The upcoming Watchmen TV series may stray far from the source material. Last month, it was reported that LOST and The Leftovers co-creator Damon Lindelof had been hired by HBO to develop an adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' iconic 1986 limited comic book series (and later graphic novel), Watchmen. The news came almost two years after it was first reported that HBO was developing a Watchmen TV series, though all they had to say at the time was that they were in preliminary talks with creatives about the project.
Then, earlier this year, reports surfaced about Warner Bros. looking into developing an R-rated animated adaptation of the graphic novel, thus potentially indicating plans to shelve the live-action TV series. However, that didn't seem to be the case when Lindelof reportedly boarded the TV project in June. Although, even his involvement may be in question. Yesterday, Lindelof said that he hasn't had any meetings with HBO about Watchmen, though he said that he was interested in the project and seemed to indicate that he was at least contacted by the network about the adaptation.
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Lindelof's reluctance to confirm his involvement with the Watchmen TV series makes today's comments from HBO's president of programming, Casey Bloys, perplexing. Bloys discussed HBO's slate during the network's summer TCA presentation today, and Bloys told IGN afterward that Lindelof's Watchmen TV series may stray from the source material and even include some original plot points.
"I don't want to talk too much about it, but Damon is thinking about it in a way exactly as you describe it. Which is, how do you take the material and derive from it a TV show, without making it a literal translation?"
Those who've read the Watchmen graphic novel know that the story has a definitive beginning and a definitive ending, which is why it was told as a limited series in the first place. So, translating that story into a full-fledged series (not miniseries) would, of course, require deviations from the source material. When asked about Lindelof potentially creating material specifically for the show, Bloys responded, "I think so, yes." The HBO executive also explained that if anyone could do that, it's Lindelof, who he had worked with while the writer was shepherding The Leftovers.
"Damon is one of the smartest, most passionate, most thorough writers I've ever worked with, so he's really thinking about this in amazing ways. Again, I don't want to talk about the details of it, but when you sit with him, and you see the way his mind works, it's really kind of amazing."
The last Watchmen adaptation was Zack Snyder's 2009 film. And as with virtually every other Snyder-directed film, Watchmen split critics and audiences. However, the movie's Ultimate Cut has since received almost universal acclaim, with other notable Hollywood directors heralding the film as a "masterwork." Despite the movie's extended version achieving acclaim from critics and audiences alike, Gibbons believes that the upcoming Watchmen TV series may, in fact, outshine the movie. Gibbons suggested that Watchmen works better as a TV show rather than a movie because it's an episodic story, and episodic narratives don't always fit within the confines of a two-to-three hour film; unless, of course, the story stretches across multiple theatrical installments.
However, it's worth noting that Gibbons expressed his thoughts prior Bloys' comments, so it's possible that the acclaimed artist may not consider the new adaptation better than the movie upon seeing it. Although it sounds like HBO and Lindelof have every intention of moving forward with the Watchmen TV series, we'll just have to wait and see if they actually follow through.