Writer Neil Gaiman and Actor Benedict Cumberbatch

Neil Gaiman’s book “Neverwhere” got banned in New Mexico. But that’s not important right now.

Gaiman’s “American Gods”—a novel ranked No. 10 on this list of the best science-fiction and fantasy books ever—was to be turned into an HBO show. The website Patheos.com (“Hosting the Conversation on Faith”), reported over summer “It’s Official: AMERICAN GODS to run six seasons on HBO.”71uz03MbHBL._SL1051_

But then today, this devastation:

Neil Gaiman has just confirmed on his AMA Reddit with Amanda Palmer that while his book American Gods is still in development as a TV show, it is no longer with HBO. This is sure to lead to fervent speculation about what network will eventually pick it up! What do you think? Should it be AMC now that they’re down Breaking Bad? Netflix? Let the debate begin!

Netflix! That book’s about a big, quiet loner who gets out of prison and becomes body man for Odin. They travel the country recruiting old gods to join a final battle in a war against new American gods including media, freeways, and drugs. It gets huge. Imagine this as a TV show:

White foxes padded up the hill in company with red-haired men in green jackets. There was a bull-headed minotaur walking beside an iron-fingered dactyl. A pig, a monkey and a sharp-toothed ghoul clambered up the hillside in company with a blue-skinned man holding a flaming bow, a bear with flowers twined into its fur, and a man in golden chain mail holding his sword of eyes.

. . . A sniper at the top of the hill took careful aim at a white fox, and fired. There was an explosion…

It’s a cool book, and it would make an amazing show. I vote Vin Diesel as Shadow. Come on Netflix.

It was Alamogordo High School, 200 miles south of Santa Fe, where a parent complained about a scene with an under-blouse feel-up and swearing. “Neverwhere” was pulled from shelves. Teachers were to stop teaching it.

That one’s about a normal guy who gets stuck in a magical world beneath London’s streets. He tries to help a girl solve a murder mystery as they’re hunted by two sadistic immortal assassins.

“Neverwhere” was this month returned to the Alamagordo sophomores: the district now states the book is “educationally suitable, balanced and age-appropriate” and the novel will return to classrooms and the library.

Everyone should celebrate the controversy by reading it. That’s how you slap back at selfish piety. Or, at least, check out this radio-play version of the story. It’s really fun and well-made, with great acting and clever sound effects. Benedict Cumberbatch is the voice of the Angel Islington, so he can cross that one off his list.

Cumberbatch gets to be the voice of Smaug in “The Hobbit” movies. Or so they say. It feels like we’re never gonna see this god-damn dragon. You think he’ll show up for the last five minutes of the new (middle chapter) “Hobbit” movie that comes out next month, as a tease to the next $18-per-ticket installment? Because I do! Why did this have to be nine hours long? It’s supposed to be about a hobbit and a group of dwarfs defeating a dragon. It’s pretty basic. The cartoon was 71 minutes.

What was I . . . ? Benedict Cumberbatch has a killer resume. He gets big parts. Serious biopic about a controversial present-day icon? Check: “The Fifth Estate.” Supervillain in a summer blockbuster? Check: Khan. As Sherlock Holmes in “Sherlock” he’s neurotic and funny and haunted and uniquely brilliant. That show is awesome, addictive entertainment.

He gets to be in “12 Years a Slave,” the best movie since “There Will Be Blood.” We established a few days ago here that “12 Years a Slave” is acting’s pinnacle, destined to win Oscars for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress, and to have multiple nominations in every category.

Cumberbatch plays Ford, and he probably won’t get an Oscar nomination because it’s one of the movie’s least-flashy roles. But it’s a complicated part, and Cumberbatch nails the nuance. Ford was a kinder owner but he sent Solomon to Epps. To hell. He preached gospel over a slave bawling because she’d lost her children forever. He cut Solomon down from the noose, but not until Solomon had hanged there—toes tapping the mud—for who knows how long. Is Ford a good person in a bad world, or a bad person who’s worse for not knowing it? Both, and neither. It’s a hard note to nail.

Cumberbatch should play a Bond bad guy next, or a talkative Quentin Tarantino hero. Then go to Netflix to play Shadow in “American Gods,” if Vin Diesel turns it down.

Cumberbatch is Sherlock on the right. On the left is Watson, played by Martin Freeman. They're the two main characters if you count the dragon it still seems like we're never gonna see.

Sherlock and Watson (Martin Freeman). They’re also in “The Hobbit” together.


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