Small Screen Reviews: ‘Titans’ from DC Universe

 
Pictured: Not the beloved Titans

I went and subscribed to DC Universe, the DC multi-media service which includes comics and streaming. So far, a few months out the former is nowhere near as extensive as Marvel’s Marvel Unlimited service, but it seems DC is going in a different direction with their app. As for Streaming, there’s a small helping of shows. Most of them are older films and classic television programming such as the original Wonder Woman show and black and white Superman or even Superfriends episodes which demonstrate the truth that the Jason Mamoa film tries to hide: Aquaman has always been lame.

DC Universe is creating original content as well; their first is Titans. So far, my feeling is that it’s not too bad, but not great. It’s a solid three on a scale of 1 to 5. Mostly it suffers from being a superhero program in a glut of superhero programs. By now we’ve had about ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on big and small screen, and several Batman, Superman films as well, and plenty of DC television programs that are separate from the DC cinema. Titans is a latecomer and has to stick out in a market that’s glutted so bad, even I don’t feel pains missing a superhero film or tv show. However, it’s several leagues better than my least favorite series and favorite punching bag, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (last season was also terrible, btw).

Pictured: The Titans everyone loves.

Titans also suffers from having a much-beloved predecessor, Teen Titans which aired on Cartoon Network. Many of the portrayals of these characters are popular and the voice actors still play the same characters in various cartoons – such as on DC Superhero Girls. Teen Titans played back when Millennials were growing up, thus the social media backlash against it is the typical rabid fan hatred of the new looks and different characterizations. There’s a -lot- of trashing on this show for not being remotely like the cartoon: the characterizations are different, the look is different, the atmosphere is different. It makes sense. Teen Titans was meant as a fun adolescent romp in the superhero genre, while Titans is going the Netflix route of the dark street hero types.

So much hate …

DCU is banking on “Titans” being the draw to their service, much as CBS All Access has done with “Discovery”. It seems to be roughly parallel. Many Star Trek fans hate the latter for their own reasons, but it has drawn some to subscribe to All Access. Will it work? I can’t rightly say. I subscribed to DC Universe as I’m an old comic book fan and I want to read old and new stories. So far DC hasn’t put out a digital archive nearly the size of Marvel Unlimited, as noted above, so you can read a few issues of the original appearance of Superman in Action Comics but you won’t get nearly as much in that original line. On the other hand, I was delighted to find old programming in the movies and television section, so I’ve stayed so far.

Titans story loosely adapts some older comic book characterizations and general plotlines based on characters, but other than that keeps its own direction. The show centers around the principles search for their selves. Dick Grayson is trying to build a life away from his former years as Robin, but never really escaping that life. Rachel/Raven finds there’s much more to her than meets the eye and it’s far darker than her worst nightmares. Kory/Starfire has no memory, literally having little self at all. Their search centers around Rachel, and the story orbits around what’s happening with her. Occasionally those orbits swing rather wide, perhaps making this 11-episode season a bit longer than needed. Unfortunately, these searches are never really satisfying.

It stumbles as well, much like a lot of first seasons do as the production works out its voice and characters and story. There are a few other crimes I find. Episode 4 works out to be an episode-long commercial for another upcoming DC Universe show, Doom Patrol, and much of it plays out about as painfully as you’d expect. On the other hand, it probably has one of the best character introductions in a superhero I’ve seen:

On the other hand, the Grant Morrison run of the Doom Patrol comic book was one of the most brilliant works that is often imitated but never equaled. Morrison himself had one other great work from that time period, Batman: Arkham Asylum, but I’ve found I’ve not cared for much of what he’s made since. Anyhow, seeing these characters was fun, but we dwelt too long on them for a show about the Titans.

The show is entertaining enough, but again, it has yet to seriously stand out. Again, the question we’ll have to ask is, “will this draw people to the DC Universe service?” I’m not sure, but my guess is ultimately not enough. We’ll see if further original content can do the deed.

Published in Entertainment
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There are 20 comments.

  1. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    C. U. Douglas: There are a few other crimes I find. Episode 4 works out to be an episode-long commercial for another upcoming DC Universe show, Doom Patrol, and much of it plays out about as painfully as you’d expect. On the other hand, it probably has one of the best character introductions in a superhero I’ve seen:

    It’s nice to see Brendan Fraser getting work. He plays Robot Man in the Doom Patrol show.

    • #1
    • January 10, 2019, at 12:31 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Warner Bros. should have put Paul Dini and Bruce Timm in charge of the DC cinematic universe.

    • #2
    • January 10, 2019, at 12:32 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. Hartmann von Aue Member

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Warner Bros. should have put Paul Dini and Bruce Timm in charge of the DC cinematic universe.

    They did the only good work with DC material on the small screen outside of the first three seasons of Smallville (qualified by saying: Exclude the episodes that were bad fan service). 

    • #3
    • January 10, 2019, at 12:36 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  4. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Warner Bros. should have put Paul Dini and Bruce Timm in charge of the DC cinematic universe.

    They did the only good work with DC material on the small screen outside of the first three seasons of Smallville (qualified by saying: Exclude the episodes that were bad fan service).

    This first season of Gotham was pretty great.

    Also, I still have a soft spot for Lois and Clark.

    And then, there’s the 1970s Wonder Woman show.

    • #4
    • January 10, 2019, at 12:42 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  5. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas Post author

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Warner Bros. should have put Paul Dini and Bruce Timm in charge of the DC cinematic universe.

    They did the only good work with DC material on the small screen outside of the first three seasons of Smallville (qualified by saying: Exclude the episodes that were bad fan service).

    Season 1 of CW’s The Flash was great. But the show isn’t as good since they decided to go broody. Arrow was originally supposed to end after five seasons and so it should have. Supergirl has also been on the decline. Overall I think on the networks, DC has proven better than Marvel, but only just enough.

    Really, superhero television and movies are overdone.

    • #5
    • January 10, 2019, at 12:57 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  6. JosePluma Thatcher

    That clip was pretty good.

    I still hate superheroes.

    • #6
    • January 10, 2019, at 1:09 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas Post author

    JosePluma (View Comment):

    That clip was pretty good.

    I still hate superheroes.

    It really is a niche market that has presently sold well. I grew up with comic books and cartoons, and I enjoy them. But even as a kid I knew that was a pasttime for me and not for everyone. We had a small number of shows, but nothing like the glut today. MCU sparked something. I suspect in a few years it’ll burn out and fast.

    The clip is really one of my favorite scenes so far. If the entire episode was that good, I’d enjoy it more. If the entire season was that good, I’d think the show has legs. Right now … meh.

    • #7
    • January 10, 2019, at 1:16 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas Post author

    JosePluma (View Comment):

    That clip was pretty good.

     

    Larry: “How do you like your steak? Unless you’re a vegan which would break my heart.”

    An example of a great line, well acted, and the guy’s face is hidden. He shows more range in that little scene than a couple of the principles. Honestly, I do want to see more of Doom Patrol. Titans? Not sure. There’s room for improvement.

    • #8
    • January 10, 2019, at 1:28 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. Bishop Wash Member

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    C. U. Douglas: There are a few other crimes I find. Episode 4 works out to be an episode-long commercial for another upcoming DC Universe show, Doom Patrol, and much of it plays out about as painfully as you’d expect. On the other hand, it probably has one of the best character introductions in a superhero I’ve seen:

    It’s nice to see Brendan Fraser getting work. He plays Robot Man in the Doom Patrol show.

    That is good. He should be working. I’d read that the reason we haven’t seen him for a while is because of a Harvey Weinstein blacklisting.

    • #9
    • January 10, 2019, at 2:05 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas Post author

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    C. U. Douglas: There are a few other crimes I find. Episode 4 works out to be an episode-long commercial for another upcoming DC Universe show, Doom Patrol, and much of it plays out about as painfully as you’d expect. On the other hand, it probably has one of the best character introductions in a superhero I’ve seen:

    It’s nice to see Brendan Fraser getting work. He plays Robot Man in the Doom Patrol show.

    That is good. He should be working. I’d read that the reason we haven’t seen him for a while is because of a Harvey Weinstein blacklisting.

    He’s made some poor choices for roles as well, sadly. But yes, it’s nice to see him back, even if we don’t actually see him.

    • #10
    • January 10, 2019, at 2:12 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  11. TomCo9 Coolidge

    I think you’re precisely right on the show. It’s a 3 out of 5. The Doom Patrol episode really failed to impress me; awkward and uninspired. Written by Geoff Johns even, who is someone I usually love (mostly in comic book form). Can’t fault the logic, given that Beast Boy really did first appear with them.

    The Doom Patrol show will probably be pretty good, once it gets going. I think they’ve already replaced the actor who played Caulder, which is unfortunate.

    There’s definitely a “We-Can-Swear-‘Cause-We’re-not-CW” vibe but they fail, in my opinion, to escape the tropes of said network. More-or-less, I’m fine with that. I just think if they want to remain competitive, there has to be something truly head turning here. Maybe they’ll connect Titans directly to the DCEU or something.

    • #11
    • January 10, 2019, at 6:50 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. Hartmann von Aue Member

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Warner Bros. should have put Paul Dini and Bruce Timm in charge of the DC cinematic universe.

    They did the only good work with DC material on the small screen outside of the first three seasons of Smallville (qualified by saying: Exclude the episodes that were bad fan service).

    This first season of Gotham was pretty great.

    Also, I still have a soft spot for Lois and Clark.

    And then, there’s the 1970s Wonder Woman show.

    OK you got me to reconsider and you are right in two cases I am familiar with. The 70s Wonder Woman was not bad. First season and most of second season Lois and Clark was good. Gotham I have never seen. 

     

    • #12
    • January 10, 2019, at 11:01 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. Hartmann von Aue Member

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    C. U. Douglas: There are a few other crimes I find. Episode 4 works out to be an episode-long commercial for another upcoming DC Universe show, Doom Patrol, and much of it plays out about as painfully as you’d expect. On the other hand, it probably has one of the best character introductions in a superhero I’ve seen:

    It’s nice to see Brendan Fraser getting work. He plays Robot Man in the Doom Patrol show.

    That is good. He should be working. I’d read that the reason we haven’t seen him for a while is because of a Harvey Weinstein blacklisting.

    I agree. He was excellent in the Mummy movies, especially the second one. 

    • #13
    • January 10, 2019, at 11:08 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Warner Bros. should have put Paul Dini and Bruce Timm in charge of the DC cinematic universe.

    They did the only good work with DC material on the small screen outside of the first three seasons of Smallville (qualified by saying: Exclude the episodes that were bad fan service).

    This first season of Gotham was pretty great.

    Also, I still have a soft spot for Lois and Clark.

    And then, there’s the 1970s Wonder Woman show.

    OK you got me to reconsider and you are right in two cases I am familiar with. The 70s Wonder Woman was not bad. First season and most of second season Lois and Clark was good. Gotham I have never seen.

     

    The first season is great because they tried to make it a gritty cop show that just happens to take place in the DC universe, and it had minimal fan service. They didn’t show very much of Bruce Wayne. There were no costumed supervillains. The characters taken from the comic books, like Oswald Cobblepot and Edward Nygma, were portrayed relatively realistically. The “big bads” were all mafia guys. Stuff like that.

    Sadly, the ratings weren’t great so in subsequent seasons they ramped up the comic book silliness. By the third season the show was 100% fan service.

    • #14
    • January 11, 2019, at 8:10 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas Post author

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Warner Bros. should have put Paul Dini and Bruce Timm in charge of the DC cinematic universe.

    They did the only good work with DC material on the small screen outside of the first three seasons of Smallville (qualified by saying: Exclude the episodes that were bad fan service).

    This first season of Gotham was pretty great.

    Also, I still have a soft spot for Lois and Clark.

    And then, there’s the 1970s Wonder Woman show.

    OK you got me to reconsider and you are right in two cases I am familiar with. The 70s Wonder Woman was not bad. First season and most of second season Lois and Clark was good. Gotham I have never seen.

     

    The first season is great because they tried to make it a gritty cop show that just happens to take place in the DC universe, and it had minimal fan service. They didn’t show very much of Bruce Wayne. There were no costumed supervillains. The characters taken from the comic books, like Oswald Cobblepot and Edward Nygma, were portrayed relatively realistically. The “big bads” were all mafia guys. Stuff like that.

    Sadly, the ratings weren’t great so in subsequent seasons they ramped up the comic book silliness. By the third season the show was 100% fan service.

    Yeah. I liked season 1 for that reason. I liked Jim Gordon’s story, and done right, Gotham could have been an interesting Cop story and why Jim’s Commissioner, but still not the man to save Gotham city — even with high ideals he becomes too compromised. It’s why the Batman becomes necessary.

    Instead, yes, all the fan service and more. Worse, it means the Batman is beating up on old men when he finally comes on the scene. That sounds healthy. I totally agree that the show started well, but they lost direction fast.

    • #15
    • January 11, 2019, at 8:16 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    C. U. Douglas: There are a few other crimes I find. Episode 4 works out to be an episode-long commercial for another upcoming DC Universe show, Doom Patrol, and much of it plays out about as painfully as you’d expect. On the other hand, it probably has one of the best character introductions in a superhero I’ve seen:

    It’s nice to see Brendan Fraser getting work. He plays Robot Man in the Doom Patrol show.

    That is good. He should be working. I’d read that the reason we haven’t seen him for a while is because of a Harvey Weinstein blacklisting.

    I agree. He was excellent in the Mummy movies, especially the second one.

    His best work was in The Quiet American and Gods And Monsters.

    Heck, even though it’s a pretty silly movie, the work he did in Encino Man was pretty decent. It’s actually pretty hard to play a convincing cave man. You have to convey a lot of information without using language. I’m not saying he’s the best cinematic caveman ever (the folk in Quest For Fire enjoy that distinction), but he’s a darn sight better than Darryl Hannah was in Clan Of The Cave Bear !

    • #16
    • January 11, 2019, at 8:16 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas Post author

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Bishop Wash (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    C. U. Douglas: There are a few other crimes I find. Episode 4 works out to be an episode-long commercial for another upcoming DC Universe show, Doom Patrol, and much of it plays out about as painfully as you’d expect. On the other hand, it probably has one of the best character introductions in a superhero I’ve seen:

    It’s nice to see Brendan Fraser getting work. He plays Robot Man in the Doom Patrol show.

    That is good. He should be working. I’d read that the reason we haven’t seen him for a while is because of a Harvey Weinstein blacklisting.

    I agree. He was excellent in the Mummy movies, especially the second one.

    His best work was in The Quiet American and Gods And Monsters.

    Heck, even though it’s a pretty silly movie, the work he did in Encino Man was pretty decent. It’s actually pretty hard to play a convincing cave man. You have to convey a lot of information without using language. I’m not saying he’s the best cinematic caveman ever (the folk in Quest For Fire enjoy that distinction), but he’s a darn sight better than Darryl Hannah was in Clan Of The Cave Bear !

    Weirdly, the man can’t yell, though.

    • #17
    • January 11, 2019, at 8:18 AM PDT
    • Like
  18. Misthiocracy secretly Member

    C. U. Douglas (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Warner Bros. should have put Paul Dini and Bruce Timm in charge of the DC cinematic universe.

    They did the only good work with DC material on the small screen outside of the first three seasons of Smallville (qualified by saying: Exclude the episodes that were bad fan service).

    This first season of Gotham was pretty great.

    Also, I still have a soft spot for Lois and Clark.

    And then, there’s the 1970s Wonder Woman show.

    OK you got me to reconsider and you are right in two cases I am familiar with. The 70s Wonder Woman was not bad. First season and most of second season Lois and Clark was good. Gotham I have never seen.

    The first season is great because they tried to make it a gritty cop show that just happens to take place in the DC universe, and it had minimal fan service. They didn’t show very much of Bruce Wayne. There were no costumed supervillains. The characters taken from the comic books, like Oswald Cobblepot and Edward Nygma, were portrayed relatively realistically. The “big bads” were all mafia guys. Stuff like that.

    Sadly, the ratings weren’t great so in subsequent seasons they ramped up the comic book silliness. By the third season the show was 100% fan service.

    Yeah. I liked season 1 for that reason. I liked Jim Gordon’s story, and done right, Gotham could have been an interesting Cop story and why Jim’s Commissioner, but still not the man to save Gotham city — even with high ideals he becomes too compromised. It’s why the Batman becomes necessary.

    Instead, yes, all the fan service and more. Worse, it means the Batman is beating up on old men when he finally comes on the scene. That sounds healthy. I totally agree that the show started well, but they lost direction fast.

    It’s really the sort of show that should have been done on a cable network like HBO or Showtime. Then it could have been envisioned as a prequel to the Nolanverse. If you’re really going to show just how bad Gotham City is, to the point that its only hope is a high-functioning schizoid who dresses up like a bat, you can’t do it while sticking to broadcast standards & practices. Gotham City should be horrific.

    e.g. You can’t do Selina Kyle’s origin story justice without including horrific sexual abuse. On Gotham, the street kids are more like the cast of Our Gang or Annie. “We live on the streets, but we’re spunky with a can-do attitude!”

    • #18
    • January 11, 2019, at 8:25 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. C. U. Douglas Thatcher
    C. U. Douglas Post author

    TomCo9 (View Comment):

    I think you’re precisely right on the show. It’s a 3 out of 5. The Doom Patrol episode really failed to impress me; awkward and uninspired. Written by Geoff Johns even, who is someone I usually love (mostly in comic book form). Can’t fault the logic, given that Beast Boy really did first appear with them.

    The Doom Patrol show will probably be pretty good, once it gets going. I think they’ve already replaced the actor who played Caulder, which is unfortunate.

    There’s definitely a “We-Can-Swear-‘Cause-We’re-not-CW” vibe but they fail, in my opinion, to escape the tropes of said network. More-or-less, I’m fine with that. I just think if they want to remain competitive, there has to be something truly head turning here. Maybe they’ll connect Titans directly to the DCEU or something.

    I think what was most jarring about the Doom Patrol episode was that it was out of character for the series. Titans has been playing like the Netflix street hero shows — dark, a lot of brooding, and largely grounded even with super powers. “Doom Patrol” went off the rails and honestly, as it’s own show I can see going off the rails as a good thing. The antagonist for the series is Mr. Nobody, which means they’re drawing heavily from Grant Morrison’s material. (Incidentally, Alan Tudyk will be playing that character).

    They did replace Caulder. In the Doom Patrol series, Jeremy Irons is creditted as Caulder/Chief. The voice actors for Larry Trainor and Cliff Steele are the same, although the body actor for the former has been replaced. There’s a lot of potential there, and I think the show will stand out if they let themselves cut loose and not in a “THOMPKINS MADE A SWEAR!” way.

    • #19
    • January 11, 2019, at 8:36 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  20. Judge Mental Member

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):
    you can’t do it while sticking to broadcast standards & practices. Gotham City should be horrific.

    By coincidence, I watched season one over the last few days. The most obvious example is when they go to the super exclusive, PG-13, bondage and domination sex club. Hot female employees all over the place, waitresses, hostesses, lotion wranglers, and not a bare anything in sight.

    • #20
    • January 11, 2019, at 9:03 AM PDT
    • 2 likes