Spoiler Free ‘American Gods’ Review
In one word – Outstanding!
And given the talent behind it, that should come as no surprise… Based on the hugely popular Neil Gaiman novel, American Gods has been beautifully crafted by Michael Green and Bryan Fuller.
Green is the man behind the short lived but highly regarded Kings, and is also the writer of Logan, the upcoming Blade Runner 2049, and Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant.
Fuller is… well… a genius. Not only is he the creator of such brilliant and beloved shows as Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies, and Hannibal. But also the man behind Star Trek: Discovery, until he realised he couldn’t do both shows, and had to pick one. He chose American Gods… Bear in mind, this is a man who started his career on Star Trek, and is a huge Trek fan. That should tell you something about the passion he has for American Gods.
This duo have made a career out of producing wonderfully weird and compelling tv shows, and American Gods is no exception. The basic premise of the story is that there are Old Gods, such as the Norse and Egyptian Gods, but their power has waned, due to people no longer believing in them. This has allowed for the rising of upstart New Gods – Gods of technology, media, and other modern obsessions. The New wants the Old gone for good, and so a war is brewing. This leads the mysterious Mr. Wednesday (Ian McShane) to recruit ex-convict Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) as his driver/bodyguard. The pair embark on a road trip across America to visit Wednesday’s ‘friends’, and convince them to join him in preparation for the upcoming battle.
Shadow is our way into this strange new world. Having gotten early release from prison due to a family tragedy, he’s the outsider who is experiencing this new reality along with the audience. Ricky Whittle does a brilliant job as bemused Shadow, and stands shoulder to shoulder with the veteran actor (and alway brilliant) Ian McShane. Just goes to show you, the lad can act his socks off when you give him something more to do that stand around in a cage without his shirt on *cough*The 100*cough*.
In addition to the general ‘road trip’ plot, each episode has these lovely little ‘Coming To America’ vignettes, which show how the Gods made it across the Atlantic in the first place. They’re brilliant little scenes, and add an extra dimension to an already superb show.
Whilst the tv show doesn’t follow the book entirely, it does expand on it, and play with the ideas it presents. Some people might be upset by this, but bear in mind, the book was written in 2001, when the internet was in it’s infancy, and streaming wasn’t really a thing. You’re dealing with a premise that is based on Gods arising from people’s infatuation with the modern world, and 16 years is a long time in technological and media terms. Things were going to have to change and be updated.
I don’t want to spoil any of the story from episode 1 for you, but we get to meet some very interesting characters, on both sides of the deity spectrum. However, I will say this… There is a spectacular scene with the goddess Bilquis, which made it very difficult look actress Yetide Badaki in face afterwards…
American Gods is a brilliantly constructed and wonderfully weird piece of drama. I urge you to go and watch it when it streams onto Amazon Prime Video in the UK on the 1st May 2017. This is something you won’t want to miss!