Damon Lindelof’s much buzzed about Watchmen premiered last night on HBO, and a lot of eyeballs were on it. So, to answer the age-old question “Who watches the Watchmen?”, as posed in the Alan Moore graphic novel which functions as the source material to Lindelof’s continuation of that story, the answer is about 1.5 million people across all platforms.
As Variety‘s report on the Watchmen season premiere numbers notes, viewership was up 21% over last week’s season finale of the cable network’s Succession. Its 9/8c telecast hit about 800,000 viewers, making Watchmen the most watched premium cable series premiere of 2019.
For those of you scoring at home, it’s been three years since HBO premiered a series with numbers that high. Though, admittedly, Westworld’s were better. The sci-fi/fantasy/western series based on the Michael Crichton novel (and the 1973 Yul Brynner-starrer) reached 3.3 million viewers across all of HBO’s platforms in 2016.
Lindelof’s pilot, titled “It’s Summer and We’re Running Out of Ice,” was directed by Nicole Kassell, who had previously directed episodes of another Lindelof series for HBO, The Leftovers (and The Americans, The Killing, and Westworld). The series isn’t so much a direct adaptation of the mid-1980s graphic novel as it is a sequel. Here’s a plot summary of the pilot:
In an alternate America where police conceal their identities behind masks to protect themselves from a terrorist organization, Detective Angela Abar investigates the attempted murder of a fellow officer under the guidance of her friend and Chief, Judd Crawford. Meanwhile, the Lord of a Country Estate receives an anniversary gift from his loyal servants.
Regina King (If Beale Street Could Talk) plays Angela Abar (a.k.a Sister Knight). Don Johnson (Django Unchained) is Judd Crawford. The series also stars Tim Blake Nelson (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs), Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman), Andrew Howard (Limitless)— just to name a few—and screen legends Louis Gossett Jr. and Jeremy Irons.
With glowing reviews thus far, expect Watchmen to be a hit for the remainder of the season, and garner much praise come awards time.