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While film and TV studios have no problem spinning adaptations out of novels by Nicholas Sparks and Stephen King, it’s an entirely different affair when the goal is bringing one of Neil Gaiman’s works to the screen. It’s no surprise that his simpler texts like Coraline and Stardust have been made, while complicated epics like The Sandman and Good Omens sit around waiting. FremantleMedia North America, most notable for a long string of reality TV series, is the most recent company to try their hand at turning Gaiman’s 2001 novel American Gods into a long-form drama. Make. This. Happen.
Gaiman will serve as an executive producer for the potential series along with FremantleMedia, according to Deadline, and that’s about as far as it goes on the official side of things. This is the first time American Gods has caused big waves since it was so gloriously first imagined as a six-season HBO series with Tom Hanks on board as one of the producers. But we’re assuming that crumbled under its own weight, and here we are 2 ½ years later waiting to see the Gods come alive.
The internationally acclaimed novel takes place in a world where mankind’s belief in otherworldly gods and creatures gives them the power of existence, but a new regime is taking over as people look less to the gods of old and more to those concerned with celebrities, drugs and technology. The story centers on Shadow Moon, a man whose release from prison is tainted by news that his wife and best friend died in a car accident. His life soon takes a most strange turn as he becomes something of a bodyguard for a weird old conman named Mr. Wednesday, who actually turns out to be the god Odin, and the duo go across the country rounding up all of the elder deities to go head-to-head with the more modern masters. Things, as you can imagine, do not go as planned.
While HBO sounded perfect for the series at first, now the Internet has allowed for outlets like Netflix and Hulu to shine in the realm of original series. The three things needed to get this right are money, imagination and freedom, which means it might also work on cable networks like FX and A&E, both of whom are known to let their series go wherever their creators take them. Would it go against the novel’s main lesson if I started praying to the god of TV to make this work?
This is one of my favorite books, and I somehow haven’t gone back to it in a decade or so, so it seems like a good enough time for it. A good way to get started is to watch the video below, in which Gaiman and Patton Oswalt perform a reading from the novel.