Overall Grade: (A)
Excellent story telling and a strong cast make for an intriguing first season with plenty of action, suspense, proper episode cliffhangers and most important of all, detailed development of the hero himself.
A blind lawyer and his best friend start their own practice as defense attorneys in New York. While the pair work daily to defend the the innocent citizens of the city Matt Murdock (Cox) spends his nights delivering his own justice. Using his heightened senses and shrouded in a mask he works to rid Hell’s Kitchen from criminal elements that are destroying the once peaceful neighborhood.
I did not really know what to expect when I began watching this show. I had dabbled in some of the other comic based series’ that seem to be taking over but none had really interested me to the point of returning each week to see what would happen next. Then came Netflix entering the game with “Daredevil”, a thirteen episode season released in a single day. Suddenly my interest was peaked and after watching all I can say is, this was an excellent show and (to-date) the best of the smaller screen comic ventures.
Right from the first episode this series had a lot going for it. The writing is excellent with great detail taken into creating the backdrop for the Daredevil character, the current scope of present day situations as well as a small collection of characters. Once the basis is set the following episodes do a great job of building the characters and the hero in particular, as well as giving perfectly timed doses of flashbacks to explain how the character of Matt Murdock has become the man he is.
Other story-lines, and sub-plots fit seamlessly into the structure of the main plot and with each episode you can feel a good portion of advancement in the story, unlike many other shows that run with more than twenty episodes per season. With a faster pace to the season arc there is not much wasted time. With each show you can see the building story-lines of the law practice and working what cases they can, evolving the titular character, as well as the villain as all those involved. In short words, there is never nothing going on in each of the episodes which generates repeat interest in continuing on to the next while watching.
The cast that was assembled for this one only builds off the strong writing with all of them delivering skilled performances. Charlie Cox, went from being unimaginable for the role of Daredevil, to seeming perfectly suited for it in not much time. His physical skills make a perfect fit for the character as well as the range of emotions he goes through as a conflicted vigilante. When a skilled actor or actress can take on the role of a comic-book hero and add their talents to the part, the result is often highly enjoyable.
The rest of the cast was just as great, Deborah Ann Woll and Elden Henson both hold their own as well. In particular Henson who breaths a nice comedic air to the otherwise dark tone of the story. His charm comes across with complete enjoyment without ever feeling forced. Vondie Curtis-Hall adds a highly compelling subplot to things as the embattled reporter and Rosario Dawson does great in her smaller part and partial love interest.
As usual for comic based material the villain is crucial to the success and Vincent D’Onofrio skillfully shares the bill with Charlie Cox in this first season. D’Onofrio’s delivery is as hulking as it is awkward and with his rigid and ominous expressions you can truly feel that there is a rage inside him that is continually being contained. As the Daredevil character is intricately developed his character of Wilson Fisk is as well, giving you doses of information at the perfect moment in the story-line to get the most out of it. The determination is matched on both sides and it builds great intrigue in the impending showdown.
What made this season entertaining was that it focused on the detail and drama and for that aspect this was a character driven crime-drama first and a comic-book hero show second. There are times you find yourself wrapped into the intrigue of the many scenarios and forgetting there is still fragments of a heroes tale flowing under the surface. Rather than immediately flaunting a fully costumed hero to carry the viewers attention and rolling out a handful of familiar villains, this series captured the scope of society as well as the lives of those involved with great interest which generates a connection to the characters.
“Daredevil” certainly did not follow in the footsteps of its predecessors such as CW’s “Flash” or CBS’ “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” with a lighthearted feel. The tone is dark, the violence is graphic and for a comic adaptation it works great in adding a realness to an otherwise implausible premise. From the first episode your adrenaline is peaked when you clearly see the quality of the fight-scenes is much higher than the common television show. Just as much effort that was put into creating the weaving story-lines and characters, was put into creating the hand-to-hand fights and visceral high speed action is the result.
The cooler tone follows more along the lines of the “Dark Knight” series only ramping up the violence considerably. The fight-sequences are often bloody, cringe-worthy and highly intense, all the things that make them great. The choreography is excellent and with great lighting and camerawork the scenes rival the quality found in cinema films today.
With fight-sequences that are so crisp and well timed the action is plentiful throughout the season run and with the Daredevil character growing as each episode passes you can never be too sure he will be the victor in his confrontations. Throughout he routinely takes a beating and uses each situation to adapt and grow into a stronger force, which adds greatly to the enjoyment of watching the man become a hero who has no fear.
Telling its story in only thirteen episode keeps the pace moving nicely and makes “Daredevil” without question worth checking out. The flow from one show to the next is excellent and it will be easy to find yourself accidentally binge watching this one in as short of time as possible. Charlie Cox shines in the lead and will make you forget all about the Affleck disaster of 2003 giving the role a face the hero can use for many more seasons and even tie into films. Netflix’ first venture into the comic-book market is a rousing success, paving the way for hopefully many more related projects in the future.