Jessica Jones – SPOILER FREE Season 1 Review

No matter where your comic book loyalties lie (DC FAN FOR LIFE), you have to hand it to Marvel. Marvel has taken a specific formula for entertainment and shattered every imaginable expectation. That’s not to say DC doesn’t have the right things going for them – Arrow and Flash are a blast while Supergirl is finding her footing and Legends of Tomorrow looks awesome. However, DC had a solid year of a successful broadcast television series before Marvel released Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (which has gotten very good over the last two seasons).

 

The scales tipped towards Marvel earlier this year when we learned that the coupling of Marvel and Netflix results in some beautiful babies. Netflix is the only outlet, other than picky premium channels, that can allow a more ‘adult’ comic book property to blossom with all of its child-unfriendly glory. Daredevil proved this and, in my humble opinion, was near perfect. The best comic adaptation produced thus far is without question Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. If TDK is a 10 on that scale, Daredevil easily ranks a 9. I cannot wait to check out season 2 with the inclusion of Punisher.

 

‘The Man Without Fear’ set the bar very high; it was hard to imagine another series with a B-list character coming even close to that mark. Such a reputation could easily be detrimental to properties in its wake. In the case of Ms. Jones I think this actually worked in her favor because people were willing to watch purely as a result of Daredevil’s reputation. I knew nothing of Jessica Jones prior to watching this. At face value it certainly lacks the allure of a superpowered man in red with horns. I’m so happy that didn’t stop me from watching.

 

Jessica Jones – Netflix Season 1

jessica-jones-netflix-poster

 

I called this a ‘spoiler free’ review and I will stick to that. It’s difficult to comment without referencing certain scenes so you’ll have to forgive any vague generalizations.

 

The story once again takes place in post-Avengers New York. There is almost a sense of resentment in the general public towards people with abilities because of the massive damage done during the Kree invasion. Marvel’s inclusion of this aftermath in multiple properties has made for a more realistic, enormously-scaled, cinematic world. I’m glad they’ve realized it doesn’t take a guest starring role from an Avenger to tie everything in. Seeing someone react to Jessica with a comment of “you’re one of them, aren’t you?”, or even with an unspoken shocked/frightened reaction to a display of powers, can be more impactful than Robert Downey Jr. waltzing on screen.

 

Speaking of powers, Jessica’s are impressive enough to set her well above the average person but don’t spare her from danger. This was a nice balance because it was believable for her to be in danger while facing certain foes. She’s also sarcastic as hell – a quality I respect in any character. Her actions were believable in the way she deals with her abilities and the rest of the world.

 

Casting in this series is flawless. Krysten Ritter made the part her own and stuck to it. She has earned her place in the Marvel Universe – can’t wait to see her return! All of the supporting cast also did a fine job in bringing something to the party. My favorite, by far, is David Tennant’s portrayal of the big bad guy – Kilgrave. He could go from down right charming to despicably evil in one breath. Mind control is a tough concept to show because it walks a line between silly and believability. Tennant took that line and masterfully traced his own path. His effortless commands came so fluidly that it was chilling. One moment you want to give him a hug while the next you are cringing at the execution of his orders.

 

Was Jessica Jones as good as Daredevil? No, and I mean that in the best way possible because it never tries to be Daredevil. Don’t go into it expecting the same experience. This series set its own path as a dark, mature crime noir drama with a kickass superhero flair. The combination works wonderfully! Add Jessica Jones to the top of your queue – it is well worth your time.

 

My rating of Jessica Jones Season 1 is 8 out of 10.

8 out of 10

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Gotham – Season Two – Premiere Review

First, allow me to explain my feelings towards Gotham prior to reviewing the premiere of its second season…….

If you know me, or have read my reviews, you probably know I’m a big Batman fan (Bat-Fan?). My wife is even more of a Batman nut so you’d better believe Fox’s Gotham was welcomed with open arms last year. We stuck with it through all of the normal first season ups and downs. Ultimately, I was less in favor of the series than she was. Twenty-two episodes is a lot for the freshman year of an hour long drama series. Some story lines were dragged on farrrr past their expiration date while others were glossed over in the name of adding more characters. They should have kept it to 12 or 13 to resist the urge for pointless indulgence. Although, one thing I will give Gotham credit for is perfectly casting its core lineup. The actors have enough chemistry to make you want to be some level of invested in their on screen futures.

Then there is the matter of the source material. Batman has 76 years of rich material to fall back on – adapting that for television is no small task. Which characters should be used? Which stories should be told? Answering those questions without incurring the wrath of comic fandom is an unenviable task. The creators of Gotham should not be bound by the established canon, yet, how far off the rails should they stray? These are tough questions with answers that will vary from fan to fan. My answers aren’t nearly as positive as they were in the first half of season one.

Fast forward to this week’s grand unveiling of the “Rise of the Villains”…. I wish I had nice things to say. I wish I could say that Gotham learned from its first season shortcomings to reward viewers for tuning back in. I wish Fox didn’t focus on certain popular aspects of a show while alienating other aspects (Example – Family Guy, Sleepy Hollow, etc). After the first episode I fear those wishes will not be granted.

Now time for the spoilery thoughts….

A few points:

  • Jerome – I think I can declare that I hate this character. Why does he need to be in the show? If he IS supposed to be the Joker, which looks pretty damn likely, then he should not be featured in Gotham. The Joker is one of a kind with a devilish charm and demented sense of humor. I feel strongly that not everything needs to have an origin story!! His absence of an origin (discounting Alan Moore’s or Tim Burton’s takes) is part of what makes him such a terrifying foe for Batman. Batman’s origin is set in stone and the Joker is a mystery; they are two ends of a dichotomy that are destined to clash. This portrayal is way over the top. Is Gotham supposed to be a rehash of ’66 Batman or a gritty crime drama? Jerome makes it seem that way.
  • Barbara Gordon – she’s the weakest character. This was overly apparent in the first season as the creators struggled to give her any hint of relevance. Why keep trying? They’ve shown that they won’t be bound by the source material so they should go ahead and get rid of her. Also – a coed criminal mental institution that allows their female inmates to wear ridiculous dresses? Not even Arkham Asylum is that messed up.
  • Blue belched knockout gas? Come on….
  • I’m looking forward to them spending more time with the Jim/Harvey dynamic. The two characters are perfectly portrayed. Gotham deserves the points they earn for this… god knows they need it.
  • Penguin and Riddler are fantastic. Both actors are true to the character while making it their own. I wish they’d focus more on the characters that work rather than trying to bring in every Batman villain imaginable a decade before they should exist.
  • Alfred Pennyworth. Who doesn’t love Alfred?

My rating of Gotham’s season two premiere is a disappointing 5 out of 10.

5 out of 10

There’s a lot of other shows out there begging for my loyal viewership. I’ll give them two more episodes to change my mind then I might have to throw in the towel.