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American Gods

So, thoughts on the premiere episode? Because OMG.


  • 15 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Wow.  That was just incredible.  And somehow they filmed something that I thought couldn't be filmed based on the description in the book...and somehow made it work.

    If the rest of the series is as good as the first episode, we are in for a treat.
  • It looks like I won't be able to watch it.  So, I don't have much to say.
  • Well, if you happen to have an hour to spare one day - give me a call, I'd watch it again.
  • Torrented the first two episodes.  Watched the first one.  Was awesome seeing Joel Murray in it, surprised there.  Mike, I assume you are talking about Bilquis' first appearance.  Did not understand the whole helmet thing with Technical Boy.  I hate myself for saying this, but they almost made Audrey a sympathetic character.  Wow that they almost went with the BJ scene, entirely agreed that it was cut for all the right reasons.  Mixed feelings on the airport scene, but it certainly does establish Wednesday as a grifter right off the bat.  Did not understand, at all, the lynching of Shadow by Technical Boy's faceless goons.  Tech Boy, I think was made too supernatural way too early on.  I assume that the mysterious savior of Shadow at the lynching will be a new character/plot.  Some features felt like a love letter to the original, some felt completely alien.  

    Low-key is fucking awesome, but I hate that they didn't do anything with his name.  It completely stumped me the first time around.  
  • Well, I've had several almost-posts in here...might as well drop this thought:  So much weird shit has gone down that isn't in the book and contradicts (at least in my mind) the thought and feel of the book that I'm going to call this show a full plain retelling of the story.  And since that's the case, I have no idea what is going to happen next for anyone, or how the show will end.
  • So as its own thing (not comparing against the novel), how do you feel about it overall? Worth watching?
  • I'm only 4 episodes in, and while there are differences I'd still classify it at as "Faithful."  I mean, in most cases, a movie can't capture a book word-for-word and feel-for-feel, so they have to make changes to account for format, etc.  For example, Game of Thrones doesn't follow the books exactly, but it's absolutely amazing.  I feel the same way about American Gods (...not quite as good as Game of Thrones, but still some of the best TV out there).
  • Parts of it are, word for word, scene for scene, straight out of the book.  Others are completely, utterly, totally different.  I can say that as someone who rereads the book, regularly.  But you don't get that feeling watching the show.  It makes the show more interesting to me, due to the fact that I honestly don't know what is going to happen yet.  I can honestly see the series completely departing from the book at some point, and still being okay with it.  Like Mike said, it's faithful...but it certainly doesn't have the same feel to me.  The book feels like a love letter to America, and Gaiman as an emigre has often mentioned that in discussion.  The show feels more like a quasi-sci-fi-mystery series to me.  
  • This is next on my list to watch so I can cancel Starz until they air the next season. If all goes well I should be able to watch this in the next week. I'll keep you posted.

    Did you guys finish the first season?
  • I did.  I don't want to talk to much as to spoil anything.  I thought it was a great companion series to the book. I'm curious to see how they continue with it.
  • Ugh, it spiraled out of even close relation to the book.  I can't see how it will remotely stay faithful.  I remain interested because it's still Neil, but it lost me as a fan of the book.  

    Part of the big difference is how everything just sort of happens behind the world, with no one noticing in the book.  It was always sort of plausible, but just out of sight.  Everything in the show is big and all over and flashy.  There's no way anyone wouldn't notice what is going on.
  • dumps said:

    Ugh, it spiraled out of even close relation to the book.  I can't see how it will remotely stay faithful.

    Does it *have to* be completely faithful to the book in order for you to enjoy it? Asking because I agree with you that sometimes movie/TV adaptations are terrible and do nothing to link to the source material, whereas others ("Leftovers" immediately comes to mind) just exploded into transcendent awesome once it largely left its source material behind.

    I've always been intrigued by your take on things because you are thoughtfully attached to things that you are passionate about, but it sometimes feels like your window to enjoying things is only open a tiny crack. And I feel the same way to a degree about your critique of AG the TV show. The things I enjoyed about the first two episodes weren't really in the book (Anansi's boat speech being the best), but then there are scenes like the whole lynching sequence by Technical Boy's goons, which just felt too over-stylized and unnecessary.

    My question is, are you unable to get into it because it's simply an unfaithful/augmented interpretation of the book, or is it just because it's a bad show? Is it ever possible for you, personally, to detach yourself enough from your emotional/personal investment in the source material to enjoy adaptations, no matter how faithful (or not) they are to the source? I'm genuinely curious, because for as argumentative as we've been about this in the past, I'm truly fascinated by the way you digest these things. I just think you have a more thoughtful approach to dissecting mainstream media than the rest of us, and I like to know what prompts you to deliberate and judge things the way that you do.
  • I don't think I put that much thought into it.  :P

    No, It doesn't have to be completely faithful to the book for me to enjoy it.  But, I like the book because of the story.  Now that the story is different, I'm evaluating it differently.  At least I'm trying to--I have to!  I think it fundamentally changes certain basic ideas and concepts from the story.  I don't like that, because I think it changes the basic ideas and concepts behind...well...everything.  Like, if the fundamental story behind Star Wars is that love will beat evil...and then Darth Vader kills Luke in the movie adaptation--it could still be a kick-ass fight, but it changes the fundamental meaning of the saga.  I think they've sacrificed the whole, "Soul of America" for an excuse to have a lot of weird naked stuff, lots of swearing, and some crazy-ass vfx and sidebar vignettes.  Some of that stuff is awesome...but in totality it's been at the cost of the message.  I don't want to spoil anything, but Easter's big thing at the end of the season finale takes the cake: even assuming that she has the power to do that because of worship, which she didn't in the book but okay, isn't someone going to notice that everything on earth has gone wrong?  The lynching sequence with the technical boys bagmen was weird, but I could follow it...okay...  But isn't someone going to notice a police station full of dead officers?  

    I don't hate that Mad Sweeney has somehow become a weird main character, because he's awesome, but all his extra stuff is just so strange.   Why does Laura have super powers?  For what it's worth, it's the shit that Salim has more screen time in the show...but why?  And don't get me started on why Mr. World is watching Shadow masturbate.  WHY?!

    Since you reference it, I hate everything they have done to Anansi.  I was at first worried that Orlando Jones was too young.  The costuming was redeeming, to a point.  No hat...though.  The boat speech was amazing, but he's this weird, young, angry man.  In all of mythology, he's a goofy, weird, prankster.  Usually, old.  But now he's just this angry black man.  That's a tough character change to follow, given that he's one of my favorite characters.  He's the same in name only, more or less.  Great speech, just...not the same story.  I hated the reveal on Odin.  In the book it's just so subtle and drawn out.  In the show, he's yelling his name with thunder and lightning.  

    I mean, the show is straight up Bryan Fuller and Neil--so please don't think that I'm against it just because it's a tv adaptation.  I mean, Neil is still writing it.  I just don't understand why he's going the direction he is going in.  He's changed it enough that the basic concept remains, with a few highlights from the book.  And I have an interest in seeing where it goes...because it's a Neil production.  But I can't watch it any more as an adaption of the book.  For me, from an adaptation of the book perspective, it's like some weird ass fan fiction.  Same names, same settings, just bat shit insane.  It doesn't take away my interest in watching it...just my interest in watching it as and adaptation of American Gods.

    I'm all over the board with this post--I think I'd come off a bit better if we talked in person.  
  • Totally fair. I think that divide is reasonable for folks who are passionate about source material. There are entire subreddits, I'm sure, on how difficult it is to enjoy "Game of Thrones" the TV show because it's so vastly different from the books. And there'll always be that subset of people who won't ever enjoy adaptations of books because it's hard for TV/movies to compete with the image you have built up in your mind.

    A good example for me (spoilers for those who haven't read/seen the entirety of the "Harry Potter" series, either books or movies)...

    In the penultimate Harry Potter book, there's this amazing sequence that leads to Dumbledore's death. After he's killed, and Harry believes that Snape is complicit in it, he starts chasing after him as he's escaping with the co-conspirators. Harry's angry, sad, emotional -- one big pile of teenage rage. He's chasing after him, throwing (wand) curses and spells at Snape, and Snape is deflecting and attempting to flee while they exchange in a heated back-and-forth that lasts a few pages. It was an intense scene, perfectly underscoring the enormity of the death that preceded it, and I thought it was brilliantly written.

    In the movie, Dumbledore dies, Harry gets mad for a second and Snape escapes. It lasts for, literally, 10 seconds and it's over. I was, like, "WHAT??!?!?!"

    So, while it's a smaller example of the larger issues you've cited, I often find myself disappointed with the Harry Potter movies because the books are far superior, and even in areas where the movies visually succeed, they are just different enough and considerably different from my own mental image of those moments that the movies just lose me.

    And back to AG, I think it's telling that I watched two episodes and stopped. I recognize it as good TV and I appreciate the characters and the stories but it didn't engross me in the same way that a show like "The Leftovers" did (ironically, when that show left its source material behind, it became amazing), so I moved on and haven't come back. Perhaps I will someday. But I asked your perspective because, based on my early viewing, I tend to agree with you, at least with what I saw initially.
  • This is very interesting perspective to read, thank you! American Gods is still on my to-watch list, but my backlog is still quite long. It will be good to go into it with expectations that is more "inspired by" than "based off of" the book.

    To go on a tangent, since Matt mentioned GoT and I am only half way through season 7 and therefor avoiding the spoiler thread (the following comments don't have spoilers):

    I am still very much enjoying the show, and it is hitting the high notes very well. However, it is noticeably affected by having ran out of source material. I think the biggest problem is that there is an outline of where the show needs to go from GRRM. However, since the book is so dense with plot lines that even GRRM has difficulty tying them together (thus the long wait between books), the show needs to come up with ways to reach the main plot points with a very limited number of episodes. So last season and more so this one have issues with the plot jumping forward with little or no setup, or diving too deep into the well of tropes that earlier book-based seasons mostly avoided. Which is ok, I think the show runners are doing pretty good given what they have to work with and on their schedule (although a few plot lines they've come up with have been a little eye-rolling). It does leave the show feeling a little more like "fan fiction" at time for seasons 6 and 7.  Again, I am totally enjoying it still, just giving another example of how either diverging or running out of source material can affect movie/tv adaptations.
  • Matt, I'm not much of a Harry Potter fan, but the liberties taken with the movies are excruciating.  I feel like most of the time they represent more of a series of vignettes of popular scenes in the books.  Like, Quidditch is cool, right?  So let's spend 30 minutes on a Quidditch match.  And Snape sucks, right?  So let's have Snape bully everyone for 25 minutes.  Without any explanation why we should care about any of this.

    Halfblood Prince is a great reference, because it always pops into my head with the same sequence you were describing.  The goddamn movie is called the HALFBLOOD PRINCE, and the book involves Harry's obsession over who the Prince is.  The movie does none of this.  And at the end, Snape says, "By the way, I'm the Prince" and runs off.  It comes out of left field, means nothing, and contributes nothing to the story.  

    WRT to American Gods, absolutely correct, Kevin.  Inspired by.  Whole characters and situations are lifted straight from the books.  I did double-check on the Wednesday reveal, and it is different in the book--more of a dream sequence than him standing outside in reality.  Also, I think Kevin hits the nail on the head with the "extra stuff" plot.  The book does have a ton of side characters and plot, but the series is totally getting into The Hobbit territory.  Now instead of sneaking out of the elf kingdom in barrels, they're on a flume ride dodging an army of elves.  BTW, I didn't see any of the movies after the first one hurt my head.  

    I know I'm not entirely unbiased on my review, too.  I'm extra critical because I want to like it more than I do.  The show is just weird.  I don't know if it knows what it wants to be.  Maybe that is thematically on purpose.
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