Thursday, May 14, 2015

Television Review: Daredevil Season One (Netflix Original)

"Daredevil" is the fourth Netflix Original Series that I've watched.    The other three- "Orange is the New Black", "Bojack Horseman" and "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"- I all binge watched and I didn't want to do that this time.   I watched one episode, sometimes two at most, per night and I did this so as to feel the importance of each episode, to fully digest what was happening within each of the minutes that held it.   I also just didn't want to be so quick as to feel like I was blowing through this in a weekend as I have with other shows because then afterwards you still want more.   I feel like I took an appropriate pace with it this time as I am satisfied until next season.

If you don't know anything about the Marvel comic book character Daredevil- one of my personal favorites- then this show would be a good introduction to him.   I don't want to feel like I'm writing about why this show is better than the movie because a television series is so different than a movie, but I must say that not only with Daredevil here but just about any comic book character could benefit from a television series over a movie.    The stories told in comic books play out over issues a month at a time and television shows could do the same on a weekly basis.   It allows a lot more room than a two hour or two and a half hour movie where you want to reach a conclusion by the end of it.

One point which is very clearly evidenced by this is the character development in this series dedicated to Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin (Though he is never actually referred to as "Kingpin" in this series yet)   In some ways, I feel like just as much time and effort was put into the background of Wilson Fisk- if not more- than his nemesis Matt Murdock.    I've always said that one of the biggest problems with horror movies is characters getting killed off no one cares about.   While the background of Wilson Fisk doesn't necessarily make you side with him, it will at least give you a bit more understanding.    It's not as simple as "I'm the bad guy, so this is what I do".   Wilson Fisk believes what he is doing is right and I guess in some ways all villains do, but the way it is developed within this series just helps you to believe that he believes he is right.

I can't remember the last time that a villain was built up in such a way without being the focal point of the television series or movie.    As much as this season was about getting to know Matt Murdock and his friends, it really felt more like it was the backstory of Wilson Fisk and given that people going into this probably already know enough about Daredevil it was a good choice to make-- to focus on Fisk and give him added layers that can and do exist in comic books but not always on television and/or in movies.     So that alone made this series stand out.   It's something more than "just another comic book show" and based solely on the Wilson Fisk character I would say that, yes, you need to watch this series.

As the season came to an end, many of the main characters began to die off.   The only ones that remained were the ones you kind of knew had to go to Season Two (Daredevil, Foggy, Karen, Wilson Fisk and Vanessa)   I enjoy how this season played around with the idea that Wilson Fisk would destroy everything you ever loved or cared about if you even so much as spoke his name, but then by the end of it he became vulnerable because of his relationship with Vanessa.    While Fisk spent the final scenes in a jail cell, the fact is you never know who he has in his pocket and so he could still go to trial and get off or somehow be broken out between now and then.    In some ways, Fisk sitting in that jail cell reminded me of how they locked away Slade on "Arrow"-- having an ace in the hole to come back to if needed or just if they want to go that way again.

There was no Elektra, just a mention of her briefly in a flashback, and no Bullseye, but these are characters I would hope show up in later seasons.    Again, contrasting with the movie, you don't have to put all of your cards on the table yet, but rather take your time and let these things unfold much more naturally.    Should Elektra even be in Season Two?  I don't know.   On one hand, I'd like to at least see Bullseye in Season Two because having him come in with a vendetta against Hell's Kitchen for whatever reason and ultimately helping break Wilson Fisk out of jail would be a good place to start, but I trust whatever the writers want to do will be most excellent.

Matt Murdock didn't get his official maroon (and black) costume until the final episode.   He only had one big fight scene with Wilson Fisk while wearing it.    Before that, he was wearing what Foggy described best as "black pajamas".     That just shows you how young this show still is and for how amazing it is already I can only imagine it getting so much better and better with each passing season and not just because Daredevil is my favorite comic book character ever.

The only slight problem I have with the show is the same problem I find in all of the comic book based shows: the mask vs. the man.    How does Matt Murdock talk to someone (Ben, Karen, etc.) one minute and then even within the same day talk to them again with the mask on and the person can't tell who he is?   If someone you knew- your boss, let's say- put on a mask, wouldn't you still be able to recognize them by their voice, mannerisms, body size and shape, etc.??  At least Arrow uses a device to cloak his voice.   Granted, you could argue something like "Smallville" as being an example of where you have to suspend your disbelief, but it still strikes me as rather funny.

Before he died, the newspaper writer Ben had some cover stories hanging up in his office which were about New York City and basically referenced things from the Marvel line of movies out there right now with the Avengers forming.   Could this mean that Daredevil will one day go into that universe?   "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." does have a connection to the movies as does "Agent Carter" and those are both television series as well.   So why couldn't a television character crossover into a movie?  (And I know, the characters who crossed over were in movies first then got put into a series, but don't symantics me!)

Wherever this show decides to go, I will be watching and I really just hope this goes on for a really long time since Netflix doesn't follow traditional television network rules and can seemingly just do whatever they want.   If they never cancel this show, it will be one of those things that helps to destroy what we know now as "cable" or "satellite" television and bring forth the new digital age with Netflix.

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