selenak: (Illyria by Kathyh)
[personal profile] selenak
The long awaited Fuller/Gaiman offspring just debuted, and thanks to Amazon Prime, I can watch it without having to wait.

It's impossible for me to review sans spoilers for the book, though. I just tried, and it's stumping me in every other sentence, so I won't. Show only viewers, beware! There be book spoilers beneath the cut.



The first episode follows the beginning of the book pretty faithfully, plot wise, though there are some tiny departures and/or twists already. Partly due to updating: post 9/11, Shadow can't so easily get his plane ticket and switch it to another day, for example. Partly due to show-not-tell: Wednesday's introduction is slightly altered, in that Shadow observes him pulling a befuddled old man act on the air port woman and thus scoring a First Class seat before meeting him on the air plane proper. It immediately makes it clear to both the audience and Shadow that Wednesday is a (very good) con artist. But partly also because of the difference in media (and some updating). In the novel, I felt that Technological Boy was more annoying than a menace. Not least because Shadow had trouble taking him seriously, but also because the threat of his minions killing Shadow didn't stay on page long enough for it to feel real before it was Undead Laura to the rescue, at which point Laura's state of being and what that means for her and Shadow are all readers (at least this reader) focus on. Whereas in the tv show, the Internet God still has the same text and Shadow also has trouble taking him seriously, but the encounter itself feels dangerous with its Matrix-esque tricks, and the aftermath truly frightening as Fuller deliberately uses lynching imagery and current day associations - a group of uniformed men kicking a black man and nearly succeeding in killing him. (I was a bit surprised that he keeps the Laura reveal from his cliffhanger ending, i.e. we see SOMEONE tore all the minions apart, but not who yet. I hope that doesn't mean he'll postpone it for much longer. Laura was one of the most interesting characters to me.)

The visual artistry throughout is amazing and very Bryan Fuller. Shadows' dreams are a golden opportunity for him to revel in the beautifully bizarre. (He even pulls off the infamous Bilquis scene without it coming across as ridiculous, though mind you, I thought when reading the book and I still thought when watching the scene: This is such guy thing. I.e. a very male nightmare.) It also feels at times deliberately emulating comics panels - Mr. Iblis writing his chronicle with the writing overlapping the images - which feels right for a Gaiman story.

Actors: Because Shadow in the first part of the book is such an observer, not an active character, and numb from shock to boot, I was glad to see Ricky Whittle can convey a lot with his face and voice, and makes you feel for Shadow. (Oh, and he's gorgeous, too.) Ian McShane of course was born to play Wednesday. I expected him to revel in the speeches, aphorisms and dialogue, but that new introduction threw me (in a good way), because he (and Wednesday) did that helpless befuddled old man act perfectly. (Speaking of acts, I note that Fuller lets Low Key Liesmith wear a moustache in prison and never lets Shadow address him by name; only when you check the credits you know that the character is called. Considering saying it out loud already gives the game away, I don't blame Fuller, but re: moustache, you know, I think a scarred lip wouldn't be THAT much of a giveway because Kids These Days.) Wednesday being compelling, untrustworthy and charming all at once was just how I'd imagined, but the rapport between him and Shadow in terms of chemistry surprised me - not that Shadow isn't distrustful just like in the novel, but when he can't help but replying, there's an immediate push and pull.

Audrey gets a slightly different scene from the novel: far more openly mad with grief and hurt, instead of just the one gesture and then the controlled sentences. It humanizes her somewhat while the scene still ends revealing she has resentments predating the deaths/betrayals.

Mad Sweeney, by contrast, comes across as less desperate and more joyful than in the novel, but then the episode only has the bar scene, and the desparation doesn't come into play until his second appearance.

Trivia: okay, the dialogue hints here re: a certain secret in Shadow's ancestry are way heavier than in the book. Which makes me wonder whether he'll find out earlier on the tv show?

Date: 1 May 2017 18:43 (UTC)
likeadeuce: (Default)
From: [personal profile] likeadeuce
I felt like such an idiot getting through the novel without grasping 'Low-Key' s identity though I have heard others had the same experience so maybe it IS that you don't say the name out loud?

Shadow in my head was much more disheveled than Whittle, who sure knows how to war a shirt, but I am certainly not complaining. The stopping point for the episode took me by surprise too, so I'm wondering what kind of reveal we're in for re: Laura; I loved the Audrey scenes, I hope she comes back though I don't think she does much if at all in the book??

I'm a bit torn if I'm going to keep subscribed to this or come back and watch it all when it's over. I'm into this so far more from curiosity/ I wonder how they handle this to real attachment to the show itself, maybe just because the book is so vivid in my mind.

Date: 1 May 2017 21:18 (UTC)
m_nivalis: plush weasel, reading a book (Default)
From: [personal profile] m_nivalis
If it's any consolation I didn't get it either until the reveal and a) I'm Swedish, b) I'm interested in Norse archaeology, c) his name and attributes (scars from stitch-closed lips) are right there on the first page! Ok, I would pronounce Low Key and Loki differently, but still... his scarred lips... (*headdesks*)

Date: 2 May 2017 00:26 (UTC)
gehayi: (zoe_you_paid_money (irulan_amy))
From: [personal profile] gehayi
the encounter itself feels dangerous with its Matrix-esque tricks, and the aftermath truly frightening as Fuller deliberately uses lynching imagery and current day associations - a group of uniformed men kicking a black man and nearly succeeding in killing him.

I had been looking forward to this show for a year--and today I canceled my STARZ subscription because of that scene.

Date: 2 May 2017 05:26 (UTC)
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
I thought the Bilquis scene was beautifully shot so that it didn't have to be a horror scene, and neither character was scared or in pain - it wasn't scary to me at all. Shadow and Wednesday are terrific together.

Date: 2 May 2017 10:53 (UTC)
st_aurafina: Rainbow DNA (Default)
From: [personal profile] st_aurafina
I love this Shadow! His face is gorgeous and his reactions are understated and yet tell you a lot, and I don't know, there was something very of [the spoiler] about him whenever Bryan Fuller let loose with that particular effect.

I was dreading the Bilquis scene but it was actually kind of beautiful and less full of fear than I expected. (Though I imagine it's terrifying to the male audience? I don't know.)

All the mythical characters are such emotional vampires, you can see it in their faces - they light up when there are strong feelings flowing. (Except for tech boy, which I guess says something about him and his ilk.) I didn't expect that to be so visually effective, but it really was.

Date: 2 May 2017 22:54 (UTC)
shadowkat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowkat
So, you can watch on Amazon Prime without subscribing to STARZ?

Date: 3 May 2017 16:10 (UTC)
shadowkat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowkat

Okay, how? I went into Prime last night, and the only possibility I saw was "Starz 7 day trial" - would prefer not to subscribe to Starz if at all possible. (Nothing against Starz, just trying to scale back on entertainment costs.)

Date: 3 May 2017 18:03 (UTC)
shadowkat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowkat

Are you watching via computer or fire stick? That may be the difference?

Date: 3 May 2017 18:07 (UTC)
shadowkat: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shadowkat

No, just checked, the US has different rules. Amazon probably has the foreign distribution rights, and Starz has exclusive US distribution rights, with Amazon potentially picking it up after it airs. They do that a lot to ensure people subscribe to Starz in the US.

Date: 3 May 2017 12:04 (UTC)
saturnofthemoon: (Death)
From: [personal profile] saturnofthemoon
It's not just his parentage that was alluded to, I swore I saw a reference to mistletoe too. I'll probably have to watch it again to get all the mythological references.

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