Live: Best Cyber Monday Deals Live: Cyber Monday TV Deals Tech Fails of 2022 Deals Under $10 Deals Under $25 Deals Under $50 Streaming Deals on Cyber Monday Cyber Monday Video Game Deals
Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?
No, thank you

HBO's Watchmen cranks up the story and the music

The adaptation of the iconic comic starts airing Sunday. The clock is ticking, and the time has come for a reckoning.

Watchmen's first episode screened to fans at New York Comic Con 2019.

Who watches the Watchmen? I definitely will. When HBO adapts one of the most famous comics of all time, it's an easy decision.

Watchmen explodes onto TV screens on Sunday. I saw the first episode earlier this month at New York Comic Con.

This isn't meant to be a review of Watchmen's first episode (because, frankly, the experience of watching the show in a panel with cranked-up theater speakers doesn't equate with how most people will experience the show). But I can tell you it's a continuation or extension of the world crafted by Dave Gibbons and Alan Moore in the original graphic novel.

After an infamous massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officers choose to wear masks to protect their identities. Sister Knight, a former officer turned vigilante, enters the story as the police fend off a white supremacist group. She has a husband and kids and the ability to take down racists with her fists (and guns).

Music is clearly going to be a big focus for Watchmen, using everything from R&B to barbershop chorus-style tunes to electronic dance music as the action picks up. When the latter style kicks in during intense fight scenes, it feels like the battle scenes from The Matrix when heavy gunfire would be accompanied by a thumping beat.

What's particularly fascinating about the beginning of Watchmen is how it doesn't lean too much into the science-fiction aspect of the world. It's hinted at, but the first episode feels closer to the present-day-alternate-reality of shows like The Man in the High Castle or The Handmaid's Tale. In a way, this first tale is something that could happen in real life, if a few tragic circumstances and twists were added to the timeline.

That said, during the Comic Con panel, show creator Damon Lindelof revealed that the intention isn't to string out the plot. The first season will be a coherent nine episodes with a beginning, middle and end.


Jean Smart's Laurie Blake has a connection to the original Watchmen story.

Mark Hill/HBO

"We plotted out these nine episodes so we knew exactly where we were headed," Lindelof said, noting that a second season is possible if viewers become hungry for it. So hopefully no cliff-hangers.

Clips from future episodes also screened, focusing on more characters, like actress Jean Smart's Laurie Blake, who discusses her connection with Doctor Manhattan from the original Watchmen story. 

A second clip introduced Hong Chau's Lady Trieu, whom the actress describes as the "boss bitch." Trieu is seen sitting down with a couple and immediately outlining her demands. And a final highlight reel teed up the future of Sister Knight's storyline, a ticking clock and a possible looming nuclear threat. (Of course it's nuclear. Afterall, Doctor Manhattan is around here somewhere.)

Watchmen also stars Jeremy Irons as Adrian Veidt (though one official tweet says only that in the show he's "probably who you think he is"), Don Johnson as Tulsa Police Chief Judd Crawford and Tim Blake Nelson as Detective Looking Glass.

This story was originally published on Oct. 4.