Saturday, December 19, 2015

TV: Jessica Jones

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is often criticized for lacking strong female characters. Some of that is unfair (most of these superheroes hail from the early '60s), some of that is not (Black Widow inexplicably kidnapped as a damsel-in-distress in "Age of Ultron").

Marvel has (sorta) listened to the criticism in their latest webseries, "Jessica Jones":

Jones is a former superhero-turned-private investigator in post-"Avengers" Hell's Kitchen. Her days are usually spent snapping photos of cheating spouses and tracking down deadbeats, and her nights are drowned in alcohol. But when a missing person case reveals a shadowy villain from her past, she'll have to find the hero inside to save her friends from a fate worse than death.

I loved Marvel's "Daredevil," and I liked Brian Michael Bendis's "Alias," so I had high hopes that "Jessica Jones" would be more of the same - gritty action, fun characters, and a breezy story. Unfortunately, the show only gets one out of those right: Krysten Ritter is very solid and appropriately cynical in the title role, and her costars all do a great job with the material.

That material is a mess, though. The narrative orbits around Jones and a single antagonist for the entire 13 episode series, which doesn't leave much room for anyone else to breathe. And when those characters do get screentime, it's often shoddily plotted - people will often do something very silly, only to be bailed out by an unfair deus ex machina. If you're a superhero or Marvel fan, you'll like at least some of "Jessica Jones," but I can't recommend it to a wider audience.


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