Last Friday, Marvel Entertainment released Daredevil, their first of four Netflix-exclusive series. Like other Netflix-exclusive releases, all 13 episodes of Daredevil were released at the same time, which means it was ripe for binge-watching. As someone who is an avid comic book fan, and a proponent of any live-action comic book adaptation, I really wanted to immerse myself in Daredevil once it was released. So, like many Americans this weekend, I binge-watched all 13 episodes of Daredevil in basically one sitting (I took a few breaks in between episodes). During my marathon viewing session, I live-tweeted my spontaneous reactions and unprocessed thoughts on the show. What follows is the Storification of my tweets that, when compiled, work as a real time review of Daredevil.
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Netflix really put their chips on the table by releasing Daredevil the same weekend as the Season Five premiere of Game of Thrones, and in the eternal war of watercooler-ready cultural capital, the only reason they’d be so bold is because they feel that they had something special on their hands ... and they do indeed.
Landing at a curious time in the television landscape where DC Comics is starting to pick up good will with their character-driven efforts Arrow and The Flash (although the less said about Gotham the better) and Marvel’s own Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is starting to pay off after finally breaking through the predictable “monster of the week format” part way through its first season, Daredevil is cut from a different bullet-resistant cloth altogether. Starring Boardwalk Empire‘s Charlie Cox as blind lawyer Matt Murdock, the show follows Murdock and his friend Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson of Mighty Ducks fame) as they start up their own law firm in Hell’s Kitchen, although Murdock, whose other senses have been trained to near-superhuman levels, goes out at night and seeks vigilante justice all his own, often fighting back the forces of ruthless business magnate Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) in a struggle for the heart of the city. (Note, this character is best known as the Kingpin, but in one of the show’s several well-thought-out decisions, he is never referred to as such.)
This may sound very by-the-numbers (and, to neophytes, remarkably Batman-esque), but the show carries off the premise remarkable style. Created by The Cabin in the Woods helmer Drew Goddard with Steven S. DeKnight serving as showrunner (both alums from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel), let us now break down the three absolutely extraordinary ways that Daredevil managed to become not just the hands-down best superhero drama on TV, but also one of the best new overall dramas this season.
Though Game of Thrones is obviously the poster child for mainstream fantasy television, the genre has been prevalent in TV for decades, albeit as one almost exclusively aimed at younger audiences: Hercules, Xena: Warrior Princess, Beastmaster, among others. HBO’s series was able to successfully shift itself out of this niche by casting its fantastical elements alongside more universal ones, like family drama and the perils of holding power.
There are some shows that come out fully formed right out of the gate. And then there are those that take a little time to find themselves. Parks and Recreation may have had a somewhat rocky first season, but when it found its voice in its second season, there was no stopping it from becoming the best comedy on television.
Leonard Nimoy is gone. Spock has finally left this planet and beamed up to cosmic places unknown. He wasn’t the first of the original Star Trek cast to leave us. DeForest Kelly earned that sad distinction back in 1999. Then everyone’s favorite fake Scotsman, James Doohan, followed suit in 2005. So we’ve been prepared for another intergalactic parting, especially when you consider the rest of the cast—William Shatner (age 83), George Takei (77), Nichelle Nichols (82), and Walter Koenig (78)—are all in the twilight of their years.
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