Netflix

April 20, 2017

Fandoms and Navigating the Golden Age of Television

Once a month, we have a segment on the podcast, “TV Roundup.” We discuss what we’ve been watching, and most of the time, it’s the same thing. Right around “Game of Thrones” time talk about that, Justin talks “Homeland,” and DJ usually signs the praises of “Mr. Robot” and most recently the resurgence of “Samurai Jack” on Cartoon Network. “Luther” has popped up, as well as “Gotham,” “The Flash,” “Arrow,” the list goes on.

But as many people have pointed out, and continue to remind us; WE’RE LIVING IN THE GOLDEN AGE OF TELEVISION!!!

So this got me thinking; how much is there really to watch in this “golden age?” So I made a list, and the list is quite extensive, and got me thinking; how does one find the time to fulfill all of their TV fandoms while going through a normal life of work, home life, children, watching film, being smarmy on the Internet, and sleeping…maybe.

One of the main reasons why I don’t watch so much TV is the overall time it takes. A film is pretty much one and done, and even that I’ve been having issues getting caught up. Sure, with On Demand and Binge Culture so abundant these days, it’s easier to watch more TV than ever, but is there any one person that just happens to watch everything on TV just to make sure that they can have an actual opinion on everything.

Yes, if you happen to be a professional writer/journalist it’s your job to watch everything and lend your “expert” opinion and create a cute little list of the Top Ten reason why you should be watching said show, or how this show “wins the Internet” or how this new actor/actress on said show is “everything,” or maybe even why you “can’t even” (that’s still a thing right) with a certain episode. The list goes on…

In doing a little research, yes, we research things occasionally on Simplistic Reviews, there are over 20 major networks and/or content providers releasing shows that have some type fandom attached to it. I’m sure I’m leaving quite a few channels or shows from this general list, but to my point, that’s how much is currently out there, TV-wise. HERE is just a brief look at just some I could come up with. Trust me, I’m missing a ton, so put the torches and pitchforks away if I forgot your precious little angst-ridden hipster drama, or anything that might be on CBS. CBS doesn’t exist.

I guess the real question is whether TV can keep up it’s momentum, or will it collapse under the weight of it’s own grand ambition. I’ve mentioned in a previous podcast how I see a quiet decrease in the quality of Netflix’s Marvel TV shows. It’s incredibly hard to keep momentum for so long without people starting to poke holes in the most minor of minor issues, and sure, even I’ve gotten into the act, but the miracle of the Internet and having a platform, even if it’s a small one, is that you’re able to have an opinion.

With the rise of fandom, comes the continued effort by everyone and anyone to stand up for their given fandom. People may argue about the perceived slide in quality of shows, or scoff at the fact that there is another comic book adaptation or the re-boot of a once beloved TV show from the 80s or 90s, but there always seems to be someone defending it, and for the most part, I commend that. Hell, even I’m not one that will write something off right away. At first I thought the “Lethal Weapon” TV show looked interesting, just from a nostalgia perspective. Have I seen an episode, nope.

But this is pretty much my MO with TV. Something might be interesting, but I still won’t waste my time, and if a show gets to a point of it being a chore to watch and show-runners are simply biding their time to get the show to be good again (I’m looking at you “Walking Dead”) I’m out. This is the same for “The Flash,” “Arrow,” “Agents of SHIELD,” seeing a trend here.. However, when a show does enter the zeitgeist of Film Twitter, I am compelled to watch since critics on the Internet are just as bad as cable news and their 24-hour news cycle. It’s pretty much watch, or be left in the dust, which is the vomit-inducing place we are with our Binge Culture. It really does want to make you binge-and-purge.

 So let’s try this; how many shows do you in fact watch, either streaming or on cable or network TV. Do you feel an obligation to watch everything since we’ve been conditioned to think that everything that appears on the TV is important and fantastic? Leave a couple of comments, and/or just tell him I’m an idiot and trying to be a contrarian. Kisses, and good luck on that WGA Strike…

March 22, 2017

Matt’s Take: The State of Marvel’s Netflix Universe

What an age of wonder we continue to live in! Superheroes, Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, *cough* dc *cough* and so much more. Every comic book, sci-fi, and fantasy nerd is living their wildest dreams with the arms-race continuing at a pace never before seen in modern pop culture. If you dream it, and there is a market for it, it will surely be adapted in some form or another. But are chinks starting to form in the armor of Netflix/Marvel/Disney’s after a pretty rough take on their latest hero, “Iron First.”

Full disclosure, I’ve yet to dive into the newest Netflix Marvel series, “Iron Fist,” but man, based on those reviews, which I normally take more serious then a fortuneteller in a strip mall next to the Chinese Take-Out, there has to be something to them, well, because there are so many bad ones.

But in comparing Season One of “Daredevil” that many people thought pretty much changed the game for Marvel, where are they starting to go wrong after it’s Second Season? Sure, “Jessica Jones” upped the storytelling and introduced the strongest female character that Marvel has put on the screen yet (sorry Black Widowers), but there has been a noticeable drop in consistency.

Perhaps the seasons are a little too long…for me. Some would argue they aren’t long enough, but 13 episodes, with maybe about six of the episodes being of substance and moving the plot along, 10 episodes seem like the way to go.

This brings me to “Luke Cage,’ currently the highest rated Marvel TV show, at least on Rotten Tomatoes, the “be all, end all” of Movie, TV, blah blah blah reviews. As a whole, the show is good. It takes on a lot of issues that scare conservatives and white people, and show that no matter what color you might be, corruption is universal. That might be reaching a little too deep into “Cage” but it does show the social climate of a predominate African-American neighborhood, and is no doubt the most politically charged of the TV MCU so far.

Mike Colter IS Luke Cage. He’s physically imposing, tender at times, but still a reluctant hero who thinks more about his situation than the events happening around him. He’s the anti-thesis to Daredevil in many senses. Whereas Matt Murdock seeks justice and protects his neighborhood, Luke stands on the sidelines and lets his native Harlem fall victim to elected officials and criminals. He knows what he has to do, but prefers to hide and let the neighborhood rip itself apart. Of course, as in most of these superhero origin stories, he sees the error of his ways and with the help of some well-written female characters, and of course the introduction of a villain that can tear his world apart, comes to his senses and decides to save the day.

Unlike “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones,” this series also lacked an actual villain with a super-powered background. No mind-control or extreme ninja skills with an option to come back from the dead. It was, at first, a fight between a super-strong, yet reluctant hero, and a crime boss, and turned into a super-strong, now active hero, against a crime boss, but now a crime boss is in a super-suit. I do like the re-inclusion of the almost long forgotten Hammer Industries back into the MCU, and it re-opens the doors to maybe get Sam Rockwell back into the mix, which is always welcome.

With the positives, comes the negatives. I really wasn’t a fan of the final fight between Cage and the season’s big bad, Diamonback. It was underwhelming, there just wasn’t much there, and even though some people might think the build up was just enough to give the final fight some pathos, but just fell flat, just like many fights and bad guys in the MCU. To this date, Kilgrave, aka, The Purple Man, is the only villain that really comes to mind that posed a great threat, as well as it being the most personal and tragic.

And while this might make me a traitor to all of my musical sensibilities, considering I love Wu-Tang Clan, I really could have done without the Method Man “freestyle” about Luke Cage during a segment of Sway in the Morning. I don’t know, it seemed so forced and just kind of an out of nowhere element of the show. Now listen, I love Method Man and everything about Wu-Tang Clan, but….why? Why include a musical interlude about Luke Cage in the middle of an episode. No sir, I don’t like it.

Where they’ll go with Season Two of “Luke Cage,” I don’t really know, and will they go the route of releasing the next season before “The Defenders” is finally released, and will the less-than-favorable reviews of “Iron Fist” effect said “Defenders.”

Sure, I haven’t gotten started on “Iron Fist” just yet, but I honestly do feel my enthusiasm waning for these more mature Marvel hero(ines). Yeah, it looks like Frank Castle will be returning sooner rather than later, but just like Roman Times, the crowd is fickle and will boo without mercy if they don’t like something. That, or in fact, “Iron Fist” really is that bad.

People also tell me “Hey, ‘Agents of SHIELD’ has gotten better.” Meh, I’m sure it’s fine, but first impressions are everything, and with the “Winter Solider Oki-Doke,” as I’ll call it, and a character who was as insufferable as Skye (who I also hear got better with time) I pretty much tuned out. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Marvel, TV-wise, has had it’s share of ups-and-downs, and ebbs-and-flows, and should be able to bounce back from a couple of sub-par, ie, not able to meet the lofty expectations of “fans,” outings lately.

What we all need to remember is that while we all waited with bated breath for these Marvel shows to come to Netflix, how high were the hopes for “Daredevil?” I’m sure a lot of people would raise their hands and yell out, “Oh, I knew the whole time!” Puh-lease! After the letdown that was Ben Affleck’s “Daredevil,” and the juggling of show-runners, will you honestly tell me without laughing that you had 100% confidence in Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock and the kid from the Mighty Ducks as his sidekick? You…are a liar.

We were spoiled with “Daredevil” and it ultimately lead to unrealistic notions that everything that Marvel would put on Netflix would be diamonds. This is their first lump of coal, according to “highly qualified” reviewers, but the real test will see how this effects future seasons and the chance that Marvel is willing to take on even more fringe characters. Personally, I’m waiting on Moon Knight, Marvel’s version of Batman pretty much, but it worries me now because of the backlash of “Iron Fist.” Thanks critics, this is why we can’t have nice things…

December 7, 2016

3 Simplistic Things: November 2016

We are approaching the New Year at a feverish pitch, and while November might not have gone the way that a lot of people wanted it to go, at least you can say 2017 can’t get any worse….or can it?

Netflix on the Go….go


It’s difficult to think of a time before Netflix, or streaming, or social media, or just the endless need for people to be needed and/or cut off from the rest of the world because they need to be looking down at their phone. rant end. However, now that Netflix is facing stiffer competition from the likes of Amazon Instant, it was only a matter of time before downloading and taking on the go would be an option for Big Red.

Kanye Being Kanye

So Kanye West cancelled a bunch of his tour dates after people booed him in California for saying that if he did vote, he would have voted for Donald Trump. How could he be so heartless? I mean I’m not saying he’s a gold digger, but with all the flashing lights, he really should be stronger….he sucks. (Not from one of his songs….yet)

This Brings Me To…..

 …aka, beating a dead horse…

kthnxbye guys

July 23, 2016

Trailer Hot Take: Luke Cage/Iron Fist

This weekend is San Diego Comic Con, and around this time the floodgates usually open for all sorts of first looks, trailers, news, notes, and general nerd-dom. For fans of Netflix and their Marvel offers, this was a big week with both a trailer for Luke Cage, and a teaser for Iron Fist. Let’s dive in and take a look.

First look at Frankie Faison playing Pop
Ready….
Kick in the door, waving the car door….
THEE SHOT of the trailer
These are so many things to look into this shot, done with great purpose. It’s masterful
Remy “Cottonmouth” Danton
Look at that beauty. With an ODB track on the trailer, and A Tribe Called Quest working the soundtrack….what more could you want from this….
and now….
We don’t know much yet about the adventures of Danny Rand and his kung-fu antics, but here are a few stills from the teaser.
Young Danny with his mom as the plane goes down
Monks….so you know where this is going
Mr. Danny Rand
With these two trailers it finally fills out the roster of The Defenders, which is supposed to premier sometime in 2017. Fun times ahead for all!
January 18, 2016

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast (Ep. 61) January 2016


FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY

Happy Jew Year friends and family. The Simplistic Reviews Crew is back, and boy are they going to let you have it….not their virginity, we’re all still clearly waiting for the right one to give that away to….

This month the boys try to find a way to make “Making a Murderer” the new #1 Comedy on CBS, to DJ’s everylasting black rage involving Michael Bay as Transformers 69 is coming soon. We even throw in a little TV talk, and introduce a brand new game segment where we decide who lives or dies in “Simplistic Fisticuffs.”

All this, plus we finally catch up with the asshat responsible for the deaths of both David Bowie and Alan Rickman in this super-sized, jam-packed edition of The Simplistic Reviews Podcast.

NOTES:

Bowie Being Bowie
Rickman Being Rickman
Bay Being Bay

MUSIC
My Flows Is Tight By Lord Digga
Syd Dale By The Hell Raisers
1976 By RJD2
Cast Your Fate To The Wind By Vince Guaraldi

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May 1, 2015

Simply TV: Marvel’s Daredevil Episode Four: In the Blood (Matt’s Take)

SMASHING

In the Blood –Smashing

This is where the proverbial “rubber hits the road.” The fourth episode of “Daredevil” has the perfect amount of violence, and storytelling, that will likely pave the way for the rest of this first season (since this article has been written, a second season has already been order by Netflix).

“In the Blood” starts with a flashback of both Anatoly and Vladamir in a Ukrainian gulag five years prior to them arriving in Hell’s Kitchen and leading the Russian Mob and now running into the issue of the “man in the mask.”

Wesley arrives with a proposition for the brothers that will involve the help of Wilson Fisk. Speaking of Fisk, after his acquisition of “Rabbit in a Snowstorm” is goes back to the gallery and officially introduces himself to the art dealer, Vanessa, and offers to take her to dinner.

Meanwhile, the Russians are on the hunt for the “man in the mask” which brings them to abducting Claire and  questioning her for his whereabouts. Needless to say, Matt comes to Claire’s rescue and their relationship continues to blossom where she finally learns Matt isn’t Mike, but he’s Matthew.

On the other side of town, Karen wants been to become more involved in the United Allied liquidation, and Ben explains the dangers involved. While initially, skeptical, Ben accepts Karen’s proposal and begins digging a little deeper.

After the latest attack, Anatoly decides it’s time to go to Fisk for help, which angers Vladamir, but nonetheless accepts. The one mistake Anatoly makes is that you never interrupt Fisk while he’s at dinner….

These are just general brush strokes for an episode that unearths some interesting development, mainly about Fisk and how he views his relationships and business and how the two should never meet, and Anatoly can attest to that. “In the Blood” is our first real look into what we can expect from Fisk the rest of the season, and maybe even into the MCU if possible. Vincent D’Onofrio is calculated in every line he speaks and gives Fisk a sophisticated, but chilling, appeal. He’s put together well and while he speaks with authority, he also speaks with a sense of guilt and aloofness. He’s a worldly person, but at the same time afraid of the unknown and is incredibly protective of the city he lives in. While both the Claire and Matt and Foggy and Karen relationships will anchor this show, its likely the duo of Vanessa and Wilson that will have the widest and was interesting consequences in not only this show, but the future as well.

There weren’t as many Easter eggs in this episode, but the one that really stood out was Wesley’s comment about “men in iron suits or magic hammers.” It’s small, but it just goes to show you the care that has been taken with this universe.

The biggest takeaway, however, in this episode, at least for me, was the increased violence. There has been an increase in violence from the first two episodes to episode three and four, including two specific scenes; One, the attack on Claire, which hid most of the onscreen violence and swapped it with the aftermath. But it asks the question if this is going to be a trend on this show, starting with the attack on Karen in episode one, and continuing on from there. I understand that the “Damsel in Distress” plot device works, but I’d also like to see stronger female characters on this show, and there are glimpses in Karen and Claire, so hopefully that continues.

This brings me to the car door scene, which I won’t spoil per say, but I will say it’s one of the most violent scenes you’ll see in a Marvel property up to this point, and with that being said, it’s also an important scene, not only from a character trait that we see in Wilson Fisk, but from a Marvel standpoint its a flashpoint that is show the audience that they are willing to go to those dark places and they are will to possible take chances on more violent comic properties, namely The Punisher.

While episode three let it’s foot off the gas a bit, you can see the series starting to ramp up with a ton of machinations put into place; what will the Russians do now? What will happen with Fisk? Where will Matt and Claire’s relationship go? All this, and much more, on next week’s “Marvel’s Daredevil.”

Fun Fact: Back in 1987, Vincent D’Onofrio played Thor! In “Adventures in Babysitting.”   

April 24, 2015

Simply TV: Marvel’s Daredevil Episode Three: Rabbit in a Snowstorm (Matt’s Take)

Daredevil: Rabbit in a Snowstorm – Breather

After two exciting episodes, how can Marvel’s Daredevil keeping upping the ante; easy, have a third episode silly. While the first two episodes seemed to concentrate on stand alone arcs and character development, episode three, entitled “Rabbit in a Snowstorm” starts to shape what we are going to see the rest of this season.

Matt and Foggy are still trying to find their groove with their law practice when their first big case falls into their lap; a murder in a bowling alley involving a man named Healy who seems to be well connected with James Wesley, a man we meet in episode one who works for a mysterious benefactor.
Matt is suspicious of Wesley and the reasoning behind hiring himself and Foggy.

Elsewhere, we meet Ben Urich, an old newspaper writer who is interested in a man in black taking on the Russian Mob. Urich, once a respected reporter, has seen the decline of the printed page and the rise of blogs, and has been relegated to writing fluff pieces instead of hard-hitting news.

As Healy’s case goes to trial, Matt uses his enhanced senses to remove jurors that seem to have been tampered with, but is dismayed to learn that even with that juror gone, the case still ends with a hung jury and Healy is back on the street, but is met by Daredevil who beats a name out of him; Wilson Fisk.

This episode is treated almost like a setup and is more filler than anything else. That isn’t to say it’s a bad episode, quite the opposite, it’s just that the previous two episodes were so good that this one “pales” in comparison. What we do get however is the introduction of Ben Urich, played by Vondie Curtis-Hall, who I’m sure is going to play into the grand scheme of things in a big way, especially since we are teased that both he and Karen Page will likely be working very closely together.

The other big reveal is of course the “rabbit” himself; Wilson Fisk, or in comic book parlance, Kingpin, played by Vincent D’onofrio. While we only catch a quick glimpse and only a few lines of dialogue, we see an icy, yet thoughtful man. As far as his look, and the complaint about his size, look people, to find someone the size of Wilson Fisk would be nearly impossible and not likely, so get off that, and listen, he’s the perfect look, and another thing; it’s Vincent F’ING D’onofrio.

The only real Easter egg of sorts in this episode would be a newspaper article that we in Ben’s off with the byline of “Battle of NY” which is an obvious nod to the events in “The Avengers.” It’s still a nice little shout-out of course.

The last thing I’ll bring up in this episode is the elevation of the violence this time around. We have a broken arm with a bone poking out of the skin, a head based with a bowling ball, another broken arm with the sound effect being the payoff, a stabbing with a shard of glass, and the coupe de grace; a suicide via a shard of metal through the eye.

While “Rabbit in a Snowstorm” might not be the strongest effort so far this season, in no way is it lacking; it’s merely a formality where new story lines need to be opened up and characters developed.

Fun Fact: Wilson Fisk’s first appearance was in The Amazing Spider Man #50 in 1967.

April 17, 2015

Simply TV: Marvel’s Daredevil Episode 2: Cut Man (Matt’s Take)

Daredevil: Cut Man – Heart

HEART

As we continue season one of “Daredevil” on Netflix, I’ll say this; after one episode of the show I was nearly floored by how serious the content was being taken, while still show signs of heart throughout the pilot. We legitimately cared by Matt Murdock and Karen Page and hung on every moment. With that being said, episode two, entitled “Cut Man” does in fact cut, and it cuts deep. We get further insight into the Murdock family, and the tragedy that befalls Matt. We also get one of the best fight scenes in the MCU’s history, the only thing that comes close is the Steve Rogers and Winter Soldier fight in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

The episode begins with Matt Murdock being found in a dumpster bloodied and beaten. A nurse, named Claire, takes him to her apartment and tends to his wounds. Meanwhile, Foggy and Karen go out of a “date” to blow off some steam.

As Murdock and Claire get to know each other, the back-story of Matt and his father, Jack Murdock, is further revealed. We learn that Jack is a down-on-his-luck boxer who is throwing matches for some local gangsters. On the eve of a big fight with young up-and-coming fighter, “Crusher” Creel, Jack reneges on his deal and wins the fight, and pays the ultimate price.

The end of the episode closes the lone cliffhanger from the first episode with Matt finding the young boy who was kidnapped by Russian gangsters. Again, another episode that pretty much wraps up much of it’s story beats but of course leaves you wanting so much more.

Once again the acting is above the material it’s being given, and the introduction of Claire, aka, Night Nurse, played by Rosario Dawson, is great. You can tell that Dawson likes material by Frank Miller considering her participation in Miller’s other work, “Sin City.”

There are three things to take away from this episode in particular;

1. The relationship between Matt and Jack Murdock is a beautiful thing, and it reminds me a lot of the opening of “Guardians of the Galaxy.” It’s a tragedy that isn’t something just brushed underneath the carpet and is something that affects our hero to this day.We see hints of how this affects Matt in the pilot, but we understand the true nature in this episode. Whether we see more background on their relationship is pending, but the way it’s wrapped up is both engrossing, and heartbreaking.

2. Something that a lot of people might miss as well is the introduction of Carl “Crusher” Creel. You’ll notice a poster in the gym in episode one of a boxing match between Jack Murdock and “Crusher” Creel. This is something I actually overlooked the first time watching the pilot. Of course, this is the fight that actually costs Jack his life, so it will surely become more of a plot point in the future. This brings me to that ramifications of this fight and the eventual introduction of the super-villain; Absorbing Man. While he has already been mentioned in the “Agents of SHIELD” TV show, I would love to see a fleshed out villain who could rival Bullseye or even Wilson Fisk himself.

3. The third aspect of episode that stood out, and in a huge way, was the final fight scene. An obvious nod to”Old Boy” with aspects of “The Raid” series, we see the fighting of Murdock on full display. Whereas the fights in the first episode were done in darker conditions, it was difficult to see what was really going on, which I’m sure was done on purpose considering that Daredevil is blind. Not only is the fight brutal, but the fact it was done in a single-shot format makes it even more epic.

Where will “Daredevil” go from here; anywhere it wants. After two episodes needless to say we are in store for a series that is only only going to give us great storytelling, but unbelievable action, and I’m sure some incredible acts of violence.

Fun Fact: Frank Miller began his Daredevil run in issue #158 in 1979.

April 11, 2015

Simply TV: Daredevil – Season 1 (Of Many Hopefully)

FEARLESS
Due to my work on producing the Simplistic Reviews Podcast, I’ve been limited to only doing written reviews for films or shows that I truly have something to say.  Whether that be for good or for bad.  I’m sure Ultron and friends will get me talking soon along with that Mad guy in the desert.  But honestly my excitement for the show I’m reviewing today actually rivaled my excitement for both of those films combined.  I’m talking about the show about The Man Without Fear…Marvel’s Daredevil Netflix series.  A show that delivers on practically every optimistic hope I had for it and more.  A show that is going to usher in a whole heap more properties from the dark alleys of the MCU.  A show that can be used as a blueprint to make those shows enjoyable without compromising their grit and verve.  A show that takes its material seriously in a dramatic way…not a depressing one.  Daredevil is the show without fear that ironically is scary good. 
To really get into why I like Daredevil so much and why I think it’s one of the smartest moves Marvel has ever done, I think we need to talk about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. first.  Yes, Marvel fans…I know it has gotten better.  Just hear me out.  When S.H.I.E.L.D. was announced after The Avengers, fans of the MCU rejoiced from the assumption that the TV universe was going to be the perfect petri dish for the more fringe Marvel characters.  A minor league, if you will, for testing out heroes and villains for their inevitable jump to the film universe.  Fleshing out characters on the show, thus circumventing tedious origins stories in the films.  But that wasn’t what we got.  We got a show treading water in order to hide the secrets of Captain America: The Winter Soldier with characters Marvel never intended and still don’t seem to intend on calling up to the majors.  All the steam and residual love from The Avengers film was squandered before that show righted the ship.  And then Marvel made the deal with Netflix.  An outlet not handcuffed by the restrictions of the Disney home network.  An outlet that gives you the freedom and time to tell your story and flesh out more adult themed but popular characters.  Netflix had given Marvel the avenue to do what we wanted S.H.I.E.L.D. to do in its inception.  Flesh out a character…a great character by the way…who has the realistic possibility to be called up to the majors. (Hello Civil War) To be fair to S.H.I.E.L.D., they seem to be doing this method of public introduction of soon-to-be minted characters with the Inhumans storyline.  However, their work and those characters are not going to be as impactful in the long run as a character like Daredevil can be. 
Those of you who don’t know or care about this comic book inside stuff and just want to know what the show is about…let me take off my nerd hat and tell you.  Matt Murdock, the son of a down on his luck boxer, is blinded as a child by some toxic chemicals.  The accident causes his other senses to get heightened astronomically. (Hearing heartbeats, smelling people from long distances, etc.)  Murdock grows up and becomes a lawyer in the gritty New York borough of Hell’s Kitchen, using his abilities to get to the truth out of cases.  But at night…Matt goes out and fights crime as the vigilante known as Daredevil.  Things to take note of for those rolling their eyes thinking, “Not another cliched comic book show.”  
1. Yes, this is connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  But all allusions and references to The Avengers films are inserted more deftly and are there for the story…not just fan service.  (You hear that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. & Gotham?)
2. Yes, this is a Marvel superhero, but don’t think that he just walks all over his enemies unscathed. Daredevil takes more punishment than any hero you’ve ever seen.  And the damage he takes makes the fights he has have a stronger sense of peril than Thor on the back of a Chitauri Leviathan swooping down Broadway.  
3. You don’t have to know anything about any Marvel film to understand what’s going on.
Props to showrunner Steven DeKnight for weaving this tale and all the MCU elements together as tightly as he does.  He was someone I initially was hesitant about helming this show, mainly due to my disappointment from the loss of the man he replaced, Drew Goddard.  I was wrong to worry.  DeKnight’s love for the character of Matt Murdock is present in every frame of this series.  He knows what he’s doing and utilizes every freedom that Netflix allows him.
The acting is something you’re not getting on S.H.I.E.L.D., or Arrow, or Flash.  It is high quality actors taking the material seriously and really using their talents to ground their characters in a believable and enjoyable way.  Charlie Cox was also someone I was hesitant of initially.  I knew he could act from seeing his performances on Boardwalk Empire and the recent Theory Of Everything.  I just wasn’t sure he could really nail the charm and stubbornly virtuous nature of Matt Murdock.  He does.  I mean seriously, you like him right away.  His likeability and wit and toughness makes you want to follow him on his seemingly impossible mission to clean up his city.  
When DeKnight said he wanted the show to take cues from the HBO show The Wire, I got really excited.  Mainly because I knew what that meant for Wilson Fisk.  Instead of a mustache twirling villain, they were going to fill out the Kingpin of crime as a character.  And they started by making the best casting decision of the show by hiring Vincent D’onofrio.  His Kingpin reminds me a lot of Idris Elba’s Stringer Bell on the aforementioned show The Wire.  He’s a devious man but he is still a man.  A man that you will find yourself sometimes rooting for.  D’onofrio spits in the face of critics who chirp on about Marvel not having good villains.  D’onofrio’s Kingpin as well as Cox’s Daredevil equally deserve a call up to the film universe in the future. (You hear that Spidey?)  Their dynamic here is the heartbeat of the show and that heartbeat is strong.

I am all in on Daredevil because I’m a comic book geek who has been reading his books for years and love how gritty and close to that source material it is while still being original.  But all geekiness aside, Daredevil is a show that is executed very well with great performances and a really compelling story.  People have asked me what is the comic book property I would recommend to wean their non comic book spouses or significant others into the genre.  Daredevil is easily at the top of that discussion.  It’s a great comic book show…but it’s a great show in general first.  Hopefully, his Netflix follow ups Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist hit the mark as accurately and hard as this.  Wrap your fists, get up off that mat, have your blind attorney present, watch it, then tell me I’m wrong.
April 10, 2015

Simply TV: Marvel’s Daredevil Episode 1: Into the Ring (Matt’s Take)

REDEMPTION

Daredevil: Into the Ring – Redemption

So, I’ve made the commitment to myself and to you, the audience. I will not binge “Marvel’s Daredevil.” In a society that demands everything be served to them right away, especially on Netflix, it’s almost a crime that we have forgotten about the timeless tradition of waiting for something. Of course we live in a fast-paced world now, with everything to be found with the click of a mouse or the typing of a keyboard, but there is something special about it, and this is why HBO is still so important right now….they still make you wait week to week to see what happens.

This of course brings me to “Daredevil” Marvel’s latest foray into TV, only this time without the limits of network rules. For the sake of explanation in these entries, I’ll review each episode individually, one a week, for 13 weeks. It’s going to take some willpower, but after just one episode I know this isn’t a show I’ll want to binge; this is a show I’m going to want to savor.

Episode One, entitled “Into the Ring” begins with our origin of a young Matt Murdock involved in a chemical accident, rendering him blind. Boom, origin established. As our episode unfolds we meet an older Matt, now a lawyer, and his partner-in-law, Foggy Nelson, looking for office space in New York’s Hell Kitchen. Elsewhere, a young woman named Karen Page is found in her apartment crying over a dead body. The police arrive and instantly she is the suspect of the murder.

Nelson and Murdock take up the case and as things unfold we find out that Page might be a part of something much bigger involving the corrupt construction company, United Allied, and something about pension payments. By the end of the episode most of the loose ends are tied up, but we catch a glimpse of things to come, and frankly, the excitement overwhelms me a little bit.

While there isn’t much bad with this first episode, I’ll concentrate on all that is good. The film adaptation of “Daredevil” is fuzzy in my mind, and to be honest, I’m not going to revisit it, there isn’t much to compare at this time. From top to bottom, “Daredevil” is a very meticulous attempt by Marvel to create a realistic alternative to it’s film universe and it’s TV brethren “Agents of SHIELD” and “Agent Carter.” While DC’s TV creations “Arrow” and “The Flash” have ruled many fanboys’ TV for the past three years, Marvel’s ‘Man Without Fear,’ will likely leave these two in the dust (full disclosure, I’m still a big fan of “The Flash” melodrama and all).

The casting is A+ with Charlie Cox, who you should remember as Owen Slater from “Boardwalk Empire, as Murdock, sporting a spot on American accent and the martial arts moves to match. Deborah Ann Woll, who played Jessica in “True Blood,” plays the woman-in-peril Page with conviction and emotion, and Elden Henson, who you of course remember as Fulton Reed in “The Mighty Ducks” franchise, plays Foggy Nelson with a certain slimy charm.

Full disclosure, I’m not an avid Daredevil reader, but I know the basics, and this season is shaping up to be the perfect balance of back story, fan service, world building, and allusions to future Marvel-ness, namely “The Defenders.” In short, you’d be blind to miss “Daredevil.”  

Fun Fact: The first appearance of Daredevil is in “Daredevil #1” from April 1964.

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