First Impressions: Bryan Fuller’s American Gods is a mind-bending road trip down Mythology Lane

Now available on Amazon Prime Video, the very first episode of Bryan Fuller’s new show American Gods an adaptation of the critically acclaimed Neil Gaiman novel. Both Fuller and Gaiman come with their own pedigrees to justify the hype that has been circling this show. The former, cutting his teeth on Star Trek: Voyager and Pushing Daisies before wowing critics and audiences alike with his take on serial killing cannibal Hannibal Lecter with NBC’s Hannibal. The latter having had some of his literary works adapted for the screen already including Coraline and Stardust. We got to check out the first episode of the series before its release to the big wide world via Amazon Prime Video and here’s our Top 5 reasons why you should check out this show.

The Story
Imagine a battle ground where the old gods of long forgotten cultures and religions and myth go head to head against new gods of technology, media and celebrity and they vie for the attention and affections of their worshipping minions. Imagine that battle ground to be set in the New World, better known as the United States of America. Imagine a story that looks at the concepts of philosophy and religion, ethics and morals, race and diversity and challenges all of those. Where the journey to the end of days battle is back dropped by a road trip through the American countryside. This is what is in store for the audience, and for those who haven’t read the Neil Gaiman book (like myself), the initial episode is definitely a mind bender, and something that you need to just “have faith” and trust that writer Michael Green and showrunner Bryan Fuller are leading you to a fulfilling conclusion. From what I’ve been told as in the book, this show does require some world building and character development, both of which require patience from the audience. Whether or not the audience wish to grant that is up to the individual watcher.

The Characters
Our protagonist Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle) is our point of view into this crazy messed up world, so the confusion that he’s enduring is just as much as what we the audience suffers. Thrust into a world that’s become even crazier once he realises what he’s now become a part of. Shadow through coincidence meets Mr Wednesday (Ian McShane) and inadvertently becomes Wednesday’s muscle for hire. After a bloody run in with Mad Sweeney (Pablo Schreiber), an unusually tall leprechaun and a bizarre abduction by Technology Boy (Bruce Langley), Shadow suddenly realises not all is as it seems. The concept of bringing a lot of these mythological ‘gods’ to life and setting them in a contemporary real world is both intriguing and fascinating. Gaiman has always been one for a wild imagination so it will be great seeing these characters brought to three dimensional realism.

The Cast
With Ian McShane, Ricky Whittle, Emily Browning, Gillian Anderson, Crispin Glover, Orlando Jones, Kristen Chenoweth and Peter Stormare all listed as cast members, this has to be one of the most exciting casts to hit the small screen. With most of these players representing the ‘God’ contingency it will also be fascinating to see these exceptional actors playing celestial beings with power duking it out. In our first episode we’re introduced to McShane’s Mr Wednesday, Whittle’s Shadow Moon, Browning’s Laura Moon and Langley as Technology Boy and Schreiber’s Mad Sweeney. Such a delicious ensemble can surely mean some great payoffs as these actors go head to head.

The Visuals
For those familiar with Fuller’s previous show Hannibal the use of visual metaphors and cues is something Fuller loves to do. This can be both exhausting and exasperating for viewers but also a fun game of speculation for those who enjoy playing along. In the first episode we see a large tree, and a bison/buffalo with eyes on fire and lots of dark foreboding weather and lightning storms. All of these individual pieces of imagery point to different clues relating back to mythology. If you’re a fan of ancient mythology this show will be a great guessing game. Also something tells me that Bryan Fuller is going to try and use more fake blood on this show than he did on Hannibal.

The Music
Fuller has not only brought back some of his Hannibal alum from in front, but also behind the camera to assist. In this particular instance Brian Reitzell, the music supervisor from Hannibal is also working on American Gods. He brings his eerie, ethereal tones to this show. Which of course only serves to enhance the already creepy and bizarre world we are now watching. Unlike a lot of other tv series on mainstream channels that utilise songs to soundtrack a show, Fuller has always opted for scoring to add to the atmosphere. In many ways, it almost becomes a character in itself, giving us warnings and clues as to what may take place.

American Gods’ eight episode first season will be available week-to-week to watch on Amazon Prime Video. The first episode is available now.