20160308

A TV review: 'Jessica Jones (S1)' wished she said "Sweet Christmas" to Kilgrave. Really.

Origin: United States · Language: English
Creator & showrunner: Melissa Rosenberg
Genres: Superhero, crime, drama, thriller
Season in review: 1 · Episodes: 13
Air date: November 20, 2015

Casts: Krysten Ritter, David Tennant, Mike Colter, Rachael Taylor, Wil Traval,
Eka Darville, Erin Moriarty, Carrie-Anne Moss

Network & distributor: Netflix

More info: IMDb

There's always the first time for everything. For this entry, I'm gonna have a crack at reviewing a TV show. Interestingly though, this show did not come from traditional television. I guess by now everybody has heard of Netflix, right?

Just like their ballsiness before in turning an obscure team of Guardians of the Galaxy to be a sensation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe / MCU, Marvel Studios decided to do so again with an even more obscure choice that is more adult in nature to the small screen (or big, since Netflix is a service for many devices and all): Jessica Jones, one part of The Defenders (MCU's next team up after The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy) that will have its own miniseries. Together with her would be Daredevil, Luke Cage (Jessica's fling and a recurring character in Jessica Jones, portrayed by Mike Colter) and Iron Fist.

I think this is SPOILER-FREE. So, read on!

The first season of the series does NOT follow how Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) got her powers, but rather her daily life as a volatile, yet capable (in terms of her investigation skills, strength, and athleticism) private investigator to mask her traumatic past as a superheroine. To her dismay, Kilgrave (David Tennant), a manipulative mind-controlling chap who is responsible for ending that stint that was presumed dead, suddenly resurfaced to disrupt her current career and life.

After I did some digging on the comic the series is based on called Alias (they had to use a different name, since ABC Studios previously used it for an unrelated similarly-titled series), the full-fledged backstory of how her powers came to be are only explained in later issues, and it looks like Jessica Jones is going down that path as well. Instead, those are hinted toward the few final episodes of the series, which is likely to be the basis for later seasons. Clever!

Production value wise, for how the show is tooled, it's pretty awesome. While in no way similar as its precursor Daredevil in the look-and-feel department, the production design is superbly done since the Netflix arm of the MCU is aiming for realism while not neglecting the lore of the gifted people. Take Kilgrave for instance; while his Alias counterpart is a dude called Purple Man (literally a purple-skinned man), in Jessica Jones however, his purple-ness are represented through his purple-shaded wardrobes, purple-tinged lighting in some scenes involving his presence, and a brief glimpse of the veins on his neck turning purple. Last but not least, before I end this paragraph, I MUST talk about that gorgeous rotoscope-ish animation on its opening credits, complimented by the minimalist-ish layered soundtrack that gets increasingly bad ass as it progresses.

Writing wise... I cannot BELIEVE that Melissa Rosenberg is the same woman who is also responsible for the stoicness that is Kristen Stewart's Bella Swan and the entire characters and settings of the film version of the Twilight series of novels. She wrote that and she pitched this. I guess she found her freedom gig here as she is not afraid to enter that adult territory (things like implied rape, drug use, and blatant homosexuality are in this series!) after I found out that she once head the writing team of Dexter as well. This in turn, I think, indirectly influenced the character of Jessica Jones who is the exact OPPOSITE of our dear Bella Swan: independent and strong-willed. And because of the approximate runtime of under an hour per episode, the writing team took this opportunity to test the patience of audiences by making Jessica's target keeps getting close... then to the moon and back, which is then interspersed by interactions with herself and other characters to keep the audiences waiting. This is a totally different pacing than the more action-oriented Daredevil.

Now, the acting bit. I didn't even follow the career of Krysten Ritter, but I've seen enough from Don't Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 and in Breaking Bad to say that she blew me away with her range! She also looks pretty... pretty for this role, and more bad ass, and more complex than the characters in both shows combined! While Jessica Jones looked nothing like in the comics, as merely a character living in the superhero world in the form of a bitter female, I think she nailed it. As for her lover, Mike Colter's Luke Cage... I can't say much, since I only know the character by his name, his looks, and his powers... but absolutely nothing else. Also, I think Mike Colter is a relatively unknown actor himself. But if I do wanna say something, it's Colter's acting being passable... just like most of the other characters in the series (except for Eka Darville's Malcolm, Jessica's drug-addict-turns-sobber neighbour and Carrie-Ann Moss's gender-bent and lesbian Hogarth named Jeri, another manipulative person in Jessica's life who is a high-profile lawyer and her passive-aggressive aide), which is kind of disappointing.  The other star here after Ritter is David Tennant's Kilgrave (to my surprise, I just knew that he was a Doctor Who!). He's a very charming and lovable asshole when he's around Jessica, but other times, he's the very definition of a prick of a villain, next to Tom Hiddleston's Loki, who totally abused his brain-control powers by making those he 'posses' take most of his demeaning insults very badly to do unspeakable biddings for him in very literal and deadly manners. I really wished he'd die the soonest, but what fun would that be, right? So, I guess he definitely owned the part!

And, that is all. Boy. This is a hard one to sell, especially owing to the fact that this is my first TV review that I eventually completed! I guess the combination of the underground status of its source material + solid casting + Marvel + Netflix are already a good enough reason if not for its compelling drama and mystery that really takes time to blossom while being just as violent as Daredevil. Once it does kick in though, for those who can accept it, it's a perfect closure for the series' Kilgrave arc and a good step towards the series' progression. Here's to hoping for an awesome second outing of that bitch we all know as Jessica Jones!

P/S: Thankfully, this is on Netflix. If you have kids who's way curious about what awesome adventure this Marvel character shall entail, do the parental block thing. It's strictly for the parents or those who can handle the materials shown in the series.

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