No Offense Series 1 Review

  • Series Title: No Offense
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 8
  • Discs: 3
  • Network: ITV
  • Cast: Joanna Scanlan, Elaine Cassidy, Alexandra Roach, Will Mellor, Colin Salmon
  • DVD: Widescreen DVD (R1, NTSC)

Set in Manchester in the UK, No Offense at first seems to be your typical British procedural cop show, good, but not great. However, as the show builds its characters and plot it develops into something different and enjoyable, though as with all procedurals, at times the show can be violent. During the first episode, DI Viv Deering’s squad realizes that they may have a serial murder on their hands. A young woman is kidnapped and after the previous deaths of two young women with Down’s Syndrome, they think they have a third. When it turns out the young woman doesn’t have Down’s Syndrome but was in a severe accident and her nose was packed with gauze and her eyes swollen, they think it could be the same person. The hunt is on to save Cathy before she is killed. The squad manages to rescue her, but she’s a street kid who will go into foster care. Dinah, one of the officers, feels sorry for Cathy and decides to take her in.

Each episode of No Offense has our officers solving one case, but continuing to work on the serial murder case – at first their DSI (Viv’s boss) doesn’t believe it’s a serial case, because Cathy doesn’t have Down’s Syndrome – but Deering and Dinah point out that at night, in the rain, with her eyes and nose swollen, it was probably a case of mistaken identity. When another Down’s Syndrome girl goes missing, the serial murder case is confirmed. At first DSI Maclaren assigns it to someone else, but DI Viv Deering and her crew get it back. In each episode, as they work on and solve other cases, they also make progress and have setbacks in the main case – the serial murders.

The season develops, and also develops the characters, becoming an intriguing mix of short cases, long-form mystery, and development of flawed but dedicated detectives – including unconventional and hard as nails DI Viv Deering, her new sergeant DS Joy Freers, and detective Dinah Kowalska, who is now caring for Cathy. Traumatized by her experience, Cathy cannot remember the details of who took her, including what he looked like. She works with a female forensic psychologist to try to restore her memories. The gradual recovery of her memory and the clues the police team discover leads to solving the case, but not before another Down’s Syndrome girl dies. However, when the killer is caught, Cathy realizes he wasn’t acting alone, and it was his partner who raped her.

This fact creates a brand new wrinkle in the case. DI Deering also realizes that someone in her department is leaking information to the killer, intentionally or not. She and Dinah launch a secret investigation into their own department, even including DSI Maclaren in their suspects. This is a bad decision with huge consequences for everyone. Eventually, DI Deering discovers this mole is much closer to her than she realizes and she’s faced with some serious questions.

I don’t want to spoil the ending of the season, but this is not, after all, just another typical police procedural. I highly recommend it, especially if you like complex mysteries with quirky yet real characters.

Supergirl Season 4 Review

  • Series Title: Supergirl
  • Season: Season 3
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 5
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Melissa Benoist, Katie McGrath, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, David Harewood, Nicole Maines, Jesse Rath, Sam Witwer, Jo Cryer, Andrea Brooks, Bruce Boxleitner
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

The fourth season of Supergirl breaks into two parts, which is why when I missed the first half of the season due to watching Doctor Who instead I didn’t feel all that lost. In the first half of the season, President Marsden (Lynda Carter) is attacked during a conference at Camp David. She’s revealed to be “an alien” and forced to resign. Her replacement is President Baker, played by Bruce Boxleitner, this new president seems obsessed with finding out “the truth” about Supergirl. But more about him in a moment.

Due in part to the revelations about President Marsden, anti-alien sentiment is on the rise. J’onn J’onzz, now a private detective (John Jones) is concerned about this anti-alien feeling. Kara ignores his warnings. Later, a friend of John’s is kidnapped from the alien bar. John meets her fiancé, Manchester Black. They become friends and allies and attempt to find the missing woman. Anti-alien attacks increase, fueled by a mysterious figure known as “Agent Liberty”, and his ruffians, the Children of Liberty, who wear a uniform of black pants, grey hoodies with a large bronze star on the right breast, and “Agent Liberty” masks – robotic-like gold/bronze masks. Whenever one of these agents is caught committing crimes against aliens (beating them up, kidnapping, firebombing homes and businesses, even murder) they claim, “we are all Agent Liberty”. As the attacks worsen, Kara is finally convinced to help J’onn find the mysterious woman and to try to stop the Children of Liberty. They find the woman, but it’s too late. Agent Liberty used an alien device to control her innate psychic powers and then control a large group of aliens and force them to attacks humans at the National County Fair. By the time J’onn and Manchester black find Fiona, she’s dying. This will set Manchester Black on a very dark path.

Although Agent Liberty is responsible for the attack, the aliens are blamed. James Olsen, who had escaped prosecution for being Guardian thanks to intervention by Lena, tries to break up the violence at the Fair. He becomes the Children of Liberty’s “Human Hero”. James considers denouncing the Children of Liberty for a few seconds but then decides to roll with it and go into deep cover to find out more about the organization and uncover Agent Liberty’s identity. President Baker starts to make noises about repealing Marden’s Alien Amnesty Act, which gives aliens civil rights. Baker also puts a new army colonel in charge of the DEO and charges her with finding out as much as she can about Supergirl, including her secret identity. Baker also sees the attack at the Fair as a personal insult to him and a threat to his presidency – something which doesn’t make sense and is the first real indication that something is wrong with Baker.

In an episode ironically called, “Man of Steel”, we find out Ben Lockwood’s (Agent Liberty) background. His father is an extremely prejudiced man who hates aliens, all aliens, and blames them for his own problems. He owns “Lockwood Family Steel”, a steel factory, and feels threatened when a new Nth Metal factory opens in his town, bringing jobs and opportunities for everyone. Even though this new plant offers opportunities to everyone, Lockwood Senior sees it as an “alien threat” out to destroy his factory. He goes to Lena at L Corp to demand she shut down the factory, but refuses her offer of a grant to modernize his own factory and re-train his workers. Initially, Ben Lockwood ignores his father’s prejudice and his wife even tells the man not to use pejorative language in front of their son. Lockwood Senior organizes an attack on the alien factory and attempts to burn it down. Later his own factory closes. The family also loses their home in one of the fights between superheroes and aliens (Ben sees Martian Manhunter knock an alien through his house, which promptly explodes – another scene which makes no sense). Ben is still teaching at a local university when his lectures become increasingly full of lies, manipulations, and slurs against aliens, including alien students. He’s fired after numerous complaints and warnings. (Among Lockwood’s telling quotes, he claims “the framers of the Constitution wrote it to apply to White Men only – not aliens”. Yeah. And apparently, women, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, immigrants, and anyone who isn’t a white man doesn’t deserve rights – no wonder he got fired.) Although the entire episode is meant to make Lockwood more sympathetic and understandable (his father dies in a fire in his own factory) it really just shows how Lockwood, like his father, decided “other people” were to blame for his problems. It also shows both Lockwood and his father taking no responsibility for themselves, their actions, or others. Lockwood Senior fires all his factory workers – well before he has to, and also refuses to modernize his factory or re-train his workers. It’s also strange that a man who owns a Steel Factory is portrayed as Middle Class – when he’s more likely to be a billionaire, who could have sold his factory and moved his entire family to Aruba.

Getting back to Supergirl and company – with help from J’onn J’onzz, and Manchester Black – Supergirl finally discovers Lockwood is Agent Liberty, but she is unable to stop him. The situation at the DEO worsens, with one of the agents betraying Supergirl to Col. Haley. When Haley threatens Alex, they have J’onn wipe her mind of the knowledge. J’onn also wipes the mind of every DEO agent who knows who Supergirl is. Brainy is able to compartmentalize his knowledge and even erase it in the short term. But Alex insists she also must be mind-wiped. J’onn agrees. Kara objects, but the mind wipe is done anyway. This changes Alex’s personality, and she becomes as anti-Supergirl as Haley.

Meanwhile, at Catco, Kara takes a new cub reporter, Nia Nal under her wing. Nia and Brainy meet and become friends. Brainy seems to want something more, possibly romantic, in his relationship with Nia. Nia is a trans woman. She also is or will be, the superhero, Dreamer. Brainy knows her, or one of her descendants, in the future. Nia and Brainy are adorable with each other – and Nia is a lovely character. As she becomes aware of her powers, Brainy gives her a notebook of costume ideas, helps her design a costume, and trains her in the use of her powers.

Slowly introduced into the season is Lena working on the Haran-El, a substance she thinks can cure disease but that she later uses to give humans superpowers. We also meet Red Daughter – a clone of Supergirl, discovered in Kaznia, and trained by Lex Luthor, whom Red Daughter calls, Alex. Lex fills her head with propaganda, and when the Alien Amnesty Act is repealed by Baker, has her dress like Supergirl and attack the White House. Supergirl is also there, but helpless, as she’s held in a Kryptonite suit until the attack is over. Supergirl becomes Public Enemy #1. At this point, the connections between Ben Lockwood, Lex Luthor, and President Baker start to become a little clearer. Baker not only pardons Lockwood (who had been arrested for his crimes as Agent Liberty) but makes him the Secretary for Alien Affairs. That’s right – a man who started a radical and violent anti-alien hate group is appointed Head of Alien Affairs. His priority is to abolish the Alien Amnesty Act (which, remember, is basically an Alien Rights Act).

Supergirl continues on, trying to ignore the target on her back, but a chance encounter with a political prisoner at Strikers convinces her to temporarily do more good as Kara Danvers, reporter. She and Lena also examine Lex’s cell, discover he was able to come and go as he liked. Lex had also gotten compassionate leave to see Lena because he had cancer. He pushes Lena to cure it, and when she has doubts – he has James shot and shuts off the power to the hospital during his surgery. Lena uses the Haran-el to save James but decides not to save Lex. Unfortunately, he gets to it first, cures himself, and he and Otis tie-up Lena, then escape. Lena also ends-up with a contract to develop Haran-el into a super serum for the DEO. Lockwood also manages to steal Haran-el from the DEO, during a weapons sweep and injects himself.

But when Supergirl decides to investigate Lex and that leads to Kasnia, Lena joins her. They discover Red Daughter, her training tapes, and a lab where Lex is draining alien powers. Aliens he obtained from “the DEO Desert Facility”. Kara also discovers that Kasnia, led by Red Daughter, is planning an attack on the United States. Kara runs back to DC to inform the president. When she gives President Baker proof of the impending attack, she discovers he knows all about it, and he is Luthor’s stooge. The president has Kara kidnapped and is held in Kryptonite bonds. She and Red Daughter fight and Kara escapes. She goes to Lena and Alex, dressed as Supergirl, but is afraid she will be turned in. Lena and Alex vow to help her. Alex gets a call from her Mom that Kara is at the Danvers home. Supergirl and Alex head there. Supergirl and Red Daughter fight and Supergirl is apparently killed. But Alex, who has broken through J’onn’s mental blocks, remembers that Supergirl is her sister and brings her back. However, Kaznia attacks the US, Lex stops the attack – and Lex kills Supergirl (Red Daughter).

Lena, Alex, Supergirl, Brainy, and Dreamer work to stop this mess that sees Lex as the puppetmaster, pulling Baker’s strings. But it’s Lex’s obsession with finding and destroying Supergirl, as well as destroying Argo – the Kryptonian city in space (where Lois and Superman currently are because Lois is pregnant) that proves his downfall. Kara publishes an article laying out the facts of Lex’s deception, giving the background on Red Daughter, including her attack on the White House, and exposing Lockwood and Baker. The article brings down Baker’s government. The Alien Amnesty Act is reinstated. The aliens that Lockwood rounded-up are released (other than those that Lockwood and Luthor killed by draining them and converting their power to energy).

But unknown to Supergirl, Lex isn’t dead and he escapes. Lena tracks him to Kasnia and shoots him. However, as he’s dying he reveals to Lena that her friend, Kara Danvers, is Supergirl. This devastates Lena.

The second half of Season 4 works better than the first half. Lex Luthor is a formidable opponent. This portrayal shows him as a master manipulator and chess master. Lex actually gives himself cancer by exposing himself to high levels of radiation at a nuclear reactor in Kasnia, so he will be released from prison, sent to see Lena, and she will be forced to finish the Haran-el serum, which she will either use on him or he can use on himself. Lex also recruits Eve Teschmacher to work for Lena and spy for him. But Lex has a fatal flaw – he hates Kryptonians, and is willing to risk everything he gains – simply to kill Superman, destroy Argo, and kill Supergirl and Red Daughter. In essence, Lex’s anti-alien prejudice is what ultimately brings him down.

Ben Lockwood, on the other hand, is a more political and realistic villain, but his rhetoric is full of lies, manipulations, and he’s very good at whipping up fear, distrust, and hatred. Lockwood is a warning for our times, but at the same time, throughout the first half of the season, Kara especially keeps making mistakes – as do the people around her. At first, Kara doesn’t believe J’onn when he says the fear and hatred of aliens is becoming stronger and more dangerous. She even ignores the first few anti-alien attacks. When it becomes too extreme to ignore, Kara tends to trust the wrong people, including Manchester Black, who becomes consumed with the need for vengeance for the death of his fiancée. At least Manchester is straight forward, though his conflict with J’onn is forced. Kara, however, is blindsided by Red Daughter’s attack on the White House. Kara also stands by when Alex agrees to let J’onn wipe her mind of memories of Kara being Supergirl – something that proves to be a very bad idea. Yet there are also wonderful moments, Kara, not Supergirl, standing with Brainy, Nia, and John at the front of an alien counter-protest against Lockwood’s rally to appeal the Alien Amnesty Act. The entire episode where Kara and Nia go to her hometown, a town when humans and aliens have lived in peace together for generations, to visit Nia’s family. Kara’s interview with Dreamer (after Baker declares Martial Law and deputizes the Children of Liberty, freeing Lockwood to round-up innocent aliens). Unfortunately, Kara and her cameraman miss a perfect opportunity when they fail to film Lockwood’s attack on Catco, his men pointing guns at the unarmed Kara and James, and those same jackbooted men in black uniforms trashing Catco. The attack, if presenting on film, would have been as damaging to Lockwood and Baker as Kara’s later article. The series also missed a great opportunity in not having Kara and company prove that the “proof” that Marsden was an alien was faked and restoring her to her rightful position after Baker’s coup. Still, even though the season gets dark and depressing, especially the first ten or so episodes, in the end, Supergirl prevails.

Supergirl also includes the final part of the Elseworlds trilogy and the last episode includes a set-up with the Monitor for this season’s Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Read my Review of Supergirl Season 1.
Read my Review of Supergirl Season 2.
Read my Review of Supergirl Season 3.

The Flash Season 5 Review

  • Series: The Flash
  • Season: 5
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 5
  • Cast: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin, Hartley Sawyer, Jessica Parker Kennedy
  • Network:  CW (Warner Brothers Productions)
  • DVD Format: Color, Widescreen

This review contains spoilers for Season 5 of The Flash.

The mysterious young girl who appeared at the end of Season 4 of The Flash is Nora West-Allen, Barry and Iris’s daughter from the future. She’s traveled to the past to meet and spend time with her father who has been missing most of her life and to stop Cicada, a villain that the Flash never caught. To solve the mystery of Cicada, the team at S.T.A.R. Labs brings in Sherloque Wells from another Earth – the best detective in the multiverse. Sherloque is French, a good detective, and initially not good with people – he’s also been married seven times and has five ex-wives, so he likes being paid for his work so he can keep up with his alimony payments.

Season 5 has Nora building her relationship with her parents, she initially doesn’t get along with Iris but they work things out, and the season also has the season trying to stop Cicada. Sherloque tells them who Cicada is – but due to Nora’s interference in the timeline not only is this Cicada killing different victims – it’s a different person. It turns out a man named, Dwyer, who works in a chemical plant, became the guardian of a little girl named Grace after her parents were killed in an accident. Dwyer initially has no idea how to raise a child, but he grows to love Grace and tries to be a good parent to her. The night of the Enlightenment when Barry and Nora break up the satellite and sent dark-matter infused shards to Earth, Dwyer and Grace are at a street carnival. A dagger-shaped shard hits Dwyer and Grace is knocked on to the concrete and ends-up in a coma. Dwyer, with the help of a very prejudiced doctor, decides that meta-humans were to blame for Grace’s coma and her parents’ death and that all metas are dangerous and therefore evil. Dwyer decides that all meta-humans must die and becomes the serial killer, Cicada.

The season has Team Flash, including Sherloque, working to solve this mystery – Who is Cicada? How can they stop him? As in any long-form mystery, they gradually discover clues and information about the case. Cicada himself is a meta and using the dagger he can dampen the powers of other metas – this makes Barry and company helpless when they fight him. The season also has Cisco and Caitlyn developing a cure for meta powers. They insist the cure will not be used as a weapon, but that only people who choose to do so will cure their meta-human powers. Barry suggests using the cure on Cicada, but Cisco and Caitlyn insist they have to give Cicada a choice. They also discover that the reason Grace didn’t wake up from her coma is that she has a piece of the satellite embedded in her forehead, flooding her body with dark matter and making her a meta who can steal powers from other metas.

Team Flash is able to capture Cicada and offer him the cure. When they explain Grace is a meta, he agrees to take the cure if Grace gets it too. Dwyer also insists that the doctor he’s been working with administer the cure. But when they try, a second Cicada breaks into S.T.A.R. labs. She kills the doctor. Team Flash has to reset and figure out who this new Cicada is. Nora travels back to the future to speak to her up to now unseen partner – it’s Eobard Thawne who is on death row. Sherloque has been trying to solve the case of Nora West-Allen throughout the season, and when Nora is about to admit she’s working with Thawne, Sherloque interrupts her and tells the team she’s working with Thawne. Barry flips out and takes Nora back to the future. Iris and Ralph use a Time Bubble to travel to the future to talk to Nora and bring her back, but when she realizes Barry isn’t there – she gets so angry she uses Thawne’s last lesson and disappears into the Negative Speed Force. Back in 2019, she gathers together a group of young, female rogues and robs a military weapons research lab to steal a mirror gun that will destroy Cicada’s dagger.

Nora and Barry repair their relationship and the team refocuses on stopping Cicada II (a future version of Grace). Sherloque also meets and falls for Rene Adler, Earth 1’s version of Irene Adler (all his wives are Irene Adler’s from different Earths). Cisco meets a photographer in a bar named Kamilla and starts dating her. Joe West and DA Cecille Horton raise their new baby girl. Wally is in a few episodes at the beginning of the season, then goes on sabbatical in Tibet and isn’t seen again, though he’s mentioned a couple of times.

Team Flash discovers Cicada II has a weapon that will kill all the metas, not only in Central City but in the US. Sherloque sends Rene to his Earth to keep her safe. CCPD, under the direction of Joe West, organizes a mass distribution of the cure. Team Flash tries to stop Cicada and destroy the dagger, stop Cicada’s cure-bomb, and even convince Grace to take the cure – but the cure doesn’t work because of the dark matter shard in her head. They eventually wake up Grace and manage to stop her from becoming Cicada.

However, Barry also wants to stop Thawne and when the dagger is destroyed, instead of being led to his execution (in 2049), he escapes. Also, the timeline changes catch up to everyone and Nora is wiped from existence and the Crisis which had been predicted for 2024 is moved up to 2019. Barry Allen will disappear in the Crisis.

I really liked Sherloque Wells – he’s an element of lightness in what could have been a very depressing season. Nora is earnest, and makes a lot of mistakes – and she didn’t deserve her fate. I hope that’s reversed in next year’s crossover.

This season includes Elseworlds – a crossover that is so much fun it deserves its own review. After Elseworlds, we are promised that next’s year’s crossover will be Crisis on Infinite Earths. Crisis was a massive DC Comics crossover, the first of its kind in the industry, and a story in which heroes died and nothing was the same. Read my review of the graphic novel Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Read my Review of The Flash Season 1.
Read my Review of The Flash Season 2.
Read my Review of The Flash Season 3.
Read my Review of The Flash Season 4.

Gotham Season 5 Review

  • Series: Gotham
  • Season: 5
  • Episodes: 12
  • Discs: 2 (Blu-Ray)
  • Cast: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Cory Michael Smith, Camren Bicondova, Morena Baccarin, Cameron Monaghan
  • Network:  FOX (Warner Brothers Productions)
  • DVD Format: Blu-Ray, Color, Widescreen

The fifth and final season of Gotham does the “No Man’s Land” storyline from Batman comics. The title “No Man’s Land” even appears on-screen. After Jeremiah Valeska blew up the bridges leading out of Gotham – the city is cut off from “the mainland” and from any form of help or assistance from government or other sources. This is a little difficult to believe, but it does give the entire season a claustrophobic feel – as Captain Jim Gordon and the GCPD are the only ones holding the city together and trying to provide essentials like food, water, shelter, and medicine. Gotham is soon split into territories run by different gangs, so we do get to see brief appearances by groups such as The Mutants (even though in the comics they only appeared in Frank Miller’s Elseworlds graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns). Most of the short season focuses on a few groups: Sirens – run by Barbara Kean, City Hall – run by Penguin, and Edward Nygma (who is on his own but very important to the story). Other characters that we’ve met through the years on Gotham also make appearances. These appearances are integrated into the storyline and do not seem to be there simply for the sake of a character or actor appearing in the final season.

Barbara controls access to food and alcohol, and Penguin controls access to arms and bullets, even starting a bullet factory – so Capt. Jim Gordon has to work with them to get these “essentials”. Edward Nygma keeps waking up in strange places with no memory of how he got there or what he did. At first, he thinks the “Ed” (or Riddler) side of his personality is behind this. But we find out he’s being controlled by Hugo Strange, and behind him is Amanda Waller. Nygma discovers it was Ed who destroyed Haven, a building full of refugees – set up by Captain Gordon, with a rocket launcher. Hundreds of innocent women and children were killed by Ed’s actions. Nygma is disgusted when he realizes what he’s done, but discovers Hugo Strange literally put a chip in his head to control him and get him to do whatever he wanted. But it was Amanda Waller, a military agent, who gave the orders, including the order to destroy Haven. Waller’s ultimate plan is to use the military to completely destroy Gotham because she thinks the city isn’t worth saving. Waller also doesn’t care about the innocent civilians who suffer under her plan – even though she could have used the military to evacuate Gotham instead and then rebuild the city.

Waller also arranges to have Jeremiah Valeska escape from Arkham. Jeremiah immediately causes a lot of chaos and destruction. He is, though, dropped into a vat of chemicals at Ace Chemicals by Jim Gordon (Gordon didn’t push him in but he fell when he tried to push Gordon in). Jim also drives the truck loaded with chemical weapon bombs that will poison Gotham into the Gotham River. Waller also turns one of her mercenary troopers into the venom (a form of steroids) ingesting super-villain who tries to destroy the GCPD, and in particular, James Gordon so Gotham can be destroyed by General Wade. Wade initially arrives for “Reunification Day” and compliments Gordon on his holding Gotham together and using Wayne Enterprises technology to clean Gotham River water. But Wade has also been chipped by Waller, so instead of reporting that Reunification can go through, he orders that Gotham be completely destroyed with military bombs. The military begins to follow this order as well as landing on Gotham with tanks and hundreds of troops led by Bane.

During the course of the season, Capt. Jim Gordon works with Barbara, Oswald Cobblepot and Edward Nygma. This shaky alliance continues, though at times various players fall back to their resentments from issues they’ve had with each other in the past. But especially after he figures out what Strange and Waller did to him, Nygma works with Gordon and even forms an alliance with Penguin. Barbara and Gordon have a one night stand that results in Barbara getting pregnant. She tells this to Gordon when Lee Thompkins finally returns, having been missing for most of the season. Gordon and Thompkins also marry. Barbara and Jim Gordon will, ultimately, co-parent their daughter, Barbara Lee.

The season is very, very dark – and a lot of horrible things happen, as you may expect in a city under siege storyline. However, the penultimate episode, “They Did What?” actually both concludes the season and the series – and is positive and hopeful. I don’t want to spoil it. The final episode is set ten years after “He Did What?” and introduces Batman. Yes, Batman.

Even though parts of Season 5 of Gotham were extremely dark and difficult to watch, I did, ultimately like the season, and I think a big part of that was the episode “They Did What?” which did a very good job of concluding the season and the series. Characters we’ve followed for five years were allowed to follow their storylines and in the final episode, we see how they’ve become the characters we know from a more “standard” Batman universe. Gotham was developed with the premise, “What made Bruce Wayne, Batman? What was he like as a child/teenager?” and it succeeded in this. But Gotham also succeeded in telling the story of a city. It explained why the Gotham City of a more standard Batman universe is so messed-up and where the supervillains came from, especially the ones that seem to have almost supernatural powers. Yes, Gotham is a different take on Batman, and it really plays with timelines (especially introducing “No Man’s Land” and Bane before Bruce became Batman) but that also falls under the category of “What if…” What if Bruce didn’t just wander the world learning how to fight, but he was pushed into leaving Gotham? What if there was a real reason that there were so many weird, superpowered, criminals in Gotham beyond just “they are there because of Batman”?

Overall, I really liked the series of Gotham. The entire cast was brilliant – especially Sean Pertwee (Alfred Pennyworth), Camren Bicondova (Selina Kyle), Cory Michael Smith (Edward Ngyma) and Robin Lord Taylor (Oswald Cobblepot). Not that the rest of the cast weren’t brilliant too – I loved Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock, Chris Chalk as Lucius Fox, David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne and Ben McKenzie as Jim Gordon – but Gotham was in many ways all about the villains. The villains and a few brave souls (Bruce, Alfred, Jim, Harvey, and Lucius) that decided to fight them. The series is definitely worth watching, on Blu-ray if you can (I replaced my first and second season DVD copies with Blu-rays to get the full effect of the excellent filming, direction and use of widescreen techniques.)

Read my Review of Season 1 of Gotham.
Read my Review of Season 2 of Gotham.
Read my Review of Season 3 of Gotham.
Read my Review of Season 4 of Gotham.

Titans Season 1 (DC Universe)

  • Series Title: Titans
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 11
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: DC Universe (Warner Brothers)
  • Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Teagan Croft, Anna Diop, Ryan Potter
  • DVD: Widescreen Blu-Ray (R1, NTSC)

This review includes spoilers for the first season of Titans.

One thing that I demand from films, especially films adapted from other media is that they should be able to stand on their own – the audience should not have to “pull knowledge” from other sources to understand the film. For television series, this “rule” can be relaxed a bit since there is more time for the plot and characters to develop and if the audience is patient, everything will eventually make sense. I found that with Titans, even though I liked the show, it really depends on “outside knowledge” – it helps a lot if you’ve read at least some of the Titans (or Teen Titans) graphic novels (or soft books) or at the very least watched the animated series Teen Titans. The series begins with Rachel Roth (Raven) experiencing “weird stuff” and having no idea what’s going on, and Kory Anders waking up after a car accident having no memories at all. And Dick Grayson has quit being Robin and is a police officer in Detroit. So you have a character who has no idea what is happening to her, an amnesiac, and a guy who no longer wants to be a superhero because he’s disgusted with it – leading a superhero series. That would be confusing for some viewers, and others might not like the “but they aren’t acting like superheroes” thing. I found it an intriguing premise, plus the show does move along extremely quickly and there is a lot of development in the plot and characters over the short length of the show. This is a graphic novel for TV.

The first episode focuses on Rachel and to a lesser extent, Kory. Rachel seems to be developing some type of powers, something she doesn’t understand, and something that terrifies her mother. When her mother is murdered in front of her, Rachel runs away and ends up on the streets in Detroit. A homeless food kitchen offers to take her to a youth shelter, but she is spooked and throws a rock at a police car. This gets her arrested and she’s introduced to Detective Dick Grayson. Dick tries to help her, but Rachel, for perfectly understandable reasons – is suspicious. Dick’s called away and while he’s gone, another cop kidnaps Rachel.

Meanwhile, Kory wakes up after a car accident with no memory. The driver of the car is dead, and no sooner does she wake up than another car shows up, and shoots up the crashed car. Kory out of instinct raises her hand and burns the shooters up with bursts of light and heat from her hand. Kory doesn’t understand this but finds a hotel key in her purse. She goes to the hotel and finds out she has the entire penthouse. Slowly Kory starts to figure out a few things, and she realizes she needs to find Rachel, to protect her.

Dick realizes that Rachel’s been kidnapped and goes to rescue her. Kory also arrives and helps. they rescue Rachel and try to figure out what’s going on, including visiting Rachel’s home in Traverse City, Michigan, Dick finds out Rachel’s mom was murdered, something she had mentioned in her initial interview. Dick, Kory, and Rachel discover some mysterious organization is after Rachel. Dick then takes Rachel to his friends Hawk and Dove (Hank Hall and Dawn Granger) a couple who are superheroes and old friends of Dick’s. Hank, however, is suffering from the physical effects of his previous football career and being a superhero. Dawn is trying to get him to retire. They are meant to stop one last gang – gun runners, then move to Minnesota to retire. The Organization sends “Nuclear Family” after Rachel. During the fight, Dawn is tossed off a roof. Rachel also thinks Dick was going to abandon her with Dawn and Hank. Kory leaves with Rachel. Dawn ends up in a coma in intensive care. Hank, understandably, isn’t happy about this.

Kory and Rachel leave, and at a skating ring Rachel meets Gar and they form an immediate friendship. Dick arrives too and they get four motel rooms. But when the Nuclear Family attacks again Rachel simply runs into the woods. She runs into Gar and finds out he can transform himself into a tiger. He introduces her to the Doom Patrol. But when their head scientist wants to do experiments on Rachel, Gar stands up to him. Rachel’s powers start to get out of control, but Dick and Kory arrive. They leave the Doom Patrol’s mansion, and Gar joins the team. Personally, I felt this episode was more an introduction to the Doom Patrol, another DC Universe series, than really an episode of Titans. It didn’t seem to be a backdoor pilot because it was clear the Doom Patrol had been operating for a while, but on the other hand, it was definitely meant to get the audience to watch the next series on DC Universe, which happened to be Doom Patrol.

After the Doom Patrol incident, Dick, Kory, Rachel, and Gar form a solid team. Dick is able to find the “head” of the Organization, Dr. Anderson, when the capture the Nuclear Family after one of their attacks. The Nuclear Family literally has their heads blown-up by Dr. Anderson. But Anderson says he and Dick will be killed by the Organization. Dick fights off a team of fighters well, and Jason Todd shows up, dressed as Robin, to help him out. They go to a safe house and catch up on family business. Dick has Kory bring Rachel to the safe house. Dick also has “rescued” Dr. Anderson and preventing him from killing himself. They try interviewing him and he insists he will only talk to Rachel. Dick is hesitant but finally relents. Dr. Anderson tells Rachel her mom – her real mother is still alive and is being held at a private asylum. The team debates what to do.

Rachel and Gar run off to rescue her mom. They are captured. Dick and Kory discover Rachel and Gar are missing and head to the asylum to rescue them. They are also captured. Dick, Kory, and Gar are tortured, while Dr. Anderson “interviews” Rachel and tries to convince her that her powers can be used for good. Rachel, to her credit, realizes he’s lying. But earlier he had cut his own throat and Rachel had used her powers to heal him – she takes it back and he dies. She takes keys and goes to rescue her friends and her mother – having seeing the torture of her team on Dr. Anderson’s monitors. Rachel with help from her team as she rescues them one by one, succeeds, but at a high cost. Kory because of the torture starts to remember who she is and her mission. Gar during his rescue turns in to a tiger and attacks and bites the man in a lab coat who was torturing him with whips and electric shocks. He’s shocked that he bit someone (mauled and bit them to death). Dick is put through drug-induced psychological torture – when they are leaving his fights with security guards are considerably more violent than they need to be. Dick also has Kory blow-up the building. They do rescue Rachel’s mother though.

Rachel’s mother has a house in Ohio and says they can stay there. Dick decides to return to his job as a police officer in Detroit. At first, everything seems OK in Ohio, but then strange things begin to happen. Soon we find out Rachel’s birth mother isn’t the innocent she pretends and she’s working for Trigon (Seamus Dever) though the series doesn’t quite tell you who he is. Kory’s memory returns and she takes Dick to her invisible space ship. They use it’s computer banks to find out who Kory is and her mission. She is Koriand’r from Tamaran. Her planet names Rachel or Raven the “destroyer of worlds” stating she will be the door that allows a being from another dimension to return. This being will destroy Earth and continue on destroying worlds until it reaches Tamaran and covers Kory’s home in darkness. Kory was sent to kill Raven to prevent this disaster from happening.

Dick and Kory head back by car to the house to talk to Raven, when the car dies. They try to get back to the house, but it’s hidden by a force field. Also, all phone communication is down. Dick runs at the force field and gets through. Meanwhile, Rachel’s mom has poisoned Gar, but she tells Rachel he’s sick, and she needs to use her powers to heal him. Gar is coughing up blood. When Rachel can’t cure him, her mom convinces her to bring her father across because his powers will cure Gar. He does, but he’s also very dangerous. Dick gets into the house but is immediately overtaken by a hallucination. Unfortunately for Dick, he never seems to realize that everything he is experiencing is a hallucination and he gives in to his darker nature – he’s overtaken by Trigon. The series ends on a cliffhanger of Dick being in Trigon’s thrall. There is a tag scene in the ending credits, wait for it!

I did like Titans a lot. It is a good show, with great acting. The series moves quickly. I was glad I’d been reading the Titans Rebirth series and that I’d seen some of the animated series because I was familiar with the characters and knew who they were and their basic plots. One episode I didn’t mention was “Hank and Dawn” which fills in the background of Hawk and Dove as Hank thinks back on his own history while observing Dawn in her coma. Also, Raven tries to psychically contact Dawn during her coma, which does eventually wake her up. When Dawn awakes – she tells Hank they have to find Jason Todd. Hank’s answer is: Who’s Jason Todd?

I liked Titans and I plan on getting the second season whenever it’s available as well as watching the other DC Universe series (Doom Patrol, Swamp Thing, and Young Justice). But I don’t like that the series is on yet another streaming-only channel. This means I can’t get it. I live in a rural area with satellite internet and it is physically impossible to do streaming. The satellite TV system blocks all streaming services by capping data downloads. The nickel-and-diming effect of subscribing to half a dozen streaming services is also a concern for a lot of people I know who are getting tired of literally having to pay a streaming service fee for every show (service) they want to watch. I just end up waiting for the shows produced by any streaming service to show up on DVD or Blu-ray eventually which is usually a 12-18 month wait or more. However, I liked Titans and I will be waiting for the Blu-Ray set for Season 2. I also highly recommend this series. It has a fair amount of violence and some off-screen implied sex, so I’d classify it an Age 15+ series.

 

Death in Paradise Season 3 Review

  • Series Title: Death in Paradise
  • Season: 3
  • Episodes: 8
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: BBC
  • Cast: Kris Marshall, Danny John-Jules, Gary Carr, Sara Martins, Don Warrington
  • DVD: Widescreen DVD (R1, NTSC)

This review includes spoilers for Season 3 of Death in Paradise.

Death in Paradise Season 3 opens with quite a surprise. DI Richard Poole returns to Saint Marie from a trip to the UK, only to be murdered during a reunion with friends from his university days. DI Humphrey Goodman is sent to replace Poole and solve his murder. Initially, Camille, Dwayne, and Fidel have no idea what to make of Humphrey – he’s clumsy, disheveled, and disorganized, far different from the straight-laced DI Poole. But Humphrey wins them over by solving the murder of their former DI.

Over the season, I found that I really liked DI Goodman, though it takes a few episodes to get used to his style. Unlike Poole, Humphrey throws himself into island life – trying the local food and drink, spending time off the clock with his colleagues at Camille’s mother’s bar,  wearing more appropriate clothing for the warm weather. He was also married, though in the episode where Humphrey is introduced his wife leaves him a message on his answering machine that she isn’t coming to Saint Maire and she wants a divorce. When she shows up at the end of the season, to ask Humphrey if he wants to “make another go of it”, it’s Humphrey who realises he’s grown over the last year, yet despite her complaints of their marriage being stagnant it’s Sally who hasn’t grown and isn’t willing to try change and new things.

Death in Paradise is also a cozy-style mystery program, as such the detective solves murders by figuring things out in a light bulb moment. DI Goodman still does this, but we some attempt by the team to use forensics, and to interview witnesses. Yet the cases always end with Humphrey having that “I’ve got it!” moment, gathering all the suspects together, and exposing the murderer. Still, I found I enjoyed Season 3 and that after a few episodes, I really liked DI Humphrey Goodman. In many ways, he’s more sympathetic than Poole, at the very least Humphrey tries to fit in with the local culture and his colleagues without giving up who he is. This series is recommended, especially for viewers who enjoy cozy-style mysteries.

Read my Review of Death in Paradise Season 1.

Read my Review of Death in Paradise Season 2.

Death in Paradise Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Death in Paradise
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 8
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: BBC
  • Cast: Ben Miller, Danny John-Jules, Gary Carr, Sara Martins, Don Warrington
  • DVD: Widescreen DVD (R1, NTSC)

The second season of Death in Paradise is better than the first. The crimes are darker and more complex, and there’s more character development. New father, Fidel, is studying for his sergeant’s exam, which he passes in the final episode of the season. DI Richard Poole and Camille start to have feelings for each other but they ignore them. “Saint Maire” is beautiful as always. The cases involve both residents of the island and tourists.

However, this is still a lightweight series, and almost in the “cozy” style than a procedural. Poole, Camille, and Fidel and Dwayne solve cases by finding the one detail that doesn’t fit. It makes for a diverting hour of television – but it’s not earth-shattering, and the series could do better. In the last episode, Poole is sent back to the UK escorting a prisoner. Camille, Fidel, and Dwayne worry he won’t return to Saint Maire, but of course, he does. And again, the cases are interesting, but at times they are flat.

I do like the cast and characters though, and it’s nice to have a British series with people of color in starring roles who aren’t stereotypes. And the Island itself (actually Guadalupe in the French Carribean) is beautiful. I just wanted a bit more to this series. Still, recommended when you’re in the mood for something light and diverting.

Read my Review of Death in Paradise Season 1.