Friday, May 12, 2017

American Gods, Season 1 Episode 1 "The Bone Orchard"

american gods opening titles
Published in 2001, post the Y2K mass hysteria and only months away from 9/11, “American Gods” is a unique novel; equal parts fantasy tale and travelogue, with just a smattering of social satire. To briefly summarize the story, “American Gods” is a journey into the American firmament wherein modernity has made the old gods as obsolete as the telegraph or landline phones. Fast-forward to seventeen years later and fans of the literary work can now indulge in a visually sumptuous adaption of the work by TV auteur Bryan Fuller and Michael Green, creator of “Kings” (2009) and a successful screenwriter in his own right.
For those unfamiliar with Gaiman’s novel the premise of “American Gods” is simple. Long ago, gods roamed America. They fed and grew strong on people’s faith. As modernity approached faster and faster with every technological discovery and social revolution the Old gods of religion gave way to the New gods. These New gods; media, technology, the stock market, etc. etc., represent America’s obsessions. Yet, though the Old gods have lost most of their power there is an uneasy truce between the two camps, until of course, the start of our story.
The premiere episode, “The Bone Orchard”, does exactly what all good pilot episodes should do: introducing our leads, developing the central conflict in the series, and setting the tone for the entire show. Our audience surrogate, Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), is an everyman for any age. The strong silent type, whose been serving three years of a six-year jail sentence for assault when the series opens. Ricky Whittle, all stares and nonchalant gestures, has a real talent for conveying the character’s anxiety or Pollyannaish daydreams of the life he left behind while being locked up just through subtle variations in his posture, tone of voice, and even the way he lets the pauses in conversations impart a panoply of emotions and backstory. And though this is just the first episode of the series, a lot happens to Shadow. He gets out of jail, his young wife dies, he makes several new friends, and makes a really dangerous enemy.