Movies & TV / Columns

Are We Okay With Only One Season of Watchmen?

January 18, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Watchmen - This Extraordinary Being

The behind-the-scenes story of Watchmen is as complex and layered as the classic book itself.  

“My book is a comic book. Not a movie, not a novel. A comic book,” Alan Moore referring to Watchmen told Entertainment Weekly back in 2005. “It’s been made in a certain way, and designed to be read a certain way.”

That didn’t stop Zack Snyder’s Watchmen movie from being made in 2009. Even though it had its detractors, Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons wasn’t one of them. 

“I think Watchmen was a really difficult movie to make because of the shape of the comic book and the way the story didn’t fit comfortably in a movie,” said Gibbons. “I think Zack Snyder did a great job and I was really happy with it. The other thing about it is that we sold a lot of copies of the graphic novel. Which meant even people who didn’t like the movie were now reading Alan’s words or looking at my pictures.”

Moore’s thoughts didn’t stop HBO from releasing the TV series in 2019 either. Damon Lindelof, the showrunner for the series knew it was a daunting task, especially creating under the long shadow that Moore cast. 

“There is no version of Watchmen I could make that would please him,” Lindelof said in an interview with Quartz. “Not only that, but there’s no version of Watchmen I could make that he would ever watch.”

While Lindelof’s Watchmen didn’t directly adapt Moore’s story it turned tweaked things a little to tell a new one that takes place in a present-day version of the fictional world Moore and Gibbons created. 
Lindelof spoke about the problems with honoring a creator who would rather you not play with his toys:

“What are the ethical ramifications of this even existing at all when I completely and totally side with the creator? Acknowledge that the creator has been exploited by a corporation? Now that very same corporation is basically compensating me to continue this thing.

I ask, “Is it even hypocrisy?” Then I say, as a fan, “Where would I come down on this thing if someone else was doing it? If I heard someone else was doing an HBO series called Watchmen that was not a strict adaptation of the book?” I felt that I’d be really angry about it and then I’d watch it. [Laughs.] I wonder how many of the angry people who don’t think it should exist will actually have the discipline to not even watch it. Those are the people that I really admire. The ones who are like, “This shouldn’t exist and I’m literally not watching it.” That’s an admirable position.”

Against the odds, Lindelof was able to do the source material justice, winning over a doubting fanbase and earning critical acclaim. More importantly, it had Gibbons in its corner. 

The artist said, “The TV series is sort of interesting because it’s actually set 30 years after [the events of Watchmen]. If you imagine you lived in a world where Watchmen happened back in the ‘80s, you’re now in that world today. The way it’s changed is completely unexpected. It was certainly unexpected to me. There’s enough distance where it doesn’t feel like it’s a pastiche or a rehash. It all feels completely fresh.”

“I’ve seen the pilot and I’ve read four or five of the screenplays and I’m absolutely blown away by it. If you’re familiar with Watchmen, there’s all sorts of stuff that’s going to make your little fanboy heart happy. If you’re not familiar with it, it stands alone as a really interesting alternate reality story.”

Sadly, while the first season was near perfect, don’t look for a second season because it looks like Lindelof isn’t interested in doing it.

HBO programming chief Casey Bloys told USA Today that Lindelof, “brilliantly took this graphic novel and just kind of broke it open and created a whole new world,” in which Regina King starred as a masked cop in Tulsa, in a 2019 when Robert Redford is president. 

“It’s really in Damon’s thinking about what he wants to do. If there’s an idea that excited him about another season, another installment, maybe like a Fargo, True Detective (anthology) take on it, or if he wants to do something different altogether. We’re very proud of Watchmen, but what I’m most interested in what Damon wants to do.”

Lindelof spoke to USA Today and said he’s told the story he wants to tell and has no interest in a second season, though he’s “given my blessing” to HBO should it want to pursue a new installment with another writer-producer.

But Bloys concedes that’s unlikely to happen: “It would be hard to imagine doing it without Damon involved in some way.”

Which brings up an interesting “creator” debate when you look at how Moore’s feelings on the subject were taken and how Lindelof’s are respected. 

Will HBO stick with its decision? Since the AT&T-Time Warner merger, the rumor around town is a mandate at HBO to increase programming. More originals, and especially more successful franchises, are needed. A Watchmen anthology series seems like no-brainer. Toss a few big names around and it would be quite a draw.

Do you want another season, or 3, of Watchmen? With or without Lindelof’s involvement?