- by Jeff Beck
Titans: The Complete First Season: A Surprisingly-Impressive First Outing for DC Universe (Blu-ray)
When DC Comics announced that they were launching their own special streaming service (“DC Universe”), it was met with more than a little skepticism. After all, the comic book films they’ve churned out in the post-Nolan era (“Suicide Squad,” “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “Justice League,” etc.) have been extremely lacking for the most part, so why would anyone think that a TV show from the same studio would have better results? We knew early on that “Titans” was going to be their first adaptation, but following a disastrous comic-con trailer that made the show look laughably bad, fans of the material now had even more reason to doubt the show’s success. Would the show succeed where the films had failed, or was this doomed to be just another entry on the long list of disappointing DC adaptations?
“Titans” tells the story of Rachel Roth (Teagan Croft), a young girl with telekinetic powers and a dark side to her personality. After her mother is murdered, she ends up at the Detroit Police Department, where she meets Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites), a detective who also moonlights as the masked vigilante Robin. After witnessing her power first-hand, Dick decides to help get her to safety. Along the way, they meet up with other allies with special abilities: Kory Anders/Starfire (Anna Diop), who possesses the power of fire, and Gar Logan (Ryan Potter), a young man who can change into a tiger. Together, they ultimately form the “Titans.” Eventually, they learn of a plot involving Rachel’s mysterious father which threatens the entire planet, forcing them to do everything in their power to stop it.
As mentioned, DC’s track record, on top of a less-than-stellar trailer, didn’t seem to give much hope towards “Titans” being a successful adaptation of the popular comics, and indeed, when it first came out, I skipped over it for those very reasons. However, after the launch of DC Universe’s second TV show, the wacky and bizarre “Doom Patrol,” I opted to go back and give “Titans” the benefit of the doubt, just in case it had been an issue of poor advertising. To my startled surprise, just one episode in, it was quite clear that this had indeed been the case.
Utilizing an odd and eclectic group of characters, and plenty of fast-paced action to boot, “Titans” unfolds a rather riveting story across the 11 episodes of this first season. Each of these characters has their own dark/mysterious past: Dick’s parents were murdered, causing him to be adopted by billionaire Bruce Wayne, Rachel doesn’t really know where she comes from, Kory can’t remember her past, and Gar has been hiding away with the Doom Patrol. Together, they make a strangely fascinating quartet of heroes that are suddenly faced with having to save the world from a being that wishes to destroy it.
The show also makes good use of several supporting characters, including Jason Todd (Curran Walters), the new Robin, who proves to be an intriguing character for Dick (the original Robin) to interact with, as well as Hank/Hawk (Alan Ritchson) and Dawn/Dove (Minka Kelly), a pair of crime-fighters who help our heroes along the way. After having sat through numerous DC films in which characterization was always passed over as an afterthought, it was genuinely refreshing to see an ensemble like this given the chance to develop, though, of course, they did have the benefit of having 11 hours to help the process along. Still, it helped immensely in building the world in which these heroes live, thus making the show that much more compelling.
Combine that with a twisty plot that effectively incorporates a few surprises along the way, and you have a surprisingly fun, entertaining, and binge-worthy program that should easily please anyone looking for their next comic book show fix. “Surprise” really is the right word here, and it just goes to show how important marketing is, for no doubt there were many who neglected to watch the show after the trailer came out. However, for those who dove in, they were treated to one of the better shows of the genre in recent memory, and now, like many others, I can’t wait to see where season two takes it.
“Titans: The Complete First Season” comes to Blu-ray in a 2.4:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of excellent quality. All 11 episodes look incredible, even in the gloomiest of scenes (which, for a show this dark, is quite often). The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is equally impressive, giving you all of the dialogue, sound effects, and music in outstanding quality. Overall, DC’s flagship TV show has been given exceptional treatment, which will no doubt please its many fans.
Raven and Robin: Dark Rebirth (8 Minutes)
Hawk and Dove Origin Story (3 Minutes)
Igniting Starfire (2 Minutes)
Becoming Beast Boy (2 Minutes)
Conjuring Raven (2 Minutes)
Meet the Doom Patrol (2 Minutes)
The New Robin (2 Minutes)
From Page to Screen (2 Minutes)
The One and Only Wonder Girl (2 Minutes)
The Redemption of Robin (2 Minutes)
Team Titan (2 Minutes)
What Does It Mean to Be Cast as Starfire? (2 Minutes)
Anna Diop Having Fun with Teagan Croft (3 Minutes)
A collection of mostly brief featurettes that mainly focus on the show’s various characters.
Combining a fascinating and eclectic group of characters with a twisty and compelling narrative, “Titans” makes for a surprisingly fun and exciting comic book show that’s sure to please any fan of the genre. Now that it’s hitting Blu-ray/DVD, if you were one of many that skipped over it for any reason, there’s no better time to go back and catch up before the season two premiere (presumably) later this year.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
This article is based on a review copy generously provided by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.