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Josh Reviews Daredevil: Season Three

Daredevil season three reminds me of the early days, when Netflix’s Marvel shows were exciting.  I was blown away by the first season of Daredevil and the first season of Jessica Jones.  These shows were adult, intense, and exciting.  They were gorgeously well-made, with great action and compelling drama.  They took the characters seriously but were still hugely fun pieces of entertainment.  But then things started to go awry, and while I have found moments to enjoy in the shows and seasons that followed, the Marvel Netflix productions settled into mediocrity.  And then Netflix, apparently no longer interested in shows it didn’t completely control/own, cancelled all of them.  (Daredevil was cancelled just a few weeks after season three dropped, despite the positive reviews the season received.  Jessica Jones hasn’t even released its currently-in-production third season, and that show has already been cancelled!)  All of this conspired to make me not exactly in a rush to watch the latest season of Daredevil.  But I knew that I’d loved season one (and enjoyed season two, despite its flaws), and so I did finally decide to watch season three a few weeks ago.  I am delighted I did, because it is TERRIFIC.  This is the strongest season of a Netflix Marvel show since those first seasons of Daredevil and Jessica Jones.  If this is the last we see of this iteration of these characters, I am left completely satisfied.

Daredevil season three picks up the story from the end of The Defenders, after the First Midland building exploded and crashed down on Matt.  But other than that plot-point as the starting-point from the season, the show mostly ignores the events of The Defenders.  There were a few times when this was annoying to me, as I wondered why Matt didn’t call any of his new super-powered friends to help him in his struggles this year.  (This reminds me of the occasional problems in the first few post-Avengers MCU films, as it was hard not to wonder why each individual hero didn’t assemble the full Avengers team every time they were beset by a new super-villain.)  But as the season progressed, I grew to see this as a strength, as Daredevil threw off the shackles of having to maintain an interconnected TV-universe and instead focused back in on the story-lines and characters that made this series so great in the beginning.

The result is a phenomenal season of TV.  Everything I loved about Daredevil back at the beginning is back.  This is an unapologetically dark, adult show, in which bad things happen and things don’t go magically back to normal at the end of each episode.  There is … [continued]

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The Top Twenty Episodes of TV in 2016 — Part One!

I hope you all enjoyed my list of the Twenty Best Movies of 2016!  And now, onward to TV…

Just like I felt when considering all the movies I’d seen in 2016, on the one hand I feel like I watched a lot of amazing TV in 2016, and on the other hand, in this era of Peak TV I feel that what I saw was just a drop in the bucket compared to all the great TV that is out there.  I never found time to watch: Veep, Transparent, Silicon Valley season 3, Horace and Pete, Atlanta, Better Things, Roots, The Man in the High Castle, Preacher, Powers season 2, Documentary Now!, Halt and Catch Fire, Red Oaks, Lady Dynamite, Fleabag, Search Party, Rectify, The Good Place, and many other great shows.

But, on the other hand, I saw so much great TV that I felt the need to expand what had once been a Top Ten list and which was, in 2015, a Top Fifteen list, to a TOP TWENTY list this year.

And so, I am proud to present to you my list of the Top Twenty Episodes of TV in 2016:

20. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: “President-Elect Trump” (aired on 11/13/16) — Week in and week out in 2016, John Oliver solidified his claim as heir to the throne of Jon Stewart (whose tenure as host of The Daily Show was deeply, profoundly missed this tumultuous election year).  I was all set to write about Mr. Oliver’s searing indictment of Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump in his “Make America Drumpf Again” episode (watch it here), or his warnings about the dangers of Brexit (watch it here), and yet following the upheaval of November 8th I found I could only post Mr. Oliver’s final show of 2016, which aired just a few days after the election.  Mr. Oliver perfectly summed up the emotions felt by the almost 66 million Americans who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton.  You can watch the whole episode at the link above.  It’s been a rough past few weeks without Mr. Oliver’s presence and I can’t wait for his return in early 2017.

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19. Daredevil: “New York’s Finest” (season two, episode three, released on 3/18/16) — The second season of Netflix’s Daredevil wasn’t as consistently spectacular as season one, but other than the anticlimactic rooftop ending I still thought it was a great season of superhero TV.  This third episode was a standout, possibly the high point of the season-long story of Daredevil’s confrontation with violent vigilante Frank Castle (“the Punisher”).  This episode begins with DD defeated and chained up on a roof in … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Season 2 of Netflix’s Daredevil!

I thought that the first season of Netflix’s Daredevil was spectacular, dark and complex and very adult, a triumphant declaration of intent for Netflix’s Marvel shows.  Jessica Jones, the second Marvel show, was every bit as good, telling a wrenching story of a young woman trying to put her life back together after a terrible assault.  (Click here for my review of Daredevil season one and Jessica Jones season one.)  Luke Cage (a character introduced so wonderfully in Jessica Jones) is scheduled to be the third Netflix Marvel show, but I was delighted that first we got a second season of Daredevil.

This terrific run of thirteen episodes make Netflix three for three, as they have followed up Daredevil’s terrific first season with an encore that is every bit as compelling and thrilling as season one.  I have read some reviews on-line that felt this season didn’t live up to the promise of season one, while others felt that it blew season one out of the water.  I didn’t have either reaction — instead, I was impressed with how consistent in style and tone and quality this second season was to season one.  (This is particularly impressive because of some behind-the-scenes change-ups that I have read about.  At the start of this second season Daredevil was on its third set of show-runners, which is not usually a good sign.)  I loved the vast majority of season two, and though I felt they stumbled a little bit at the end, this is still a phenomenal season of television and probably the best superhero TV show I have ever seen.

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With the Kingpin off the streets, at the start of season two all seems well for Hell’s Kitchen and Matt Murdock.  But that happy status quo is quickly upset by a series of challenges.  While the city has begun to embrace the vigilante Daredevil, those tentative good feelings are shattered by the arrival on the scene of another, more violent vigilante, the Punisher, who murders criminals.  Daredevil and the Punisher immediately come into violent conflict.  Then, Matt’s long-lost love Elektra returns to the city and his life.  Elektra is revealed to be involved with the same war against an ancient evil that Matt’s old master Stick has been fighting, and Matt soon finds his city overrun with the vicious ninjas known as the Hand.  Will Elektra fight on Matt’s side or will she turn fully to the darkness inside of her?

Daredevil season two is filled with a LOT of plot and a LOT of characters, and I was impressed with how well the show was able to juggle everything.  I commented in my review of Jessica Jones[continued]