Friday, April 8, 2016
Daredevil Season Two
Being honest here, I never cared that much about Daredevil in the comics. In the Marvel family tree I mainly read the Avengers branch titles with a side trip into their licensed stuff (Micronauts, Shogun Warriors, Godzilla) and some of the oddities (Devil Dinosaur!) and an occasional step over to the X-Men branch. I never really got into the New York Street Level Heroes branch where DD and Power Man and Iron Fist lived. I heard some good things about the Frank Miller years but I didn't really care about the street level scene. This has remained true up til now - I've read maybe two DD comics in my life and I believe those were part of crossovers. He hasn't ever been much in the RPG's or videogames so I've never taken an interest. Given that background you can imagine my surprise at how good this show has turned out to be.
Upon further review I think DD is a great choice for TV show because while you need plenty of stuntmen you do not need a ton of CGI because he's just a guy. No fancy powers, no fancy armor, he doesn't fly or shoot lasers out of anything. heck, he's lower maintenance than Batman as he doesn't have a car or a plane or a Batcave. A costume, some sticks, and an apartment are about it. It's a small-scale superhero story - he's not fighting alien invaders or frost giants. He is beating up thugs and gangsters. While Supergirl and the Flash need to accommodate the hero's powers, plus their allies' powers, plus the alien/meta/dimensional invaders powers, DD really just needs some guys with guns, plus maybe some knives, baseball bats, and maybe some nunchuks. So far that has let them put their resources into other things and make a really good show.
Season One is really good. We get the origin, we get friends, we get the day job, we get a serious main opponent for our hero, and we get a pretty solid resolution to the major story arcs, making for a nice complete season.
Season Two picks up some time later and some logical consequences from events in the first season are popping up - mainly other vigilante types, some of whom do not share the same "subdue and arrest" philosophy of our hero. The Punisher is the initial focus of this and it is really well done.
That's saying something, because I've never cared about the Punisher as a character either. If I've ever read a Punisher comic it was only because it was part of some larger crossover event and I may have seen one of the movies but he's not the kind of character I care about following as a superhero. Despite that I really like having him in this show. He's the darker reflection of DD and brings an extra level of "the real world" into the story and setting.
I'd say Season 2 Episode 3 is where this peaks for me. It's a classic Bronze Age vs. Iron Age debate if you want to frame it in those terms, and it's the best confrontation I have seen on TV about killing vs. not killing for superhero type characters. It is really well done and it leads into an extended fight sequence that is as cool as anything I've seen in any of the other Super-shows or movies that are out right now.
As the season progresses we get more than just Punisher - Elektra shows up, then Ninjas (so many ninjas!), then Stick returns. Stick was my favorite guest star in Season 1 so it's nice to see Scott Glenn joining back up for an extended visit.
The show as a whole is an interesting study in non-super superheroics. Matt Murdock is not a billionaire playboy - he has a day job. No one on the show is invulnerable or has super-healing. Spending your nights out getting into fights has consequences and the show does a really good job of highlighting them. Bad decisions are made pretty regularly on this show and not just by the bad guys and they do not just disappear - fallout from those bad decisions sticks around. Keeping secrets and not showing up for work threatens careers and relationships.
Beyond the moral issues the fight scenes are really well done and you can "feel" every punch and kick so I'll say the sound work is well done too. The story, characters, and plots are all solid and in some cases a lot more than that. The season is 13 episodes long and I didn't feel like any of them were filler so the pacing is well done too.
It is at the very least PG-13 and after one particularly intense prison fight we decided to tell the 13 year old "no" on this one. If you want to watch superheroes with the younger kids Flash and Supergirl are much better suited for that. I would say save this one for the older teenagers and the grown-ups.
If you have Netflix and haven't watched it yet I'd say get going. If you don't have Netflix this is a pretty good reason to give it a try.