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The Best and Worst of Marvel’s Netflix Series

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Marvel’s Netflix series from best to worst

When the Avengers aren’t fighting one another, corrupt sectors of the government, or industrial manufacturers, they are risking their lives to stop global threats. Armageddons, apocalypses, and world ending catastrophes are up their wheelhouse. But, what about the little guy? Dick and Jane who own the arts and craft store on the corner? What about the various restaurant owners who are unable to make rent due to organized crime that plagues the city? Will the “Paragons and Heroes” care? Do they even see what’s going on? Probably not, but that’s where the street level heroes shine. Netflix was on a mission. They wanted to bring a sense of maturity to the superhero genre, that wasn’t happening on the big screen. It’s as though they saw the success of Arrow, and The Flash, and told themselves they could do better. In a mere three years, There are 6 original Marvel Netflix series. A couple were major successes, while others have been utter letdowns. Which series reigns, and which one should be ignored on the queue?

6) The Defenders

Marvel's Defenders on Netflix

No Chemistry or Enthusiasm

Another series almost took the spot of the worst Netflix show. It was close, but ultimately The Defenders sits on the bottom.  This series was supposed to be the Netflix equivalent to the summer blockbuster The Avengers. Even with the disappointment with The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers brought in big bucks and rave reviews. Though it has faults, it’s still fun to watch. It proves that even with one bad component, a collaborative work can be successful and fun.

Netflix’s one job, bring in the four leads in an entertaining series, didn’t pan out. The main reason this series sits so low is to an anticlimactic experience. The series was unremarkably boring. The series wanted to create a dynamic with the heroes, and bring in an interesting villain. Bringing in newcomer Sigourney Weaver, and fan favourite Wai Ching Ho as the main antagonists brought hope for charismatic villains. But, they just couldn’t make the series work. Yet, even with only 8 episodes, the story falls flat, and the characters never seemed to jive with one another. They are thrown into the same world, and are forced to cooperate, without any real reason. The Defenders gave the impression that they had to work with another because of contractual issues, and not for any story-related reasoning. The whole series tried to do something special, hoping that fandom could be enough to warrant good reviews.

5) Iron Fist

Marvel's Iron Fist on Netflix

Privilege and immaturity don’t lead to a likable hero

Iron Fist season one is terrible. It’s outright cringe-worthy. Danny Rand was supposed to represent the hope and idealism of New York that is utterly lacking in the other series. He swaggers in with a smile and jaunty skip, hoping to relive his life. Right off the bat, this cordial attitude turns to him whining and acting immature. He was the Marvel equivalent to Chris O’Donnell’s Robin. Just replace nearly everything he says with cartoonish babbling, and he wouldn’t be any different. His charm came was arrogance, and his privilege turned out to be far too unsympathetic.

To be fair, it wasn’t the fault of Finn Jones. Since the beginning, the series had problematic production issues, resulting in unedited scripts and quickly choreographed fight scenes. The supporting cast were equally one-dimensional, and the main villain was non-threatening to the point of embarrassment. The supporting cast was supposed to guide Danny Rand out of his ignorance but instead, they didn’t do much except slowly accept Danny Rand’s whiny privilege. Even seeing the glowing fist, which took a whole season, could not justify everything that led up to it. Luckily, the second season fixed the vast majority of the pitfalls. They gave the secondary characters depth, and promoted one of them to the role of the main villain who was the perfect foil to Danny Rand. On one hand, it paid off by playing it safe, but the bad taste of the first season still remained, making it difficult for season 2 to please even the most forgiving fans.

4) The Punisher

Marvel's Punisher on Netflix

Avatar of Rage and Vengeance

It’s difficult to make a long-lasting solo Punisher series. His perfect place is to act as the protagonist’s foil: the unstoppable force that threatens the protagonist’s ideology. Most of his ongoing comic series don’t last too long, and more than often Marvel has given him a gimmick. Once, he went to space, another time he became a holy agent for angels, another time he turned into a Frankenstein monster, and eventually put on the War Machine armor. So, there needed to be a good reason to bring him on the small screen.

Netflix made the right choice to first Introduce him in Daredevil season 2. He was the ideal candidate to put into question Daredevil’s vigilante motives, and Kingpin’s ruthlessness. His on-screen chemistry with Karen Page was sound, and he brought in a whole new reason to fear the city. But he didn’t hold the same amount of gravitas in his own series. Yet, even with Ebon Moss-Bachrach addition as Micro, the series felt cluttered with unnecessary tidbits and minor villains to eat up the time. There are only so many times Frank Castle can have a freak-out where he throws his toys on the ground and goes out on his own, until he realizes he needs friends, and “family” if he wants to truly live. If it weren’t for Jon Bernthal’s portrayal, his tantrums would be grating and over the top. Thankfully, his gruffness comes off conflicted, without the stereotypical brooding of an angsty teen’s hidden journal.

3) Luke Cage

Marvel's Luke Cage on Netflix

Charming and Irritated

Luke Cage was the series the world needed the most when it came out. The news was overloaded with racial-fueled violence, and politics were heated. There seemed to be very little hope. Luke Cage was the hero looking out those ignored the most. Quickly, the audience was able to latch on to the mountain of a man with a look of charm with a hint of irritation on his face.

Luke Cage had a hard battle ahead of him. He needed to promote equality without being too preachy, and show action without being overly violent. Sometimes, stories hit the audience over the head with the hammer of morality where the story takes a back seat. Luke Cage was able to discuss racial violence, and create an interesting story.  The most interesting take on Luke Cage is his role as the reluctant hero. Luke Cage’s portrayal of an apathetic hero is refreshing to all the other stories before it. Unlike other superhero franchises, the protagonist sets themselves out on an adventure. In Luke Cage, it takes more than half the season for Luke Cage to not simply find his calling as protector, but to accept it as well. At times his apathy made him a little dull, but the supporting cast and villains were outstanding. Paired with season 2,  Luke Cage is a series worth watching.

2) Jessica Jones

Marvel's Jessica Jones on Netflix

A classic PI with a twist

Jessica Jones is a hard-drinking, eye-rolling sarcastic, no-nonsense private investigator. She hits the bottle hard, and hits scum even harder. She was flawed and didn’t have many kind traits, but she rocked that scarf and leather jacket. She saw the world in a very realistic way. Very few people are ultimately kind or cruel. With the rare exceptions, people are who they are, and everyone has their own demons and angels.

Jessica Jones season 1 is an amazing detective story with a terrifyingly charming villain in Kilgrave. David Tennant was the star of the series and had such great chemistry with Krysten Ritter. Their cat and mouse dynamic kept the tensions going for the entire series. The very first season was the best of the Marvel Netflix series by a wide margin. Then, season 2 rolled its ugly head. The following season wanted to expand on the lore; it touched upon the detective genre and her PTSD, but didn’t hit the mark. Instead, it was a long-winded story of self-discovery that shared the same padding problem as The Punisher. Too many episodes discussed the same issues and didn’t push the plot along. The greatest disappointment was with the villain, and though it’s hard to top Kilgrave, anything could have been better. Jessica Jones could have taken the top spot but, a lackluster second season brought it down.

1) Daredevil

Marvel's Daredevil on Netflix

It’s his city, and his streaming service

Remember that Daredevil movie? Ben Affleck wishes you didn’t. When Netflix announced they were making a Daredevil, there was some hesitation. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be a  remake of that sad take on the character. Thankfully, Daredevil avoided overly dramatic rain, dark filters, and “gritty” dialogue. The series allowed the characters to develop and grow, expanding on Daredevil’s rich history.

Though the first season started somewhat slow, and had far too many flashbacks, it didn’t disappoint. It gave the world a brooding, cynical character without the clichés. Charlie Cox gives into the rage, and decides that New York is his city. Despite a stellar performance, he’s not the reason to watch the series. Ironically, don’t watch Daredevil for Daredevil, watch it for the villains and choreographed fight scenes. The true stars of the seasons are Vincent D’Onofrio, Jon Bernthal, and Wilson Bethel. They bring in such gravitas and stellar performances that make Daredevil the least interesting part of the series.

Daredevil reigns supreme because it knows the right formula for a compelling storytelling. It understands what works, and how to keep stories engaging without changing too much. Characters need to evolve, villains need to be engaging, and episodes don’t need too much padding. In the end, if it’s difficult to say which season is truly the best, then it has to be a success.

****

The future for the remaining Netflix shows is uncertain, especially with the Disney streaming service right around the corner. As long as Netflix keeps going in the right direction, then there’s no reason to fear the next seasons.  In the end, if there is only one bad season among 6 different shows, then it shows that someone knows what they are doing.

 

David Harris has lived in Montreal his whole life. He thoroughly enjoys discussing most subjects including the arts, technology, and good food. Being a fan of superheroes since he was young, it's surprising he only starting really getting into comics in CEGEP. He shows a great appreciation for good stories and dialogue, which suits his passions perfectly: television, movies, and graphic novels. As much as he loves the indie publishers, deep down he has always been a fan of the big two.

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“Crisis on Infinite Earths” Is an Endearingly Clumsy Love Letter to DC’s Television Legacy

DCTV’s sprawling, ambitious crossover is creatively uneven, but its endearing nostalgia easily outweighs its flaws.

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Crisis on Infinite Earths

The ambition of The CW’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover can’t be understated, an attempt to integrate the network’s sprawling set of universes into a single, coherent reality – and perhaps more importantly, to say farewell to the series, and star, at its heart. A world-hopping, universe-jumping adventure acting as an homage to 50-plus years of DC television (and, in one notable case, film), the first three parts of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” are unfiltered joy, embracing its limited budget and impossibly large cast of characters (and famous cameos) in a wildly entertaining – if creatively uneven – journey through DC’s strange history on the small screen.

The sheer audacity of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” is, frankly, incredible to watch: while it doesn’t always work, it makes the crossover event utterly fascinating to dissect.

The CW’s sixth official crossover technically began during its fifth; last season’s “Elseworlds” established the broad strokes to follow, setting Oliver Queen on his path to destiny – and in the process, muting the impact of every isolated story line of the extended DC lineup. The reveal of The Monitor in “Elseworlds (Part 3)” (which was Supergirl‘s ninth episode of its fourth season, if anyone is keeping score) was intriguing, but ultimately distracting: knowing the fate of the multiverse was casually hanging in the balance, limited the ability of stories like Lex Luthor and Barry’s convoluted time-traveling to have any sort of noticeable impact. Knowing what was coming made these (slightly) smaller scale stories just not matter; knowing the final season of Arrow was directly integrated with the “impending crisis” only further overwhelmed any sense of purpose the stories of its shows held.

(and if we’re being honest, “Crisis on Infinite Earths” has kind of been teased since The Flash‘s pilot episode in 2014, though that’s splitting hairs a bit.)

Crisis on Infinite Earths

Perhaps it is all that hype that makes “Crisis on Infinite Earths (Part 1)” the weakest entry of the three to air this week (parts four and five air in mid-January) feel like such an underwhelming, rushed introduction to this universe-hopping story of Drama and Emotion. When an anti-matter wave begins wiping out parallel Earths (including Earth-66, letting them sneak in a quick Burt Ward cameo), “Crisis on Infinite Earths” begins pulling it its many iconic major characters – which, let’s admit, doesn’t quite have the same impact it did back in “Invasion” or “Crisis on Earth-X”.

It then spends an inordinate member of time trying to integrate Supergirl‘s supporting cast into the fray (albeit briefly); which, as fans of previous crossovers would probably agree, always ends up being the weakest part of any crossover. Lena, Querl, Alex, and Kelly feel like nothing but obligatory inclusions in the episode – whatever is going on with Supergirl and the DEO, “Crisis on Infinite Earths (Part 1)” struggles mightily to make it feel like anything meaningful.

In their defense, it’s hard to invest in whatever side stories Part 1 is trying to nod towards; it all pales in comparison to seeing Kara fawn over momma Lois and poppa Clark, which is a tall task to compete with. But the DEO’s characters are noticeable momentum killers, moments where “Crisis on Infinite Earths” fumbles at grounding its outlandish, epic story with the non-powered entities of its universe.

Crisis on Infinite Earths

Unfortunately, it gets worse before it gets better: once we get all the heroes arranged, we get a lame-ass fight scene where the heroes (Supergirl, The Flash, Green Arrow, Atom, White Canary, Superman, and Batwoman) battle against some terrible CGI demons. It is easily the low point of all three hours, a clumsily-executed scene that utterly fails in providing any sense of urgency to the larger story (The Monitor’s nemesis killing off entire planets and realities with a massive wave of anti-matter, in case you were wondering).

It’s strange, because the fight scene ostensibly serves as the kicking off point for the whole crossover: and boy, is it awkward when it tries to make the CGI ghost fight the moment Oliver sacrifices himself to save the universe (or does he?). It’s a halting way to end Part 1, after a herky-jerky hour with a few choice cameos (including Griffin Newman as a trivia host, and Wil Wheaton as a protestor) and a lot of sci-fi mumbo jumbo establishing the stakes of the anti-matter wave.

“Crisis on Infinite Earths (Part 2)” is really where the crossover comes to life; both as a contained story, and a cumulative celebration of the strange, long legacy of mixed DC media. Batwoman travels to a parallel Earth to visit a embittered Batman (played by longtime Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy), Sara Lance gives Jonah Hex his signature scar outside a Lazarus Pit, and there’s an extended cameo of Tom Welling and Erica Durance as the OG The CW Clark and Lois; though all of those things are exactly as ludicrous and self-indulgent as they sound, the more Part 2 – and as a byproduct, Part 3 – bounce around worlds to visit iconic characters (and performers) from its past, the more powerful it becomes as a true crossover event.

Crisis on Infinite Earths

And despite the abundance of casting announcements and on-set photos, “Crisis of Infinite Earths” is still able to deliver a number of surprising appearances: who could’ve predicted a scene where Netflix’s Lucifer Morningstar talks to NBC/The CW’s John Constantine, which occurs after Part 3 does a motherfucking Birds of Prey cameo with Ashley Scott (AND the voice of Dina Meyer as Oracle, to boot). It is a fan fiction wet dream come true, even FINALLY integrating Black Lightning‘s Jefferson Pierce into the multiverse, with a shockingly (sorry) strong introduction of The CW’s most underrated hero into the already-crowded mix.

The sheer audacity of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” is, frankly, incredible to watch: while it doesn’t always work, it makes both Parts 2 and 3 utterly fascinating to dissect. It is Justice League by way of Into the Spider-Verse and Avengers: Endgame, as clumsy and endearing as that sounds; at times, it utterly fails to make its universe-ending narrative hold any actual weight, but it is an emotional powerhouse of iconic, often underappreciated performances in DC’s television history (I swear to God, if they bring in Linda Hamilton for a Wonder Woman cameo, I’ll lose my shit).

If we’re being honest, it’s more interesting in its construction than it is in execution: after ingesting 200+ episodes of DC television over the years, I hold no expectations for “Crisis on Infinite Earths” to ever capture the immense dramatic potential of its narrative.

Crisis on Infinite Earths

That’s just not what DC television is good at (save for a couple seasons of Arrow, and most of Legends of Tomorrow): where these shows shine is their heartfelt depictions of human connection, of the beauty in finding shared purpose. At that, “Crisis on Infinite Earths” is a pretty resounding success; whether Batwoman and Supergirl’s young friendship, or Barry’s tunnel-visioned optimism, “Crisis on Infinite Earths” proves the DC universe still has engaging stories to tell with the biggest stars of the present – and with characters like Kate Kane, Jefferson Pierce, and Ryan Choi (introduced in Part 3, in what appears to possibly be establishing a new Atom), the future.

We’ll have to wait until January to see how the grand experiment to unite all the timelines works out – but in its holiday send off, “Crisis on Infinite Earths” is a pretty touching love letter to decades of superhero television, earning its entry into the annals of modern television’s most ambitious endeavors.

Other thoughts/observations:

In what appears to be his swan song (knowing that he is departing Legends of Tomorrow), Brandon Routh’s double-duty as Ray Palmer and Superman (reprising his role from Superman Returns) is wonderful.

Even Wentworth Miller makes an appearance, kind of: the alternate-reality Wave Rider the team of heroes, paragons, and ominous entities is guided by Leonard, an AI who ironically sounds exactly like Captain Cold.

We forever stan Sara Lance; to see her guide and organize the team in Part 1 and Part 2… well, it’s just beautiful to see.

Boy, it is strange how “Crisis” just kind of glosses over Batwoman killing the bitter, murderous version of Batman her and Supergirl visit in Part 2.

Easy litmus test to know whether you’re in or out on this whole endeavor; whether you jump for joy or scream in agony when hearing the word “infinitude” in the opening moments of Part 1.

There is a very, VERY brief shot of a few characters from DC Universe’s Titans, which I always forget exists. No Doom Patrol or Swamp Thing, unfortunately.

Unlike previous crossovers, only Supergirl‘s episode feels like it is still kind of trying to be an episode of its own series. I haven’t watched much Batwoman, but part 2 definitely does not attempt to make any play at drawing in a new audience with a unique display of personality (and in fact, I don’t think there’s a single other Batwoman regular in the episode).

Apparently the Brec Bassinger Stargirl character will make her debut in the final part of “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, even though her series is not airing until 2020… on DC Universe? Modern television is so fucking weird.

It is still hard to believe Jon Cryer as Lex Luthor.

There are hints of the theme from the 1989 Batman film in Blake Neely’s score, which is just fucking insane.

When Earth 90’s Barry Allen makes a major sacrifice, we are treated to a brief flashback to actual footage from the 1991 The Flash series. It is perhaps the most breathtaking surprise of the whole crossover.

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TV

‘J.T.’ – A Tragic, Poetic and Improbably Beautiful Holiday Special that is a Must-See!

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J.T.-1969-Christmas-Special

Join us as we spend the next 25 days writing about some of our favourite Holiday TV specials! Today we look back at the unsung gem, J.T.

What’s it About?

Produced for a Saturday morning children’s anthology on CBS, J.T. premiered to such rave reviews, the network scheduled it again a week later in a prime time slot. The Christmas special follows J. T. Gamble (Kevin Hooks), a shy, withdrawn Harlem boy who befriends a sick, one-eyed, old and badly injured alley cat days before Christmas. Showing compassion and responsibility, J.T. secretly nurses the feline back to health.

J.T.-1969-Christmas-Special

Review

Those who have seen J.T. will never forget the emotional impact this heartfelt drama has. Nor will they have forgotten the heartbreaking moment in which the cat is hit by a car. Priceless because it catches the sights, sounds, and moods of a city that are of a bygone era, watching J.T. is like being present for the opening of a time capsule, giving us one a look back at pre-Giuliani NYC. Brilliantly written by Jane Wagner and based on her own book of the same name, J.T. will capture the hearts of many, as we witness the young boy create a wellspring of comfort for his newfound pet in an abandoned apartment complex.

Winner of a Peabody Award, J.T. is also a story of a single mother’s struggle to be independent and support both herself and her son, while refusing to allow the ghetto life to break the family’s optimism. Come the teary denouement, this story will warm the coldest of hearts and challenge even the most hard-hearted moviegoer. There is a wonderful surprise at the end when a local grocer and his wife offer the young boy a second chance. Kevin Hooks is amazing in the lead, as is Ja’Net Dubois who plays his overworked mother, who tries her best to supply for her family while slaving away and working a low-paying job. Sensitively directed and rarely over-sentimental, this touching parable will likely ravish the emotions of cat lovers everywhere.

J.T. 1969

How Christmassy is it?

There isn’t much Christmas cheer, Christmas music, holiday shopping, decorations and so on, but the special ends on an uplifting note – one that rings true with Christmas spirit. So I would say 50/50.

You May Like It If…

If you are nostalgic for the late 60’s New York City or are an animal lover.

Final Thoughts:

It stars actor Kevin Hooks as the young lead. Hooks currently works as a director for several hit TV shows including Lost, 24, Monk and Prison Break. The role of J.T.’s mother is played by actress Ja’net DuBois, who also appeared as the upstairs neighbour, Willona, on the groundbreaking 1970s sitcom Good Times.

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Before the Internet

Watchmen Podcast: Breaking Down “A God Walks into Abar”

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Watchmen Podcast A God Walks into Abar

“A God Walks into Abar” is the deeply heartfelt episode we’ve been waiting for!

The wonderfully pun-titled penultimate episode—directed by Nicole Kassell, written by Damon Lindelof and Jeff Jensen— is a powerful love story that spans many years, and told in a disjointed fashion to explain just how the most powerful man in the world wound up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, married to Angel Abar and with his memory wiped out. It’s an amazing hour of television—able to carefully turn a seemingly indecipherable character, into something beautifully textured, human, and meaningful— and we have plenty to say about it.

Our Watchmen podcast will see Simon Howell and an assortment of guests tackle the entire series (or at least the first season). In this eight episode,  Simon Howell , Randy Dankievitch and guest Sean Collettin take a deep dive into “A God Walks Into Abar” and note some of the more astonishing facts of the episode you might have missed.

And for those of you wondering, in order to keep things simple, we’ve decided to upload each episode to the same feed as our other podcast, Before the Internet.

Listen here on iTunes or listen here on Stitcher. 

You can also catch our show on Pocketcast and on Spotify, or simply listen via the player embedded below.

Before the Internet Watchmen Podcast Special
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