By Josiah Wampfler
In 2015, we have no lack of superhero TV shows. Between Gotham, Arrow, The Flash and several others, there are almost too many to keep up with. And if that is what is keeping you from watching the new Netflix original series “Daredevil,” you should absolutely stop watching every other superhero show on TV because they all pale in comparison to this incredible show.
The difference between “Daredevil” and the other comic book inspired shows is that it doesn’t let itself get bogged down in the “comic book” label. In fact, “Daredevil” for most of this first season is more crime drama than superhero story. In fact, Matthew Murdoch doesn’t even get his famous suit or earn the title of Daredevil until the last episode of the season. But, this is what makes it so great. “Daredevil” isn’t a comic book story trying to be good television, it simply is good television that happens to be based off a comic book story.
One of the things I loved most about the show was the look of it. Not only does it function as a crime drama, but it has a wonderfully modern film noir look to it with deep, heavy shadows. “Daredevil” seriously doesn’t give a fuck if you can see every detail of a person’s face, or even every punch that’s thrown like most TV shows. It beautifully uses few light sources, casting much of the series in appropriate, ominous shadows.
The performances in this first season were also incredible. Charlie Cox is the Matthew Murdoch this amazing character deserved. His portrayal of Mathew Murdoch as one who is struggling with a darker side of himself, but ultimately wants to do good was extremely compelling. And to portray this inner philosophical battle through conversations with his priest was brilliant.
One of the things that impressed me the most about his performance though, was the amount of expression he was able to achieve even when we couldn’t see his eyes. Whether he is Dardevil with most of his face covered or Matthew Murdoch with his dark glasses on, you always have a sense of what is going through his head.
Murdoch’s partners in law, Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll), were also fantastic. When Foggy first came on-screen I wasn’t entirely sure if I like the portrayal, but he becomes a wonderful source of humor that the dark show definitely needed.
Karen, however, I was not so pleased with. While, Woll’s performance is wonderful, the character arch sticks too much to the typical damsel in distress. She gets attacked and has to be saved by a man two different times, but even worse is that she really doesn’t do a lot in helping Nelson and Murdoch solve the main case they work on throughout the season. Basically, anytime it seems like she is helping, it ends up leading to a dead-end. Foggy is the one that really gets the evidence they need and that is only through sleeping with his ex. Karen does become a stronger character as the season goes on, getting attacked a third time and saving herself, but it is just a bit sad to see another weaker female character on a television show.
Still, even with that disappointment, “Daredevil” is a hell of a show. And you can attribute a large chunk of its success to the performance of Vincent D’Onofrio as the crime kingpin, Wilson Fisk. He manages to capture the absolute madness of the character very subtly, gradually revealing more and more as the season progresses. In this way, he humanizes Fisk. While you are absolutely terrified of him, you find yourself almost liking him, making you understand why others follow him.
Fisk is no ordinary mob boss though, and that is what makes him so terrifying. He is unpredictable and acts almost like a child. He smashes things (heads usually) when he doesn’t get his way and he is overly protective of anyone close to him. This unpredictability is what makes the ride with his character so damn frightening.
Overall, season one of “Daredevil” was fantastic. It is easily the best comic book based show available and probably one of the best Marvel adaptations ever. Still, even more than that, I would say it is one of the best TV shows available now. Now what are you waiting for? Go free up 13 hours and watch it!