Daredevil season one — television season review

Premièred by Netflix.
Episode one: Into the Ring by Drew Goddard
Episode two: Cut Man by Drew Goddard
Episode three: Rabbit in a Snowstorm by Marco Ramirez.
Episode four: In the Blood by Joe Pokaski
Episode five: World on Fire by Luke Kaltaux
Episode six: Condemned by Joe Pokaski and Marco Ramirez
Episode seven: Stick by Douglas Petrie
Episode eight: Shadows in the Glass by Steven S. DeKnight
Episode nine: Speak of the Devil by Christos Gage and Ruth Fletcher Gage
Episode ten: Nelson v Murdock by Luke Kaltaux
Episode eleven: The Path of the Righteous by Steven S. DeKnight and Douglas Petrie
Episode twelve: The Ones we Leave Behind by Douglas Petrie
Episode thirteen: Daredevil by Steven S. DeKnight.

It’s taken me so long, but I’ve finally finished Daredevil season one. And honestly, I think this was really mishandled. There are some very strong episodes, that zoom-in on certain aspects, but the rest are just kind of… meh.

This show is clearly an experiment. Marvel Television know that streaming is the future, and I’m glad they decided to distribute this via Netflix, because that prompted me to sign-up, and in doing-so I discovered a wealth of other shows. But the greatest flaw with this is the length. It’s much longer than it needs to be. The main praise point of this is the way it feels like a thirteen-hour feature with a chapter selection. But I say that’s where it drops-short. The best episodes are those that focus on one thing, like the way Murdock’s vision works, or how Franklin Nelson would react to discovering that Murdock’s the vigilante they’ve been trying to take-down. Because that’s the best selling point of television; that it doesn’t have to work like a film, it can be episodic. Instead, what Daredevil does is to tell a continuous story without the supporting structure of the individual episode. The season’s so eager to tell an overarching narrative that it forgets the most important element of television: the serial story.

It’s a myth that story arcs are popular, or that they sell. The story arc is just an excuse to tell a story. Have it happening, yes, and have it pay-off in the end for audience satisfaction, but remember that it’s only there to be with these characters. The best kind of shows blend these things together, so the audience can’t tell what’s part of the story arc and what’s part of that week’s episode. Because what they’re then responding to, even if they don’t realise it, is good storytelling.

Daredevil season one is not good storytelling. But it tries to be. Unfortunately, it tries so hard, so much, that it collapses under its own tedious plot-fullness. It focuses on so many characters in order to drive the plot forward that it races to the finish line, forgetting to enjoy the view out of its own window on the way. Surely Nelson could’ve discovered that Murdock’s Daredevil until at least next season? That would have given everything else more room to breathe. But instead, everything’s packed-in so close that I continued watching only to see where it was going, not because I was enjoying what was happening. I’d rather take the scenic route to the end, meandering around the fishing lakes, and have a good time than finish as fast possible and forget most of the experience.

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Author: the Purple Prose Mage

I'm not Batman, but I wish that I were.

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