Tuesday 4 June 2019

Titans ★★☆☆☆

Do we really need another superhero TV series? The answer, obviously, is a resounding no. We don’t. It seems like every year we are getting more and more of the bloody things – The Flash, Arrow, Iron Fist, Daredevil, Luke Cage, Supergirl, Agents of SHIELD, Gotham, The Punisher, Black Lightning, Runaways, Inhumans…ugh. Who on Earth has time to consume all of this? And who in their right mind would want to? The problem is there have been a few great efforts – Netflix’s output, in particular, is of very high quality – so absolutely everybody wants a nibble. And everybody knows when Marvel does something well, DC tries to replicate it…

So we find ourselves in the company of DC’s Titans, a TV series following a team of young superheroes led by Nightwing (formerly Batman's first Robin) forming to combat evil and other perils. The series follows young heroes from across the DC Universe as they come of age and find belonging in a supposedly ‘gritty’ take on the classic Teen Titans franchise. Gritty it is. Teen Titans Go this ain’t, as we are now in a violent and frightening world with these characters. But that’s not to say it’s all darkness and shadows – there is actually a lot of humour here once the show finds its footing later into the season. And therein actually lies an issue with the show, and that’s the time it takes to find confidence.

The show has a very slow and tedious climb to quality and starts out pretty rocky – those expecting Netflix/Marvel collaboration quality will have to be very patient as it doesn’t get off to a particularly great start, thanks to some weak writing and some pretty heavy-handed exposition and introduction of characters while the team assembles. Once everyone is together and the chemistry begins flowing, it becomes a pretty entertaining albeit dark viewing experience. It’s clearly trying to replicate the tone of Netflix’s Daredevil with very mixed results – starting out as something of a tribute act. 

The show doesn’t feel to be of particularly high quality, either. CGI is pretty uncomfortably shoe-horned in, and the acting isn’t particularly striking either. The cast all suffer predominantly from being given some pretty mediocre scripts, though, and I can’t fault them on that. Even Robert De Niro couldn’t make some of this shit fly. Unfortunately, the show feels like a 90s B movie a lot of the time with a pretty poor feeling of desperation across the board. But it does occasionally hit a stride and show the potential of what it could be – especially later when the show finds a comfortable tonal balance. But on the whole, it’s a bit of a disaster.

But hey, a second season has been ordered, so perhaps the show will really respond to the criticism of its first season and find a strong footing this year. Time will tell. But until then, there’s not really much reason to recommend Titans. If it stays at this level of quality and ultimately goes out on a disappointing second season (which I suspect it will), there’s no point even bothering with this introductory season. Wait until the reviews of season 2. 

Sam Love

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