There’s nothing like having the chance to rest and relax over a weekend after a long week of work and responsibility.
Early Sunday afternoon, my wife and I saw the new Halloween film, a great recalibration of the long-running series that feels like the truest successor to the original, 1978 film that you could possibly get. Of course, it was bloody, violent, and horrifying — it’s a slasher movie, after all — but the reason that I bring this up at all is because I came to a very strange realization after watching the second episode of the DC Universe original series:
There was more blood in the second episode of Titans — by a pretty comfortable margin — than there was in the entirety of the new Halloween movie.
That’s not to say that the show is bad, but there seem to be a few too many asterisks to apply to it. For instance, it seems so hungry for having shock value that this episode, in particular, makes the defining expletive in the first episode — which was “F**k Batman,” just in case you’ve forgotten — seem tame by comparison with the second offering. Still, the biggest feather in the cap for the series thus far seems to be in the general aim of the plot in creating an intriguing story around Rachel Roth/Raven, which also explores some of the self-admitted damage that Dick Grayson’s upbringing seems to be causing him.
The two characters who take more of a lead in this episode, though, are Hawk and Dove, played by Alan Ritchson and Minka Kelly, respectively. Ritchson is no stranger to DC TV, having played Arthur Curry/Aquaman in a few episodes of Smallville, and plays an appropriately gruff and quick-to-temper Hank Hall that feels pretty well in-line with longstanding characterizations of Hawk. Minka Kelly as Dove is pretty good as well, though her classic sense of pacifism takes a notable backseat so that she can fight side-by-side with Hawk and Robin on dark streets and in seedy warehouses.
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Once again, the best performance for the episode overall comes from actress Teagan Croft as Raven. The show has been doing a pretty solid job in developing her character so far, and the general dynamic between her, Brenton Thwaites’ Dick Grayson, and now Hawn & Dove seems to have a fair amount of staying power if we get to see more of their interactions over the course of the series. The appearance of the Nuclear Family is a nice touch, though: they’re menacing, unsettling, and formidable every time they’re on-screen.
Still, the show has a problem with tone in more than the actual episode content. Costume design, for instance, is a little uneven. Robin’s costume has darker hues that seem to be generally in-line with what we’ve seen from DC films before Justice League, but then Hawk & Dove’s suits are almost directly translated from the comics, bright colors and all. It’s a nitpick, to be sure, but hey: I’m a comic book fan and it seemed noticeable.
Also, again, the show has plenty of room in the credits for producers and executive producers, and no room whatsoever to list the names of the comic book creators that made appearances in the show. Until this is an error that’s rectified, it should definitely be noted until it’s fixed. The willful lack of acknowledgment for the characters’ legacies is a troubling trend that should be reversed immediately.
All in all, I still like what Titans has to offer, but it’s hard to love. Too many of its depictions seem incongruent with longstanding characterizations, and it seems more interested in courting controversy and shock value than to fully dedicate itself to telling a totally truthful story with these longstanding characters. There’s still plenty of time for the season to shake out alright, but Titans is definitely still finding its footing.
It’s enough to bring this viewer back next week, at least. – Chris Clow