tek's rating: ¾

Watchmen, on HBO
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This 2019 series is "inspired by" the 1986-87 graphic novel series of the same name. Since I don't get HBO, I didn't watch it until 2021, on DVD. Actually, it's a sequel to the comics, taking place (mostly) 34 years after the original story. But it begins in 1921 with the race massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Apparently this series was the first time a lot of people heard of that, but it's a very real historical event, unlike the rest of the show.) We see a young boy who has lost his parents in the massacre escape, carrying with him a baby girl whom he found lying in a field outside town.

In the present (2019), it is three years since an event called the White Night, when a white supremacist group called the Seventh Kavalry (who all wear Rorschach masks) killed 40 police officers in their homes. Since then, a bill called the Defense of Police Act (DOPA) was passed, so all police in Tulsa wear masks to protect their identities. (I think this is only in Tulsa, but it could be all of Oklahoma, I'm not sure.) Most of them wear standard police uniforms with yellow masks that leave only their eyes visible. But a few police wear different kinds of masks, or entire costumes. The most important of these is Detective Angela Abar (Regina King), who in costume is known as Sister Night. She had barely survived White Night, at which point she pretended to resign from the police (before taking on the Sister Night identity). The only other survivor of White Night who didn't actually quit the force was the chief, who doesn't wear a mask at all, Judd Crawford (Don Johnson). He and his wife, Jane (Frances Fisher) are close friends with Angela and her husband, Cal, and their three adopted children. (I assume they are the children of Angela's late partner who was killed during White Night, though I don't recall ever hearing that specifically stated.) The other important costumed police officer is Wade Tillman, aka Looking Glass. I suppose the third most important one is Red Scare, but he's only of minor importance to the story. Anyway, one night a cop is shot by a member of the Seventh Kavalry during a routine stop. (One thing I like about this show is that police's guns are locked in a restraining device in their cars, and can only be released remotely from the police station. I think in real life that would prevent a lot of murders by the police, but in this instance it's unfortunate that the cop can't get his gun out in time to save himself.) After that, the police raid an area where many members of the Seventh Kavalry are suspected to live. Subsequently, Chief Crawford is lynched, and the Kavalry are the only suspects. However, Angela receives an anonymouse phone call that leads her to find Crawford hanging from the tree, with a very old man in a wheelchair claiming to have killed him. She doesn't report this to her fellow police, but takes the man into custody at her own secret headquarters, and later acts surprised when she hears of Crawford's death. She eventually learns that the old man's name is Will Reeves (Louis Gossett Jr.), and that he has a surprising connection to her.

Meanwhile, a member of the FBI's Anti-Vigilante Task Force, Laurie Blake (Jean Smart), who fans of the comic will recall was once a vigilante herself, is sent to Tulsa to investigate the murder. Another person who goes to Tulsa is Senator Joe Keene Jr., whose father was responsible for the Keene Act that outlawed masked vigilantism (in the comic books). There's nothing I want to say about him, even though he's pretty important to the plot. We also occasionally see scenes of an aristocratic man (Jeremy Irons) living on a country estate with his servants, and at first I had the notion that this was sometime in the past, like the 19th century or something. I'm not sure why I thought that, but these scenes are actually set in 2019. (The show does occasionally jump back to different points in the past, though.) It's awhile before the man's identity is revealed, but as soon as I realized it was set in the present, I guessed who he was, and I was right. I don't want to reveal who he was, but I will say the location of his estate isn't revealed until much later in the series, and that I definitely didn't see coming. Another important character we eventually meet is Lady Trieu, head of Trieu Industries, along with a girl named Bian, who is apparently Lady Trieu's daughter. But I also don't want to reveal anything about their part in the story.

And... a hell of a lot happens in the series' nine episodes, but I don't think I want to reveal any more of it. It's a story full of intriguing, cleverly interwoven mysteries that all fit together together brilliantly, in the end. (Actually, not just the end; bits and pieces of the story fit together throughout the series.) I don't know what else to say, except that while the story is a complete limited series, it ends on a hell of a good sequel hook. (I don't feel the need for a sequel series to be made, and I'm not sure how such a thing would even work, but I'm sure it'd be amazing if it did happen.)

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