Watchmen: Season 1 (Blu-ray Review)

The initial announcement of a Watchmen television series was intriguing to hear. Arriving ten years after Zack Snyder’s (pretty good) attempt to bring the groundbreaking graphic novel series from creators Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons to life, would HBO be able to deliver the deluxe treatment in a manner similar to what Game of Thrones was able to accomplish? Would it be the novel again, but stretched out into a weekly series? Was the plan to take the name ‘Watchmen’ and do something else entirely? As it turns out, creator Damon Lindelof had some bold plans up his sleeves – a tangential sequel series designed to carry on many of the ideas presented in the original graphic novel, but continue going down that rabbit hole in a manner fit for today’s society. The result was one of the best self-contained seasons of television I can recall seeing in recent years. Now you can enjoy the whole season and more in this complete package.


Described as a “remix” of the graphic novel, the series primarily takes place in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Following a brief history lesson to remind audiences just how extreme racist violence can be, we follow the efforts of Angela Abar (Regina King) in 2019. She is investigating a murder that was very personal to her. Secretly conducting her life as a vigilante, Sister Night, she uncovers a conspiracy that threatens the future of the world.

This basic setup is the Cliff Notes version of what is taking place, as Angela is not alone in the journey to discover the truth. Don Johnson portrays the Chief of the Tulsa Police. Tim Blake Nelson is Wade, aka Looking Glass, a detective with a reflective mask. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II plays Cal Abar, Angela’s husband. Hong Chau is here as Lady Trieu, the owner of a major corporation, with plans connected to Tulsa. James Wolk is Senator Joe Keen Jr., a motivated man hoping to do something about the Seventh Kavalry terrorist group.

Additionally, while Dr. Manhattan and other characters from the original graphic novel are seemingly MIA, Jean Smart portrays an older Laurie Blake, the former Silk Spectre. She now works for the FBI, on the Anti-Vigilante Task Force. And then there’s Jeremy Irons as Adrian Veidt, the supposed “smartest man in the world” who now appears to be living a secluded life in a country manor, performing seemingly random activities to fill up the time in his days.

This Blu-ray set includes all 9 episodes of the second season.

  1. It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice
  2. Martial Feats of Comanche Horsemanship
  3. She Was Killed by Space Junk
  4. If You Don’t Like My Story, Write Your Own
  5. Little Fear of Lightning
  6. This Extraordinary Being
  7. An Almost Religious Awe
  8. A God Walks into Abar
  9. See How They Fly

To be clear, any apprehension I may have had in what to expect with a new take on one of my favorite books of all time was immediately cleared up following the first extended scene of the first episode (and thankfully things remained excellent throughout the season). I was honestly in awe of seeing a series full-on tackling the Black Wall Street massacre of 1921, a recreation of a truly terrible event in American history that is unsurprisingly not taught in schools often enough. Not to delve too far into just one aspect of this incredible season, but the fact that Watchmen already brought to light an event that hardly registers for many is already quite an accomplishment.

That said, it’s not as though this depiction is without purpose. The original Watchmen graphic novel was a deconstruction of the superhero narrative, as well as a look at the problems of nuclear superpowers amid a Cold War, and various concerns in regards to Reaganism. This HBO series finds smart ways to shine a spotlight on the roles race relations play in society, even one that has gone through an alternate history. That’s not the only area this series delves into, but using Watchmen as a means to incorporate superheroes in a credible reality, this is a prevalent theme that’s appropriate to explore.

As a result, the series is informed by the source material, as well as a natural escalation in what to expect from a history altered by the presence of vigilantes. In doing this, the 9-episode series has an incredible narrative to work with, allowing the writers to go back and forth in time, altering what audiences know about the Watchmen universe, as well as digging into what it would be like to see events play out, following what took place in the graphic novel.

The plotting of this series is intricate but rarely convoluted. There’s an excellent display of craft going on throughout this season, and that comes from Lindelof and his team understanding how to make a show that can cater to every version of the audience looking to enjoy a series focused on superheroes in the unique way it is. While violent, brutal, and upsetting in some instances, Watchmen is also fun, exciting, stylish, and funny. That’s due to a confident handle on storytelling, world-building, and the cast of characters assembled to bring it all together.

King’s work as Angela/Sister Night is stellar. There’s a lived-in person here that is relatable, as well as something people can aspire to as far as what kind of symbol these sorts of vigilantes are concerned. No, I’m not saying the violence is something to strive for, but the principals being upheld are pushed to limits that are made evident in this series. The rest of the cast is terrific as well, with Smart bringing a wonderful sarcastic vibe to balance things out, Nelson doing ace work at showing why his character is broken, Johnson doing a lot with limited screen time, Irons having a droll sense of humor to enhance his mysterious situation, and plenty of others worth highlighting.

On top of that, this series looks and sounds fantastic. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross do amazing work in scoring this series, as they have found ways to continue tapping into the qualities that have helped them emerge as some of the stronger film composers for modern cinema. There were three volumes of soundtracks that arrived as the series was originally airing, and I bought each one, as the score for this series does such a great job of capturing a specific type of energy that completely fits, while feeling unlike many scores we hear in relation to the genre.

From a cinematography and directorial perspective, these are dense episodes of television, packed with visual symbolism and highly stylized approaches to establishing a look and tone for this series. The visual effects are fantastic, and the choices made to have the audience understand how this version of the world works is quite dazzling. A lot of crucial decisions are made throughout this season, and they do everything necessary to communicate aspects of the story and character in elaborate, creative, and unique ways. One episode is set inside of a drug trip being experienced by Angela, making for one of the most visually astounding episodes of television I have ever seen. Another focuses on the story of a vital character I cannot speak more about, except to say my favorite Watchmen character does get their time to shine.

All of this and the show never loses track of what it’s going after or how to tie it all together. Some shows can’t quite stick the landing, others only find moments to show a delivery on the potential introduced. Watchmen is brilliant. It is layered, full of complicated characters, a thoroughly explored examination of race, preferences, politics, and other areas worthy of discussion, and it is all very entertaining. This may be a series that brings a lot of history with it, as well as one that can start some meaningful conversations, but it’s not without a sense of excitement. That’s worth plenty, as HBO has been known for its quality programming, and this season sits high, with quality to spare.



Encoding: AVC MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: There is a lot of great detail to take in, given the varying locales and sets featured in this season. Aspects such as costume and makeup design also play a huge role.  All of this comes through incredibly well. Even with the visual effects seen throughout the series, there are times in a television series, especially when things can come across softer than intended, but this transfer does an excellent job of holding onto a strong sense of clarity.

Depth: There are aspects of the city and its underlining that do a fine job of conveying the sense of depth that is nicely handled for this Blu-ray. This is explored further when dealing with Veidt’s situation, among other areas that really play into the series’ dimension.

Black Levels: Much like the characters, there are a lot of dark and shadowy aspects to the look of this series, and they come through very nicely thanks to the dark and inky black levels featured on this Blu-ray presentation. Lots of costumes and nighttime scenes are on display with no crushing to speak of.

Color Reproduction: Given the style of the series and the different locations, some key moments play quite well in regards to the use of color, which is necessary for a series like this. The comic book nature of the series benefits what we see here, with some strong primary colors coming through to inform the series as much as highlight specific characters and themes through motifs.

Flesh Tones: Things like lighting, locations, and other aspects keep the characters in constant flux, but textures and flesh tones always come through.

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing to speak of.



Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, German, Nederlands, Portuguese, Dansk, Suomi, Norsk, Svenska, Chinese

Dynamics: Watchmen is a lot of things, including a really great source of different audio elements. The series has a lot going on in terms of the score, the action, and characters talking and yelling. There is a strong handle on the presentation that helps this all come together.

Low-Frequency Extension: The LFE channel is given a chance to go to work often. This Blu-ray does an excellent job of allowing the subwoofer to leave an impact. Whether it’s the work from Reznor/Ross or the punch of the action, there’s plenty to take in.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround sound channels do their job in immersing the viewer throughout every episode.  The ambiance, score, action, and dialogue are all balanced quite well, making for a solid three-dimensional experience.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone sounds loud and clear.



Spread across all three discs, most of these extras are short EPK featurettes providing surface-level details about the making of the series. There are no commentary tracks, which is a shame, as it would be good to hear anything about the series from the cast and crew in relation to an in-depth focus on specific episodes. There are two exclusive featurettes for the Blu-ray as well, which can delve a bit further into various reveals in the series. Overall, not a completely packed package in the extras department, but enough cool looks behind the scenes to add some value.

Additionally, the series arrives in a standard case, housed inside a cardboard slipcover. Inside, you can find a handy guide to which episode is on each disc, a brief episode synopsis, and a list of the special features. That’s always appreciated.

Features Include:

Disc One:

  • Character Trailers – Sister Night, Blonde Man and Looking Glass (HD, 3:06)
  • It’s Raining Squids (HD, 1:58) – A look at the challenge of creating a storm of squids.
  • Watchmen: Masked and Dangerous (HD, 2:20) – Focusing on the various characters wearing masks.
  • 2019 New York Comic-Con (HD, 36:49) – Damon Lindelof and the cast discuss the series.
  • Becoming Sister Night (HD, 1:03) – Regina King and Damon Lindelof discuss the origins and more about this character.
  • Watchmen: Alternate History (HD, 2:04) – A look at the visual effects used to bring the series to life.

Disc Two:

  • Watchmen: Unmasked (HD, 16:33) – A look at the reason people are wearing masks, and how it can change them for better or worse.
  • Andrij Parekh on Directing (HD, 1:03) – The accomplished director and cinematographer discusses working on this series.
  • Squid Shelter with Tim Blake Nelson (HD, 2:31) – A guided look at Looking Glass’ underground bunker.
  • Anatomy of a Fight Scene (HD, 2:32) – The stunt coordinator, doubles, and actors go over the choreography of a major brawl.

Disc Three:

  • Blu-ray Exclusive – Immortal Vigilante – Hood Justice Documentary (HD, 11:47) – Uncover the roots of the vigilante, who lives on as an example for Sister Night and others.
  • Blu-ray Exclusive – Adrian Veidt: The Colossal King Documentary (HD, 12:36) – Examine the backstory of the self-proclaimed empire builder.
  • Glimpses – The Visual Effects of Watchmen (HD, 3:04) – A look at the effects behind the squid, clones, Europa, and more, with some very cool side-by-side comparisons.
  • Notes from the Watchmen Graphic Novel Artist Dave Gibbons (HD, 1:49) – The artist’s contributions to the novel are highlighted as he sketches Sister Night.
  • Rorschach Featurette (HD, 1:40) – A look at how the iconic mask evolved into a nefarious symbol.
  • Sadiqua Bynum Runs, Jumps and Falls for Sister Night (HD, 1:03) – A look at the gymnast/stuntwoman as she portrays a new kind of hero.

Digital HD Copy Of The Series



After knocking it out of the park with The Leftovers, Lindelof returned to HBO with a bold vision for a new take on Watchmen and knocked that out as well. This series is wonderfully crafted, exciting to watch, and a brilliant way to evolve a universe that was already an incredible take on society in graphic novel form. Whether or not there’s an attempt to continue this story in another season, this Watchmen series was excellent.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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