Monday, November 23, 2015

TV Review: Comics on TV

Hannah asked me what my favorite comic show is on TV.  This season, I think it's The Flash.  The answer would have been Netflix's Daredevil a little earlier in the year, but The Flash has been terrific in its second season, so there you have it.

My thoughts on the season are after the jump.

Jessica Jones (Netflix)
Sally and I caught the first two episodes on Friday when they released, and we've watched one each night since.  We've met all the players, but we're just barely past the one-third mark on the season itself, and I think it's still perhaps a bit premature to pass judgement.  So far, the show has been distinctly psychological.  The show itself is a dark detective thriller based around a central mystery.  They've done an amazing job of showing Jones's rather justifiable paranoia and its slowly debilitating effects in both her own life and the lives of some of her friends.  That's interesting enough, sure, but I can't say that I'm enjoying at quite the same level that I enjoyed Daredevil, which was much more of an action-heavy crime-fiction piece.

They've done a nice job with Luke Cage, and it's no small feat that they've made Patricia Walker an interesting character, but I keep waiting for Damien Hellstorm to show up or for Matt and Foggy to swoop in and start acting as Jessica's lawyers.  I get that neither of those things is likely to happen, but it would be cool if they did.  Maybe once The Defenders kicks off...

Supergirl (CBS)
Berlanti is all over the place, and Supergirl is his newest project, this time on CBS.  My kids love it.  I think it's okay, but I am probably not the target audience.

They've done a good job of showing Supergirl's struggles with having lost her home, and they do a nice job of making us believe that she's in physical jeopardy--a tough sell at times with Super-type TV--but the Flash/Arrow formula is a little strained here.  Both guys have a team and a secret lair, and Supergirl has that as well, but she seems to have less need of her team--and less emotional resonance with them as well.  It takes something out of the show, though perhaps we'll see some improvement over time.

The Flash (CW)
The Flash is the highest rated show in the history of the CW, easily out-gaining some of the larger network shows on a week-to-week basis.  The show's second season has been particularly good because of the addition of interdimensional madness, making it both a superhero show and a hardcore science fiction piece.  That really works.

I can't imagine how Barry is going to defeat Zoom.  That's what makes it so awesome.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC)
SHIELD isn't off to the same kind of strong start it had last season, but it's been getting more interesting as the season wears on.  Both Marvel shows have the public's paranoia about gifted people as their premise, with Agents of SHIELD focused on an Inhuman outbreak and Jessica Jones concerned more about what the acquisition of gifts does to a person's life.  The Jessica Jones premise is obviously more interesting, but we've seen enough madness on SHIELD lately to keep things moving as well, and they had one of the best episodes ever a few weeks ago when they showed how Jemma Simmons survived her inadvertant trip to another planet via the Inhumans' mysterious rock/gate.

I should maybe note that of all these shows, Agents of SHIELD is the one with world-spanning spy-type hijinks, but it also looks the cheapest, and it has--by far--the worst supporting music.  SHIELD's soaring score might work behind the uplifting girl-power plot of Supergirl, but it is badly out of place in an otherwise grim, occasionally gritty espionage piece about an international power struggle between rival spy agencies.

Three seasons in, Agents of SHIELD has built a large ensemble cast, which it uses to frequently good emotional effect.  They have an excellent villian in rogue agent Grant Ward, they have improving action set-pieces, and have some of the better romantic plotlines.  That score really gets on my nerves, though, and of all of these comic-shows, Agents of SHIELD is the only one that feels like a little-brother to the superhero movies its ostensibly supporting.

Arrow (CW)
I like Arrow.  This season has been about a lot of dark magic, which is kind of a tough sell at times in the Arrow-verse, but it's working okay.  They did a really great long handheld camera shot on the show this week that I thought was one of the best action sequences they've ever done.

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