With visuals which show Bryan Fuller still isn’t over Hannibal’s cancellation and Michael Green, the co-writer of Logan alongside Fuller’s past production Heroes, you have yourself an artistic bloodbath with loads of mystery and intrigue.
Trigger Warning(s): Visual of Black Man Hanged (In Episode)
After 3 years for aggravated assault and battery, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) is released from prison. Unfortunately for him, rather than his wife Laura (Emily Browning) greeting him at the prison gates, or at the airport, she is dead. Though, to make matters worse, according to Laura’s best friend Audrey (Betty Gilpin), the car accident she died in? Well, at the time of her death she had another man’s dick in her mouth. Audrey’s husband to be exact.
Yet, all things considered, Shadow may have bigger things to worry about. If only because his new friend Wednesday (Ian McShane) a very lucky con artist, has conned Shadow into a job. One which surely will require him doing some stuff which may be questionable on the legal side, but what other choice does Shadow have? Hell, what does he really have to lose at this point?
Wednesday and the Charisma of Ian McShane
While Whittle may have the look and vibe of an action star, it is McShane as Wednesday who presents some real type of hook here. For he has this anti-hero vibe which just works so well and then with the snark in his voice, as much as it should annoy you it ends up strangely alluring. If only because this show is played out very much like a book. Shadow is so generic and kind of dull that you can easily place yourself into his shoes. So with a character like Wednesday acting as some sort of jumpstart to take us out of the monotony which is Shadow’s life, and maybe even Whittle’s acting, it is hard to not see him as some sort of savior preventing you from boredom.
Artistic Blood Splatter
The way blood is gratuitously used in the pilot almost feels like an ode to Quentin Tarantino. I mean, at times it just looks like buckets of blood are being thrown about and we are being treated to a creepy eastern European ballet. One with the same beautiful music Hannibal often had but with the reigns let go, all the gore that couldn’t be seen on NBC is unleashed.
On The Fence
It Seems Like Your Usual Premium Station Show Where It Is More About Blood, Sex, and the Superficial Over Something of Substance
You know, there is something about unbridled limitations which makes it so a lot of creators seem to focus more on the sexual content and violence than world building, character building, and the story. To a certain point, this show kind of feels like that. For those who know of Fuller’s work know he is a very visual type of director. With him, vibrant colors, tone setting, are all very important. However, due to budget limitations and low ratings, every single program he had got canceled and his vision was never as he fully wanted it.
With American Gods, however, it almost looks like he is taking advantage of his first time really being without restriction and being able to do what he has always wanted to visually. Thus leading him to forget that the visuals are all just superficial. Pretty things which may temporarily hook an audience, but won’t keep them long term. Yet, as noted, McShane presents just enough to keep you interested once you adjust to dismemberments and a very interesting sex scene in which a woman absorbs a man through her vagina.
Overall: Mixed (Stick Around)
American Gods is the type of show you wish was on a cable station for then the creators would be forced to not be so heavily reliant on blood splatter and sex to allure you. For we have seen that Fuller, and Green, are more than capable of making sympathetic and intriguing characters. However, the only one which stands out because of their personality, and not the visuals they present, is Wednesday. Leading you to believe, when you strip this show down to its basics, and take away all the gallons of blood and what not, that this show doesn’t present a whole lot to make you think “I need to get a Starz package” or “I need to buy a season pass.
Hence the Mixed label. For while I do like this and probably will watch it, something about this pilot slightly reminds me of Adam Sandler’s Netflix deal. It looks like validation for all the creators have done before, and because some network exec liked that, they decided to give no notes, no limitations, and just let Fuller and his team have at it. With that, you enter a world where you see Fuller sort of unleash his pent up desires to make something bloody, perhaps vulgar, and completely unrestrained. All the while, as he makes up for all the times, he doesn’t present much of what keeps audiences in the long term, the characters and story. Thus making those two things like a token best friend or love interest. They are there just to set up what is the real focus such as the next blood bath, to build up to some visual masturbation, and that’s it.
Yet, with both men having, for the most part, admirable records, there remains faith. After all, Fuller has had his hands in some of the most interesting productions television, broadcast specifically, has seen in years. So to combine that with Green who seems to be at a career high, you can understand them treating the pilot as a victory lap of sorts. Especially since now, there is nothing holding them back besides what fans expect from the book to be adapted.
So, here is hoping that their past work wasn’t them peaking and now, like Tim Burton after Big Fish, it is all down from here.