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TV review: Ye gods! An epic wild ride that somersaults over the weird bar


American Gods

Amazon Prime

JUST when you thought TV couldn’t get any more brain-melting than the mental maze of Legion, along comes American Gods, an epic adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s wildly ambitious philosophical blockbuster that doesn’t just raise the weird bar but triple somersaults right over it.

Attempting a plot synopsis of American Gods is a fool’s errand akin to reducing the Bible to a tweet, so I won’t. Gaiman’s book amounts to an alternative history and/or mythology of the world — it’s about everything and, fans of the book will be relieved to know, in the capable hands of Bryan (Hannibal) Fuller, the scope of the TV version is every bit as ambitious.

Built around the character of Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle, a long, long way from Hollyoaks), American Gods references everything from the surreal dream sequences of Twin Peaks to the limb-scything blood spatter of Spartacus as it treads a visually arresting path between fantasy and melodrama. One minute you’re lost in a video game — the fight scenes are brutal — the next it’s a sorrowful love story. Prepare for your head to spin.

Which, of course, can be discombobulating. So many characters pass in a blur — I wanted more of young Brit actor Bruce Langley’s evil Technical Boy, a 1D clone on acid — that there’s a danger of the story arc getting trampled. But the thrill ride is so stylish I’m more than happy to keep the faith. Or lose it, depending on how you read your Gaiman.