Advance Review: Titans – The Complete First Season Blu-ray

Editor’s Note: Warner Bros Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this entry. The opinions I share are my own.

The Show:

When DC Universe launched, one of the biggest selling points was the original programming that was promised. First up was a dark and gritty reimagining of the Marv Wolfman and George Perez New Teen Titans, just called Titans this time. The promotion stressed ultra-violence and Robin uttering the now infamous line, “Fuck Batman.”

Needless to say, fan response was immediate and not a lot of it was good. But I discussed all that back when I reviewed the first episode, here, so I’m not gonna rehash it.

What you need to know going in, is that this first season of Titans is an adaptation of the first arc of The New Teen Titans, which focuses on Raven’s struggles with the fact that her father is a world-destroying demonic monster and he’s on his way to earth. The comics weren’t as dark as Titans but to be honest, they were much darker and more mature than what had been done with the characters up to that point. Kory slaughtered an army of aliens, she and Robin ended up in the sack, and oh yeah, that world-destroying demon dad, Trigon.

When DC Comics superstar Geoff Johns teamed up with the CW’s DC TV superstar Greg Berlanti to bring Titans to Warner Bros.’ streaming service, they embraced the prestige-series format and the lack of censorship that DC Universe allowed, leaning heavily into the horror elements of Raven’s origin story. They brought in horror master Brad Anderson to direct the first two episodes and set the tone for the season in both style and graphic violence and language.

This isn’t Teen Titans despite two of our main characters being teens. It’s a whole new beast and the sooner you divest yourself of that longing for nostalgia, the sooner you’ll be able to really invest in what they’re doing here. And that is crafting a series for adults that incorporates elements of horror, violent vigilante stories, a brief foray into the just plain weird (Doom Patrol, I’m looking at you), a healthy dose of science fiction, and just the barest minimum of super heroes.

The only disappointment I had with the show was that it’s original run was cut back to just eleven episodes, ending the season on a massive cliffhanger and hints of what Season Two has planned. Yes, that was [REDACTED] AND [REDACTED] teased at the end!! Moving forward, it looks like we’re going to be adapting material from later volumes of the comics as well as digging into some of the Wolfman/Perez classics.

I, for one, can’t wait.

The Extras:

There are thirteen short featurettes including on Titans: The Complete First Season and while there’s a little repetition in a few as the same interview clips are recycled, overall these all provide some nice insight into the creative process behind-the-scenes and what the actors were trying to accomplish along the way.

Raven and Robin: Dark Rebirth – Through interviews with the creators we see how adapting Raven’s story right out of the gate has lead to a more horror-oriented series than fans might have been expecting. This is deliberate. As is the pairing of Rachel/Raven (Teagan Croft) with Dick/Robin (Brenton Thwaites), as they are both orphans dealing with a darkness inside – however metaphorical or literal the case may be.

Hawk and Dove Origin Story – Introductory interviews with Alan Ritchson and Minka Kelly as Hawk and Dove. Everybody is very excited about bringing the first live-action adaptations of these characters to the screen.

Igniting Starfire – The emphasis here is on how Kory/Starfire (Anna Diop) develops over the season, slowly regaining her memories and building a relationship with Dick before realizing the truth about her mission.

Becoming Beast Boy – The emphasis here is on how Gar/Beast Boy (Ryan Potter) and Rachel/Raven develop a strong friendship and an almost brother/sister relationship. Potter seems to be really enjoying his time on the show.

Conjuring Raven – Focus on how Raven’s story is a horror story and how that effects the storytelling this first season. Plus Teagan Croft seems to really love this character and the emotional elements that she shares with the other team members.

Meet the Doom Patrol – My personal favorite episode is highlighted here as we meet April Bowlby as Rita Farr, along with Brendan Fraser’s Cliff Steele/Robotman and Matt Bomer (along with Dwain Murphy who provided the physical acting in this episode) as Larry Trainor/Negative Man. We also get a glimpse of, but no real discussion of Bruno Bichir as Niles Caulder. This role would eventually be recast with the world’s most handsome man, Timothy Dalton taking over the role when the Doom Patrol series launched.

The New Robin – Jason Todd (Curran Walters) is a douche, but he loves his life.

From Page to Screen – Short bit about Geoff Johns and the enthusiasm he brings to the show. The cast seem to really love him, too.

The One and Only Wonder Girl – Emphasis on Donna (Conor Leslie) and her relationship with Dick, as they’ve been friends since childhood and have the unique shared experience of growing up as sidekicks. Of course, Dick had a horrible mentor while she had maybe the best possible mentor. She also was able to get out of the game without totally getting out, and that’s what Dick is wanting to do more than anything at this point.

The Redemption of Robin – Interesting take on the character of Robin and how it impacts the way Brenton Thwaites plays Robin/Dick Grayson throughout the season, culminating in the extremely dark finale. He’s been blaming Batman for the darkness inside him, when he really needs to acknowledge and take possession of his own damage. Good stuff.

Team Titan – The biggest bit of info dropped here is how since this season is really Raven and Robin’s the dark horror and violence won’t necessarily be the standard moving forward as each season will shift focus around to different characters and that will change the tone of the stories. Good news all around.

What Does it Mean to be Cast as Starfire? Interview segment where Anna Diop is asked about being cast as Starfire and gets extremely emotional. It’s touching and just makes me love her all the more.

Anna Diop Having Fun with Teagan Croft – Teagan Croft crashes Anna Diop’s interview session and they fuck around for a bit. Teagan is full of ice cream and apparently on a sugar buzz. Again, it’s endearing and just makes these folks all the more likeable.

Titans: The Complete First Season hits shelves on July 16, 2019.

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