HBO’s ‘Watchmen’ TV show won’t mess with Alan Moore’s comic: ‘It’s canon’

Damon Lindelof and Regina King of "Watchmen" speak during the HBO segment of the summer 2019 Television Critics Assn. Press Tour 2019 in Beverly Hills.
(Amy Sussman / Getty Images)

Damon Lindelof’s upcoming adaptation of the popular graphic novel “Watchmen” will make its debut on HBO in October. (The exact date is still to be announced.)

Joined by star Regina King and director Nicole Kassell, Lindelof took the stage Wednesday at the Television Critics Assn. biannual press tour in Beverly Hills to discuss the series.

The Tulsa, Okla.-set “Watchmen” will take place in an “alternate history where masked vigilantes are treated as outlaws,” according to HBO’s description. King plays Angela Abar, a baker who secretly moonlights as a lead detective in the Tulsa Police Force — possible because, in this world, cops don masks. Jeremy Irons and Don Johnson also star.


Here’s what we learned during the session:

  • Don’t count on Alan Moore, the author of the revered comic, being among the show’s viewers. Lindelof acknowledged that Moore, as with past adaptations of his work, didn’t want to be affiliated with the project — which includes not allowing his name to be used to promote the series. “Alan Moore is a genius,” said Lindelof, whose TV imprint also includes “Lost” and “The Leftovers.” “He’s made it clear he doesn’t want any association ... which I want to respect. I have made personal overtures to connect with him. [But] he made it clear that he didn’t want that to happen. As someone who has a very complicated relationship with my dad, who I constantly need to prove myself to and never will, Alan Moore is now surrogate. The wrestling match will continue.” Still, Lindelof reasons that the spirit of Moore is a “punk rock spirit” and, Lindelof says, if Moore had been told he couldn’t do something, he’d do it anyway. “So I’m channeling the spirit of Alan Moore to tell Alan Moore ... ‘I’m doing it anyway,’” he teased.
  • How does the TV series connect with its source material? “We are not going to mess with it. It’s canon,” Lindelof says. “Everything that happened in those 12 issues could not be messed with. We were married to it. There is no rebooting it.”
  • The series will feature Regina King’s first on-screen sex scene.
  • White supremacy is at the forefront of the story. “What in 2019 is the equivalent of the nuclear standoff between the Americans and the Russians?” Lindelof posited. “It is race and the police. ... There are no easy answers and grandiose solutions. In a traditional superhero movie, superheros fight the aliens. There’s no defeating white supremacy. It’s not going away.”
  • While the series is set in the present day, there is no internet (and no smartphones) in this world.