American Gods: A Review, in Parts

I recently read American Gods for the third time, and you can read my review of the book here. I’ve also just signed up for Starz so that I can watch the TV adaption of the book, and rather than wait to review the show all at once at the end, I’m going to review it here, episode by episode. Since I’ll be doing all the episodes, these reviews will be short, rather than substantial.

Episode 1: The Bone Orchard Okay, first the Not Likes: the blood was dumb and the floating arm with a sword killing someone was laugh-out-loud ridiculous. Shadow, though, is perfect and Ricky Whittle is absolutely gorgeous. So far, the show is capturing the spirit of the book, and I like the characters and their relationships. Other notables from the show: Yetide Badaki as Bilquis is perfect casting. I think she’s the only one who could’ve made THAT scene hot. I didn’t recognize Pablo Schreiber from OITNB, which is probably good since I didn’t like his character. The Internet god was pretty good, but I’m not sure the first episode really explained who/what was going on in that scene.

Episode 2: The Secret of Spoons  Neverwhere is my favorite NG book, and Anansi Boys is a good contender for second place. You can imagine my excitement when Anansi appeared on the screen, though that scene was absolutely haunting. Other than that, this episode was somewhat of a sleeper, though a necessary one. I sometimes forget that folks watching the show who haven’t read the book don’t know all the background, so episodes like this one help provide some much-needed exposition.

Episode 3: Head Full of Snow Um, if episode 2 was a bit expository, this one was pretty much all exclamatory. From the sex scene to Shadow finding his groove with Czernobog, it was just all around exciting. I read that Neil Gaiman says this first season only gets the story to the House on the Rock, and I’m so glad that they’re not rushing the narrative to fit it into ten episodes so that we can see all of these beautiful scenes and really understand how these characters relate to each other.  Fave episode so far.

Episode 4: Git Gone When I re-read AG recently, I noticed more that we didn’t really understand Laura and Shadow’s relationship, and that Laura functioned almost as a deux ex machina in the (dead, rotting) flesh than an actual character. Because of that, I’m glad that the TV show gave her character an entire episode and, um, fleshed out her motivations a bit more. I also appreciated the dark comedy of this episode, and it’s the only one so far in which the spraying blood wasn’t annoying to me so far.

Haven (SyFy Series 2010-2015): Rocky Start, Goes On Too Long, But Great in the Middle

For an unabashed (now) Stephen King fan and Constant Reader, I am surprised that I haven’t been watching Haven all along. I say unabashed now, but I have been bashed in the past for my love for King by those who think he is not a “real writer.”  These criticisms make no sense to me now, but when I was younger and more insecure, I remember feeling that perhaps I wasn’t as smart or literary as other folks because I didn’t like the right writers. Now, though, I go with the Angus theory for literature, which is Screw’Em! Who cares what they think?

This series makes me wish I’d come up with a clever way to rate what I watch, like 5 bags of popcorn = excellent or three couch pillows means it was only okay. Alas, I did not. This series would definitely be a 3.5 on whatever scale of 5.

If you haven’t watched it yet either, then just know that for the first 1-5 episodes, you’re going to be doubting whether or not you will even watch the next one. The series gets off to a very rocky, very corny, and very silly start. None of the main characters (Audrey Parker, Nathan Wuornos, and Duke Crocker) seem very likeable or real; they all start as these stiff, stock characters who are hard to even pay attention to, and then they immediately become crime solvers/ saviors to unintentional X-men, which is all very peculiar.

However, at some point, the show gets much better. I tried to figure out which specific episode, but it happens over a few of them at the end of Season 1. If Haven had had a set time period and been more interested in telling a story than in having multiple seasons, this show could have been a 4.5 out of 5, even with the not-so-great start. The drawn-out-over-too-many-seasons problem means that the characters don’t grow and develop in a way that makes sense, and there are too many times when Audrey Parker says “I have to stop the troubles” and too many times where Nathan had to try to come to grips with Audrey having to stop the troubles. As a huge fan of Six Feet Under, it was great to see Eric Balfour back on the screen again, but his character was also undermined by the attempt to have too many episodes. How many times were we supposed to follow along with him coming back from the “dark side” of the troubles?

This show offers up some  funny, breaking the 4th wall quips, like Jennifer’s “You try operating a supernatural door with a vampire novel and a positive attitude.” There are also some great King Easter eggs, like one character having Dandelos cereal for breakfast and Duke wearing a Deux Ex Machina Cargo hat.

If you’re looking for a show to have on in the background while you do other things, Haven is a great choice. It would have been a show to WATCH if they’d just been okay with having a set number of episodes, but I am not sure that was even a thing back in 2010 when this show started.