Friday, April 10, 2015

Man Without Fear, TV Season Without Waiting - Netflix's Daredevil

I don't know if the Netflix model really works for me, but I recognize I may be the anomaly in this instance.
With episodic stories, I fully believe that anticipation adds to the enjoyment, that the delay increases the gratification, if you will. We don't watch a lot of TV, but we are committed to what we watch, and are practitioners of the increasingly outmoded concept of 'appointment television'. In between episodes, I thrive on the water cooler talk and speculation.
During the first couple of seasons of Lost, I would tell people who hadn't seen it how new and intriguing it was, and how tantalizing it was to have so little an idea of where the series was going. Some listeners would check out an episode, but still others would say, "Sounds cool; I'll wait for the DVDs and watch it all at once."
To me that's like saying, "here, instead of a gourmet meal, please take this George Jetson protein tablet; it will address your metabolic needs while swelling to an appropriate size to ease your hunger. Then we can proceed straight to dessert, enjoy this delightful tiramisu, and be finished our meal in about fifteen minutes."
Full marks to efficiency, but none for style, none for enjoyment, and very little for a sense of community. Netflix, the one-time mail-based but now internet centred movie and TV subscription service, has taken binge watching to the next level, by providing full seasons of quality, original content all at once. No re-runs, no sweeps week, no water cooler talk, just the option of watching one episode right after the other. I don't know if it's for me, man.
On the other hand, I've been waiting for a decent adaptation of Marvel Comics blind superhero Daredevil since I was 14 years old, so I wasn't about to let Netflix's take on Matt Murdock and Co. pass me by, now, was I? All 13 episodes dropped tonight and I had a chance to watch the first one before I got chased out of the rumpus room in favour of dance practice.
Based on pedigree (Marvel Studios, two former Buffyverse producers) and casting (Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk/The Kingpin and Charlie Cox as the title character), I was eagerly anticipating this show. The advertising campaign teased out just enough information to set the tone and let fans know that both Daredevil and the Marvel-ised Hell's Kitchen where he hangs his horns would be treated with a gritty respect.
First impressions validate the claims. There is slightly less humor here than in Agents of SHIELD or the Iron Man movies, but it is still there. Thor doesn't sail by an open window, but the realtor leasing a law office to Matt and his partner 'Foggy' Nelson mentions how the alien invasion depicted in The Avengers has depressed prices in the area to the point where two neophyte attorneys can afford it.

On the action side, they waste very little time getting physical, pitting Matt against some human traffickers. The costume choice is less red and devilish and more Dread Pirate Roberts, a look that hearkens back to not only the Frank Miller/John Romita Jr. "Man Without Fear" comic miniseries, but also an old Lou Ferrigno Hulk TV movie. Up until this battle, I considered the high-water mark for fights and stunts to be CW's surprisingly excellent Arrow, but there is a real chance they have lost the belt to Daredevil. Athletic, kinetic, just acrobatic enough to be fun and shot with pleasing clarity, I am looking forward to seeing more in the ensuing episodes.
The writing is good, dialogue suitably comic-ish without being corny, and they tie up loose ends without being pedantic about it. The tone is far darker than Marvel's previous offerings, with not just the terror of human trafficking laid bare, but bloody murders and ruthless extortion. One of the more chilling elements contained no violence at all, only the threat of it against a loved one as a means of leverage; for this reason, my youngest is going to sit this series out for the time being.
Charlie Cox (Stardust) is an interesting choice for Daredevil, but makes for a brilliant choice as blind attorney Matthew Murdock, investing the character with both the compassion and suppressed rage that makes the character so compelling.
The first episode lays out the framework for what feels like it will be a fairly large and comprehensive story, and D'Onofrio's crimelord Wilson Fisk (sometimes known as The Kingpin) is not even seen, only heard, and referenced with noticeable fear by underlings and colleagues. They are building up anticipation for an eventual reveal that I am certain many people will reach in the wee hours of tomorrow morning.
I have no idea how long I will take to get to episode 13, but when I do, I'll be sure to post my impressions.
In the meantime though, practice is done, so it is time for episode 2... and maybe just one more.

No comments:

Post a Comment