Some observations about the show, and then some things about Gaiman.
- Shadow doesn't look how I pictured him when I read the book. This isn't an uncommon phenomenon with book-to-visual media, for sure. I have no issues with the Shadow they have, but I thought he was less...fit and more just...big. The actor is seriously buff, but isn't *huge*, whereas you got the impression that the Shadow of the book was both fit (sure, prison fitness and all) and bulky.
- I keep getting Gabriel Byrne and Ian McShane mixed up. As in: if you asked me who played Mr. Wednesday, 9/10 times I'd tell you it was Gabriel Byrne. (It is Ian McShane.)
- It's fairly faithful so far, though I've only watched 2 episodes. The little changes and additions and fill-in material seem true to book as well.
And let's talk about that. Because I've heard a fair amount of "I didn't really love the book, but...the show seems good." And you know what? The book suffers from what I find to be Neil Gaiman's perpetual thing (issue? problem? clearly it's not either): His creativity outstrips his writing. So I WANT to like his writing and give him a lot more credit than he maybe deserves in my mind.
Terry Gilliam is another person who has this thing--the ideas are SO GOOD and the execution doesn't hold up the ideas.
Don't get me wrong, Gaiman's creativity and ideas are off the charts. He's wildly creative. But he's a middling writer. Maybe not middling--better than that. Simple? I don't know.
I mean, a great writer with no creativity writes technical manuals, so, I think this is the spot you want to be in vs. technical purgatory.
I don't have the creativity of Gaiman and I can't speak to my writing ability, but when I read Gaiman's stuff it seems like he could be doing a lot more with it. The ideas write checks that his writing can't always cash (except, you know, literally as he is clearly successful and cashing all the checks). Things seem unfinished, unpacked, undeveloped--but the raw idea is SO GOOD.
This seems harsh, because I do enjoy a lot of Gaiman. Lots of people do. But I look at his stuff and go: With a little practice in creativity, I could write that. And I don't think that about everyone. Certainly when I unpack Kundera or look at Marquez the writing is *impressive* and intimidating. I could *never* write like that.