Hit or Sh**: Netflix’s JESSICA JONES
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
After a dozen movies, a few network shows, and enough merchandising revenue to fund a small country, it seems that Marvel is finally entering its twilight phase. As they say, with great power comes great audience tedium. Or something like that. Naturally, as capitalism dictates, every company has to keep growing. So that means taking risks. Enter Jessica Jones, the second scourge of Hell’s Kitchen (after DAREDEVIL). Now working as a P.I., the retired heroine spends her days drinking and occasionally skirting the law to solve her cases. Oh, and she can also put a 350-pound dude through a plate glass window. Thanks, super strength!
It’s difficult to call JESSICA JONES Marvel’s first R-rated property, when the only thing R-rated about it is the fumbling sex scene between Jessica and a hunky bartender. Plus, let us put it this way, the sex scene is not exactly going to end up on an adult website like collegeporn.xxx anytime soon. But it’s nonetheless a welcome palate cleanser after the stale, derivative fare of CBS’s SUPERGIRL. Where CBS hands you information on the famed expositional silver platter, JONES focuses on visuals to reveal story and character; a huge plus, and one not often seen in the dialogue-heavy field of television. Also noticeably different? The show focuses on Jessica as a character rather than a hero. Though she doesn’t hide her super strength, her powers are more of an afterthought than the crux of the show. It’s a new twist, and a refreshing one.
Equal opportunity alcoholism!
Some of the visuals feel disjointed in the first half of the pilot, but they quickly start coming together in the second half as Jessica’s past begins to resurface–a dark chapter involving an obsessive, mind-controlling villain named Kilgrave. The “case” of Jessica Jones starts taking shape as she begins working a disturbingly familiar kidnapping case, where Kilgrave starts toying with her through this new victim. It’s here where the show really starts to shine. Jessica’s flaws become motivated, her actions begin to make more sense, and when she’s faced with the moment of truth between saving the new kidnapping victim or hiding from the man who ruined her life, the struggle feels earned and organic.
Jessica Jones is her own woman, just as the show is its own property, deciding to distance itself from the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe. A wise choice, considering the relative edginess of the material, and one that benefits the story as a whole. It seems that taking a risk has paid off in Marvel’s favor, and ours. This is the first time since DAREDEVIL that a superhero TV show has gotten me excited. Binging the rest of the series over the next month should be an infinitely more pleasant experience than braving the malls during the cutthroat holiday shopping season.
Advertising has gotten a little more aggressive this year
JESSICA JONES is available to watch in its entirety on Netflix