With the success of Game of Thrones on HBO, and The Walking Dead on AMC, it was really only a matter of time for the studios to start looking at other literary adaptations to bring to the small screen. A Powers pilot is underway, and we all know of the failed attempt to bring Wonder Woman to TV, not to mention a dozen others in development.
Enter Neil Gaiman. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard his name in connection with a proposed TV project, as his fan favorite Vertigo series The Sandman has long been in rumored development. That however, is not what we are here to talk about.
Rumors now are that HBO is looking at Gaiman’s American Gods, and on a 6 season TV series. Now anyone who read the book knows that you could easily make 6 seasons out of all the material, maybe even more if you really wanted to stretch it out. But again I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take a look into just what American Gods is all about, from ScreenRant:
The central premise of American Gods is that gods and other mythological figures are real in the modern world, but their power and influence depends on the belief of humans. Obviously, that puts some gods in a tight spot due to modern sensibilities. Deities from the Greco-Roman, Nordic, Hindu, Egyptian, and Judeo-Christian pantheons all make an appearance.
In addition, new gods have sprung up, thanks to America’s restructured belief in things like the Internet, drugs, and celebrities. The central conflict of the book is a brewing war between the old gods and the new, played out in various locations across the United States and the world.
Right. So at its core it’s a story of a man brought into a world of total mythology, but not the kind most are used to. This book is full of gods from across the world, ranging from Norse gods like Odin all the way to Irish fables like Leprechauns. But no matter how far into mythology Gaiman takes the story, it is always grounded in reality by Shadow, the lead character.
And what a lead he is. From the get go you are swept up in this character; you feel for him, you relate to him, you root for him, and you wonder along beside him.
Yes, I said wonder. Because as you read the book you are left in a constant state of wonder, always eager to learn the next thing or go on the next adventure, while trying to figure out the overall mystery.
And that’s how Gaiman does it. A masterful storyteller, who writes beautifully descriptive scenes and characters that pull you through the book. And I’m not even speaking as a long time fan of American Gods. I’m currently reading it, to tell you the truth. About halfway, and I can’t wait to finish the article so I can get back to the story. I feel like I did when I was reading my way through Sandman, never able to find a stopping point because every scene and chapter and issue just drives to the next one.
Which is really why I can see this being a great TV series. Reading the book, it’s so easy to picture it in your mind, what the various characters look like, the settings, the vehicles, the epic details of the various gods encountered. The various look back in time at when the gods came to America, and some of the new gods definitely make you think.
The story is also a sort of condemning look on society and its belief system. What the world has come to when it stops worshiping gods of old and starts worshiping the cornerstones of current society. That is the true heart of the story. Belief. It permeates every word and paragraph in the book. It dares you to believe, in nothing and anything.
So obviously I am a huge fan of the book so far, and have gone on a bit of a tangent. So here’s a bit more from ScreenRant on the actual adaptation:
Production duties will fall to Playtone, the production company started by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. Films in Playtone’s resume include Hanks-heavy features like Cast Away and The Polar Express, not to mention high profile HBO projects such as Band of Brothers, The Pacific and John Adams.
Usually I am wary of my favorite works of literary art being adapted into less than acceptable new media, but I think this one could really be done well. Especially by HBO and Playtone, they’ve done good work in the past. Band of Brothers is phenomenal. And with the adult only potential HBO offers, it allows the story to be told the way it needs to be. Uncensored, unafraid of the source material, and unfettered by network control.
Here’s a little bit more on the adaptation, plus news that the series will draw from the as-yet-unwritten second book, from CraveOnline:
While at a film event in Singapore, producer Gary Goetzman told The Hollywood Reporter that “American Gods” is going forward as an open-ended series with a planned run of six seasons. Goetzman also indicated that “American Gods” would feature 10 to 12 episodes per season, with an estimated budget of $35 to $40 million.
Goetzman is an executive producer on the project through Tom Hanks’ Playtone Productions. Hanks is also on board as an executive producer along with Gaiman and Bob Richardson.
“American Gods” was originally published in 2001 and it takes place during a growing conflict between Gods from the older pantheons and a new breed of modern day Gods who embody America’s obsessions with celebrity, technology and drugs. While speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Goetzman stated that the central question of the series would be “are you a God if no one believes in you?”
“There are some crazy things in there,” noted Goetzman. “We’ll probably be doing more [special] effects in there than it’s been done on a television series.”
Gaiman also weighed in on the news with a post on his Twitter feed;
2nd book? For a start? Yea, I just got a whole lot more excited. Time for some new pants…
So if you’re a fan of literature, then go out and buy American Gods. Don’t like to read? Get the audiobook version, as that is also a thing of beauty. And when you finish it you can wait alongside me in anticipation of what could be a great 6 seasons of Television.
What do you think? Are you a fan of the book? Do you hate Neil Gaiman’s work? Excited to see American Gods brought to TV?
Sound off in the comments section below!