Saturday, January 20, 2018

Black Lightning: “The Resurrection”

It’s a weird costume but a good show.
Black Lightning is, if you’ll pardon the expression, shockingly good.

I mean, I have a couple of issues with it, don’t get me wrong. But considering it’s a CW superhero show, it’s so unlike those shows that it’s refreshing.

Conceptually, it’s not that different. I mean, you have a reluctant hero trying to balance his superhero life with his family and love life obligations, and some fairly typical beats play out over the course of the premiere. But it’s the execution where Black Lightning shines, particularly the writing and the acting.

There’s a certaintone to the other CW superhero shows that I would describe as... “good enough”. The writing is good enough. The acting starts at good enough and goes downhill from there. The best actors on all hte CW hero shows top out at “pretty good”.

Black Lightning somehow manages a comfortable, naturalistic feel to both the dialogue and the acting that are head and shoulders above the other shows. I don’t know how they avoided the CW trap, but I suspect it has to do with a whole differrent group of people making a show in a different city that’s apparently not actually part of the same universe as Arrow/Supergirl/Flash/Legends.

It has a similar vibe to Luke Cage on Netflix, with a strong focus on current social issues and licensed music, plus the general dynamic of a lone reluctant hero against an entrenched criminal organization. The unique tack the show takes is that this Black Lightning is an older, retired hero with daughers in their late teens and early 20’s, pulled back into the hero biz when Shit Goes Down.

There are racist cops, troubled teens, gang members, and some Dangerous Mindy tropes that I feel better about knowing who the writers and directors are. The most off note in the whole thing is Black Lightning’s partner/mentor, a tailor with a Lightning Lair he’s been holding in reserve just waiting for things to start up again. Presumably their relationship will be fleshed out more as the series go on, but he’s a pretty jarring presence in the pilot. Also, the costume is... weird. And reads weird on screen. But other than that, I’m way more excited for this show after the pilot than I was before it, especially since the end of the pilot clearly tells me they’re doing Thunder and Lightning in the first season.

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