Monday, April 27, 2015

Taking My Time with Daredevil

I have started to rebel against binge-watching. I like binge-watching and I binge-watch plenty of things but there are some programs that, for whatever reason, I want to draw out and spend some time with. Daredevil is one of those shows.

Daredevil is one of my favorite superheroes, as it was one of the first titles I grew-up reading. My collection of Daredevil comics is mildly impressive. I know a lot about the character and consider some of the stories classics in pop-culture, if not popular literature. I was one of the few who enjoyed the original Daredevil movie, although I admit that much of that likely stems directly from fanboyism. So I really want to enjoy this new series.

Having watched the first few episodes, I can safely say that I do enjoy it. I have some issues with a few things, such as the lack and misuse of a score and three-minute fight scenes, but I am enjoying it. However, Daredevil fell prey to the problem I have with binge-watching, which is that I watched enough episodes back-to-back to start catching the pattern, or formula, to the episodes. All series either start with or develop a formula, and this is not necessarily a bad thing - even classic TV series like The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents had a formula - but once you see enough of them, they become predictable or you simply grow tired of them.

The Twilight Zone is a good example, as many of the episodes are considered classics in their own right, but long-time fans of the show know that most episodes follow a similar narrative path and use similar themes. With The Twilight Zone, viewers are rarely able to predict the outcome of a story but they are aware of the methods employed to tell it - the tropes of the series. Fans even know to expect a twist-ending, so the tropes of the show actually set viewer expectations.

This superhero TV and movie trend is going on 15 years old now. I haven't seen a whole lot of adaptations that I truly loved - most of them have been rather forgettable - and they have all looked the same to me for a while now. Daredevil is a great character with a strong theme and origin, large supporting cast, and decent rogue's gallery who deserves a decent TV series. I'm just worried that it's late to the game.

I read somewhere that Daredevil started out as a procedural and you can tell. I'm not a fan of procedurals and I've read the Daredevil vs. Kingpin story at least a half-dozen times since Frank Miller made it famous in the 1980s. While it's the iconic Daredevil story, it's been told - and rehashed - already. I desperately want to like this show, so I'm limiting my intake to one episode every few days instead of binge-watching so I'm not focused on the negative.

What I'd really like to see is what the comic book itself used to deliver: Some over-arcing storylines and character development but a fair amount of self-contained episodes. Daredevil's formula used to be pretty straightforward, starting with a lead from a client, leading to Murdock becoming somehow personally involved in the case (usually morally), then to a larger conspiracy involving some type of organized criminal activity. Murdock would intimidate witnesses and gain information about higher-level bosses who usually wound-up being supervillains or in some supervillain's employ. Not everything lead to Wilson Fisk, who was originally one of Spidey's rogues, and Daredevil closed more than a few cases in a single issue or two. Daredevil deserves what all these iconic comic book superheroes do from a show: An opportunity to tell original Daredevil stories on TV, not to rehash his origin story.

I'm happy new fans get to learn the background but I hope future seasons introduce new villains, characters, and situations that are unique to television or at least told uniquely from its perspective.

© The Weirding, 2015

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