Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Superhero TV Update

There are lots of TV Universe series out right now:

Daredevil (2 seasons)
Jessica Jones (1 season)
Luke Cage (1 season)
Iron Fist and Defenders coming, Punisher maybe

Very nice work by Netflix - Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage have been excellent, all treated independently but with enough linkages to set a common Hell's Kitchen NY environment (Luke Cage and Jessica Jones overlapped significantly in the Jessica Jones series).  The universe is being built with the full recognition of a more complex world where the major characters can, and will, come into contact with one another, likely as allies and as antagonists, depending on the circumstances.  Netflix was wise to concentrate on relative "down to earth" powered heroes - makes the intrigue and situations more like a police drama than science fiction - the characters have to solve things and plan, not just run into situations and save the day.  Jessica Jones is a damaged person, abused and treated horribly by the Purple Man, Luke Cage comes from a rough background and has been wrongly imprisoned and subject to experimentation, Daredevil has enhanced senses, but is blind an with normal-level strength - he's often seriously injured dealing with matters.

Arrow (5th seasons)
Flash (3rd season)
Supergirl (2nd season - 1st on CW)
DC Legends of Tomorrow (2nd Season)

CW has created an interactive universe, most reminiscent of the actual printed comic book universe.  Arrow was the flagship, with Barry Allen becoming the Flash in an episode, since spinning off to his own series.  DC Legends of Tomorrow has characters who first appeared on Arrow (White Canary, Captain Cold, Firestorm, Atom) who along with Rip Hunter police the timelines.  Supergirl had a first season on CBS, though she did "cross over" with The Flash.  In season 2 she is integrated onto the CW network,  CW's "universe" is much more positive in tone than Fox or Netflix, with Supergirl and Flash being very positive, Legends next, and Arrow carrying the harder task of dealing with character deaths in much more directly violent environments, though even Arrow pales in comparison to the Netflix world or that inhabited by the folks in Gotham.

Gotham (3rd Season)

Gotham, the early history of Batman is still my favourite of the TV Comic adaptations.  The acting (and choice of actors) is excellent, and early versions of Commissioner Gordon, Bruce Wayne, Catwoman, Ivy, Penguin and Riddler are all nicely interwoven, with understandable personalities and histories.  Seems that the "gore" factor seems to be rising with each season, moving the series more and more into the adult or at least, not-youth market.  The series seems to be taking it's time, with 75 years of Batman to draw upon, to set up the series to be "deep" and character driven.  Similar to Netflix, the characters in Gotham are not super-powered, so the stories carry on with investigations of odd criminals and some powered individuals (e.g. strong, ESP-type powers) along with those that extend themselves in "normal" ways  (e.g. Ivy with chemical poisons, Selina with street smarts).

Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Agent Carter (cancelled)

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has the most promise of all the series, as it has the potential to integrate the TV universe with the existing Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the Phil Coulson character transferring over to centre the TV series from the Avenger, Thor and Iron Man movies.  However, I think this is also the most difficult series to be "attached" to - the ongoing characters have all changed dramatically since the first season, some becoming evil, some moving off to run parallel courses.  S.H.I.E.L.D. has also died and been resurrected in relatively short order.  I think they need a period of doing the basic, cool thing, of being a very high-tech spy agency that works in a superhero universe - not necessarily having a super-powered local team running around hitting folks.

Agent' Carter, the solo series "suffered" from being set in the post-WWII era - this was a problem in the first Captain America movie and the old Lynda Carter Wonder Woman tv series - the older timeframe doesn't seem to resonate as well with viewers.  The "Agent Carter" character, however, was well designed and well acted.Agent Carter will live on as a historic figure in S.H.I.E.L.D. and will likely appear in flashback sequences.


Overall, the series that resonate most with me are Arrow and Gotham, as both have created larger cast universes, so the storyline does not require that Olvier or Bruce carry the entire weight of the series - they can be "missing" or a minor role in the day-to-day events and still tell compelling stories.  Bruce is really a relatively small character in Gordon's Gotham.  Supergirl is great, very positive, and very nice to see the "S" Shield and classic costume in action.

As a universe, the Netflix universe has the potential to be the deepest, with several equal and separate characters staking claims.  Gotham would be a nice cross-over (though they are with different companies, both for TV and from source material) as the worlds and power levels are similar.

Finished (E-Reader) "The Whistler" - John Grisham

Haven't read any Grisham for a while, so "The Whistler" was a nice change of pace.  Basic story is a casino being run by baddies, who are paying off a judge - the good guys are investigating the judge.
All in all, was an OK read - seemed formulaic and the resolution seemed to fall together a little too easily.  Not a bad quickie.