Sophie Gilbert on Daredevil

The Paradox of ‘Daredevil’

Fanatical about violence and skittish about sexuality, the show exemplifies much of what’s wrong with modern television. Please consider disabling it for our site, or supporting our work in one of these ways Subscribe Now > What is Daredevil, really? Is it a superhero show? Is it bloody torture porn?

Great points here. I have to constantly confront my own bias in favor of Marvel stuff because these damned things always make me 13 again. Netflix’s Daredevil is, I think anyone would agree, still a huge improvement over Affleck, Tom Jane, and Dolph Lundgren. I don’t know if I agree that the dialogue is clunky and the plot erratic, but this synopsis is dead-on: “Fanatical about violence and skittish about sexuality, the show exemplifies much of what’s wrong with modern television.” We absolutely have a film heritage that glorifies violence and stifles sexuality and the Catholics are heavily implicated, from the Legion of Decency to the some-might-say inspired work of Joseph Breen in enforcing the Hays Code.

This article also reminded me of how Ebert began his review of The Passion of the Christ: “If ever there was a film with the correct title, that film is Mel Gibson’s ‘The Passion of the Christ.’ Although the word passion has become mixed up with romance, its Latin origins refer to suffering and pain; later Christian theology broadened that to include Christ’s love for mankind, which made him willing to suffer and die for us.”

Ebert’s closing is even more relevant: “Note: I said the film is the most violent I have ever seen. It will probably be the most violent you have ever seen. This is not a criticism but an observation; the film is unsuitable for younger viewers, but works powerfully for those who can endure it. The MPAA’s R rating is definitive proof that the organization either will never give the NC-17 rating for violence alone, or was intimidated by the subject matter. If it had been anyone other than Jesus up on that cross, I have a feeling that NC-17 would have been automatic.”

I’d’ve loved to’ve read Ebert’s thoughts on Daredevil, especially the scene pictured in this article’s header photo, which I thought was a great argument applicable to the death penalty and to recidivism (which we as a country do a deplorable job of tracking).

I also can’t help remembering, anytime I see Rosario Dawson, Ebert’s affection for her. I recall especially an Answer Man session where a reader questions Ebert for calling her the most beautiful woman in the world. “Wouldn’t that be your wife Chaz?” the reader asks. Ebert responds that, while Dawson may be the most beautiful woman in the world, Chaz is the most beautiful in the universe. Classic Ebert.

Samantha Bee is the only woman with a late-night show. Here’s how she plans to make it count.

Samantha Bee is the only woman with a late-night show. Here’s how she plans to make it count.

Samantha Bee didn’t always want her own late-night show, but she wasn’t about to turn down the opportunity once it arose. At a recent press event for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee , which debuts February 8 on TBS, Bee recalled through a broad smile the day when TBS asked whether she might like to host her own satirical series.




On the list of TV shows that I’ve stumbled into with my roommate after too much wine (Person of Interest, Between, NCIS, Private Practice, One Tree Hill, Law & Order: SVU, Scandal, CSI: NY et al), iZombie has proved the most interesting.

From Wikipedia:

Seattle medical resident Olivia “Liv” Moore is turned into a zombie while attending a boat party. To cope with her new appetite for brains, Liv takes a job at the King County morgue and shares her secret with her boss, Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti. In order for Liv to survive, Ravi encourages her to eat the brains of murder victims whose bodies are delivered to the morgue. Whenever she eats a victim’s brain, Liv temporarily inherits some of their personality traits. She also experiences flashbacks which often give her clues as to the nature of the murder. Liv uses this new ability to help the Seattle Police Department solve crimes, passing herself off as a psychic consultant.

As someone who’s generally lukewarm-to-indifferent toward zombie stuff, I was surprised at how hungrily my brains greeted this cerebral(ish) mélange of the humerus and the meningeal. That is to say, I rather enjoyed it.

I was going to start by mentioning that I often find the dialogue in the show a bit too cute, but I think my gripe might largely be confined to Liv’s fiancé Major. Yes, “Major”: a name that only a performer in a self-parodying gay porn film would assume. He’s tall, stubbily handsome, quick-witted, omni-supportive, and doesn’t appear to have a life or any interests of his own outside of Liv. So, perfect, I suppose. But, he’s not a major part of the first two episodes, thankfully.

Then, there’s a lot of dialogue I think is great. How’d Ravi grow suspicious of Liv’s (lack of) vivacity? Well, he left her in charge of a gang-banger shooting victim one night who had to be reopened when an investigating detective needed more information. Ravi did the reopening and rhetorically asks Liv, “What was he missing?”
Liv: “A strong male role model.”
Ravi: “And half a pound of brain.”
Me: “Heh.”

My most serious criticism stemming from the first two episodes comes from this:


In episode two, an artist is murdered. Detective Babineaux says early on that it’s always the wife. Liv doesn’t believe him. Well, it turns out it was the wife all along. To the show’s credit, I didn’t really care who done it. However, I do care about logical fallacies and the hasty generalization’s my bête noire.

Like the curious TV judge who’s just heard an emphatic objection from the prosecution, I’m interested enough in the emotional realism and characterizations that I overlook the zombies and cautiously reply, “sustained” to the whole show. When it continues to delight me, am I then demanding too much that it also not try to make me dumber by feeding me spoiled offal?

Well, no. There’s too much damned TV out there in general to give everyone a free pass. And, this is serious!

So, let’s begin with a great idiom: “All generalizations are false, including this one.” Take a minute and internalize that if you haven’t already. Now, let’s return to our faulty premise: “All murdered people who were married were killed by their spouse.” Is this not clearly suspect?

Well, without scouring the ‘net all day, I found reality to be pretty different: “About 11 percent of murder victims between 1976 and 2002 were killed by their spouses or lovers, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.” (Granted this is now 14-year-old info, but could it really have changed that drastically?)

Obviously, not everyone is as demanding as I am about such things, but iZombie isn’t the stoned surfers you don’t demand much from because you don’t expect much from them; iZombie, like its protagonist, is an overachiever. So, overachieve, damn it!

* * *

For others who like sprinkled-in pop culture references: “Going all George Romero,” “Miss Cleo,” and “Cagney and Pasty” were all welcome for me.

No offense to being stoned or going surfing.

Flash Binge


Some thoughts on my recent The Flash binge (with major spoiler at end):

  • Proof that I’m 13: The premise of a fast-running “metahuman” defeating various villains by running really, really fast should have gotten old really, really fast, but somehow didn’t. For example, “Oh! A giant wave is heading toward Central City and will (apparently) destroy it.” Flash: “I clearly have to run back and forth really, really fast to stop this from happening.” Or, “Oh! There’s been a rupture in spacetime and this is creating a singularity. What will we do?” Flash: “I will run really, really fast inside the singularity.”
  • The Flash doesn’t get his proper moniker until, I think, more than halfway through the series. Prior to that, he’s “The Streak.” I take it he doesn’t like this name because it calls to mind either soiled underwear or exhibitionism. I guess he prefers “The Flash” because it calls to mind only the latter?
  • Thinking back over the season, most of the episodes don’t seem to me to pass the Bechdel Test (i.e. there must be two women who talk to each other about something other than a man). There are two main female characters and they talk to each other very infrequently.
  • I could be off on this, but it seems that about 80% of episodes include either a scene where The Flash talks to his wrongfully imprisoned father while both men weep because of how they adore each other or a scene where The Flash talks to his adoptive father while both men weep because of how they also adore each other. Of course, I teared up every time as I’m a sucker for actors crying at each other.
  • There is a character (apparently Peek-a-Boo in the comics) who can teleport to places as long as she can see the destination. At one point, she teleports into a windowless armored vehicle and then back into a moving car. How does she know the car is still there? How did she know she wouldn’t be teleporting into someone inside the armored vehicle? Sure, it’s a comic book show, but why bother telling us the rules if you’re going to break them so brazenly? Continue readingFlash Binge”