It took me awhile (as usual), but I finished watching “Jessica Jones” shortly before the Christmas holidays. If you are curious what I thought of it, then you’re in luck! 😉 This review won’t be quite as long or in-depth as the one about Season 1 of “Daredevil”, but I do have a few things I want to get of my chest.
To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to this one as much as I was DD, and I expected to not like it. I liked the title character well enough (from what I remember of the comics), but I never cared for Killgrave, and a story involving the murderous creep who can control people’s minds and effectively mind-rape them (or force them to do… whatever) did not appeal to me. I also didn’t care for the casting choice of Krysten Ritter to play Jessica. And, of course, the originalist fanboy in me was not looking forward to the various ways the writers/producers would surely change the character(s) from their comic-book counterparts.
SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!
As it turned out, the story was OK, with its various plot points and characters weaving in and out. But, not great. While we did find out some of what Killgrave did to Jessica and others and the psychological aftereffects, the show didn’t have quite as twisted a tone or feel to it as I was afraid it would — and, considering what it did have, I suppose that says something about my imagination. So, that was actually a bit of a relief. However, it was somewhat slow in parts and didn’t really carry the sense of suspense that it could have and that I hoped for. At least, they did preserve the basics of Jessica’s personality and history, both as a former superhero-turned-private investigator and in regards to her time under Killgrave’s control.
We didn’t get to see Jessica (or Luke) use superpowers as much as I would’ve liked. I suppose this can at least partially be explained by her disillusionment with the whole superheroing thing and a general reluctance to be reminded that she is a “freak”. As with Daredevil, the Visual F/X were minimal and made significant use of camera angles and cutaway editing and such. In one of the earlier episodes, Jessica explained that she can not so much fly (though I think she could in the comics) as leap long distances; but, we never once saw her do this. Mostly, we just saw her wrench locked doors open and jump several yards up or down. Again, a little disappointing. However, the knock-down-drag-out fight with mind-controlled Luke was pretty good and demonstrated that they are pretty evenly matched, though both were holding back a little.
Now, a few words about the main characters….
Jessica Jones: I always thought the comic version of Jessica was cute and likable, despite her problems (see below). I know Ritter has done some modeling, but I only find her to be moderately attractive, so I would have preferred a different look. More to the point, her look didn’t really fit the character in my eyes. Still, she was the right age (i.e., 30ish) and a decent actor. The character is known for her bad attitude, foul mouth, chain-smoking, and drinking problem. Most of these were present, but I noticed that for the show they eliminated her chain-smoking, likely ‘cuz that’s not politically-correct these days. (But alcoholism is, apparently.) I expected more F-bombs, since it isn’t network TV and the comic character drops them regularly, but somebody apparently decided Jessica’s speech shouldn’t be quite so profane. (I don’t have a problem with that, btw.) Overall, though, I guess Ritter did a decent job.
Kilgrave: I am of two minds regarding Kilgrave, similar to how I was with the portrayal of DD’s nemesis, Wilson Fisk. On the one hand, David Tennant does a wonderful job (and probably had a lot of fun with it) playing the morally-deficient narcissist, who turns out to have serious mommy/daddy issues. You can sense the glee with which such a character would wield such mind-control powers, forcing people to cater to his every whim. (He truly was short-sighted, though, which I suppose we can chalk up to his obsession(s).) On the other hand, I would have preferred a closer match with the comics’ “(Zebediah) Killgrave, the Purple Man”, Soviet spy turned supervillain. I’m not too surprised they didn’t give the character purple-dyed skin, but I would have liked to see more than just a purple sport coat as a nod to the original. (Perhaps he could have temporarily turned purple whenever he used his powers?)
Luke Cage: Mike Colter is a better Luke Cage than I had anticipated, though ideally the character should be a little taller, have more muscle mass, and act/sound a bit more “street”, in order to be faithful to the source material. I was a bit surprised at how much screen time he got (i.e., he was in half of the episodes), given that this was Jessica’s show and Luke will be getting his own. But, the reasons and connections with the main plot worked for me. It seemed a bit soon for them to get involved, though, and I also could have done without the “love” scenes, even if there wasn’t a lot of skin. Overall, though, I enjoyed the character and look (luke?) forward to seeing more of him in “Luke Cage” and “Defenders”.
Jeri Hogarth: In the comics, Jeryn Hogarth is an ethical, very business-savvy lawyer-turned-executive, who worked first for Wendell Rand and then for his son, Danny (aka Iron Fist). That Hogarth, it should be pointed out, is a 50-something, heterosexual male. In this show, Jeri Hogarth appears as a morally-challenged shark of a lawyer, who occasionally hires Jessica Jones — no mention of Rand — for P.I./strongarm work. This Hogarth is a 40-something lesbian, who is cheating on her “wife” with her secretary/assistant. I didn’t mind the gender-swap, but also making her a lesbian was too much of a PC push for my taste. Beyond that, making her such a cold-hearted jerk was disappointing, too.
Malcolm: The “Malcolm” of the comics is a “superhero nerd” teenager with glasses, white, kinda short. Instead, we get a 6′ tall black junkie (though we can blame that last bit on the villain) with a weird afro and an existential crisis in the making. I guess I can understand them not wanting some nerdy kid bugging Jessica, especially since they really minimized her doing work that had to do with powered individuals. On the other hand, the original “Malcolm” still could have filled the role that this one did. I actually liked the character OK and thought the actor did a fine job, but I can’t help but wonder if the change was made mostly in the name of diversity.
Trish Walker: It has been a long time since I read the “Alias” series, so I didn’t remember if Trish (formerly “Patsy”) Walker was friends with Jessica Jones in the comics. I looked up both characters on Marvel’s Wiki and found no connection. That said, I liked how the writers/producers worked her into the story and into Jessica’s past. Not sure I would have cast Rachael Taylor, but she did a good job. I also like how the character has a personal Krav Maga trainer, such that she can hold her own in a fight. In fact, I wonder if they are planning to have her join the “Defenders”. She might not have powers or a feline theme or wear a costume (though we know she was keen on Jessica wearing one back in the day), especially since her character in the comics, aka Hellcat, was a member. Could be a cool surprise, though.
Robyn & Ruben: What was with the freaky-twin neighbors? They weren’t just plain weird (and possibly incestuous), they were annoying, and the girl, well, I think I hated her even more than I did Jeri. I suppose they played their roles in the story satisfactorily, but I just didn’t care for them. (Well, I did feel bad for Ruben, and I admit to feeling sympathy for his sister after his “disappearance”.)
Det. Oscar Clemons: Now, I didn’t realize this when watching the show, but NYPD Detective Clemons actually appeared in an issue of Punisher a few years ago. I liked his portrayal in the show by Clarke Peters. (Sort of reminded me of his role as a detective in “The Wire”.) It’s too bad he won’t be around to try to stop the Netflix version of the Punisher.
Sgt. Will Simpson: This character was loosely based on the comics character of Frank Simpson (aka Nuke), an unbalanced black-ops operative who joined “Project Homegrown”. This experiment turned him into a “partial cyborg with a sub-dermal mesh able to deflect bullets, and a second heart that, working in conjunction with some Adrenaline Pills, controlled his aggression, leaving him addicted as well.” For the Netflix series, Simpson retained the military background and use of a combination of red, white, & blue pills to control his enhanced aggression. The comic version also has a connection to Daredevil, but not to Jessica Jones or Trish Walker. Frankly (pun intended), I don’t care much for either version of the character.
Claire Temple: It was a pleasant surprise to see Claire again, even if just for one episode. Besides being a great character and portrayed by a talented actress, she reminds the viewer that the show shares a reality with Daredevil.
In a nutshell, I didn’t enjoy “Jessica Jones” as much as I did “Daredevil”. But, there was some decent acting and some interesting character development and other plot points. IF it ends up getting a second season (which has not been determined as of this writing), I’ll probably watch. I just hope it is a little more action-oriented and shows Jessica using her powers more, as well as doing some smart detective work.