Author Topic: Watchmen TV Series (PROBABLY MANY SPOILERS)  (Read 519 times)

Mandle

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Watchmen TV Series (PROBABLY MANY SPOILERS)
« on: 04 Jun 2020, 15:02 »
Just binge-watched yesterday and today.

40% loved it.
40% hated it.
20% WTF?! I can't even...

Watchmen is one of my favorite books of all time. I read it at the time it came out during the '80s and it perfectly captured the social feel and political paranoia of that era. As well as just being a kickass story with some of the coolest characters ever put to paper.

I liked the movie, but it mostly just felt like a watered-down version of reading the comic, pretty much shot for shot.

That's why my reaction to the TV show surprised me so much. Of course, it is a different story by a different writer. But I have never felt so strongly both ways at the same time about a story property I was emotionally invested in.

For some examples, I'm still a little bit miffed that we never got the Luke/Han reunion in the new Star Wars movies, but they were pretty bad overall so I don't really care.

The new Twin Peaks series had me annoyed at first but then it grew on me and I ended up loving it.

But this Watchmen series: I'm so thrown off-balance with the stuff I either loved or hated or just-found-incomprehensible story decisions that I'm still reeling from the experience.

One moment it was brilliant, the next it was so heavy-handed I was rolling my eyes. Then it turned into a Monty Python skit and I was WTF? but then that story bit turned into something amazing, and then there was another ridiculous fan-service scene that made me pop my middle finger at the screen, and then something brilliant happened again.

I'm so confused.

So, what did others think?

Re: Watchmen TV Series (PROBABLY MANY SPOILERS)
« Reply #1 on: 04 Jun 2020, 18:13 »
It grew on me. I didn't like that start at all - until Laurie Blake stepped in and made the connection back to the comics. Absolutely loved it after that. Great WTF moments, particularly with Irons.

Problem is, the comic book is pure perfection as it is. Thus I'm bound to be disappointed. The only way not to, would be to go off in another direction, and I think this show did, while still capturing some of the storytelling techniques - devoting an issue/an episode to one character and have that be of major importance in the main plotline later on.

Re: Watchmen TV Series (PROBABLY MANY SPOILERS)
« Reply #2 on: 04 Jun 2020, 19:32 »
I really enjoyed the TV series, but I haven't read the comic yet, maybe my feelings would be different if I read.
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Re: Watchmen TV Series (PROBABLY MANY SPOILERS)
« Reply #3 on: 04 Jun 2020, 20:11 »
I'm something of a Moore loyalist (and stayed well away from the "Before Watchmen" comics), and I was planning on avoiding this show as well, but the buzz about it was promising enough that I gave it a shot. Apparently it started out as an original idea, but had enough similarities to the Watchmen universe that they decided it made sense to tie it to that property. I rather think it might have worked better as a standalone.

My opinion is that it had some great concepts and interesting ideas (many things that have happened this last week have reminded me of it). Some of the storytelling was quite powerful, Jean Smart and Jeremy Irons were both a hoot, Tim Blake Nelson was great, and Regina King strong in the role of the main character. It felt really satisfying finally seeing the space squid just like in the comic (I thought that flashback was particularly well done).

But at the same time, it was a complete mess. The way the main plots developed and resolved was really underwhelming, they didn't seem to have a good grasp on many of the characters, and some of the writing was among the worst I've seen on a supposedly "prestige" show. In their rush to scramble reality and pay homage to the comic while addressing real-world issues, I think they ended up with a pretty muddled message.

Spoiler: ShowHide
To have Adrian Veidt coming to the rescue at the last moment and saving the world (again?), thereby validating his messiah complex, feels like an especially bizarre choice.


Also, and I don't want to get into a nerdfight over this, but I am 100% convinced that they messed up how Dr. Manhattan's holistic time-perception/prison of determinism works.

Still, I'd much rather have a show like this, which swings for the fences, mixes serious topics with goofy sci-fi weirdness, and isn't set up to run 6 seasons — even if it is flawed — than a show that plays it safe and maintains steady middle-of-the-road quality.

Re: Watchmen TV Series (PROBABLY MANY SPOILERS)
« Reply #4 on: 04 Jun 2020, 22:47 »
Also, and I don't want to get into a nerdfight over this, but I am 100% convinced that they messed up how Dr. Manhattan's holistic time-perception/prison of determinism works.

What disturbed me was
Spoiler: ShowHide
how easy Dr. Manhattan got caught by that machine. I get that he knew he would get caught, but it was like "I know I'm going to be caught, so I'm not going to do anything to prevent it".
It looked like a logical error to me, but I don't know how other people feel.
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Mandle

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Re: Watchmen TV Series (PROBABLY MANY SPOILERS)
« Reply #5 on: 04 Jun 2020, 23:40 »
Also, and I don't want to get into a nerdfight over this, but I am 100% convinced that they messed up how Dr. Manhattan's holistic time-perception/prison of determinism works.

Well, let's face it, his way of viewing time has all the same problems that time travel stories run into unless they do the branching universes thingy. And we know that his perception of time does not allow branch-points.
I think they got away with it in the comic because of how divorced from human experience he was and became more and more "unhuman" as time went by.
It was kind of believable that he just didn't really see the difference between knowing and not knowing. It had just stopped mattering to him.
But in the TV show he has much more humanity and emotional investment in what happens so it spotlights the logical paradoxes with his time viewing power.

Also, and I don't want to get into a nerdfight over this, but I am 100% convinced that they messed up how Dr. Manhattan's holistic time-perception/prison of determinism works.

What disturbed me was
Spoiler: ShowHide
how easy Dr. Manhattan got caught by that machine. I get that he knew he would get caught, but it was like "I know I'm going to be caught, so I'm not going to do anything to prevent it".
It looked like a logical error to me, but I don't know how other people feel.

Yeah that was completely wrong. In the comic he has to be "tricked" into situations like that.
« Last Edit: 04 Jun 2020, 23:51 by Mandle »

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Re: Watchmen TV Series (PROBABLY MANY SPOILERS)
« Reply #6 on: 05 Jun 2020, 00:10 »
Well, let's face it, his way of viewing time has all the same problems that time travel stories run into unless they do the branching universes thingy.

I don't agree with this assertion. I think other time-stream paradigms can also work (both in terms of being internally consistent and as stories). Ted Chiang has several rigorous and satisfying stories set within deterministic universes, including "Story of Your Life" (the basis for Arrival, but the movie makes some changes that mean it's no longer consistent) and "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate". I've seen convincing arguments that Back to the Future is self-consistent. (Sadly, personal favorite Primer is probably not consistent.)

Also, and I don't want to get into a nerdfight over this, but I am 100% convinced that they messed up how Dr. Manhattan's holistic time-perception/prison of determinism works.

What disturbed me was
Spoiler: ShowHide
how easy Dr. Manhattan got caught by that machine. I get that he knew he would get caught, but it was like "I know I'm going to be caught, so I'm not going to do anything to prevent it".
It looked like a logical error to me, but I don't know how other people feel.

Yeah that was completely wrong. In the comic he has to be "tricked" into situations like that.

This was also my main objection, so I guess we all agree on this extremely important point.  :-D

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Re: Watchmen TV Series (PROBABLY MANY SPOILERS)
« Reply #7 on: 05 Jun 2020, 06:06 »
I've seen convincing arguments that Back to the Future is self-consistent.

You just reminded me of a pretty entertaining dream I had just last night about Back To The Future, which is weird because I have not watched it recently and didn't read any of this discussion until this morning:

Marty feels annoyed that the name of the shopping mall has changed to "Lone Pine Mall" instead of "Twin Pines Mall" because of him. He just thinks the original name was cooler or something. So he goes back in time and either stops his other self from running over the baby tree or replants a new baby tree next to its "twin" (this was unclear in the dream or maybe I just forgot which it was).

Anyway, he goes back to 1985 and goes to the mall and looks at the sign and...

Spoiler: ShowHide
... the mall's name is "Two Pines Mall".

Re: Watchmen TV Series (PROBABLY MANY SPOILERS)
« Reply #8 on: 07 Jun 2020, 16:22 »
One thing I liked about the show, was the episode titles. They are funny and punny and most of the time doesn't make sense until after I'd watched the episode. Or at least it made sense in some other way.

The determinism part is problematic. In the original comic, Dr. Manhattan takes Laurie to Mars, "because that is where their conversation takes place". And during that
conversation, he changes his opinion, which he knew he would do beforehand. The pre-tale comics DC put out changed all that into a branching universe, but I think the tv series just ignores what DC has done and follows the original instead.


So Dr.Manhattan knew he would be killed. Why didn't he stop it? Well, he kind of did. At least he found a way to survive in a sense.


I didn't like the masked police and could care less for the Rorschachs. Then again, I think comic book ideas like Jokerz gangs and the likes only detract from the original ideas and add little. On the other hand, perhaps this is a realistic take on what would happen. We already have all the maskfaces of Anonymous.

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Re: Watchmen TV Series (PROBABLY MANY SPOILERS)
« Reply #9 on: 07 Jun 2020, 20:18 »
Apparently it started out as an original idea, but had enough similarities to the Watchmen universe that they decided it made sense to tie it to that property.

I'd be interested to know where you heard this, as everything I've seen directly contradicts that. As far as I'm aware, they approached Lindelof several times specifically to make a Watchmen thing; when he came up with a good idea for it he finally agreed and built the entire thing from the ground up with a group of writers specifically as a Watchmen sequel.

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Re: Watchmen TV Series (PROBABLY MANY SPOILERS)
« Reply #10 on: 07 Jun 2020, 23:35 »
I very clearly remember reading an explanation to that effect, about how they had the concept, but then realized it had enough in common with Watchmen that people would assume they'd ripped it off, so they decided to just stick it in that universe. But I cannot find it now, and everything I do find agrees with what you say. And there doesn't seem to be any way to reconcile the two.

So maybe what I read was just fan speculation presented as fact, or I misremember it as such.

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Re: Watchmen TV Series (PROBABLY MANY SPOILERS)
« Reply #11 on: 08 Jun 2020, 06:26 »
So Dr.Manhattan knew he would be killed. Why didn't he stop it? Well, he kind of did. At least he found a way to survive in a sense.

Hmmm this is an interesting point...

Spoiler: ShowHide
Although we never find out if the wife has absorbed his powers, mirroring the way we never find out at the end of the book if the hapless newspaper assistant chooses Rorschach's journal as the "pad piece" for The New Frontiersman newspaper, thus exposing Ozymandias' grand plot and thrusting the world back onto the path of self-destruction (I guess in this TV series we are on the timeline where he did not choose the journal but I did notice the line "I leave it entirely in your hands." in the TV show which they did often with iconic lines. I wonder if a further viewing would make those lines have more value or if they were just fan service.).... End ramble...

Anyway, the interesting thing about the above quote is that maybe Dr. Manhattan knew that a future in which his wife possessed his powers was going to work out better (or had always been intended) and that's why he allowed himself to be destroyed.

Oh shit! I also just realized! He let himself be captured and destroyed to save her! It's the only way she could have survived because of course she would have followed through to the end no matter what.

DISCLAIMER: Of course it is obvious at the end of the series that she has absorbed his powers as Dr. Manhattan made it a point to tell her to remember him walking on the water of the pool, and also about the eggs. But anyway... yeah... "vague ending".
« Last Edit: 08 Jun 2020, 06:32 by Mandle »

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Re: Watchmen TV Series (PROBABLY MANY SPOILERS)
« Reply #12 on: 08 Jun 2020, 08:35 »
I seem to recall some references in the show to Rorschach-inspired conspiracy theories, so I think it does suggest the journal was published. Only that because the source was less than credible (The New Frontiersman, and Rorschach himself), and because it doesn't actually contain the most incriminating facts (he posted it before he found out Veidt's actual plans), it never made a big difference. Veidt was still around and could direct a coverup of any loose ends it revealed, anyway.

Spoiler: ShowHide
Anyway, the interesting thing about the above quote is that maybe Dr. Manhattan knew that a future in which his wife possessed his powers was going to work out better (or had always been intended) and that's why he allowed himself to be destroyed.

Oh shit! I also just realized! He let himself be captured and destroyed to save her! It's the only way she could have survived because of course she would have followed through to the end no matter what.

But remember that Dr. Manhattan doesn't see the future as a choice between possibilities, so his actions cannot be based on knowledge of alternative outcomes.

And I don't see why she would necessarily have died if he had just avoided being killed by the… I forget what they're called — the Nazis. As he was quite capable of. Unlike in the comic, it was perfectly within his power, and I think consistent with his character, to just make the whole problem go away. If he wanted to die and transfer his powers to Abar, that would be fine (though in the comic he certainly didn't seem to experience them as a gift he'd like to bestow on anybody else), but I don't think that's what the show shows happening at the moment of his destruction.

(As for the whole determinism thing, my view is that even if Dr. Manhattan doesn't have the subjective experience of free will, his actions are just as willed as anybody else's: they are the consequences of who he is and the situations he is in.)

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Re: Watchmen TV Series (PROBABLY MANY SPOILERS)
« Reply #13 on: 08 Jun 2020, 11:25 »
I seem to recall some references in the show to Rorschach-inspired conspiracy theories, so I think it does suggest the journal was published. Only that because the source was less than credible (The New Frontiersman, and Rorschach himself), and because it doesn't actually contain the most incriminating facts (he posted it before he found out Veidt's actual plans), it never made a big difference. Veidt was still around and could direct a coverup of any loose ends it revealed, anyway.

Yep, this is all correct.

Re: Watchmen TV Series (PROBABLY MANY SPOILERS)
« Reply #14 on: 08 Jun 2020, 11:37 »
So Dr.Manhattan knew he would be killed. Why didn't he stop it? Well, he kind of did. At least he found a way to survive in a sense.

Hmmm this is an interesting point...

Spoiler: ShowHide
Although we never find out if the wife has absorbed his powers, mirroring the way we never find out at the end of the book if the hapless newspaper assistant chooses Rorschach's journal as the "pad piece" for The New Frontiersman newspaper, thus exposing Ozymandias' grand plot and thrusting the world back onto the path of self-destruction (I guess in this TV series we are on the timeline where he did not choose the journal but I did notice the line "I leave it entirely in your hands." in the TV show which they did often with iconic lines. I wonder if a further viewing would make those lines have more value or if they were just fan service.).... End ramble...

Anyway, the interesting thing about the above quote is that maybe Dr. Manhattan knew that a future in which his wife possessed his powers was going to work out better (or had always been intended) and that's why he allowed himself to be destroyed.

Oh shit! I also just realized! He let himself be captured and destroyed to save her! It's the only way she could have survived because of course she would have followed through to the end no matter what.

DISCLAIMER: Of course it is obvious at the end of the series that she has absorbed his powers as Dr. Manhattan made it a point to tell her to remember him walking on the water of the pool, and also about the eggs. But anyway... yeah... "vague ending".


The title of the episode makes it pretty clear, IMO.
Spoiler: ShowHide
A God walks into Abar

Re: Watchmen TV Series (PROBABLY MANY SPOILERS)
« Reply #15 on: 08 Jun 2020, 11:54 »
I seem to recall some references in the show to Rorschach-inspired conspiracy theories, so I think it does suggest the journal was published. Only that because the source was less than credible (The New Frontiersman, and Rorschach himself), and because it doesn't actually contain the most incriminating facts (he posted it before he found out Veidt's actual plans), it never made a big difference. Veidt was still around and could direct a coverup of any loose ends it revealed, anyway.

Spoiler: ShowHide
Anyway, the interesting thing about the above quote is that maybe Dr. Manhattan knew that a future in which his wife possessed his powers was going to work out better (or had always been intended) and that's why he allowed himself to be destroyed.

Oh shit! I also just realized! He let himself be captured and destroyed to save her! It's the only way she could have survived because of course she would have followed through to the end no matter what.

But remember that Dr. Manhattan doesn't see the future as a choice between possibilities, so his actions cannot be based on knowledge of alternative outcomes.

And I don't see why she would necessarily have died if he had just avoided being killed by the… I forget what they're called — the Nazis. As he was quite capable of. Unlike in the comic, it was perfectly within his power, and I think consistent with his character, to just make the whole problem go away. If he wanted to die and transfer his powers to Abar, that would be fine (though in the comic he certainly didn't seem to experience them as a gift he'd like to bestow on anybody else), but I don't think that's what the show shows happening at the moment of his destruction.

(As for the whole determinism thing, my view is that even if Dr. Manhattan doesn't have the subjective experience of free will, his actions are just as willed as anybody else's: they are the consequences of who he is and the situations he is in.)

 
I think that without the journal being published, his likeness hadn't been adopted by the right wing activists. Although I didn't like that, I guess it's fairly consistent with Moore's views on Rorschach.

I agree that Dr. Manhattan has free will, it's just that he has "already" made the choices. It's consistent that he's surprised and says something like "I will be surprised in five minutes".


Spoiler: ShowHide
So, does the Doc have a death wish? He certainly has a love wish and seems to want the human experience. I'm not sure that rules like wanting to survive really applies to him, though. In a sense, he survives through preservation of energy.

But of course, he could easily have avoided the threat. He can be several places at the same time, for crying out loud.

The point about him not seeing the future as several possible timelines was changed in the DC prequel comic books, by the way. Not a better idea than Moore's by a long shot, but it allowed them to tell another kind of story.