Alan Moore’s Watchmen is probably the best, most influential superhero comic of all time. An examination of the underlying assumptions and psychology of people who would put on masks to fight crime, it almost single-handedly (bar Denny O’Neil) made superheroes ‘real’ – or about as realistic as they ever could be, of course.
But it’s a very dense text and while you can remove certain elements of it relatively easily – bye, bye pirates! – try to unpick it too much and you lose Watchmen‘s intrinsic field: what makes Watchmen what it is. Small wonder then that Hollywood spent forever trying to adapt it before essentially making a frame by frame adaptation of the comic, just with a slightly different McGuffin.
Heaven knows what HBO’s ‘freer’ adaptation will be like.
That density of writing means that despite its influence being felt throughout comics and TV, there have been very few straight-on ‘homages’ (aka rip-offs). Nobody has done ‘Watchmen in space’, ‘Watchmen on Middle Earth’ or anything else.
Until now. Because now, thanks to The Umbrella Academy, we have ‘Watchmen with super-powered kids’.
In the US: Fridays, DC Universe
In the UK: Not yet acquired
At the start of the 90s, DC’s Vertigo imprint of adult-oriented comics was a powerhouse of creativity – one largely powered by Brits. Many of the titles took existing characters and gave them new depth. Swamp Thing had been about a relatively ordinary, second-tier character – a man turned into swampy beast – but in Alan Moore’s hands, Swamp Thing became a swampy beast that just thought it had once been a man but that was actually the embodiment of nature – a Green Man.
John Constantine had been a guest character in Swamp Thing whom Jamie Delano turned into the embodiment of British working class street cool, punk and post-punk anger, and rage against Thatcherite injustice in Hellblazer. Peter Milligan’s Shade The Changing Man saw an alien poet in a coat of madness critiquing American society, while Neil Gaiman’s Sandman gave us deities, dreams and re-examinations of magic and history.
Among this mix was Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol, which rebooted an exceedingly second-tier group of misfits and turned them into something vastly more interesting. Morrison’s embrace of dadaism transformed the comic into something extraordinary, with (literally) two-dimensional characters who can drain people’s sanity, paintings that could eat cities, a street that was actually a superhero and more.
All of which made it an odd choice to be nascent streaming service DC Universe’s second piece of original programming. To be fair, its first, Titans, with its motley collection of sidekicks, was an odd choice, too, and it turned out great. But Doom Patrol? How were they going to capture in a TV show all the things that made the comic something more than just a bunch of rubbish superheroes facing relatively rubbish challenges?
The quick answer is: they didn’t. The longer answer is: they didn’t… until the final five minutes of the first episode.
Every week or so, TMINE flags up what new TV events BAFTA is holding around the UK
Finally! After weeks of additions to February’s line-up, BAFTA’s finally letting us know at least some of what it’s going to give us in March. There’s two events so far, both focused on behind the scenes.
BAFTA Masterclass: I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
Monday, 11 March 2019 – 7:00pm
Princess Anne Theatre, 195 Piccadilly, London
Hear from the team behind the BAFTA-winning programme who will share their insights on bringing the hit reality show to our screens.
On the back of their 18th season in the jungle, officially the most watched series in the show’s history, our I’m A Celebrity… panel will re-live some of their best moments. We’ll celebrate the craft of the show, from casting, to Bushtucker trials, to how the team keep the show fresh and inventive, offering you the inside track on the making of this much loved show. Full panel to be announced.
Friday, 15 March 2019 – 9:00am
David Lean Room, 195 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LN
An exclusive opportunity to hear from the commissioning team across Sky’s portfolio of channels on their programming priorities and plans for the year ahead.
The senior team at Sky, led by Director of Programmes Zai Bennett, will discuss their content plans and share their ‘wishlists’ across a host of genres – drama, entertainment, comedy, arts and children’s and their views on how to resonate with their audiences.
Sky’s investment and commitment to original programming is at an all-time high. The team will drill down into recent commissions, as well as look to the future and talk through their ambitions for the channels, covering how they like to work with producers and support and attract on and off screen talent.
Zai Bennett is Director of Programmes, Sky Entertainment UK and Ireland
Cameron Roach is Acting Head of Drama
Jon Montague, Head of Sky Comedy
Lucy Murphy, Head of Kids Content
Phil Edgar Jones, Director of Sky Arts and Head of Entertainment and Arts Commissioning