Starring: Ruby Rose, Camrus Johnson, Rachel Skarsten, Dougray Scott, Sam Littlefield, Rachel Maddow, Christina Wolfe, Meagan Tandy
Created By: Caroline Dries
Written By: Various
Studio: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
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Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of this Blu-ray set that I reviewed in this post. The opinions I share are my own.
How do you make a Batman show without actually being able to use Batman?
That seems to be the question nowadays with TV shows like “Gotham” and “Pennyworth” and the overly protective suits at DC. They can allow terrible movie directors to drag him through the mud but if you’re working in television, you don’t even get the chance it seems. This time the experiment follows Bruce Wayne’s cousin Kate Kane who discovers who her cousin actually moonlighted as and takes up the Mantle of the Bat as Batwoman.
I wasn’t sure what to think of this series as it was moving forward in production and I didn’t actually watch any of it when released figuring that it would be as awful as the other aforementioned shows and that it would be Batman without Batman. In the comic books, Kate Kane’s Batwoman is the antithesis of everything that Batman represents at first. Her disdain for the Dark Knight as well as her overall fiery disposition and as being a strong gay woman of Jewish descent made her an instant hit with fans much like Nightwing was when he gave up the mantle of Robin and tried to separate himself from Bruce and his ways. Eventually she came to realize what Batman actually stood for and that the Bat Family was the family that she was missing in her life. For these reasons, I had hope when I started watching “Batwoman” at first.
Surprisingly, the first episode gives the show’s version of Kate Kane’s backstory complete with a Batman encounter albeit in blurry flashback form. She then meets Luke Fox, Lucius’s son, discovers the Batcave and has the Batsuit retrofitted for herself. So, right off the bat (pun intended) the show is deeply rooted in Batman lore. Kate’s backstory has some similarities to her modern comic counterpart with her military training and global martial arts training.
Where the show seems to falter for me is that while Batman is known for his rogues gallery, some who are nearly as famous and popular if not more so than himself, throughout the course of the season “Batwoman” seems to fall flat in the villain category. One of the main villain’s ends up immediately having family ties to Kate while the rest of the villains are either paramilitary organizations or random B-listers that seem like “Arrow” rejects. There are a few surprises sprinkled in toward the second half of the season though.
Ruby Rose was an interesting choice for the role of Katy Kane as her most well-known roles were a non-speaking part in “John Wick” and as seductive comic relief on “Orange is the New Black”. I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt in any role because they’re trained actors and it’s their job to act in different roles all of the time. Remember the uproar when Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker? How’d that turn out? Well, Ruby Rose was better than expected but my expectations were kind of low anyway. She does well when she’s given the chance to be the snarky reluctant nay-do-gooder but for those moments of tragedy and honest sincerity she flounders. Sometimes it felt like she wasn’t taking the serious scenes throughout the season that seriously.
The rest of the cast is also hit or miss for me. I wasn’t a fan of the 90s B-movie acting of Kate’s father portrayed by Dougray Scott and most of the supporting cast was hit or miss. The highlights of the show for me were Alice, portrayed by Rachel Skarsten and Luke Fox played by Camrus Johnson. Skarsten was great at portraying a twisted psychopath whose emotions would switch on the drop of a dime and Mr. Johnson portrayed Luke Fox as if he were a younger Morgan Freeman.
As with most of the CW shows they tend to overuse a villain for the course of a season but “Batwoman” mostly went for the villain of the week flavor as most new shows do so they can introduce as many new characters as they can in order to see what sticks. As I mentioned before, Alice was one of the highlights of the season. It was also interesting to see them use a previous Bat-villain in Nocturne but it was disappointing that her supernatural roots were scrubbed clean for the show. Leading up to the series finale we are introduced to the seminal Batman villain Hush and we get a glimpse of what Bruce Wayne looks like in the Arrowverse thanks in part to him.
While I wasn’t expecting much from “Batwoman”, the first season was better than expected. A larger portion of the season was hit or miss for me, but thankfully the writers and showrunners tried not to rely too much on Batman and his history to move forward. There were definitely some struggles with season 1 and beyond as the pandemic shortened production and the episode count and actress Ruby Rose left the show after the first season so it will be interesting to see how much of the show’s plotlines can be salvaged with whatever they do moving forward.
• The Best of “DC TV’s” Comic-Con Panels San Diego 2019
• Additional Disc with the complete “Crisis On Infinite Earths” Crossover
• Gag Reels
• Deleted Scenes
DTS-HD Master Audio English 5.1
English SDH, French and Spanish Subtitles
1080p High Definition 16×9 1.78:1
Bottom Line: With so many arguments against making and releasing this show in the first place, people seemed to be against it without even watching an episode. While the show doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the Arrowverse yet, I can see it gaining some traction once it finds its footing. I wouldn’t put it up there with my favorite comic shows yet but it does have potential. The inclusion of Hush in the last few episodes definitely has me interested in seeing where that goes.
Running Time: 880 Mins
Rating: Not Rated