Monday, October 07, 2019

TV: She owns the night

Times change and, sometimes, TV even changes with it.


That was obvious Sunday night.  For example, KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS aired on ABC last night.  That show was hosted by Bill Cosby from the spring of 1998 to the spring of 2000.  The legendary Bill Cosby is now behind bars.  In the #MeToo era, the show returns but with a female host, Tiffany Haddish.

Another sign of change?

Last night saw two women kiss on TV.  In the second hour of prime time -- an hour, for example, before ELLEN aired.  And when ELLEN aired on ABC, the network put a warning notice ahead of every episode -- because Ellen DeGeneres was playing a gay woman.

Now?  Times have changed so much that not only is no warning needed but Ruby Rose is playing a superhero, BATWOMAN (THE CW).


This site has long covered Batwoman.

Batwoman autographed

Dona, Jess, Isaiah and Dallas got that autographed copy from Greg Rucka when they went to Dallas (except for Dallas, who lives there) to report, "A Rucka, a Batwoman, a Zeus and a Heatwave."  The coverage continued (see "Batwoman owns the night" for one example).  As we long maintained, BATWOMAN had a style of its own that really spoke to visuals -- specifically movie and TV -- the goth vision of the comic was very cinematic.

Now it is finally a TV series.  How's that working out?

SUPERGIRL, to cite another CW superhero show, really doesn't have a look.  If anyone's put any thought or planning into visuals, it doesn't show.  BATWOMAN?  Whether at Bruce Wayne's lair or elsewhere, the show is getting the atmosphere right.

It's also getting the suspense right.  That's a real issue these days and TV is littered with LOST wannabes that failed to grasp suspense: REVOLUTION, FLASHFORWARDALCATRAZ,  etc.

Ruby Rose gets the character right.  There's no shy grin (the self-effacing SUPERGIRL wastes everyone's time).   Kate Kane's a woman and doesn't beg you for respect, she is who she is and that earns it.  She draws you in and makes you care.  With the exception of Nikita in THE CW's NIKITA, we're hard pressed to think of another female TV superhero in the last years who's not begging to be liked in some way or another.

The storyline is a series of twists and turns that holds your attention including Rachel Skarsten's Alice.  Alice, carried over from the comic books, is both Kate's nemesis and her twin-sister.  She's also spooky and creepy in a way that few comic villains ever are (Joker is, for example, but Poison Ivy really isn't).  Other promising performances include Camrus Johnson as Luke (who never crosses over into stooge or embarrassment despite how the role is written) and Dougray Scott who burrows deep into his role as Kate's father and delivers a performance that's not only satisfying but also highly surprising.

Kate got her training in the military.  She was kicked out in the Don't Ask Don't Tell era when she was caught kissing Sophia (Meagan Tandy) and refused to pretend it was a misunderstanding and that she really wasn't gay.  Sophia is prepared to pretend and that's where their relationship ends.  Kate returns to Gotham when she learns that Sophia has married a man.

The romance is part of the story of Batwoman but it's not the main focus -- not on the TV show, not in the comic book.  The first season will likely keep the spotlight on the battle between Alice and Batwoman.  And that's fine.  Sophia may end up growing into the stature of Lois Lane.  That would be fine.  She may not and that's fine as well.  Batman never really had a Lois Lane.  But he did have some first rate villains: Joker, Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, Penguin, Scarecrow, etc.  In the comics, along with Alice, she's faced off against The Cutter, Endless Winter, Bloody Mary and Scatter -- among others.  If the TV series uses those character, or similar ones, BATWOMAN is going to live up to its promise.

BATWOMAN features a costumed, female superhero who doesn't believe "eager to please" is a super power and we should all be thankful for that.  Again, the times change -- sometimes TV keeps up.

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