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Review: DC Universe's Titans, Season 1, Episode 1

The announcement of the DC Universe streaming service and the original content it was lining up piqued many an interest. Not that DC didn’t already have plenty to choose from in terms of TV shows, from Arrow to The Flash to Supergirl, etc. DC has continued to have a solid run of popular shows (mostly on CW) and animated series’ to add to their brand outside the comics and film world. But, what would a streaming service show offer that fans couldn’t find elsewhere? Enter Titans, a live-action take on the long-standing comic series, Teen Titans, which has seen many iterations throughout the years since 1964. Most fans today would recognize them from the goofy (and often hilarious) “kids” animated show on Cartoon Network, but there’s a much deeper version of these characters than that show could possibly explore.

Enter Titans, created by DC producer extraordinaire Greg Berlanti, veteran screenwriter Akiva Goldsman and DC powerhouse writer Geoff Johns. If you ever wanted to stack the deck on creating a faithful and inventive superhero show, that’s a good batch of creators to start with. The most suprising thing about Titans, however, is the absence of Zack Snyder. Not because it was expected he’d be a part of it, but that it looks and feels so much like his take on the DCEU it’s uncanny. For those feeling the loss of Snyder’s “dark take” on superheroes, look no further than Titans as an answer to the brooding and violent take on the genre.

Featuring a line-up that includes Brenton Thwaites as Dick/GraysonRobin, now an angsty Detroit detective who left Gotham after a falling out with his last “partner”, Teagan Croft as Raven, a girl struggling with a demon-like power that she can’t control, Anna Diop as Koriand'r/ Starfire, an amnesiac alien with fire powers and Ryan Potter as Beast Boy, a green-tinted superhero that can shapeshift into various animals, Titans kicks off full steam ahead, wasting no time in wasteful exposition, leaning on subtle references rather than on-the-nose catch up. It's a welcome approach and allows us to settle in quickly.

The intro episode serves as an intro to all involved, picking up in the middle of their respective stories with a few origin teases (but, thankfully, not a full expository narrative) that sets the stage for them all to meet up and form the titular Titans. Raven is a troubled teen who is looking for help and guidance with her power/curse, while Grayson seems to be trying to escape the bounds of Batman, inflicting his own brand of justice on the criminal underworld. Starfire awakens in a car crash in Vienna, finding herself involved with local gangsters and trying to piece together just who she is and what she's doing there, while Beast Boy doesn’t appear until the end, morphed into an animal that’s on the hunt for some not quite necessary goods.

Raven finds herself on the run, eventually landing in Detroit, where Grayson runs into her. She somehow has knowledge about him that rattles his cage, sparking his interest in who she is. When he finds that multiple people are on the hunt for her, he realizes that there’s more to her than meets the eye and decides to take her *ahem* under his wing. However, we also see that Grayson isn’t exactly Mr. Goody Two Shoes in his endeavor to dish out justice, as we see him take out a group of baddies in an alleyway that rivals BATMAN V SUPERMAN’s violently awesome warehouse takedown scene. While I can’t speak to whether this is tied to the broader DCEU or not, it sure fits within that realm of hardcore violence and this Robin absolutely feels like a character that could’ve been partnered with Ben Affleck’s Batman.

Beast Boy doesn’t pop up until the end and in a very brief scene, but it’s enough to tease his power and get a good look at the transformation F/X, which aren’t half bad. You know you’ve reached an interesting time in TV when these types of things are done fairly easily, whereas before it would be some B-movie effect that never comes together. The days of being wowed by the T-1000 in T2 are over, as those are now standard issue, the stakes being upped greatly in terms of what constitutes “groundbreaking” work in the F/X department. Don’t expect to be overly blown away with that in Titans, but it gets the job done without having to wince, so there’s that.

So, is Titans good? Well, that really does depends on how you want your superheroes to be. Are you looking for the standard CW model of eye-rolling humor and kinetic TV action? Check, you get some of that here (but way less eye-rolling). Are you looking for a more hard-edged DC show that’s more like a Zack Snyder film than a “hopeful” DC supergasm? Check, you’re covered. Are you looking for something that’s deeply rooted in the comics? Eh, you might want to stick with the comics, but there are plenty of nods to them and the characters remain very much akin to their on-the-page counterparts.

The same thing can be said if you’re looking for a “fun” or “humorous” version of these characters as that vibe just doesn’t fit. This is the antithesis of Teen Titans Go! It looks to be a fairly complex version that isn’t afraid of some F-bombs, bloody head shots and faces scrapped against broken car glass. With that in mind, Titans is definitely a superhero show unlike anything else out there, but whether or not that’s a good thing or not is up to you to decide. I don't think it'll be for everyone and that's just fine. Personally, I appreciate the non-standard approach, but will need to see how the rest of the season plays out to decide of it’s one that was worth the effort. Until then, I’ll be watching to find out. Color me intrigued.

Source: JoBlo.com

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