I’m late to the party with Watchmen. I got HBO Max for Christmas and I’m catching up on all the good stuff that everyone else has already seen. The series is based on characters in a DC Comics graphic novel series. The heroes and the villains are all played by outstanding actors.
Watchmen uses the premise that the world in an alternate reality. Some of it is based on historical fact and real people, but much of it is fiction. Thematically it is hyper-relevant. It tackles racism and white supremacy, vigilantes and terrorists, and the obligations of superheroes to do good in the world.
The story begins with the Tulsa massacre of Black people – a real event that took place in 1921. From that event, the story moves forward several generations. It jumps around in time and place. People are all over the globe and the solar system, but mostly in Tulsa.
The main character is Angela Abar (Regina King). She’s a cop who pretends not to be a cop because a group of white supremacist terrorists called the 7th Kavalry kill cops. So now the cops cover their faces with masks so no one can connect their real identity with them.
Judd Crawford (Don Johnson), the police chief, is hanged. He and his wife (Frances Fisher) are friends with Angela and her family.
When Angela investigates the hanging she meets a man over 100 years old (Louis Gossett Jr.) who claims to have done it. He turns out to be connected to Angela in interesting ways. Angela also discovers that her beloved boss Judd was not the great guy she thought he was.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II plays Angela’s husband. As the series nears the mid-point we start learning some really juicy facts about him. The two of them have three adopted kids.
The murder brings FBI Agent Laurie Blake (Jean Smart) to Tulsa. Everyone in this series is connected to everyone else in unexpected ways. Laurie, for example, use to date Adrian Veidt (Jeremy Irons) who is either a criminal or a savior.
Tom Mison and Sara Vickers play everyone who calls Adrian Veidt master. These two appear as every character on their planet. Veidt summons them, creates multiples of them, destroys them, and uses them to try to find his way back to Earth.
Lady Trieu (Hong Chau) is the smartest woman alive and she has a plan to seize power at an exact moment in time. There’s a lot of emphasis on time in the series. Lady Trieu’s built a millennium clock that is part of the plan. The ultimate power she seeks is held by a blue dude named Doctor Manhattan who often appears naked. Naked and blue. Sounds like a song title. We don’t find out who he is in human form until almost the end.
This terrific cast, and others I haven’t mentioned, deal with this sci-fi romp through time and space with serious intensity. There’s plenty of sci-fi drama and mysterious happenings, super looking sets and good action scenes. Even with all that going for it, I often found my interest dropping often as things dragged.
I always enjoy Regina King and Jean Smart and thought they were both terrific in this. I liked the inclusive nature of the cast and the nice mix of men and women in major roles.
The music choices were hilarious or eloquent or both. The references to Robert Redford being president were funny, too.
Overall, the message is a good one and very relevant to the times we live in. Watchmen included story lines about racism, narcissistic leaders, and people willing to sacrifice for the greater good. Women directed not quite half of the nine episodes. They were Nicole Kassell and Steph Grant.
Take a look at the trailer.
What did you think of this series?