Updated: Jul 7, 2020
This is quite possibly the best superhero show ever made. Netflix and Marvel really hit it out of the park with this one. Netflix by giving Marvel the creative freedom to make something that they couldn’t otherwise do in the PG-13 movie realm, and Marvel in letting the medium of binge-watching speak for itself with how the arc of this season is constructed.
Below is a list of some of the things I liked or didn’t like about the show, in no particular order. If you're worried about spoilers, don't read TV reviews. At least not this one. This will still be here for you to enjoy once you're finished.
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1) The choreography
First off, the fighting. Sweet fucking Jesus, it is RARE to see combat choreography this good anywhere, let alone in a TV show. Let alone an American one (let’s face it, we’ve lagged behind in fight choreography for the sake of explosions.) The now-famous hallway scene in the second episode - one long take complete with plenty of framing and movement - priceless!
Then there’s the camera movement - breezy walking takes that place characters in positions and locations that perfectly match the mood of the scene. This kind of attention to motion is distinct throughout the series and shows the talent of the show creators. Marvel really threw a lot at its Netflix debut. And it shows.
2) Mastering the character of Matt Murdock/Daredevil
I remember seeing the Ben Affleck film when I was kid and thinking it was great. Then I watched it again when I was older and cared about things like character development and… writing.
As a fan of the comics growing up, I can say that the Netflix vehicle does a much better job at delivering a believable character. For one, it constructs the lead role around the simple yet nuanced theme of the comics: being a Catholic superhero in "Hell’s Kitchen." Symbolism abounds!
The Matt we see here deals with a moral struggle with his very violent night job and the desire to kill the demons he encounters.
Then there are the amazingly written and thought-out interactions with the Church and the priest - like the monologue about “the Devil,” which reminded me of Alfred’s monologue to Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight.
We’re dealing with more than just a mask and spandex folks!
3) Mo’fucking Kingpin!
Vincent goddamn D’Onofrio. Wow. What a performance.
He’s seething with emotion while being the most put-together guy in the crime business. D’Onofrio perfectly captures the character, and the creators perfectly captured the larger-than-life danger of Wilson Fisk.
We see him as the great big center of everything going on in Hell’s Kitchen, yet no one even knows his real name, let alone how to find him. Then we see him actually get his hands dirty, guillotining the Russian mobster with a goddamn car door!
Next factor in that the show gives him some real character development, even dedicating an entire episode to showing us the intimate details of his daily life and where that seething rage comes from. It’s a wondrous character that’s been created here, one that will be a key piece going forward.
4) The opening title
It’s artistically constructed and well-edited. The music plays along to the images perfectly, really drawing attention to the symphony of image and score. The deep crimson gets to the bloody and violent themes of the show while providing an eye candy that you can’t look away from. I’ve seen this opening title a hundred times and still feel compelled to watch it drip along with each episode instead of taking a bathroom break.
1) Foggy Nelson and Karen Page
They tried to do so much more with these ancillary characters than their actors or writers could fathom.
The attempts at character development are poor. The cheesy goddamn lines that they spew at every corner are so bad it would make the show unwatchable save for the other glorious moments that somehow rescue it.
Please stop making me sit through Foggy’s jokes and Karen’s gasping. Please.
2) General cheesiness:
Seriously, see above for most of what I’m talking about because if those two characters didn’t exist, you’d hardly notice the rest of the cheese throughout. But still, there are other just poorly made puns and cliched lines in other characters and in other instances.
It does serve a purpose, which is that the show is so violent and dark at times that the audience needs a light reprieve every so often.
The problem is in the execution, in that there are times when you remember, “Oh, right, I’m still watching a Marvel superhero production.”
3) The “man in black”
This costume was fine for the first half of the season but became tiresome toward the end.
It’s also almost exactly the the same as the Dread Pirate Roberts outfit from The Princess Bride. Like, am I crazy here or was that not super distracting?
I was practically screaming for the big reveal of his real costume by the fifth or sixth episode. Then, by the time they do reveal it, the mask looks DUMB!!! The blacked out eye shades don’t fit the decked-out red look of the comics or the opening title and the weird black streaks for horns similarly did not work.
I kinda wonder if they realized that the outfit sucked and then wrote more episodes without it just to throw in a big reveal at the end of the season as a way to gloss over it. Regardless, the costuming wasn't a good choice.