Michael Scott

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Titans: The Complete First Season


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Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :3stars:
Final Score: :3.5stars:




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Movie

We are truly living in the age of super heroes. Well, at least for TV and film that is. No time in history has EVER shown the amount of TV shows and movies dedicated to the comic book genres, and that is especially true for TV right now. Back some years ago the DC universe was kick started with Arrow, which spawned the entire Arrowverse on The CW (Arrow, The Flash, Black Lightning, Legends of Tomorrow etc), which prompted Marvel to create their own universe. Thus we got Jessica Jones, Daredevil, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and so on and so forth. However, the DC world was not content to just give it’s big A-titles to the CW (which suffered from what’s known as “The CW angst syndrome”) and has decided to start it’s own streaming service for DC shows. These initial shows last year started out with Titans, Doom Patrol and The Swamp Thing, and while some have had a rocky start, prove to be a nice compliment to the more family friendly shows like the ones on broad cast TV (Titans and Doom Patrol in particular are TV-MA rated and would be considered a nice HARD R if they were films).

I was actually really REALLY reticent about Titans when I saw the trailer last year. It looked abysmal, kind of like a Hot Topic TV show with Batman’s castoffs on it. As a huge fan of the original Titans comics and the new Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go! animated shows I was prepared for the worst to hit. I actually ignored the DC streaming service all together as a result and went into Blu-ray review blind and rather bitter at what I was guessing was going to be a train wreck. Color me pleasantly surprised when I watched the first episode. Hey, this wasn’t so bad, I’ll watch another. By the time I got past the first 3 episodes or so the show had really hit its groove and the darker take on the Titans was really growing on me. Sure, things had been changed up a bit, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the producers were not trying to make a live action version of the animated shows, but rather went back to the darker and more fractured comics of the 1980s to base their inspirations on (something which I notice a lot of fans online weren’t catching, and were trying to directly compare it to the animated shows of the last 10 years).

There’s some really good aspects of Titans, and some really bad ones too. The show revolves around Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites), who is in his post Batman stage of his life by now. Disillusioned with his former mentor, Dick is working as a police detective in Detroit, trying to find out who he really is. He still clings to his past though, as he is the Robin that is MOST like Bruce was (another reason why he left. He started to become Batman and hated that) and uses his old Robin outfit to continue fighting crime in Detroit outside of the legal channels. Things change when he runs across a young runaway named Rachael Roth (Teagan Croft) who is being chased by mysterious people. Falling prey to the same sympathy that caused Batman to take him in, Dick tries to help the girl, only to find out that her biggest strength is the world’s biggest liability. She’s not exactly all human, and her daddy is a powerful inter dimensional demon named Trigon who wants to use his daughter to act as a portal into our world.

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Simultaneously we meet Kory Anders (Anna Diop) an amnesiac woman who has a mysterious set of skills. Skills that happen to include the powers of flame and super human strength. Following the trail as best she can to regain her memories, Kory’s path leads straight to Rachel and Dick, where she is forced to team up with them as well as a mutant boy named Gar (Ryan Potter) in order to repel a demonic force that may consume the world.

The good is that the show is well acted and is DARK. I know that it’s the rave for everything to be goth level dark with brooding superheros ala Zack Snyder, but Titans actually works in that aspect. It’s a tumultuous time for Dick Grayson and the rest of what will become the Titans and the raw and brutal nature of the characters fits with the time in their lives that they are in. Dick is caught in coming of age moment, as he has just left Batman a year ago and is struggling to find out who he is in the world. While we all know that he will become Night Wing later on, he doesn’t. Right now he’s trying to reconcile with his past as Bruce Wayne’s little ward, and the dark Robin that he’s trying not to be. We know that he’s going to mature into a heroic leader, but right now he’s a broken ex caped crusader who’s trying to find a purpose. The same can be said for Rachel. She’s probably THE most powerful Titan ever, but right now she hasn’t fully embraced her powers as Raven, and isn’t able to control it. She doesn’t even know about her connection to Trigon as her demonic father and thusly is a scared teenager trying to figure out what’s wrong with her and how to get rid of it. Gar as Beast Boy is probably the most comfortable, as he feels right at home with his later self, and really isn’t much of a change from the comics as the lovable goof ball.

The show really gives us a peak at a LOT of other heroes and villains as well. We get a peak at The Nuclear Family villains, as well as introducing us to heroes like Donna Troy, Hawk and Dove as well. We also get an episode with the cast of Doom Patrol (which is actually a pilot introduction for first season of Doom Patrol). Sadly there is some downsides to season one as well. It feels a bit disjointed at times, and partially incomplete. The first season was SUPPOSED to have 12 episodes to wrap everything up, but it only was released with 11 episodes, meaning the team really isn’t a “team” as of yet. They are a group of people who work together. I know that may sound like semantics but it’s not. These aren’t the Titans yet, they’re a group of broken people slowly finding their center. As such we really don’t see the iconic costumes and some some of the personality traits that one normally associates with the Titans. Supposedly the 12 episode was shifted to season 2, as they are introducing Deathstroke as the main villain (he’s going to have big shoes to fill as the Deathstroke in Arrow: Season 2 was an epic portrayal) and that’s when the team is really going to come together as the characters we all know from the animated shows.

One standout negative that I have a hard time getting over is Starfire. The internet literally blew up when she was revealed as an older black woman with a huge pink wig that looked like it was bought from the halloween store, and accusations were flying back and forth from both sides. Some were claiming that the alien princess was being washed away and changed just for racial reasons. Others were calling the detractors racists and bigots because she’s black, while others were saying “why does she shoot fire? that’s not her power!?”. I don’t dislike Starfire (Kory) because she’s black. I don’t really care one way or the other as different iterations of super heroes have been played by characters of all races. However I will say this. Kory/Starfire is almost unrecognizable as herself in the show. Her powers are completely wrong for the character, and her personality is off the walls bonkers (in a bad way). Kory is supposed to be a sweet and charming character with a “fish out of water” vibe due to her being a princess from another world. She’s probably one of the most endearing characters on the Titans, but here she’s just off the walls bonkers, with a near schizo personality. If I have to give one complaint to the show while ignoring all the others, it would be that one of the most iconic Titans is barely recognizable and plain painful to watch.




Rating:

Rated TV-MA by the MPAA




Video: :4stars:
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Titans shows on Blu-ray with a pair of BD-50 discs, with 5 episodes on one disc and the other 6 on the other. The series is a dark and grim looking show, with not a lot of color throughout. Lighting is almost always dim, the series looks very gray and bleak, so the primary colors that DO show up literally pop off the screen (starfire’s eyes when she goes nuclear, the pink of her hair, a splash of a red T-shirt in Rachel’s school). There’s some banding going on in the series and sometimes the gray stone walls look a bit smeared. However, the interior police department shots are brightly lit and showcase some stunning details. While it may seem like the series is dark and unlikable, the encode is quite good, with strong detail levels and a great atmospheric sense of darkness and dread. The corollaries to how many Batman movies and shows have been colored is obvious, as Dick Grayson is leading the charge and nuances of the bleak show translate well to Blu-ray. Outside of some crush and the mild banding, Titans: The Complete First Season looks solid on Blu-ray







Audio: :4stars:
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The show is given a singular 5.1 DTS-HD MA track with optional English subtitles, and is a very solid performer. It’s not as powerful and dynamic as the CW Arroverse shows I noticed, but it’s a very nice sounding track. The mix is a bit subdued at first, but really opens up when Robin starts beating the living tar out of some thugs in an alley, and when Starfire goes crazy the surrounds heat up rather well. The show tends to be very constrained in it’s location bases, so there’s not a whole lot of room for the ambient effects to really shine, but there are some boisterous moments with the surround channels, and the LFE is solid enough with the action. Sadly it’s not as pulse pounding as I would have hoped (the club scene in the first episode where Starfire uses her powers for the first time was surprisingly mild), but there’s still plenty of bass to go around as fisticuffs ensue. Dialog is strong and clean, locked firmly up in the front of the room, and the balance with the mix is more than adequate.






Extras: :5stars:
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• Raven and Robin Dark Rebirth
• The Story of Titans
• The Characters of Titans
• The Making of Titans
• Dick Grayson's and Rachel Roth's Dark Past
• A Look at Vigilantes Hawk and Dove
• The Identity of Titans Kory Anders Starfire
• Gar Logan's Journey
• Rachel's Powers
• The Doom Patrol Meets the Titans
• Jason Todd's Robin
• From Comic to Live-Action Adventure
• Meet Wonder Girl
• Dick Grayson's Dark Past
• World of Super Heroes and Vigilantes










Final Score: :3.5stars:


Titans: The Complete First Season actually surprised me. It’s not a perfect show, but it was not nearly so angsty as I was expecting. It bypasses the cliches and teeny bopper flaws of the CW based Arroverse, while still keeping itself dark, brooding and generally appealing. As the forerunner of the DC streaming service (which MAY actually shut down and be folded in the Warner streaming service that is starting up. The Swamp Thing being shut down and shortened to 10 episodes may very well be the tip of that iceberg) it was the most rocky, but also a fun little show. Outside of a few pacing issues and Starfire, the series is quite a lot of fun. It’s dark, action packed, and has enough slow burn moments to really flesh out Raven’s growth into her fully powered self. Warner’s Blu-ray looks and sounds great, and actually comes stacked with a decent amount of extras as well. Worth checking out if you’re a fan of more “adult” comic book TV shows ala the Marvel Netflix series.


Technical Specifications:

Starring: Teagan Croft, Brenton Thwaites, Anna Diop, Ryan Potter, Alan Ritchson, Joshua Orpin, Conor Leslie, Curran Walters, Minka Kelly
Created by: Greg Berlanti, Akiva Goldsman, Geoff Johns
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English SDH
Studio: Warner Brothers
Rated: TV-MA
Runtime: 528 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: July 16th, 2019

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Recommendation: Solid Watch

 

tripplej

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Thanks for the review. I am pleasantly surprised this show is actually worth watching. Will have to see it now. :)
 
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