Friday, November 27, 2015

TV Binge Review - Jessica Jones Season 1

Jessica Jones is the latest Marvel Comics character to get to Netflix

  I took Monday through Wednesday off from work to combine with the Thanksgiving Holiday for nine days off. One of my activities was to watch the newly released Marvel Comics/ Netflix show 'Jessica Jones'. I’m too old to know Jessica Jones from the comics but I did know that Luke Cage, Power Man would be featured in the show and that was enough for me to want to take a look. I watched two episodes on Sunday, five on Monday, and finished up with the final six of the 13 episodes on Tuesday. The release of an entire season of a series at once is a tremendous idea from Netflix. There are a lot of shows I’d like to watch every week like Flash and Arrow but the only time I really have to consistently watch a television show are weekend evenings and not even then all the time (although I do make time for my Sunday post-apocalyptic dramas like ‘The Last Ship’ and ‘The Walking Dead’). Once I miss an episode it is easier to miss more and I have little desire to go back and watch old seasons six months to a year after the fact. Having the entire season of Daredevil and Jessica Jones available while it is brand new makes it easier for me to set aside the hour or two needed to watch two or three episodes at once.

  Jessica Jones is a private investigator in the Hells Kitchen neighborhood of New York. She has super strength and can jump high enough to simulate flight which makes her a desirable private investigator despite the fact that she constantly drinks whiskey and seems to only own one set of clothes. Maybe another of her powers is that she can’t get drunk or has a Febreze gland. The story follows Jones’ as she is pursued by and pursues the criminal Kilgrave (also known in the comics as ‘The Purple Man’) whose super power is that everyone must obey his spoken word. Jessica is helped by former child star now turned talk show host Trish Walker who Jessica lived with since she was orphaned in childhood (a long story that is slowly revealed during the 12+ hours of the series), swanky corporate lawyer Jeri Hogarth, New York cop turned drug enhanced super soldier Will Simpson, Luke Cage and his unbreakable skin, and the assorted druggies and freaks that live in Jessica’s apartment building where she has her office/dingy apartment.

  Kilgrave is a first class villain with no remorse as he mind controls his victims to shoot their parents, walk out of windows, shoot themselves, hang themselves, or simply provide him a ride or a place to live or cook him dinner all just for the asking. As is revealed in the show he used his mind control powers on Jones but the spell broke off when she committed murder at his request. Following the age old edict that we want most what we can’t have, Kilgrave wants Jessica Jones to fall in love with him without him controlling her. As with most Marvel villains there is an attempt to show Kilgrave as a victim as well as a villain. It didn’t work for me. David Tenant plays Kilgrave as a spoiled brat with a sense of humor that throws sadistic tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. While I understood Daredevil’s Kingpin as a complex character that could see his brutal acts as necessary to save his city, I thought Kilgrave was just cruel for the sake of being cruel and don’t understand why he just wouldn’t have had Jones killed when she broke free of his mind control. If i could get anyone but a single person to obey everything I said I would probably stay very far away from that single person, especially if she had super powers, wouldn't you? Near the end of the season Kilgrave does shine as he tries to amplify his powers and kill Jones in earnest but he seemed more like a English accented super powered buffoon for most of the season.

  The most likable character in the show was Luke Cage who is played by Mike Colter as the ultimate strong silent type who just happens to have super strength and unbreakable skin. Cage runs a bar and has numerous liaisons with Jones in their on again – off again relationship. Cage gets around town on an old style Harley wearing a small bucket helmet and is the epitome of cool. It will probably take a year before the Luke Cage Netflix series airs but I’m already looking forward to it.

  I liked Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones. She plays the private eye role very well and her mad at the world attitude fit in nicely with her constant whisky drinking. I didn’t understand why she was never drunk because if she wasn’t getting drunk what was the point if drinking at least a fifth of booze every episode? I liked her chemistry with Kilgrave even though their relationship was the product of his insanity.

  The other supporting cast members were well played and they all had strange parts to play. Colby Minifie gets one of the stranger roles as Robyn, the semi psychotic neighbor of Jones who lives in an upstairs apartment with her twin brother Rueben. Neither of them seem to have any means of supporting themselves as Robyn bosses her brother around and constantly berates him and the other tenants while Rueben bakes endless loaves of banana bread as an excuse to visit Jessica. The other notable character was Carrie-Anne Moss’s Jeri Hogarth, the cold as ice lawyer who hires Jessica to serve summons, dig up dirt on her soon to be divorced wife, and even goes as far as to try to trade Kilgrave his freedom in return for getting her wife to file the divorce papers. Yes I wrote her wife and Hogarth could easily been written as a slimy male straight lawyer instead of a slimy female lesbian lawyer with no changes in dialog. Wil Traval plays Will Simpson, a former special ops soldier who is taken over by Kilgrave and tries to kill Jones’ friend Trish, then becomes her lover, then gets 'roided up with special black ops pills and tries to kill Jessica. While the other characters were consistently bizarre, Simpson was all over the map until he mysteriously disappears never to be seen again (at least until Season 2).

  All in all, I like Jessica Jones but not as much as Daredevil (the previous Marvel/Netflix series). Tennant’s Kilgrave could not hold a candle to Vincent D’onofrio’s Kingpin as a super villain. Kilgrave did provide some comic relief when he orders his cooks to not blink for hours while having then lookout for Jessica or order Hogarth’s estranged wife to kill Hogarth with a ‘death by 1,000 cuts’. By the end of the 12 hours I was watching out of inertia and was bored with all the characters (except Cage) and was uninterested in their fates. If you have 13 hours to spend watching Jessica Jones I think you have a lot of untapped potential that your time would be better spent unlocking.

  Leaving the mythical world of superheroes and mind controlling super villains to return to the world of basketball predictions I managed to split my three predictions on Monday thanks to Charlotte going to overtime against the Kings and winning by five points to give me a push. My season to date mark is 11-4-1 with my mythical winnings down to $660 from a high of $680 two weeks ago. This weekend there are three games I like and as usual I’ll be betting $110 to win $100 using the lines as listed on the Yahoo Sports page for entertainment purposes only with no real money wagered.

Miami Heat at New York Knicks
After beating the Knicks by 17 at home on Monday, the Heat were thumped in Detroit 101-84 on Wednesday while the Knicks are home after losing the last two games of a four game road trip. I expect the Heat to rebound from the putrid Detroit game and cover the point and a half they are giving to the Knicks.

San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets
The Spurs have won eight of nine with seven of the wins by double digits. Tonight the Spurs find themselves in Denver to take on the Nuggets who have lost four in a row with three of the losses by double digits. Even though the Spurs may rest players for tomorrow's home game against the Hawks I will pick the Spurs to continue their winning ways and give the nine and a half points.

Milwaukee Bucks at Orlando Magic
The Magic have won five of their last six home games while the Bucks have lost six of eight. I believe the youthful Magic are finding their way while the youthful Bucks are struggling under the weight of their playoff aspirations. This game smells like a blowout to me so I'll take the Magic in this game and will lay the four points.