“American Gods” (2017)
Produced by: Bryan Fuller and Michael Green
Featuring: Ricky Whittle, Emily Browning, Crispin Glover, Bruce Langley, Yetide Badaki, Pablo Schreiber and Ian McShane
The series focuses on Shadow Moon, a man serving three years in prison. With only days remaining in his sentence, Shadow is given an unexpected early release after his beloved wife Laura is killed. Shadow finds himself next to a man named Wednesday, who offers Shadow a job. Wednesday appears to be nothing but a con artist who needs Shadow as a bodyguard. The rest of the story will become clear as this series unfolds but it is knee deep in mythology old and new with many faces as well as names that will be familiar to many.
Episode One: “The Bone Orchard”
Cinematographer: Jo Willems
Directed by: David Slade
Guard (to Shadow Moon): “It’s like one of those good/news bad news jokes, isn’t it? The good news is, we’are lettin’ you out early. The bad news is your wife’s dead.”
This first episode written by Bryan Fuller who served as show runner on the incredible “Hannibal” (2014 – 2016) television series and directed by the always underrated David Slade is full of plot as well as background to main character Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) just released from prison early (marginally) on his way home to bury his now deceased wife.
Firstly this is a stunning looking first episode, the cinematographer, Jo Willems who has previously worked on the last three “Hunger Games” films is no stranger to making scenes as well as scenery look fantastic. This television show resides in the real world as well as some fantasy world that all of the protagonists inhabit, sometimes at the same time. It is to Slade as well as Willems that they walk the line with the look as well as the feel of this first episode – they know how each other works as Willems was the cinematographer on all Slade’s films, “Hard Candy” (2005), “30 Days of Night” (2007) and “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” (2010).
There have been untold stories set in US penitentiaries, or made about convicts both current and ex, so it is with glee that I was looking forward to seeing Shadow Moons introduction to this series and I was not let down. In the book as well as this show Shadow lives for one thing up to his release, the love of his wife. When he discovers her fate we are thrust into the story, we are also introduced to Mr Wednesday (Ian McShane) who is somewhat of an anti-hero, as well as being an uneasy ally to Shadow.
The opening chapter has so much to offer not only the new fan of the show, but also all those long time readers of the book. There are moments directly taken from the pages as well as brand new pieces that Gaiman has added for many reasons – no doubt we will find out in time why those changes have been made. The biggest and best set piece is in the bar where Mr. Wednesday picks up Shadows scent, as well as this we are introduced to the Leprechaun Mad Sweeney played deviously by Pablo Schreiber who threatens to steal the entire episode – but then there is that sex scene with Bilquis (played with a sexual worship by Yetide Badaki) which has to be seen to be believed.
Seek this out right now and you will have trouble waiting for Episode 2 – I know I am.
Available to stream on Amazon Prime.