a wheeled apparatus that features the little lightning bolt logo seen on the spark hydrants.

I’m withholding judgement on whether or not Jud’s owlship is Archie or not. We have seen a few additional instances of owl-related paraphernalia in the show, including that kid’s costume. Dan was a wealthy heir with and aeronautical engineering degree. He wasn’t Adrian, but there’s no reason I can think of that he couldn’t have sought to monetize the stuff in his owlcave.

Additonally, in the show, even though the Dr. Manhattan dependent electric technology has been deprecated, transportation infrastructure appears to remain based on electric rather than combustion engines, so I see no reason to expect Dan’s toys wouldn’t still be operable.
posted by mwhybark at 2:34 PM on November 3


I've rewatched this a few times, and I think my favorite bit is how heavy handed the Judd storyline is - his name is Judd, the episode is titled "It's Summer and We're Running Out of Ice", he says "it's my funeral" and they beat you over the head with a staged production of Oklahoma for good measure, of course it's ending that way with that song! And yet it's still totally compelling knowing all of that.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:26 AM on November 4 [7 favorites]


The books included / excluded divide for this seems weird and wrongheaded, since this isn't an adaptation; it's a totally new work that exists as a future sequel to the comic (and not, we should be clear, to the movie, which imposed some changes on the text).

Judd is not / was not Night Owl. Daniel Dreiberg was 40ish, I'd guess, during Watchmen, which was thirty-odd years before the timeline of the show. He was also geographically removed (NYC). I suspect we'll be told whatever happened to him, or may see him later, but Judd isn't him.

I also don't think the owlship they used was Archie, i.e. Dan's own owlship. It seems more likely that the the Doctor Manhattan / Veidt tech that enabled it has spread out, and get used selectively. After all, it's been 3 decades.
I assume these are the same people who think Rorschach was the "good guy" and hero of the story.
See also: People who think the Punisher is someone to be emulated.

My takeaway on the squid rain is that it's unrelated to the "inter-dimensional attack" engineered by Veidt in the book, since that attack used synthetic monsters of Veidt's own design, not earthly squid.

Anyway, we're hooked.
posted by uberchet at 8:01 AM on November 6 [3 favorites]


I think one of the things that is striking me as interesting about this episode is that it's the first episode of a series, but it's not a pilot. It doesn't really bother explaining the world, its characters, or what the hook is for the rest of the series - we can pick up some of that as we go along, and I've got some ideas of where it will go - but the show is definitely expecting our full attention and maybe some reading of supplemental material. It's honestly kind of refreshing? I don't think the show is expecting everyone to know about the bombing of black wall street, but I can believe that it's expecting our collective best friends to talk about it the next day. I'm looking forward to more of that.

I've read Watchmen, didn't really enjoy the experience of reading Watchmen*, probably not going to read it again - but just so far, it seems like the TV show is doing a good job of building on the themes of the book but expanding the scope.

*As commentary, it's great, especially when you root it in its time. The actual experience of reading it was a weird slog with pirate interludes in my experience, plus the knowledge of what sort of lessons the comics industry would actually take from Watchmen by 2010 made the entire thing depressing.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:24 PM on November 6 [4 favorites]


I haven't caught the rest of this show yet, but I wanted to weigh in on how this pilot worked for me as a person who did read the comics but forgot just about every plot point from them.

As I read through this thread, I actually did remember a bunch of stuff which explained seemingly inexplicable moments in the show - the rain of squid, the bizarre otherworldly gentleman with the not-quite-human servants, etc - but if anything, I was a bit disappointed to be reminded of what those things meant in context, because I thought they were very well-handled as initial mysteries/table-setting for stuff meant to be revealed later on.

I was particularly thinking about this because I thought the pilot for His Dark Materials did a much worse job of the same thing. It looked at all the potentially mystifying differences between our world and the show's world and said "this is too confusing, we need to explain all of it," whereas this show said "this is going to be really confusing and that's great."
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:47 PM on November 11 [5 favorites]


Well, I was pleasantly surprised. My expectations on hearing the announcement of the series were heavily colored by DC's previous attempts at extending/exploiting the franchise, and those (Before Watchmen, Doomsday Clock, the movie) were, with the exception of the very occasional decent moments, execrable. But Lindelof seems to have gotten it in a way that the comics people or Zach Snyder never did: if one of the joys of the original were that Alan Moore really got down into the nitty-gritty details of a world affected by a single* superhuman and worked out how that would change both big and little things about it, then a sequel set in the present day should absolutely do the same. Just as some fans IRL decided that Rorschach was a straight-up hero, instead of an antihero**, the 7th Kavalry have done so with Rorschach; his sending his journal to the New Frontiersman may have actually kept his discovery of the truth behind the anti-superhero conspiracy from being believed by mainstream society, but it also probably amplified his standing among the kind of person who read that paper (which was extremely jingoistic and racist). The antagonism between superheroes and cops in the book eventually evolves into superheroes becoming cops, or at least some of them adopting named identities and the rest wearing masks. (One thing that I like about this is the basic jankiness of some of the masked cops; even though Sister Night and, to some extent, Pirate Jenny seem pretty sharp, Red Scare just seems to be a schlub in a red balaclava, and Looking Glass seems nearly as creepy as Rorschach.) So far, it all seems very well thought out, and since it's not that long of a series, I'm sticking with it.

*More (Moore?) or less; Ozy probably counts.
**One of the reasons why Watchmen succeeded, and continues to succeed, as a graphic novel, while many other experimental GNs fail, is that it works on many levels, including that of a basic noir fiction. You can sympathize with a noir protagonist, even identify with them somewhat, but if the author did their job correctly--and I think that Moore did--you're not supposed to really want to be them. Unless you're really messed up.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:04 AM on November 15 [3 favorites]


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