Watchmen – Dr. Manhattan

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Hello Shat Hosts,

After watching the first episode fo Watchmen, I felt compelled for the first time to look for a companion podcast. I was lucky enough to find yours after my initial search, and I have listened to and enjoyed every episode since the beginning. I also sampled some of the other Watchmen podcasts out there, and for the most part I was not impressed. I have enjoyed your intelligent discussion and analysis, and I appreciate Roger’s valiant, although inconsistent effort to correctly pronounce the word KAV•al•ry instead of KAL•va•ry. None of us is perfect, and speaking of imperfect, how about that Shat The Movies review of Blade Runner… but that’s a topic for another day.

I would like to contribute to the discussion regarding Dr. Manhattan’s first appearance in Watchmen Episode 8. When the episode first aired, it was immediately apparent to me, and I assume also to most viewers, that Dr. Manhattan was being portrayed by the same actor (Yahya Abdul-Mateen) who was playing Angela’s husband Cal. Although you never saw Manhattan’s face during his initial scenes, the character’s thinly disguised voice was a dead giveaway that this was indeed Cal, and seemingly a way to drive this point home for the handful of viewers who may not have made this connection on their own. I personally think the producers did a disservice to the show, and missed an opportunity to make the introduction of this character much more interesting.

I like the casting choices made for all of the Watchmen characters who were carried over from the earlier era, including Abdul-Mateen as Dr. Manhattan, but I think that when we first met the character in the Saigon bar, he should have been portrayed by an entirely different actor. Having already gotten to know Angela’s husband Cal in previous episodes, it makes no sense for the same actor to be portraying the Doctor at this point. Why would the Doctor’s voice and mannerisms so closely resemble those of the human form which he is yet to take? In my mind, he should have been more Crudup than Abdul-Mateen at the point of his introduction. Imagine how much better the bar scenes with Angela and Manhattan would have been if it wasn’t so blatantly obvious that the Doctor was due to transform into Cal at some point during the reminder of the hour. The viewer perceives Cal in blue makeup masquerading as Dr. Manhattan even though this is obviously not the intention. Imagine a Manhattan who was much closer to the 2009 movie version of this character transforming into Cal in the morgue. Combined with a little more story line ambiguity (for example, don’t reveal the corpse lying on a slab that looks remarkably like Cal Abar prior to Manhattan’s transformation) and we might have been in for a post transformation surprise. Conversely, after Cal spent those many years existing as a clueless loving husband and father, it would have made perfect sense for Dr. Manhattan to then resemble Cal after he is brought back into conscious existence by Angela and her big hammer.

Keep up the great work. I’m looking forward to catching up on your older podcasts – Taboo in particular.

Rex

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