Written By Nick Thomas
“The Not So Teen DC Titans”
What follows is a complete, mostly spoiler free knee jerk reaction review of the first season of DC’s new show Titans a live action adaptation of the long running Teen Titans. The comics originally followed a group of superhero sidekicks trying to be heroes in their own right. There have been multiple runs of the comics and animated shows and movies of this fan favorite. In this review I will give thoughts, opinions, comparisons from the source, and predictions of where the show will go from here.
First off to start the review I need to say I avoided this show like the plague, but eventually gave in to the pressure from my fellow Nerdentials team members (Joe, and Matt). I am not the biggest fan of the way they took some liberties with this show, character choices, writing choices, and style choices.
There were choices from what I saw in the trailer for the show that turned me off from it. There were things that I knew were going to frustrate me and things I was pleasantly surprised with when it came to this show, but we will get to that. I wanted to hate this show for the things they did to it in the previews, but because of my respect for the other team members that loved this, I tried to approach this with an open mind. Much to my surprise the aspects that I thought were going to ruin the show for me… well almost did but the redeeming qualities of other aspects made me continue to give it chances. So where I can say I didn't hate the show I can't bring myself to say i loved or even liked it but was compelled to watch it because my inner fanboy poked and prodded me along to compare one of my favorite comics to the first live action adaptation and I will continue to watch out of morbid curiosity.
So down to the short and curlies of this review.
Robin, Dick Grayson. The Boy Wonder.(Brenton Thwaites)
I had a problem with this character from the beginning. He was beyond broody and in my opinion a complete betrayal of the character that Robin is. One of the biggest things that has been drilled into the personality of this character is don’t kill, It's his mentors one rule. His “fuck Batman” moment with the mass murder of drug dealers is everything that Dick Grayson is not. Jason Todd (Red Hood) maybe but not this Robin. He even betrays what his character is supposed to be in the show. He apparently left Batman because he didn't want to go down the route Batman was going but did just that in his character he is now. There are some major discrepancies within the show when it comes to his character. SO it's been less than 2 years since Robin stopped being Batman's Robin, and went on to do his own thing. Dick Grayson is a Detective on a police force. The time frame is not right its not feasible there are not enough strings that could be pulled to make that happen in such a short timeframe. There is 6 months to a
year of police academy before one can become a patrol officer. Then from there it takes on average anywhere from 4-6 years experience and time on the force before one can even take the detective exam to become a detective so the time frame should have put him at least 4 to 5 years out. There is a hot headed impulsiveness that doesn't lend well to the character that he is portraying. The actor looked the part but in my opinion didn't do the part justice and all i could see every time he came on screen was the fact that he is Will Turner's son from pirates of the caribbean. The only character on screen he actually had any chemistry with was that of Raven and he played that big brother protective vibe very well. Every other aspect of his character misses the mark completely.
Raven: Rachel Roth (Teagan Croft)
The Actress did a great job of playing the innocent girl with unlimited power. She at times was conflicted, cheerful, brave, and fierce. She was pretty much the focus of the show and she kept her character relatable. All the effects of her power and her character where spot on and they did a great job with her. She was believable kept to the heart of who her character is supposed to be. Her interactions with the other characters made lots of sense and kept you intrigued with what was going to happen with her. Some of the most compelling scenes in the show all involved Raven.
Beast Boy: Gar Logan (Ryan Potter)
All together attitude, acting style and his carefree nature made the actor a perfect fit for the character of beast boy. I loved how they portrayed his character for the most part. There were small issues that I had with the character and the way they decided to go with him. The origins of the comic version of his story had him fall prey to a rare illness called Sakutia, which is fatal to every species on the planet but the West African green monkey. In the comics his father used a process to turn him into a monkey for 24 hours for the illness to run its course. The unforeseen consequences of this treatment left his skin hair and eyes green, plus the ability to turn into any creature that he sees. They took some different takes on him. I felt kind of let down that he wasn't green for the show except for what looked like green frosted hair. The other thing that was a major let down for this was the fact that he only turned into a tiger. The part about that too was the CG for the tiger was off and it seemed out of place. Like the Green lantern Costume from the Ryan Reynolds movie.
Starfire: Koriand'r (Anna Diop)
This was my least favorite character for many reasons most of which were too jarring to enjoy any scene with her in it. Unfortunately in this day and age with the supercharged race issues I have to preface this with I don't care that they chose a black actress that is not the issue. The issues with the character come from the fact that they didn't make Starfire in this show. It was a totally different character and they would have been better off by not calling her Starfire and pissing off the fandom. The character choices were mostly unforgivable and really hard to get past.
First Koriand’r is a alien with no understanding of social norms. She in every portrayal of her character she is Aloof, care free, awkward, and disgustingly optimistic and overbearingly hopeful like all the time. Starfire in this show was dark, brooding, over worldly, and oddly stoic. It was a complete offset of who she has always been in other mediums. Not only did they not play the character of Starfire she didn't have the right powers for her character. Starfire does not, has not and should not have flamethrower hands. Yes she has always been able to absorb solar energy but she has always either shot them as concussive blasts of energy and/or rays of energy either red or blue. She has been able to release a supernova style of blast. She has super strength almost of that to rival Superman, and of course flight. The only aspect they kept was red hair everything else was off and wrong and it was such a distraction it was hard to enjoy any scene with her in it. The way they dressed the character was off putting and made no sense at all.
She runs around most of the show in the same pleather go go dress with a really tacky fur jacket. I don't mean to be be insensitive but she is dressed like a call girl and sometimes even acts like it. Nothing about her character made sense.
Hawk and Dove: Hank Hall and Dawn Granger(Alan Ritchson/ Minka Kelly)
The best episodes of this show were the ones that didn't involve the Titans. The best episode was the Hawk and Dove episodes and The Doom Patrol episodes. The characters felt so developed and complete I was happy with everything that they did with these characters. I liked the actor they chose for hank it fit his personality very well. His smart ass cockiness is text book Hank Hall. The contrast of the character of Dove to hank was almost poetic and very well thought out. The only thing that wasn't necessary was that stupid Erectile dysfunction scene. We know he is messed up and needs medical help we didn't need that scene to instill a lack of manhood in his character.
Robin Jason Todd ( Curran Walters)
They went so far to the brutal side with Dick Grayson that they had to step up their game with Jason Todd. So much so that he wasn't Robin, he wasn't a vigilante sidekick, he was a serial killer lunatic and it wasn't right. I liked the look and feel of the actor that played him, it fit but they just went too far with the character and jumped past any character development. The way that they portrayed the robins was out of order. Dick Grayson's character was more like the original Jason Todd and Jason Todd's character was more Damian Wayne with his hatred for authority. It almost felt as if the writers of the show hadn't read through the comic and didn't understand that they were all different characters.
The Doom Patrol
I liked all the characters and the way they portrayed them except for Chief the actor was all wrong and could not settle on what accent he wanted to use. The weird family dynamic that they had was perfect and felt like it was right out of the comics.
The Nuclear Family
One of the villains in the group was a great choice not normally in the Titans Rogue gallery The Nuclear Family was a great pick. They went with them being brainwashed with like a super soldier serum instead of the original android family but it worked and made it a little more sadistic.
The style of the show was caught in a weird limbo between supernatural and a Zack Snyder film. It was awkwardly dark mostly and not in a good way. The Titans are a younger group they should try to harness that youth and embrace the exuberance that comes with it. The style tried pushing it towards a more sinister feel like a horror film but it didn't quite meet its mark. There were some sinister parts that fit the feel and made sense to have. It was set up that way…but not for the entire show. It was off putting and distracting. The use of flashbacks was helpful to set things up, filled in gaps and it worked well. There were some scenes that i wish they would have gone all the way with or not at all. There are scenes with robin where they are hinting at Bruce being there but he never actually is and its kind of …stupid. You either have Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth in there or you don’t. You don’t half ass it. The creative choices they took in this show made this a very loose representation of the Titans and they probably would have been better off making their own and it would have been received better.
I feel that from the last scene all their characters are going to be challenged and the one they thought was going to be too weak will be the one to save them all. I hope the writers and directors take the time to fix the errors they made in the first season and we get more of the episodes that actually have substance. There is a chance that they are able to fix this and even fix the character of Starfire by restoring her memory which gives her flight and the ability to focus the “fire” into the blasts and beams they are supposed to be. Along with the right personality to fit the character. Hopefully they take the chance in the next season to bring it back from the brink of failure by having Robin back off from his Murderface-McMurder-Nuggets, Beast Boy into harnessing his powers and changing into other creatures, and for Raven to embrace her powers and stop being afraid of her power and finally channel it.
Final Thoughts and Opinions
Although most of my review has the appearance of being negative, I feel the show had some positive points and I am very glad that i gave into the pushing of my Team members. I feel that DC failed at the chance to bring to light a show that could have touched the masses and bring the titans to a lot of people. The R rating cuts out a lot of the people that could have watched it. Their inability to stick to the comics and give tribute to the characters that were so lovingly written, I feel and fear that they will run off a lot of the hardcore fans… Will I watch the next season? Yes I will because I am a completionist and want to know where they go with the story and if they fix the mistakes they made. There are little aspects of the show, easter eggs and little quirks that they sprinkled in that I love in this show, and those give me hope that this show can be saved. I actually enjoyed watching this, well, at least enjoyed it as much as possible when not fighting my deep seeded hate for what they did to some of my favorite characters. I am going to give this show 2 ratings.
One coming from the standpoint of someone who follows the comics and for that I am giving this show a 4 out of 10 because they just don't live up to the expectations of the hardcore fans that follow these comics. Now if i went into this without the past knowledge of the comics I would give it a 6 out of 10 because even without the comic book knowledge it still had glaring issues that could not be overlooked. There were episodes that were well put together and others that were not. Their stories were not completely formed and even if this is an alternate reality they did not flesh everything out to the best of their abilities and seem like incomplete thoughts and ideas. It is most definitely watchable, and if able to forget the comics, or if you have no actual background of the original characters this is even more enjoyable. It is definitely recommended that everyone at least gives it a chance even the hardcore fans of the comics. Hawk, Dove, Doom Patrol, and Raven make it worth while on their own. You just have to get past that initial feeling that this is not the Titans you’re used to or grew up with. Thank you for reading through my rant and I hope that this gives you some insight on the show. But don't take my conclusions too seriously and at least give it a shot.