Friday, July 8, 2016

2015-16 TV Season Recap, Part Two

Thank you for sticking with me for part two of my 2015-16 TV Season Recap, where I will be focusing on three exclusive Netflix series. If you have yet to catch up on my other installments of the TV season, check out the following links:

Part 1 (South Park, Simpsons, Family Guy, American Grit, 30 for 30)
Part 3 (Game of Thrones, Leftovers, Ballers, Agent Carter)
Part 4 (Gotham, Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow)

Netflix Exclusives

Daredevil - This past year I ended up binge watching both seasons of the first exclusive Marvel series on Netflix. Daredevil is some addicting television. In the months preceding my beginning of binge watching both seasons I binge-read the 110 issues of Daredevil volume 2 that originally ran from 1998-2008 to get some extra background and familiarity with the characters and plotlines. That run of books is especially good, and the darker tone of that run of Daredevil comes across on the Netflix series too.

The first season is about Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox), Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Karen Paige (Deborah Woll) becoming a team and setting up their law office as struggling rookie lawyers. In his off hours, Murdock busts out his homemade outfit (the buildup and moment when Murdock debuts his final costume is easily my favorite moment of season one) and keeps the streets of Hell’s Kitchen safe. The opening episodes dealing with Daredevil’s origin were well done, but the early season one highlight is the incredible hallway fight scene that dared to take on Old Boy for best hallway fight scene ever. Both are still lots of fun to take in, but it is hard to say which one I like more, why not you watch both clips and decide for yourself?

The casting is excellent for the three primary players in Daredevil, although I am not entirely sold on season one’s antagonist, Wilson Fisk. Vincent D'Onofrio definitely looks the part, but I feel he tries too hard for speaking in deadly undertones. He makes a few appearances in season two, and I kind of came around on him by that point as he delivers some brutal beatdowns that definitely feel Kingpin-caliber. However, I feel like there is still something about his presentation that just feels off for whatever reason.

Speaking of season two, Frank Castle, aka The Punisher (Jon Bernthal) absolutely steals season two! Daredevil’s portrayal of Castle as an anti-hero definitely is on point with how he has best been portrayed in the comic and you never really know whether to root for him or hate him throughout the season. The producers did an excellent job of having Castle walk in many shades of gray throughout the season, and the Punisher fanboy in me is super happy he had the standout fight scene of the season! I am still in disbelief that Marvel was as impressed with the Punisher in this season as much as I was that they gave Netflix a bonus season of programming beyond their original contract so they can dedicate a season to the Punisher.

Not only does Punisher steal the season, he also saves it, because as season two marches along we are introduced to Murdock’s former friend and foe, Elektra (Elodie Yung) and their antagonist for the season, the Japanese supernatural ninja outfit known as The Hand. The story arcs dealing with The Hand in the comics I read of Daredevil were the only ones I did not really care for because the whole supernatural mystique of The Hand and Elektra were just a bit too out there for me to buy into, and those same plot notes hit the same marks on the TV series also. Luckily, we get to see Daredevil and Elektra team up for some righteous fight scenes to deal with The Hand, but much like the puddies and the foot clan on other shows, the Hand more-or-less comes across as meaningless cannon fodder. The way that arc concludes also does not give me high hopes for season three, but if the awesome action scenes, overall dark and edgy tone of the show and great all around acting remains then I will remain on board for whatever season three brings to the table.
Season One Grade: A
Season Two Grade: B-

Jessica Jones - I did not think Netflix could get any darker and edgier with what they accomplished in Daredevil, but they manage to top themselves with Jessica Jones. Jones (Krysten Ritter) is a foul-mouthed, sassy private investigator who has her own superpowers that enable her to succeed in her sole proprietorship. All is not well when she bumps into an old friend, Kilgrave (David Tennant) who has the ability of mind control. I am not too familiar with Jones’ comic background so when I first saw Kilgrave and his whole mind control ability I foolishly dismissed it as on old TV-villain trope. However, the producers behind this Netflix series pushed this ability to all kinds of devious limits that you have to see to believe that they went that far and somehow managed to pull it off to be a believable force to be reckoned with.

The season has a lot of interesting twists throughout as they are constantly on the run from Kilgrave, and I was a fan of the ingenuity they displayed with the contraption they came up with to handle Kilgrave. Of course he could not be contained, and it was just as much fun to watch him one up Jones and company and how the two ultimately clashed in their final showdown of the season. Like Daredevil, Jessica Jones is just as well casted with best friend/adopted sister Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) serving well as the only person she can trust, and characters Malcolm and Will both undergoing season-spanning transformation I was a little skeptical at first with, but both worked out splendidly in the end. This season also introduces us to bartender, Luke Cage (Mike Colter) who will later be receiving his own Netflix original series that I will definitely be tuning into because this season was a terrific sneak peek at what abilities and powers his character brings to the table.

My only qualm with this season is it takes a page out of other shows like Spartacus and Game of Thrones by being a borderline softcore porn the first couple of episodes in order to attract more mainstream eyeballs before we get more of the bigger picture of what Jessica Jones is all about. I always felt that as a cheap production tactic and seems below Marvel, but I guess it showed the faith both Marvel and Netflix had going into the series’ premiere. Good to hear though that it got renewed for a second season that should be hitting within a few months.
Grade: A

The Jamz - My brother recommended this show to me so I was instantly trepid knowing his viewing habits. However since this was only four, half hour episodes I deemed it another low-term investment much like South Park was this season. Anywho, The Jamz is about two nimrod overnight radio DJs Fitzy (Jim Kozyra) & Jay-Jay (Chris Petlak) who have everything go wrong for them. Actually that is probably my gripe with this entire cast, is that all their fellow peers at the radio station also all try to be a little too much like Taco off of The League. I can tolerate one of those characters, but to have an entire cast of a show act all flakey and cracking nonstop hit-or-miss zingers is too much.

The only person who is not a tool on this show is the janitor who one of the DJs go to for his sage wisdom in an OK running gag. The one running gag I really did enjoy for these four episodes is the intern (Rammel Chan) at the station who does not talk a single word until one pivotal moment that I was waiting the entire series for, and of course slapping myself when I did not see it coming. There are good jokes and gags in each episode, but they need to pace them out better and try and get a couple more down-to-earth characters to help diversify the cast and improve the overall flow in an episode in order for The Jamz to have some staying power.
Grade: C

That wraps up part two, join me for part three as I will be covering a few exclusive HBO shows.

Past TV/Web Series Blogs

2013-14 TV Season Recap
2014-15 TV Season Recap
Angry Videogame Nerd Vol 8
Angry Videogame Nerd Vol 7
Mortal Kombat: Legacy - Season 1
RedvsBlue - Seasons 1-13
Seinfeld Final Season
Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle

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