Titans – Season 1 Overall Review

Titans S1

Titans, shown over here in the UK on Netflix, reminded me a lot of Krypton, not by tone of story or focusing on any kind of specific origin, but in that after the first two or three episodes I was considering turning it off, but now I’m happy enough that I stuck with it. It’s not an amazing show, but the last two-thirds of the season was a fun watch nonetheless. Let’s take a closer look…

Synopsis:

Following her mother Melissa’s murder at the hands of a mysterious assailant, troubled teen Rachel Roth exhibits telekinetic powers and flees town. Meanwhile in Detroit detective Dick Grayson fights crime at night using his vigilante persona, Robin…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

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This screenshot means a whole lot more to those of the generation that grew up with that Teen Titans cartoon…

Dick Grayson / Robin (Brenton Thwaites) – Formally Batman’s second, Dick has left the caped crusader in fear of becoming just like him… though secretly he still attacks criminals at night using his Robin persona, so… he’s not putting that phase of his life behind himself very well!

Rachel Roth (Teagan Croft) – Rachel has always had nightmares and her door is full of holy crosses, but otherwise, all things seem normal! Well, apart from the “mother who’s afraid of you” thing… and the sudden appearance of an assassin…

Kory Anders (Anna Diop) – Kory has woken up in a strange place with no memory of who she is or how she got there. She knows she was searching for a specific girl, and that she apparently has the ability to blast energy waves out of her hands… Hell of a hang over, that’s for sure!

Garfield Logan (Ryan Potter) – Gar, as he likes to be known as, has the ability to shapeshift into a tiger after having his life saved by the mysterious Dr. Niles Caulder. He now lives with the Doctor and sneaks out from time to time…

Dawn Granger / Dove (Minka Kelly) – Dawn was hit with a tragedy when her mother was killed in a car accident. He was soon drawn to a fellow grief-stricken survivor in Hank Hall, and the two would not only form a relationship, but a crime fighting partnership…

Hank Hall / Hawk (Alan Ritchson) – When Hank’s football career came to an end, he was at a loss as to what to do, that was until his brother decided to get him into the world of crime fighting. He stopped for a while after his brother’s untimely death, but soon found a new partner in Dawn Granger, partner in two very different ways…

Jason Todd / Robin (Curran Walters) – Jason Todd is the new Robin, having replaced Dick Grayson after he left Gotham a while back. He’s excited to be in the thick of it, and relishes the opportunity to beat the crap out of people, especially when Batman isn’t around to stop him…

Donna Troy (Conor Leslie) – Formerly known as Wonder Girl, Donna Troy gave up the life of crime fighting a while ago, but is still close to the former Robin Dick Grayson… if he should ever turn up…

The Doom Patrol (Various) – A group of “freaks” who were saved from various fates by Dr. Niles Caulder, but in being saved they all have visual afflictions that means they must stay indoors.

Plus more!

The Good:

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There were many times when this was just the “Robin show”, but a lot of those episodes were good, to be fair…

I think the thing that stood out to me the most was a good sense of a lived in DC world. Dick Grayson has already done the Robin thing, Jason Todd has already replaced him, and there are several mentions of other DC heroes being around or having been around. How the lead foursome end up coming together is well handled as well, Rachel Roth arrives at Dick’s police station and Roth has had psychic visions of Grayson’s tragic past, then she’s kidnapped and saved by the future Starfire, during which she then meets Gar, and before you know it the four of them are a team working towards the same goal of figuring out what’s wrong with Rachel, and then trying to stop a potentially apocalyptic scenario involving her from taking place.

Speaking of the lead four, they each play their part well, with the exception of one. Brenton Thwaites’ former Robin is sarcastic and lacking in the confidence to look after someone, as he can’t even trust himself not to take the violence too far whenever he puts on the Robin suit, a story that plays out well across the series. Teagan Croft’s Rachel Roth is perfectly fine as the goth-like girl who doesn’t understand why she’s being hunted, and who is constantly dealing with a demonic force inside her that stares back whenever she looks in a mirror. She’s good enough that you do sympathise with her, which can be hard sometimes with teens who act a bit bratty. Finally Ryan Potter’s Garfield “Gar” Logan is your classic comic relief character, with a good bit of sympathy himself. They all play off each other well, with the one exception being Starfire/Kory Anders, but I’ll get to that later…

The core plot ends up being that Rachel is the daughter of the demon Trigon, and is the only one capable to calling him back to this dimension. Her birth mother is happy about this, despite fleeing from a group intent on reviving the beast… I guess it was a trick? Something like that… It’s fine though, and ends on a good cliffhanger of Trigon actually being resurrected, and having Dick Grayson under his influence…

Ignoring some embarrassing moments in the first two episodes (see The Bad section!) the fighting in the show was good, well-choreographed and had a realistic edge to them, while still being comic-booky (with the exception of when either Starfire or Gar use their powers, obviously…) While I felt the show was lacking a central villain until the very last episode, the “Nuclear Family”, as they’re apparently known, were a fun villainous group for a few episodes. You have a Mum, Dad, Son and Daughter, all of whom are assassins but talk to each other like an old 50s cheesy… well, nuclear family.

Outside of the lead force I found Jason Todd to be perfectly cast, though his violent tendencies were a tad over-the-top (a scene where he beat a bunch of cops to near death comes to the mind…) it does add to the idea planted in Dick Grayson’s, and by extension the viewers, head that Batman has start to go too far. The Doom Patrol were fun too, in their old fashioned and steampunky aesthetic and unique abilities. I’m not dreading their spin-off show, anyway… Donna Troy was fine in the strong female character being drawn out of retirement, thought she only appears towards the end…

The Bad:

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Hawk beats someone in the face, something I’d like to see done to him…

Kory Anders, a.k.a. Starfire, was the only member of the core cast I never really got behind. I’m not sure if it was the acting, or the general look of the character, or maybe even the cliché amnesia storyline, but I just never took to her. I was hoping it would just take some time, but by the end of the show I was invested in the other three greatly, but I still didn’t feel much for her.

The first two episodes… wow. It was like they were written for early teens who think a “cool adult show” is all swearing and blood. Seriously, I’d like for someone to count how many times in Episode 2 someone said “Fuck” or “Jesus!” as a reaction to some “bad ass violence”. They even added blood splats whenever someone got hit, like, digitally added them! Bizarre. Thankfully all of this stuff was reduced down to normal levels as the series went on, with the swearing and violence being rarer and toned down, respectively. It’s still there, and I’m not against either, but the first two episodes were really quite embarrassing how much the writers wanted to comes across as “cool” and “edgy” at the expense of… well, pretty much everything else.

Dove and Hawk aren’t very good characters here. Hawk is a complete tool, a former jock who turned to vigilantism when he got too many concussions, and even now as an adult is acting like an idiot. Scenes set in school / college with the clearly still adult actor supposedly being younger was laughable as well. It’s a shame, I didn’t mind the flashback episode showing how they met and ended up as costumed vigilantes, that was actually one of the betters ones narrative-wise, but Hank Hall is thoroughly unlikable, to the point where you’re sympathetic to Dawn for having been stuck with him…

There were some episodes that were focuses solely on Robin / Dick Grayson, and I mean solely, with the other Titans either not appearing or simply cameoing. The last episode of the season is entirely set in an imagined world where Dick Grayson ends up killing Batman and becoming all evil and under the control of Trigon. It’s literally all Robin, which is a shame for a series called Titans to be so biased towards “cool Batman stuff”, though I imagine it is hard to not play with that particular toy in the toy box. Also, if you’re not allowed to use Batman or Bruce Wayne, then don’t write so many scenes with him in! I know it’s hard to have a show with the former and current Robins going around and not feature him, but having so many scenes with him either in silhouette or shot from behind, never saying a word, just makes it stick out all the more…

Overall Thoughts:

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Doom Patrol… Who thought they’d get their own TV series? Not me, because I’d never heard of them…

Titans Season 1 is a mixed bag, and I feel more bad than good in the end. It has its moments, and the core narrative at least did a good job of getting everyone together, but an extremely poor first few episodes and a core character I just felt no feelings for hurt it overall. I’ll still watch Season 2, it got good towards the end, but it won’t be a “must watch as soon as its out” kind of show…

3 Star Watch

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