Damon Lindelof and HBO's long-awaited Watchmen TV series is just days away, and the early critical reception is mostly glowing. Ahead of the premiere of Watchmen on Oct. 20, HBO screened the first six episodes of the debut season to critics.
The new series, which stars Regina King and Jean Smart among others, isn't a straight adptation of the source material. In the early reviews, most critics highlighted how this move to tell a new story is a smart one. King's performance as Sister Night and Detective Angela Abar also received praise, while the timeliness of the racial themes at play have been noted as a compelling hook.
"Watchmen is a spectacular show about broken people trying to fix their world, but it’s also a show unafraid to pick its own fights," Meghan O'Keefe wrote for Decider. "Bold, breathtaking, and polarizing, Watchmen is a triumph."
Tim Goodman for The Hollywood Reporter noted that the episodes screened for critics were promising, but the ambition of showrunner Lindelof could falter in the other three episodes yet to air. "Watchmen is a tour-de-force, no doubt, but there's a landing that definitely needs to be stuck," he added.
The pacing of the show and the score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross received praise from SlashFilm's Chris Evangelista. "Watchmen deals with weighty issues—police brutality and racism being at the forefront. But like the other elements of the series, the script attacks these issues in organic ways. There’s no preachy messaging here, and indeed, the storyline makes for complex view," Evangelista said of the topics at hand.
In an overall positive review from Gavia Baker-Whitelaw for The Daily Dot, what the show has to say about race and law enforcement was highlighted as a plus. But it was not compared favorably to the beloved source material.
"The immaculate pilot, directed by [Nicole] Kassell with powerful fixed framings (reminiscent of the comic’s panels) and rich contrasting colors, sets up a conflict between local law enforcement and domestic terrorists," wrote Ben Travers for IndieWire.
Not all of the reviews have been outright positive. "To tackle the meanness and violence of history in a truly serious way—with superheroes or with mere magnificently brave mortals telling the story—demands a focus Watchmen simply lacks, and attempts to make up for with a tone of increasing dudgeon," wrote Daniel D'Addario in a lukewarm review for Variety. He did, however, favourably compare it to the divisive film adaptation from Zack Snyder.
Watchmen is set to premiere on HBO on Oct. 20.