Count Orlok '22 | The land of the denigrated reviewers | 04/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Not only was it one of the most complex series in the history of cable television, Witchblade was easily one of the most underrated. Witchblade debuted in a full-length television pilot on TNT and then after its initial success became a full-fledged series in 2001. In many ways the show was ahead of its time. It managed to be both science-fiction (when the genre was suffering from unoriginal sequels and poorly made remakes), fantasy (before the genre was validated by The Lord of the Rings and Pan's Labyrinth) and added a healthy dose of cop drama. The intricate plotlines featured such esoteric subject matter as psychic visions, cloning, abnormal psychology, time travel, reincarnation, demonic possession, mythological motifs, multiple conspiracies, occult philosophical ideologies, and also benefited from clever pop-culture in-jokes. The series was brought to life by strong acting from a diverse, if not at times dysfunctional cast. Witchblade also featured a greatly varying soundtrack (this DVD does not include all of the artists I've named here; see my comment for further explanation) that included everyone from The Crystal Method to Peter Gabriel, from Rob Zombie to Enya, from Three Dog Night to U2. The series burst off the small screen with great visual flare, the special effects were almost on a par with the first Matrix film, and the camerawork was equally impressive. There have been some fans of the comics who have complained about the many differences between the show and the comics. But as I was at the time unfamiliar with the comics, I enjoyed the show from a fresh, purely objective perspective. I also think that most fans of the source material understood that this was not an adaptation in the strictest sense but more of a loosely inspired series that dealt with some of the same themes. And now fans of this cult classic can enjoy their favorite comic book-inspired heroine on DVD... at last.
The characters include: Sara Pezzini- A New York homicide cop and the "Blade-wielder" Danny Woo- Sara's partner and close friend. Jake McCartey- Sara's rookie partner in training. Gabriel Bowman- A young occult/novelty shop owner and close friend of Sara's. Kenneth Irons- A billionaire who may be more than he seems. Ian Nottingham- A mysterious bodyguard/assassin in Iron's employ. Black Dragons- A group of assassins who underwent experimental training. White Bulls- A secretive fraternity of corrupt vigilante cops.
Here is the entire listing of episodes, including the pilot film (which is also included):
0. Witchblade: The Movie New York homicide detective Sara Pezzini encounters a mystical weapon that can only be wielded by women. She is also introduced to the enigmatic billionaire, Kenneth Irons and his stoic bodyguard/assassin, Ian Nottingham.
1. Parallax Sara uncovers a plot involving a group of elite assassins, called The Black Dragons, who plan to kill billionaire Irons.
2. Conundrum After a supermodel is found dead, Sara must discover the identity of the killer, which leads her to a former "Blade-wielder".
3. Diplopia A serial killer is stalking members of the art community and patrons of a gay bar but the primary suspect seems to have a perfect alibi.
4. Sacrifice An Irish rocker comes to town and a killer takes inspiration from his lyrics, all the while Sara may be falling in love with the dreamy singer.
5. Legion A man who may have killed a priest claims that he's possessed but the clues point to corruption within the church itself.
6. Maelstrom Sara's lover, the Irish rocker Conchobar, is kidnapped by corrupt counter-terrorists and Sara sinks into violent desperation.
7. Periculum The Witchblade tests Sara, at her most vulnerable, while pulling her deeper into its mysterious past.
8. Thanatopsis Ian Nottingham goes renegade and targets Sara's rookie partner, Jake, who he believes to have betrayed her.
9. Apprehension A corrupt vigilante force within the NYPD, called The White Bulls, has its sights on Sara while she must protect a witness to their violence.
10. Convergence A psychotic rapist/killer is on the loose and only Sara can stop him but she's busy evading The White Bulls.
11. Transcendence Nottingham dies to save Sara but then is resurrected in an even more deadly and unpredictable incarnation.
1. Emergence After turning back time itself Sara must face the consequences and solve a murder involving a live porn site.
2. Destiny Kenneth Irons obtains The Lance of Longinus with which he intends to confront Sara and take back the Witchblade.
3. Agape A dangerous new street drug is at the heart of an investigation and Jake takes the blame for a drug bust gone very wrong.
4. Consectatio Nottingham is possessed by Irons and puts out a hit on Sara and the assassins he's hired are the uber-elite Black Dragons.
5. Static A series of strange incidents leads to a subliminal influence, in the form of white noise, which may have instigated murder.
6. Nailed A homicidal, serial child-rapist is released from prison and his next victim is Danny's niece.
7. Lagrimas Sara falls in love with the perfect man, but is this mysterious stranger really what he appears to be?
8. Hierophant A mysterious criminal mastermind is uniting rival crime syndicates and all the clues to his identity point to the most unlikely person of all.
9. Veritas A secretive political schism hunts down Gabriel and Sara after they come across a roll of film that reveals them as murderers.
10. Parabolic An enigmatic young vigilante takes out members of a cult devoted to hatred and Sara must choose aid her in bringing them down.
11. Palindrome Sara is reunited with Conchobar while investigating an underground fight club that worships violent primitivism.
12. Ubique * Sara's dreams may be premonitions of her greatest challenge yet and all she loves will hang in the balance.
* The Season Two finale was never intended to conclude the show's plotline, however as the series was canceled the story was left sadly incomplete.
I hope you will check out one of the coolest shows in recent years. "Rock on dot com!""
Good Cop Drama, Bad Comic Adaptation
Nightfall | UT, USA | 04/19/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"If you are a diehard Witchblade fan, you're going to buy and enjoy this tv series regardless of what any review says. What I offer here is a review for the "discerning" viewer. It is possible to be a fan of an intellectual property (such as a comic book) and yet maintain a clear, honest judgment about different aspects of the property's use in different media, something that fanboys and fangirls do not understand. The bottom line is that as a cop drama, the Witchblade tv series is top notch. It's one of the best cop dramas ever to grace the small screen. However, as a faithful adaptation of the Witchblade comic book, it is a complete and utter failure. By the time they were three or four episodes into the first season, the tv show had severed all ties with the comic book and had become its own independent entity. The only thing the comic book and the show have in common is that they are both called "Witchblade," and some of the character's names are the same. The argument that one can't directly reproduce the comic book on the tv screen is a cop-out (no pun intended), because the tv show doesn't even try to represent the comic. On the contrary, once the first two episodes were concluded (known as Witchblade: The Movie), the tv series immediately set about to distance itself as much as it could from the comic. I could go into detail about this, but I don't wish to do a disservice to viewers who have never seen the show before by spoiling plot elements. Suffice it to say that what you are getting here is not a television adaptation of the comic book, but a different creation entirely.
That said, I really have to give props to Yancy Butler, the actress who plays Sara Pezzini in this series. Before I saw her in this tv series, I thought she was just another Hollywood bimbo willing to bare her chest in any B movie she could land a job on. Oh was I wrong. Yancy is a very talented actress, and she is the best (and only, in my opinion) reason to buy and watch this series. Correction: Yancy and John Hensley. John Hensley plays the part of Gabriel, a dealer in very unique and rare items. He assists Sara frequently in her investigations because he knows a lot about wierd, arcane stuff. He plays the part with a confidence and coolness combined with a youthful hipness that makes him very likeable. My favorite parts of the show are the times when Sara and Gabriel are working together.
It is a bit odd that a show which features such talented actors as Butler and Hensley would also employ the horrid acting abilities of Eric Etebari, the actor who plays Ian Nottingham. Mr. Etebari is one of the worst actors I've ever seen, but I can't lay the blame completely at his feet. His character, Nottingham, was not well conceived by the show's writers and producers. He is nothing like the Nottingham of the comic, but neither is he a well-defined character in his own right in the world of the show. All throughout the series, the writers seem to be struggling with exactly who they want Nottingham to be, and the result is that Etebari seems unsure of how to play him. Some of his lines and scenes are so bad as to reach comical levels of absurdity. Fortunately, Nottingham isn't nearly as present in the second season as he was in the first.
If you're asking the question, "How much Witchblade action can I see?", the answer is very little. Truth be told, this series isn't really about the Witchblade. It's about Sara, her life as a cop, and the decisions she faces about doing the right thing. The Blade itself takes a backseat role, usually only appearing once per episode and only very briefly. Sara usually uses it to block bullets Wonder Woman-style. It also occasionally grants Sara a "sixth sense" at crime scenes which allows her to see through the eyes of the victim or to witness crimes as they are happening elsewhere. Think the tv show Medium, only the actress has a funky silver bracelet on her wrist.
So that's my Witchblade tv series review for the "discerning" viewer. I hope it helps you to decide whether to purchase it or not."
Excellent Escapist Fantasy Rooted in Contemporary Reality
Justin Heath | Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada | 10/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw the series when it initially aired on TNT, and I found it fresh, exciting and captivating. The combination of pure escapist fantasy and cop drama worked well in this incarnation. Yes, it was strange, but strange doesn't mean that it wasn't entertaining. By juxtaposition of an ages-old metaphysical history against Sara Pezzini's attempts to cope with that in the framework of her contemporary physical world, it created a whole new universe for the writers to dabble in. I believe that people who enjoyed "Sliders" "Farscape" and "Quantum Leap" would have enjoyed this show, as well.
All good drama contains conflict, and in this case the conflict was manifest in Sara's efforts to reconcile the mundane and the metaphysical. At first a hard-bitten cynic, we see Sara slowly and begrudgingly grow spiritually and emotionally as she begins to accept and embrace her destiny as the current bearer of the Witchblade.
I was introduced first to the TV series, and then I want back to check out the comic: yet I found the series more accessible. At points during the series you were left wondering along with Sara if she was hallucinating or having visions of events that actually happened--which helped build tension in the storyline.
The important thing is that within the context of that story, it made sense, and helped move the plot forward effectively. It makes no sense to attempt to bring comic-book characters to the big screen, if all you're going to do is regurgitate the comic-book legend exactly as it appeared in print. An effective re-imagining actually takes old characters and makes them fresh and relevant again, as in the re-imagining of the Superboy legend in the Smallville TV series. I've read the Superman and Superboy comics growing up, which were mostly kind of corny. Smallville has taken the development of young Kal-el and made him contemporary and interesting again.
If a film or TV adaptation of a story originally told in graphic novel or comic book format stays true to the spirit and intent of the character, and changes are made to improve the dramatic flow in that direction, then those changes should be embraced as a welcome improvement, and not dismissed offhandedly from the dogmatic perspective of it straying from the comic, or being too different."
Yes... it does include the movie
E. Sederberg | Golden, CO | 04/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I did some searching and found out that this collection includes both seasons AND the original movie, so the storyline will not lack. This was great TV Sci-fi before Lost and BSG (even though I love both), so I'm excited to finally see this on DVD."
Fails On Almost Every Level
Robin L. McLaughlin | Seattle, Wa. | 03/29/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I'm probably gonna get reamed by not-helpfuls from fans of this show, but I felt so misled by the existing reviews that I felt compelled to write one of my own to try and help others like me avoid making the same mistake I did.
For context, I was not familiar with the comic, so came to the show with fresh eyes as someone who is a huge fan of SF and fantasy. (Some of my all time favorite TV shows are Babylon 5, Buffy, and Xena.) The majority of the negative comments here deal with the music being changed for the DVD eps, not being true to the comic, and not making good use of the witchblade, along with issues over the season two redo. But only a small number of the negative comments deal with the things I thought were wrong with the show.
Before I go into why I think the show was a disaster I will say that I very much enjoyed Yancy Butler as Sara and I think it's a shame that the show was not up to her talents because she had what it takes to carry a TV series. Some of the other casting was pretty good too. I especially liked the characters of Gabriel and the medical examiner (can't remember her name) who was funny. Since I didn't see the show on TV I wasn't disappointed by the music on the DVD set and I actually thought that the songs part of the soundtrack was a strongpoint. I looked up info on the web about several of the songs used.
But a strong lead and good music doesn't a successful TV show make. It depends on so many elements that all have to come together in just the right way and this didn't happen with Witchblade. It's a bit difficult for me to put my finger on *exactly* what was wrong in the big picture sense. It seemed to have all the right elements, but the elements were not crafted into a finished, polished piece. A major drawback was just plain crummy writing and poor choices made about story arcs and plot development. The plots never managed to be compelling. And has been mentioned, the time reset for season two didn't come across as anything other than a cheap, tired, overdone gimmick.
One of my major specific complaints about Witchblade is the incredibly awful job they did of making it a cop show. I love the idea of blending cop show with urban fantasy. But wow, you need to at least attempt to make the cop part realistic in order to carry off making the fantasy part believable. I don't mean it needs to be an NYPD Blue, but come on. Episodes had Sara shooting people and leaving the bodies without it ever coming back to haunt her, contaminating crime scenes, and basically ignoring every basic procedure and protocol for a homicide detective. This was all compounded by the medical examiner (as much as I enjoyed the character) doing the same ignoring of all procedures and protocols. Anyone who has ever watched one decent cop/crime/mystery/thriller show could have done a better job.
Another major drawback, and this has been mentioned by others, was the character of Nottingham. Half of the problem can be laid at the actor's feet and the other half at the writers'. Some of the worst, overwrought, attempting-to-be-profound-but-sounding-stupid-instead lines were given to him.
In the end, the lack of compelling story arcs and good writing, along with stupefyingly abysmal cop show elements made me bored (and frequently disgusted) with it all. At the best it was bland television, at the worst it was annoying television. Normally when I'm watching a TV series on DVD I have marathon episode watching sessions. With Witchblade I actually went three weeks before finally watching the final few episodes just to say I had finished the whole thing. "