The Watcher (Series) Review

Ryan Murphy is a producer of everything from the American Crime Story The People vs OJ Simpson to the many seasons of American Horror Story. Even though he has produced true stories and some comedies he mainly focuses on horror-related or thriller series and films. Most of his stuff has been on FX but of late he has branched out to Netflix with Ratched, Dahmer-Monster: The Jeffery Dahmer Story, and his new series The Watcher.

Dean and his wife Nora Brannock (Bobby Cannavale and Naomi Watts) live with their two kids, Carter and Ellie ( Luke David Blumm and Isabel Gravitt) in New York City. They seem like they are pretty happy in NYC, but they decide to move to the suburbs of New Jersey anyway. They fall in love with a beautiful house in a nice neighborhood. It’s their dream home but when they start to get threatening letters from someone calling themselves “The Watcher” they start to get worried that this may not be the house of their dreams after all.

The Watcher has a pretty good premise. There are a lot of suspects of who could be the culprit sending the letters to this nice family. There are a couple of sets of neighbors one played by Mia Farrow and her son Jasper (Terry Kinney) he likes to sneak around the house and ride the dumb waiter, a food elevator, and Mo and Mitch (Margo Martindale and Richard Kind) These two are just nosey neighbors. The real estate agent Karen Calhoun (Jennifer Coolidge) Emmy Winner for The White Lotus Season 2 has an interest in the house all on her own, with nothing to do with the letters. A security camera installer (H Hunter Hall) has an interest in the daughter of the family who is a little bit young for him. The list goes on and on but you get the drift of where this is going. This is a very extensive cast of characters.

The series has a very good idea behind it but it gets lost along the way. Maybe it should have been one episode shorter, who knows? I just felt the twists and turns within the story and show were pretty good until the last episode where it stretches its premise too thin. The writers, Ian Brennan, and others, as well as the directors, Paris Barcley and Rebecca Lynch and others, have a great idea. They just don’t know how to end it and along the way it gets convoluted. Sure having all the different suspects is good for the viewers watching but it gets bogged down in all the confusion from episode to episode.

The cast, most notably Bobby Cannavale, is pretty great. They all do their best to create doubt in the viewer’s eyes and that makes for a great thriller. The story goes in so many directions it was a little hard to pay attention to all the moving pieces. The multiple plot lines kept things moving forward and tied up nicely in the end. There was one running thread I was a little sick of by that last episode though and that is where my thought of one episode too long comes in. I can see fans liking it though.

The Watcher starts out very well and it moves relatively fast from episode to episode. The story beats kept me interested most of the way through. There were a lot of characters to follow along with but Cannavale kept me interested in the series most of the time. The cast was pretty good I must say. The show falls in anything that plagues these types of series. It doesn’t know when you end and it goes on a little too long. That being said, it is not a bad show. I think Netflix invested well in Murphy who’s cranking these types of series and films out a lot. This will be another success for him and Netflix.

3 stars 

Dan Skip Allen

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