I will start this off by saying I am a huge Neil Gaiman fan, and I absolutely loved reading American Gods. I was thrilled when it was optioned for development into a television series. After seeing the first two aired episodes, I am cautiously optimistic.
I have to say that, having read the book, I do know who is who and what is going on. The problem I see happening here is that, if you haven’t, you have to be pretty danged confused right about now. And, I am sure, that was part of the idea of letting things out in bits and pieces, in flashback and vignette, rather than as a cohesive, point-to-point plotline. It’s gorgeous, in a dark and somewhat menacing sort of way. It reminds me a bit of Twin Peaks, in that you watch the show, and you know that a lot of what you are seeing has got to be significant, but you are left thinking “WTF????”
I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. Hey, it worked well for Twin Peaks and a few other series since. But so far (and, yes, I realize it’s only two episodes in), there doesn’t seem to be a lot of thread gathering going on. Everything feels a bit disjointed and confused. And I know what’s going on. You have to worry that, if things don’t start pulling together soon, people will give up out of sheer frustration. And that would be a shame, because this is truly a wonderfully epic story.
There are good things, of course. The opening sequence is absolutely one of the best I have ever seen. It hints at a lot of what the story is about, it has an eerie, dark quality to it, and it almost, almost gives the plot away. Ian McShane is quite perfect as Mr. Wednesday. Not as I always pictured Wednesday, but he really is a great choice, playing him with a mixture of quirky, funny, and foreboding all at once. Ricky Whittle is a very capable Shadow Moon, a bit unsure, and at times seeming as if he is just being dragged along for the ride, while at others, he’s definitely in control and more than able to handle what is tossed his way. The other cast member who strikes me is Laura Browning as Laura Moon, who is creepy enough in the living flashbacks we’ve seen, and that will work well as time goes on. It is bloody, and explicit, and certainly for mature audiences, but that also is true to the book.
I’m interested to see how the series plays out, and how the production crew handles the larger story line. I hope we start to see some of it coming together relatively shortly. It took a while in the book, of course, but TV is a different thing altogether, and those who don’t know the story may need more hints at the coming main conflict to keep them interested and involved.
(Image from uproxx.com)
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