It’s been fifteen years since Neil Gaiman published American Gods, a hefty tome blending contemporary Americana with mythology and fantasy, and given the enduring popularity of the author and his devoted fanbase, the transition of heavyweight drama to premium channels and the surge in both long form drama and genre programming that it would eventually end up on screen was somewhat inevitable.
Originally developed unsuccessfully by HBO, it moved to Starz, home to Torchwood: Miracle Day, Da Vinci’s Demons and Outlander, where a new version was developed by Hannibal‘s Bryan Fuller and Gotham‘s Michael Green, both serving as executive producers alongside Gaiman himself.
With the first season only covering a third of the novel and also incorporating material from the companion novel Anansi Boys, it is anticipated that the show is intended to run for at least three seasons, and it features a vast ensemble cast, many of whom have worked with Fuller before.
Alongside The 100‘s Ricky Whittle and Deadwood‘s Ian McShane as Shadow Moon and Mr Wednesday, it also stars Sucker Punch‘s Emily Browning, Orange Is the New Black‘s Pablo Schreiber, Back to the Future‘s Crispin Glover, Constantine‘s Peter Stormare, The X-Files‘ Gillian Anderson and Pushing Daisies‘ Kristin Chenowith.
With no airdate yet confirmed, the first trailer for American Gods was premiered at San Diego Comic Con, and the team have high expectations based on their love of the source material and the pedigree of those involved on screen and behind the cameras.
Dario Persechino – I am very much in the minority by being a Neil Gaiman fan who doesn’t rate American Gods among the top of his work, Neverwhere and Good Omens taking the top spots.
That said the trailer instantly grabbed me and made me want to revisit the book. It looks beautifully shot, the colours rich and deep. There’s something about the style that makes me think of Carnivàle, where such close attention was paid to the music and the look of scenes to create that slightly more dark fantasy version of the world.
The cast look great. Ian McShane as Mr Wednesday seems a perfect choice, and Ricky Whittle looks good as Shadow. Sad we didn’t get to see any of Gillian Anderson yet but the best things come to those who wait. After this trailer I am looking forward to this adaptation far more than I had been.
Maggie Symon – Interesting, might give it a watch to see how it pans out, but I think it is mainly to see what Ian McShane’s character is all about – I’m thinking the devil at the moment. It is made by Starz so it will probably mean too much sex and violence instead of plot and I’ll get bored and switch off.
Adam Dworak – I’m sorry, but I’m just not buying it. Quite often I am complaining about trailers revealing too much but this one does not show enough to gain my attention and interest. Many of my friends who have read Gaiman’s book said how great this trailer is, how faithful or not it is but I didn’t read the book and I don’t see anything special or exciting.
If the trailer requires the knowledge of “off screen” material and appeals mostly to those who “know” it’s an instant fail for me, I’m afraid.
Michael Flett – Terrible confession. I have a signed first edition of American Gods… and I’ve never read it. Neil is a frequent guest of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and I was seeing him a few years ago along with some other authors, and I wanted to have read at least one book by all of them before I met them. I finished Max Schaefer’s Children of the Sun about three in the morning of the afternoon I was seeing him.
For the sake of expedience, for Neil it was easiest to read something short and light… so I read The Graveyard Book. And despite good intentions, and having met him several more times, all I’ve had the chance to read since then is The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
Not being a comics person and so never having read Sandman, I think I was a bit put off in that my first experience of his work was MirrorMask, which utterly bored me. Terribly pretty but painfully tedious. That made me trepidatious about Stardust but I actually loved it.
I have enough friends who I trust who rave about the book and are so excited for the show and loved Hannibal (not seen it either, I know, another oversight to be rectified – someone find me more hours in the day, please?) so I will try and catch this, and certainly the trailer looks stylish, serious and intriguing, even if I hadn’t already been sold on it on reputation alone.
More than anything this reminds me of Carnivàle, one of my all time favourite shows which I still miss hugely, the flipping between the unforgiving bleakness of the real world and a more fantastical realm and in particular that epic tree, the hints of an epic clash brewing offscreen between primal forces of good and evil. I seriously hope it does well so they can play our whatever long game they have in mind.
Bryan Fuller knows how to put a show and an ensemble together and the cast are going to be great, and Gillian Anderson and Peter Stormare are both incapable of giving poor performances – he even gave Tilda Swinton a run for her money in Constantine.
Certainly, Bryan has also got plenty of experience blending the mundane and the fantastical, for example in Dead Like Me; Pushing Daisies, much as I adored it, isn’t such a great example as it was a much more surreal show, fully driven by the glorious whimsy of psychedelic pie, and with Outlander commissioned up to, what, season four now and they’ve only just finished broadcasting the second, they are a channel who support and have faith in genre programming, so all the signs and portents for these American Gods are good.