Sunday, 20 December 2015

the Jessica Jones turbo sessions


My turbo cycling late this year seems to be consuming a vast quantity of TV box-sets. I've gone past my annual cycle miles target and am simply clocking a few low energy miles to keep the legs spinning. The theory goes that one should do interval training with peaks and troughs to get the most from the turbo, but I'm balancing the mince-pie season and have decided that a bit of telly may be a more sensible option. I looked today at my annual mileage which is now around 4,300 miles/6,900 kilometres so I'm not too worried about a few episodes of Jessica Jones whilst pedalling.

Marvel comics seem to be doing rather well since the Walt Disney takeover. They've taken residence in Hell's Kitchen and are pumping out some good television. The Jessica Jones series is a case in point, and one first brought to my attention by a fellow blogger trialling Netflix.

I don't know the Jessica Jones back-story and the series doesn't directly introduce it, to the extent that I watched the first episode wondering if I'd somehow missed a pilot episode. Actually, I sort of prefer that way of working nowadays. We, the viewers, have to piece things together as we go along, instead of having a long 'First Act' to explain everything.

It's a dark series, which embraces the private investigator genre, in this case with a hard-living, hard-drinking tough woman in the leading role. I think I'm supposed to also say hard-boiled when its a noir series, so there, I've done it.

This is a Netflix set, and all the episodes were issued simultaneously. I wasn't sure how many to expect, so when we got to around episode 8 I wondered how it would all end - with fortunately a further four to bring together a conclusion.

We get the dimly lit brown wood end of corridor office for Jessica. The office door is already broken at the start and although it gets fixed for a while, it's broken again by the end. Most other times it is open, in any case.

She befriends a bar owner who notices her penchant for bourbon. His bar is the kind you'd find Tom Waits sitting in with Jim Jarmusch talking about Tesla coils.

The storyline is of one utter force of evil, played by the 'British' David Tennant, who has obsessions, including one about Jessica. He starts as a shadowy form and is frequently offscreen or only partially in frame for the first part of the series, just like some of the best kinds of monsters. They've also let him sneak in a few 'Britlines' which made me chuckle because some might well be lost in translation.

There's a strong cast of characters too, including some that get 'parked' for parts of the story and then reactivated later. That's something of a soap-opera technique (the main series runner has Eastenders form) although it doesn't feel at all soapy the way it's been done, and the individuals all have sufficient characteristics that you regard them as known quantities as they re-appear.

Some could say that parts of the plot are conventional, but it's also good crowd-pleasing stuff as the nasty man does nasty things and the goodies have to figure out how to stop it. I'm tiring from the many UK procedural cop series that kill a woman in scene one so that an emotionally damaged detective and his hot female sidekick can sort it all out usually after a couple more gruesome deaths.

So I've reached the end of the Jessica Jones series. Because it is part of the Marvel galaxy (a.k.a The Marvel Cinematic Universe - really), it may mean that we don't get another one. Marvel's MCU has a road-map of their various characters and how they get together to become various supergroups like The New Avengers. I haven't watched Daredevil yet, but I assume that is also part of the same scheme - this time with a blind attorney ('Justice is blind', anyone?).

Of course, it may not go that way, with Jessica Jones acerbically rejecting a superhero costume during one of the episodes (I since learned it was the one that she was supposed to wear in later Marvel life).

So Marvel's plan is kind of working. I've watched enough to have bought into the current series and I'm going back to watch another one.

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