Gaiman’s fan­tasy is your next must-see box set

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - TELE­VI­SION JOEL MEAD­OWS

GAME OF Thrones meets Monty Python” is how Rolling Stone de­scribes the pro­logue for Amer­i­can Gods, the next must­see box set, adapted from the novel of the same name by Bri­tish- Jewish au­thor Neil Gaiman. Gaiman, based in the US th­ese days, has a cult fol­low­ing and has won many awards for his nov­els and his comic se­ries The Sand­man. He’s also a sea­soned writer of screen­plays. This is his first book to be adapted into a big-bud­get TV se­ries.

The se­ries cen­tres on ex-con­vict Shadow Moon (Ricky Whit­tle) en­coun­ter­ing a mys­te­ri­ous world pop­u­lated by gods who have come to Earth, in­clud­ing the enig­matic Mr Wed­nes­day, played by TV leg­end Ian McShane, and Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber).

Gaiman told a magazine ear­lier this year: “The first sign­ing of the Amer­i­can book tour was in the Twin Tow­ers on June 19, 2001.

“If any­thing, I feel like I was writ­ing about stuff that was in the wind, and the wind has just been con­cen­trat­ing over the past 20 years.”

Co-cre­ator Michael Green, whose CV in­cludes NBC’s Heroes and Smal­lville, is a Jewish New Yorker who, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the other showrun­ner, Bryan Fuller (Han­ni­bal) brings years of ex­pe­ri­ence to the show.

Green told an au­di­ence re­cently that he and Fuller were ex­cited about the show be­cause it hits on sub­jects that peo­ple feel pas­sion­ate about but TV of­ten avoids, in­clud­ing re­li­gion.

“And the im­mi­grant sto­ries of peo­ple com­ing with their faiths, with their tra­di­tions, with their myths, with their be­liefs, with their idio­syn­cra­sies and then have to ne­go­ti­ate those against this new world they find them­selves in.”

Green’s part­ner on the show, Fuller, says the fact that they came from two dif­fer­ent re­li­gious back­grounds was some­thing that they could play to when de­vel­op­ing the show.

“One of the things that has been very re­ward­ing for me in the ex­pe­ri­ence has been just the part­ner­ship with Michael and be­ing able to go into this well-loved book and come at it from two dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives of re­li­gious ex­pe­ri­ence. Michael be­ing raised Jewish, my­self be­ing raised Catholic, and both of us hav­ing a fond­ness for those re­li­gions and a cu­rios­ity about what con­sti­tutes those re­li­gions.

“It feels like this book is a great op­por­tu­nity for both of us to have con­ver­sa­tions about faith and our roles in the uni­verse in a way that is ev­ery bit as fun as the sto­ries that we grew up loving in sci­ence fic­tion and fan­tasy.”

Fans of Gaiman’s fan­tasy-in­fused work like The Sand­man and Nev­er­where will find that his fin­ger­prints are very much on Amer­i­can Gods. The first episode fea­tures ev­ery­thing from Vik­ings and a lep­rechaun to a gang of cy­ber-thugs called The Chil­dren and a tree with talons. Ex­pect blood, magic and a lot of sur­prises.

Let’s hope it will re­vive moves to make other Gaiman works into films or TV se­ries. Many have had the rights pur­chased, but as yet too few projects have come to fruition. I was writ­ing about \]^Þ that was in the wind

‘Amer­i­can Gods’ will be avail­able to watch on Ama­zon Prime in the UK from May 1. The first sea­son runs for eight episodes.

Ian McShane as the mys­te­ri­ous Mr Wed­nes­day

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