Posts Tagged ‘american gods’

“American Gods” thoughts, Season One, Episode Three: “Head Full of Snow”

May 17, 2017

In both sequences, the faults of the modern-fantasy writing style pioneered by original American Gods author Neil Gaiman, both in his prose work and in his mega-popular Sandman comics, remain visible cracks in the edifice. The opening sequence begins with the soon to be dead woman talking to herself out loud about her good-for-nothing son, her wild grandkids, and the meal she’s cooking; It’s so needlessly direct and explicit that you can all but see the comic-book word balloons or caption boxes floating around every line of dialogue. Her acceptance of her supernatural visitor feels convincing enough, though, perhaps because she just died and that seems like the kind of experience that would leave one feeling particularly open-minded about how the world works.

The jinn sequence has no such excuse. It’s just hard to swallow the idea that a novelty salesman in a powder-blue suit who just dutifully sat in an office for seven hours waiting for a meeting with a guy who never even bothered to show up would simply roll with the punches when he discovers his cab driver’s eyeballs are on fire. I mean, does he strike you as the adventurous type? But the blithe treatment of the extraordinary as commonplace is a hallmark of Gaiman’s work and that of all the writers who followed in his footsteps, both in the Vertigo comics line built around his characters and in the world of fantastic fiction at large. This dude has to be okay with meeting (and eventually fucking) a supernatural entity within seconds of discovering his existence, because otherwise there’s no story, is there? Granted, this is in part just a genre convention: Normies react differently to supernatural beings in urban fantasy stories than they do in, say, superhero or horror. But it’s always sat wrong with me, and no amount of red-hot (literally and figuratively) sex is gonna set it right. (The less said about the decision to superimpose the subtitles for their conversation against gigantic flowing Arabic script, the better.)

I reviewed this week’s episode of American Gods, which was better but still not good, for Decider.

“American Gods” thoughts, Season One, Episode Two: “The Secret of Spoons”

May 8, 2017

They’re gettin’ the pantheon back together, man! “The Secret of Spoons,” American Gods second episode, is where the show truly begins living up to its title, as Mr. Wednesday and Shadow Moon meet a series of deities from around the world, up to and including an idol of the silver screen itself. But the residual thrill you get from watching the show do its version of a movie trope as familiar and beloved “the team comes together” is where this episode’s pleasures begin and end. Alternately corny and cringeworthy, it otherwise leads you to suspect that American Gods is material tailor made to bring out the worst in Bryan Fuller. It reduces his visual spectacle to mere excess and flattens his writing from operatic to dime-store paperback.

I reviewed this week’s episode of American Gods for Decider.

“American Gods” thoughts, Season One, Episode One: “The Bone Orchard”

May 4, 2017

Will you believe in American Gods? There are two ways to uncover the answer, and fortunately neither involves accepting any deity as your personal lord and savior. The first hinges on how you felt about Hannibal, AG co-creator Bryan Fuller’s spectacularly disgusting, confrontationally beautiful (or is that the other way around?) adaptation of Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter novels. The slow-motion gouts of computer-enhanced arterial spray, the gardens of the dead, the highly symbolic horned-animal imagery — it’s all here, as spectacular as ever under frequent Fuller collaborator David Slade’s sure directorial hand. (Even if Hannibal composer Brian Reitzell’s score works way too hard to sell it to you.)

The second hinges on whether you can stomach characters called Shadow Moon and Mad Sweeney fighting for the pleasure of Mr. Wednesday in a show called American Gods. For fans of Neil Gaiman, the comics writer and novelist from whose book Fuller and co-creator Michael Green adapted the show, this is the sort of modern-fairy-tale whimsy that makes him such a beloved and influential figure. (His work has inspired some comics writers’ entire careers. Hell, it’s inspired some comics publishers’ entire careers.) But if you’re allergic to Gaiman’s “it’s the Magic of Storytelling” schtick, or to the urban-fantasy vibe that this show shares with series like Preacher and True Blood (themselves based on books that are hard to imagine existing without Gaiman), you may be out of luck.

Looks like I’m covering American Gods after all! I reviewed the series premiere, which as you can see above shook out how you might have thought it would for me, for Decider.

The 25 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2017

January 19, 2017

TWIN PEAKS

Showtime, May 21

“I’ll see you again in 25 years”: Ok, so the ghost of Laura Palmer may have wound up being off by a year or so when she uttered these immortal words to Agent Dale Cooper. But hey, better late than never. As it stands, the return of David Lynch and Mark Frosts’s seminal small-town–noir series – arguably the most influential show for TV’s New Golden Age – will pick up with much of the original cast, including Kyle MacLachlan as Coop and Sherilyn Fenn as Audrey Horne, in tow; everyone from Laura Dern to Trent Reznor and Eddie Vedder are slated for cameos. The original Peaks was both heartbreakingly empathetic and pants-pissingly scary; there’s no reason to expect the Lynch-directed Season Three won’t follow suit. STC

I wrote about Twin Peaks, Game of Thrones, Fargo, The Handmaid’s Tale, Iron Fist and more for Rolling Stone’s list of the 25 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2017.