In The Dark
US TV

Review: In the Dark 1×1 (US: The CW)

In the US: Thursdays, 9pm ET, The CW
In the UK: Not yet acquired

There is considerable feminist discourse around the concept of ‘likability’. Female politicians, such as Hillary Clinton, are considered ‘unlikable’ and therefore considered vote-losers, in a way male politicians rarely are. Does anyone think Rand Paul or Chuck Schumer are likeable? No, yet they still get elected and are considered (for some reason) via politicians.

In the Dark feels like an effort to push ‘the Overton Window‘ on female ‘likability’ using the ingenious aegis of disability. It sees Perry Mattfeld (Shameless US) playing Murphy, a woman whose life is a bit of a mess. She became blind at the age of 14 and was fostered by the owners of a guide dog charity (The West Wing‘s Kathleen York and The Whispers‘s Derek Webster), for which she now ‘works’. I say works, because most of the time she’s getting drunk, waking up from a one-night-stand or both. Or is off smoking with a teenage drunk-dealer who once saved her life.

Mattfield is even more self-destructive than that sounds. “You only care about yourself,” York yells at her after Mattfield has just slept with a married donor to the impoverished charity, resulting in the cancellation of his wife’s $10,000 donation.

“It’s pretty obvious I don’t care about myself. At all,” Mattfield replies.

Which isn’t entirely true, though. While most of the first episode revolves around Mattfield’s self-destruction and self-pity, there is another thread to the plot: the disappearance and possible murder of her teenage drug-dealer friend. That prompts Mattfield to try to persuade everyone that he has disappeared, even though his body goes missing soon after she finds it.

When that fails, she tries to solve the crime herself, with a little help from her friend Brooke Markham (Foursome) and the missing drug-dealer’s cousin/boss (Blood and Oil‘s Keston John).

Continue reading “Review: In the Dark 1×1 (US: The CW)”
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Daredevil and Fisk
Internet TV

Boxset Monday: Marvel’s Daredevil (season three) (Netflix)

Available on Netflix

Well, that was a disappointment. And a relief. But probably not for the reasons you were thinking.

So, Netflix’s various Marvel superhero shows have been in something of a funk of a late. When they were first announced, everyone was sceptical. With all the best Marvel superheroes in the cinema, what was Netflix going to do with a bunch of also-rans like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist?

But under the auspices of Steven DeKnight and Drew Goddard, the first season of Marvel’s Daredevil blew everyone away. This was quality TV. Okay, the costume was a let-down but at least that was only five minutes at the end of the last episode and we could just about excuse the magic ninja, the extreme sadism and Daredevil’s ability to heal crippling injuries in a couple of days using only the power of meditation before that.

Then Marvel’s Jessica Jones came along and that was the end of that – it looked like Netflix was doing for superhero shows what it had done for Internet TV with House of Cards. Phew. We were in safe hands. Roll on the other two shows.

Since then, those of us following these shows have largely been in a state of perpetual disappointment. Maybe it would have been better if the first two shows hadn’t been quite so good, then we wouldn’t have been quite so disappointed. Marvel’s Luke Cage was okay, but not great. Marvel’s Iron Fist was awesome! Unfortunately, I’m probably the only person who thought that (screw you, haters). The much-anticipated second season of Daredevil was half-good, half-dreadful. The great big team-up of all four superheroes, Marvel’s The Defenders, was a bit blah thanks to a rushed conclusion and poor characterisation. Season two of Jessica Jones was season one of Jessica Jones again. Yawn. Season two of Luke Cage was a marked improvement over season one, but still not good enough to prevent it getting cancelled. Season two of Iron Fist was not only soporific, it was season two of Luke Cage as well, so it got cancelled, too.

The one bright star in the Marvel firmament was unexpected addition The Punisher.

So it was with low expectations but a certain degree of hope that I went into season three of Marvel’s Daredevil. Would it be as good as season one? Would it even be good?

I crossed my fingers, anyway.

Bullseye

Daredevil to hope

As I said, after 13 episodes, both relief and disappointment were the results. Disappointment, not because it was bad, but because it starts so well. The first six or so episodes are great. It then just turns into absolute rubbish. It’s stupid and almost unwatchable at times. Remember the Hand? Just as bad.

Oh the disappointment.

So why relief? Because thankfully, the final three or four episodes are great again. Woo hoo!

And it’s all by going back to the first season and what was good about the show. And by ditching that stupid costume. Spoilers after the jump.

Continue reading “Boxset Monday: Marvel’s Daredevil (season three) (Netflix)”

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Luke Cage - season 2
Internet TV

Review: Marvel’s Luke Cage (season two) (Netflix)

Available on Netflix

Season one of Marvel’s Luke Cage was the first sign that not all of Netflix’s superhero shows were going to be top-notch. Season one of Marvel’s Daredevil was something of a classic, in terms of both ultraviolence and as an investigation of the morality of vigilanteism. Meanwhile, season 1 of Marvel’s Jessica Jones was an unexpected deconstruction of the entire superhero genre and power.

However, Luke Cage was a bit meh. Perhaps it was too faithful to its 70s source material. Perhaps it was too much of an homage to blaxploitation movies. Perhaps it spent too long on its musical interludes. Perhaps it spent too little time on plotting, given how fractured the storyline was across the season. Perhaps it was too concerned with political arguments, with Cage the composite epitome of every black cultural stereotype being asked to solve the insoluble question of how a modern black man should act with honour – despite being bulletproof. Whatever the cause, it wasn’t as bad as season two of Daredevil or The Defenders, but it wasn’t great.

Given that there’d been no change in showrunner between seasons, I wasn’t expecting much of this second season of the show. Yet, actually, despite a somewhat downbeat ending, it’s the season I’ve enjoyed most since that first season of Jessica Jones. Apart from Iron Fist of course – screw you, haters.

Misty Knight and Luke Cage

Luke Cage uncaged

Season two of Luke Cage is a far jauntier, far more fun, far less self-conscious affair than the first season. Most of the same elements are there, but they fit together a lot better, everything’s more polished and it doesn’t feel quite so isolated from the larger Marvel universe.

Events continue more or less where season one left off, although this is clearly a post-Defenders story. Luke is, of course, out of prison and now everyone knows he’s a bulletproof superhero, making him the star of Harlem. Rappers are writing songs about him, he’s getting invited to show off his might against the NFL, Nike want to sponsor him – Luke Cage is big.

Meanwhile, Mariah (Alfre Woodward) is as big within the criminal underworld, thanks in part to the help of her lover-lieutenant ‘Shades’ (Theo Rossi). However, a new man is in New York from Jamaica calling himself ‘Bushmaster’ (Mustafa Shakir) and he has eyes on Harlem for himself. However, not only is his mission more personal than it first appears, he’s as strong and as bulletproof as Luke Cage. Is there room in town for the two of them?

Fortunately, Luke’s got help from the initially one-armed Misty Knight (Simone Missick), Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson) and, of course, the Immortal Iron Fist (Finn Jones). Screw you, haters.

Spoilery talk after the jump.

Continue reading “Review: Marvel’s Luke Cage (season two) (Netflix)”

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Jessica Jones season 2
Internet TV

Review: Marvel’s Jessica Jones (season two) (Netflix)

The first season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones was a refreshing and surprising tilt at the genre. Rather than follow in the footsteps of its predecessor Netflix series, Marvel’s Daredevil, and give us a female vigilante out beating up New York’s criminal underclass, it was instead a feminist deconstruction of the entire superhero genre. Want to dress up in a suit and fight criminals? There’s probably something wrong you – maybe power issues, maybe toxic masculinity. The use of power to control others is something to be avoided by the individual, as it leaves both user and used damaged and changed by the experience. Combined with its use of the female gaze, in short, it was probably the first superhero show both by women and for women.

Since then, of course, we’ve had the underwhelming, rushed Marvel’s Defenders, which saw our Jessica team up with Daredevil and the rest of the Netflix Marvel crew to fight a scary new enemy. But while Defenders certainly was able to use our Jessica’s sarcastic PI ways with alacrity, it somewhat missed out on all that feminist subtext, turning her into a reluctant but still punchy advocate of extreme violence, murder et al. Was this character development, you might have wondered, with Jessica changed by her murder of arch-enemy and rapist Killgrave (David Tennant) into a different kind of heroine? What would season two of Jessica Jones be like? Would it be our Jessica in a costume at last?

Nope. It’s more of the same – at least as far as Jessica is concerned. The other supporting characters? That’s maybe a different story. A short, non-spoilery review after the jump, followed by a full review for those who don’t mind spoilers or who’ve already watched it.

Continue reading “Review: Marvel’s Jessica Jones (season two) (Netflix)”

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Marvel's Jessica Jones - Krysten Ritter and David Tennant
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