Having always intended to read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, and having endless recommendations from friends and family, when they announced that StudioCanal and Amazon were producing the TV show, and that Gaiman would be involved, I was deeply intrigued. Thankfully, and excitedly, the series does not disappoint in any way. In fact, American Gods is one of the most innovative, captivating and aesthetically astounding TV series that I’ve seen in years.
The best thing about reviewing American Gods is the almost impossible nature of spoiling anything because it’s so diverse, surreal and unpredictable, even if I were to explain what happens, you’d still be absorbed by the nature of the narrative and progression of the story.
Based around a man named Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), who we meet being released from prison, it’s initially about his relationship with Ian McShane’s mysterious Mr Wednesday, who Shadow sits next to on a flight home. After a cryptic discussion, Wednesday employs him as a bodyguard but, let it be said now, Shadow won’t be your normal guardian because everything isn’t exactly straightforward and even as the viewer, we’re (comfortably) not sure what’s going on. Even in the early stages, we’re definitely heading to a strange set of events and over 8 hour-long episodes you’ll get to delve inside the mind of Gaiman and the two showrunners who’ve made it all possible, Bryan Fuller (Hannibal) and Michael Green (screenwriter of Logan and Blade Runner 2049), and it’s deeply fascinating all the way through.
In time you’ll get to meet both the ‘Old’ Gods and the New, which includes ones such as Technical Boy (another Brit in the shape of Bruce Langley), Media (portrayed in sublime fashion by Gillian Anderson) and even the mind-twisting existence of Mr World – Crispin Glover in a fine, creepy and powerful role. In fact, despite all the surreal nature of the series, it all revolves around believable and strong performances from all the actors involved. Ricky Whittle offers up an utterly brilliant performance as lead Shadow Moon, his character doesn’t always know what’s going on, but he definitely gives it everything. Another Brit legend, Ian McShane, is the wily, mysterious Mr Wednesday but you never lose sight of the power beneath his ‘old’ frame. It’s also great to see Emily Browning get another big role as Laura Moon and is funny, dark and as charming as her character has to be, check out God Help the Girl for another great role of hers recently. Finally, in the lead roles, it’s Pablo Schreiber’s Mad Sweeney who really does steal the show on numerous occasions as a seriously down-on-his-luck Irish-American man, but he’s definitely got a trick or two up his sleeve alongside some wonderful character arcs that weave through American Gods quite effortlessly.
The series is highly recommended if you like to be taken to places you don’t normally go, and if you’re after something refreshingly original in this age of remakes and re-worked TV shows with the same base material. American Gods is a mind-entwined magnificent, mellow, bloody, brilliant labyrinth of the unknown, and you’ll want to go back time and again.
Order it here: http://amzn.to/2vgzBoQ
Your Blu-ray Extras offer up over 2 hours of goodness as well, here’s a guide:
- San Diego Comic-Con Panel Footage
Showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Greene are joined by Bruce Langley, Yetide Badaki, Pablo Schreiber, Ricky Whittle, Ian McShane and Neil Gaiman at a San Diego Comic-Con panel to celebrate the series
- Ian McShane Interview
The legendary Ian McShane talks candidly about American Gods, Mr Wednesday and the freedoms a show like American Gods gains by not being on network television
- Ricky Whittle and Emily Browning Interview
Your new favourite dysfunctional married couple, Shadow and Laura Moon, discuss their unique dynamic and what it means to them to be part of American Gods
- American Gods Origins with Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman returns to Reykjavik to reminisce about how the city fuelled his fascination for Norse folklore, which in turn led to the creation of American Gods.
- Bruce Langley Interview
Technical Boy Bruce Langley talks about the most unpredictable of the New Gods
- Ian McShane and Ricky Whittle Interview
Having been thrust straight into the pantheon of great double acts, the men behind Shadow Moon and Mr Wednesday discuss bringing the characters to life
- Book Vs Show
The defining question when it comes to adaptations, this featurette examines what fans of the book will get from the series and vice versa
- New Gods
A look at the New Gods of American Gods, including Media (Gillian Anderson), Mr World (Crispin Glover) and Technical Boy (Bruce Langley).
- Old Gods
Learn about the cultural roots of the Old Gods seen in the series, from fertility god Bilquis through to the deathly horror of Czernobog and, of course, the enigmatic Wednesday
- What is American Gods?
Exclusive insight into the most exciting television event of the year from the cast and crew behind the series