As you probably know, I am a sucker for superhero stories. However, I am mainly a Marvel reader. I know who the major DC characters are, but there are many others who are a complete mystery to me. I was therefore able to approach the Titans series on Netflix unencumbered with too much knowledge of how things “should” be. While the series made use of a whole bunch of standard Teen Titans characters, it also did its own thing. I was intrigued enough to watch it through, and was especially impressed by the final episode in which the demon, Trigon, who is the main villain of the season, gets inside Dick Grayson’s head and works out all of his frustrations about Batman.
Of course one of the reasons I loved Season 1 is that it featured Doom Patrol in a couple of episodes. I still don’t understand why Netflix won’t show that series in the UK. Its not as if Coagula is part of the TV team.
Season 2 starts with a big let-down in that the Trigon plot is resolved way too easily, and several members of the team then quit. It looks very much like a new creative team has come in and decided to junk everything that went before. Fortunately that is not quite the case. The team are eventually brought back together, primarily through the introduction of Deathstroke, a major villain from the old Teen Titans days back when Dick was still Robin.
Much of the storyline is about what it means to be a hero, and whether people who have done bad things in trying to do good are any better than those who just set out to be bad. That is, of course, classic superhero stuff. It is particularly an issue for the Titans. Raven, being the daughter of Trigon, is half-demon. The script team makes good use of the Deathstroke/Jehrico storyline to set up another angle. And they top that off by introducing Conner, a character who is a clone made from the DNA of Superman and Lex Luthor.
Mostly it works. The script hangs together fairly well, though Dick’s descent into self-pity seems a little overdone. There’s a more or less satisfying ending, as opposed to the massive cliff-hanger of Season 1. One really interesting feature is the introduction of Bruce Wayne as a recurring character. This is definitely Bruce, not Batman. For much of the series he’s a figment of Dick’s imagination, but he does turn up in person eventually. And he’s old. He’s still very sharp, but he’s actually old. I liked that.
If you are watching the series and were totally mystified by the whole Elko Diner thing, don’t worry, it really is not what it seemed. It hasn’t been explained yet, so I’m hoping we get a Season 3, but it is not totally daft. Kevin, who lives in Nevada these days, has been to Elko. He tells me that they do actually have a pretty good donut shop.
Quite why Conner has Krypto as a companion is a mystery to me. However, I have to say that Krypto is by far the best character in the series. Yes, he’s a dog. I’m a cat, I still think he’s great.
Something that’s a bit strange is that the TV series seems to keep shying away from the superhero thing. The characters are all known primarily by their ordinary names, and they often go into battle in their street clothes rather than in costume. Half the point of the costumes is that they are armour, so it all seems a bit silly to me.
If I have a complaint about the series, it is that the lighting is relentlessly dark. Much of the action is deliberately set at night to exaggerate this. I know the script is supposed to be Gloomy and Serious, but it would be nice to be able to see what’s going on.
Set against that is the fact that the team are headquartered in San Francisco. Am I homesick? You bet. Part of me is just waiting or them to pop across the road into the Ferry Building and go shopping for cheese and elk burgers.