I’ve just started watching the Netflix series Daredevil, thanks to having received the season one Blu-ray set for Christmas. So yes, I’m rather late to the party with this one, as the show was particularly well-praised and a second season has already aired. I can imagine most people reading this thinking I’ve just come out from under a rock or something. Its a symptom of the bewildering fragmentation of the television industry these days-unless you are willing to pay for everything (Sky Atlantic, Netflix, Amazon, etc) you simply aren’t going to be able to access everything , not legitimately anyway. Years ago most of the best American shows aired on terrestrial channels, then eventually they started to migrate over to satellite subscription channels, and now there’s the internet services (and even cable provider Virgin Media) competing with unique content.
Its rather unfortunate, as we are living in something of a Golden Age for quality television, that due to this fragmentation of the market, viewing figures are going down, not up.The subscription method largely offsets those diminished ratings, but it does have some effect on, well, the cultural impact of the shows themselves. How many people have seen The Man In The High Castle, or Outlander? What were the viewing figures for Daredevil? Sky TV seems happy for shows like Arrow to number viewing figures in hundreds of thousands, whereas such a show back in the late-70s/early-80s on terrestrial tv would have audiences in the millions.
So anyway, I’ve seen just the first two episodes of Daredevil, but already I can see why there was so much praise and fuss over the show. Its great. The cast are impressive with some great chemistry already, and the take on the character (going for a slow-burn introduction to the character and his origin/world) cleverly profits from the season-long arc and having plenty of screen time to get it right, showing the advantages of the episodic format over a short-duration film. And it’s clear that the artistic and technical maturity and sophistication of television production these days doesn’t necessarily reveal the huge gap between small-screen and silver-screen like it did in the old days. Television holds up these days, and what television inevitably loses in pure bang-for-your-buck spectacle, it clearly trumps with character development and extended plot arcs.
And yes, binge-watching is clearly a bonus. I watched those first two episodes back to back and will likely do the same with the next two, the 13-episode series likely watched in a week or two, easy. As its my first Netflix show, I have to say I’m very impressed, and it has me considering that Jessica Jones set recently released.
Interestingly, Daredevil is very dark and very violent, and it is clearly showing how that can be done superbly well with a superhero character – a clear lesson that perhaps the DC movie division should have heeded with its Man of Steel/Batman v Superman properties that seem to be struggling with the darkness and ‘reality’ they are aiming for. Of course I’ve only just started the show and will need to see how the season unfolds, but so far they seem to have nailed it. Avoiding all those spoilers/reviews seems to have paid off.
The only thing that kept bugging me was where had I seen the actress who is playing Karen Page? Every scene she was in I was distracted by the “where the hell have I seen her before?” brainworm that kept burrowing into me. I hate it when that happens. Eventually, well into episode two I had to resort to a visit to IMDB. The actress is Deborah Ann Wolf, and I’d seen her in True Blood, a show I had watched a few seasons of before giving up on it several years ago. I remember she was one of the best things in True Blood, and it’s great that she seems to be a regular in Daredevil.