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When Zack Snyder took on the cinematic adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' seminal graphic novel Watchmen, logic itself seemed to be defied, but while everyone's mileage may vary, it's hard to deny Snyder's passion for staying implausibly faithful to the completely ungrounded source material. Now, we are watching the Watchmen's long-gestating HBO series adaptation gain head into preliminary discussions once more, though with former Lost scribe Damon Lindelof replacing Snyder as the creative guide. A shocking turn of events, certainly, but not at all a negative one.
Below are the big reasons why HBO's revamped push for a Watchmen TV show is about as great an idea as humanly (or alien-ly) possible for both the network and for fans of the comic series. Let's all put on our best smiley face and dive right in with a notion that many fans chanted upon the film's release.
Watchmen Is Ideal For Episodic Storytelling
Had Watchmen's twelve issue narrative singularly been a crime thriller, a superhero origin story or an existential take on vigilante justice, it might have been a more traditional fit for film. But Watchmen is all of those things and then some, with Dave Gibbons' visual choices alone worthy of multiple feature-length commentaries. These characters' stories cross two different generations and aren't even limited to just Earth, and everyone is important enough to earn standalone episodes, in the vein of Orange is the New Black.
Warner Bros. and DC were reportedly considering a ridiculous idea for a hard-R animated feature that would go straight to DVD, but if Watchmen needs to exist in any new additional forms, a fully fleshed-out TV show is the only way to go.
HBO Can Fund A Faithful Watchmen Series
When it comes to putting out the most gorgeous and expertly produced programming on the small screen, HBO sits in the upper echelon with Netflix, Starz, Amazon and a few others. And anyone who's ever pored over the Watchmen comics knows that this is not a story that can be achieved when the creative process is anchored by frugality.
Assuming Damon Lindelof isn't going to modernize the original tale, a lot of moolah will be needed to recreate all the locations, costumes and action-driven set pieces that already exist, not to mention anything that's added in. Zack Snyder's 2009 feature cost around $120 million to make, and while HBO likely wouldn't spend that on one season (or more) of 10-15 episodes, the TV budget probably wouldn't be that much less.
Doctor Manhattan's Story
Speaking of expenses, without Doctor Manhattan's presence, Watchmen would still go far beyond your average comic book narrative, but it would lack the metaphysical and legitimately super-powered elements that give Watchmen its more nuanced nooks and crannies. Nite-Owl and Silk Spectre hit upon the more standard hero tropes, and The Comedian and Rorschach cover the anti-hero angles, but Doctor Manhattan is quite literally a god among mortals, and one that can make or break the entirety of humankind with just an instinct.
From the horrifying should-have-been-deadly accident that created him to his Mars exile to his complicated relationships with all the other Watchmen members, Doctor Manhattan provides a storytelling arc that's as singular as they come in fiction. Starz's American Gods has consistently proven that TV can visually handle anything that can be put to the page, and this big blue naked dude would be another great way to test that.
The Leftovers Is The Perfect Resume For Damon Lindelof
In his post-Lost career, Damon Lindelof was responsible for co-writing a handful of big budget flicks that met mixed reactions from audiences and critics. (Prometheus, Cowboys & Aliens and Tomorrowland, to name a few.) And so admittedly, Lindelof taking over a Watchmen TV series would have met a less-than-rabid interest from us earlier than mid-2014.
Then along came The Leftovers, the emotional and mental roller coaster that likely played the biggest role in HBO teaming with LIndelof to try and put Watchmen together. If he brings along some or all of the talented scribes who conceived of The Leftovers' masterful three seasons, then audiences will be immune to disappointment. Plus. the music will be amazing. Plus, just use all the same stars, like Justin Theroux, Carrie Coon and Regina King. Can Ann Dowd play The Comedian?
The Watchmen Universe Can Expand In New Ways
With some polarizing results, the central characters within this sector of the DC Universe were given expanded backstories through Before Watchmen comic series, and Doctor Manhattan is responsible for how things are playing out in Batman and Flash's current Rebirth arcs. But with a move to television, adapting Watchmen becomes a wholly different affair, since the stories and sequences would almost necessarily need certain additions and subtractions.
Damon Lindelof almost definitely won't get any constructive advice from Alan Moore, but since The Leftovers magnificently took its characters far beyond the scope of the original novel, I've ample faith that Watchmen could receive similarly well-crafted extensions. Lindelof is very familiar with timeline jaunts, so we could potentially see this dysfunctional squad appear both before and after the original events. Post-Squid reconstruction, anyone?
Of course, we have no idea if Watchmen will officially come into existence as an HBO series (or any other network's series, for that matter), but we're going to keep on hoping and expressing our interests to whoever will listen. While waiting on more info, though, head to our summer TV premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows will definitely be dropping in the coming months.
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