- A|V Club Review: American Gods tells a timely story about immigration, war, and dangerous con men.
- Variety: TV Review: ‘American Gods’ on Starz.
Fuller and Green, who also wrote the four episodes available for review, take us on a mostly smooth ride in the first half of American Gods. Even where there’s table setting, it’s done with panache, as in the checkers match from the book that also plays out as a fanciful riff on The Seventh Seal (it doesn’t hurt that Stormare is Swedish). They’ve blended their sensibilities, weaving a rich tapestry of whimsy, epic action, and deft characterization. Practically speaking, it will definitely tide you over until that other fantasy drama returns. But thematically, it could knock someone off their throne.
- TVLine: American Gods Review: Strong Cast, High Style Make Drama a Divine Delight.
Still, “American Gods” is less concerned with saying something, at least in its first four episodes, than it is with conveying a mood and a landscape. It’s not necessarily bad, but you have to want to see the world rendered in this way — to see a down-on-his-luck leprechaun hitchhiking through Indiana, or a djinn driving a cab in midtown Manhattan — to stay engaged with the series. The fourth episode finally gets around to explaining things that happened in the very first, which is a long time to wait for many viewers.
But if you’re invested in this world, or want to be, “American Gods” is kind of astonishing. Fuller takes more risks than nearly anyone else on television, and at the very least, “American Gods” is different, using the violence and sex of premium cable towards exploring the mysterious underpinnings of faith. That alone sets it curiously apart.
Like any journey of belief, American Gods is not without its rough patches. The biggest stumble in the four episodes Starz made available to the press is that the hours at the beginning of Shadow and Wednesday’s trip — especially an interlude in Chicago — drag in spots. It takes until Episode 3 for everything to gel fully, and that wait may feel interminable to those who haven’t read the book and can’t anticipate what’s ahead.
Viewers who are familiar with the work, however, will be happy to know that the novel’s interstitial segments — which offer snapshots of gods at work in the lives of ordinary people — not only have survived the adaptation but provide some of the richest moments in the first part of the season.