Alan Moore’s classic graphic novel Watchmen (and, by extension, the 2009 feature film it inspired) is getting a TV sequel from Lost and The Leftovers’ Damon Lindelof, examining a parallel world of vigilantes, masked law enforcement and conspiracies that’s bound to be a hot ticket for comic book fans and newbies alike.
Check out everything you need to know about the TV version of Watchmen below.
When is Watchmen on TV?
The US airing will run late on Sunday 20th October, which translates as early morning in the UK.
Is there a trailer for Watchmen?
Yes – a fair bit of footage has already been released showing off the world of the show and teasing the return of the classic comic-book characters including Ozymandias (who Jeremy Irons is said to be playing), Silk Spectre (played by Jean Smart as a government agent) and the all-powerful Doctor Manhattan.
Who’s in the cast of the Watchmen TV series?
Oscar-winning actor Regina King leads the series as Detective Angela Abar, whose alter-ego is Sister Night, while Tim Blake Nelson plays her detective partner Looking Glass and Don Johnson plays Chief Judd Crawford.
Black Mirror’s Yahya Abdul-Mateen II plays Angela’s husband Cal, Louis Gossett Jr plays Will Reeves, Adelaide Clemens plays Pirate Jenny, Andrew Howard plays Red Scare, Sara Vickers plays Ms Crookshanks and James Wolk plays Senator Keane.
And as for the original graphic novel’s cast of characters, Jean Smart plays the former Silk Spectre II Laurie Blake, while Jeremy Irons plays a character finally confirmed to be Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias.
"I saw him a little bit as an ex–US President, you know, someone who had been in the thick of it and making important decisions and doing important things and now playing golf somewhere," Irons told RadioTimes.com.
"So a little bit bored, a bit annoyed, wanting to maybe get out of this situation. Someone who was trying to fill the days with things that kept him sane.
"It was a long time ago since he was pictured in the graphic novel, 30 years ago. And people change."
Scenes in the trailers also suggest the return of the godlike Dr Manhattan, and while there's no sign of Nite Owl, his trademark owl-themed aircraft Archimedes does seem to play a part in the series.
What’s the plot of the TV Watchmen?
An official synopsis reads:
"Watchmen takes place in an alternative, contemporary reality in the United States, in which masked vigilantes became outlawed due to their violent methods. Despite this, some gather around in order to start a revolution while others are out to stop it before it is too late, as a greater question rises above them all; who watches the Watchmen?"
The series also introduces a storyline where the police start wearing masks to protect their identities, while a gang of far-right activists called the Seventh Cavalry appropriate the style of original series character Rorschach (who died at the end of the Watchmen miniseries) for their own ends.
What happened in the original Watchmen?
Well, it’s very complicated – but here’s a potted version of the story.
The original Watchmen comic-book miniseries imagined a world where masked superheroes had existed then been outlawed, catching up with them some years later when one of their number called The Comedian was murdered.
Investigating the murder, extreme vigilante Rorschach and the tech-influenced Nite Owl teamed up with Silk Spectre II and the godlike Dr Manhattan only to find that hero-turned-billionaire Ozymandias (aka Adrian Veidt) was behind the conspiracy as part of a plan for world peace.
To that end, Veidt faked an alien attack by a giant monster in New York, killing half the population but uniting the world’s superpowers against the new (fictional) outside threat. While most of the ex-heroes agree to keep the secret in the interest of world peace, Rorschach refuses, forcing Dr Manhattan to kill him.
The story ends with Dr Manhattan going to live on Mars, Nite Owl/Silk Spectre assuming new identities to continue their romance and Veidt apparently getting away with it all – though a postscript suggests that Rorschach’s notes may be about to find their way to a newspaper revealing the whole conspiracy.
So that’s more or less where we left everybody (excluding the miniseries’ vast amount of world-building, flashbacks and subplots including Dr Manhattan and Silk Spectre’s relationship), and the film ended similarly – with the exception that Ozymandias (Matthew Goode) actually framed Dr Manhattan for the attacks instead of the giant alien squid.
Will there be a Watchmen season two?
Possibly not, with Lindelof claiming that the series was designed to be a self-contained story.
“I’m not being flippant when I say that the answer is one,” he told Deadline when asked about how many seasons he imagined the drama lasting.
“Does that mean that there isn’t going to be any more Watchmen? Not necessarily. Does that mean that I will be working on subsequent seasons of Watchmen? I don’t know is the answer to that question.
“We designed these nine episodes to be as self-contained as the original 12 issues,” he explained.
“We wanted to feel like there was a sense of completeness, to resolve the essential mystery at hand. Obviously, there is a potential promise for the further exploration of the world but like the seasons of Leftovers that I did as opposed to Lost, which was designed to have cliffhanger finales and a promise of future storytelling.”
In other words, watch this space…