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TV REVIEWS: FTN Reviews The Black Lightning Series Premiere!

January 17th, 2018 by Todd Black Comments

After four hit TV superhero shows (five if you want to count Smallville), you’d think that the CW wouldn’t be able to capture the magic that the others had in their arrivals (and yes, I know Supergirl premiered on CBS, just roll with it). And yet, with Black Lightning, the CW and DC Comics have another hit superhero show on their hands. You can feel it.

The most important thing that separates Black Lightning from shows like Arrow, Flash and Supergirl is that this isn’t a man who suddenly decides to be a superhero. He already was one, and he gave up that life to be a better man. Jefferson Pierce decided to be a principal, to save more lives that way than trying to stop the world of violence from spreading in his hometown of Fairland. And you can’t blame him for thinking that way, especially as some of his backstory shines through. A powerful speech he gives relays why he left, and it’s a lesson that all superheroes learn eventually.

That’s the other thing that really separates Pierce from others like Oliver Queen and Barry Allen, or even Kara. They’re part of a family, he has a family that he’s raising. He’s got two very outspoken and personality-filled girls that he would do anything for, and an ex-wife that he’s desperately trying to get back with. It’s these details that make him not just a hero, but a relatable man. He wants to protect them and his city, but he wants to do it in the right way.

But, as this is a superhero show, that doesn’t last forever. We met The 100 (not to be confused with the CW show, that’s a different 100), a gang who has been terrorizing the streets for some time. And when one of his daughters get mixed up with one of them, and that leads to the two daughters getting captured, oh yeah, you know Black Lightning is coming back.

It starts out subtle at first, but it slowly builds until the reveal of him in his new super suit is brought in, and it’s powerful. Furthermore, those who are familiar with the comic character, you’ll get to see the original Black Lightning outfit, and that’s pretty cool too.

Now, another thing that this series has above the others is it’s not afraid to make a political statement. Racism, racial profiling, gang violence, and more are all brought up here. And for the most part, it really works. The showrunner has even put key scenes of his life into this premiere, such as when Pierce gets pulled over for the simple reason that he’s black. And when he’s “cleared”, the cops just laugh it off. It’ll be interesting to watch and see just how far this show goes in terms of keep the show relevant to the times.

However, there are some things that are a small turnoff. Black Lightning easily has the most language of any of the CW/DC shows by a wide margin. Yes, you can equate it to the times, but still, it gets loud at times. Also, some characters aren’t given enough screentime to point out their connection or importance. Like Pierce’s loyal friend who gives him his new suit, or the big bad Tobias Whale. Yes, they’ll likely get fleshed out in future episodes, but I wish more was done here.

In the end though, this was a very solid premiere for a potential powerhouse of a show. I look forward to watching the rest of this season unfold.

So, say it with it, “Black Lightning’s Back!”

4.5 out of 5 nerds

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Todd Black is reader of comics, a watch of TV (a LOT of TV), and a writer of many different mediums. He's written teleplays, fan-fictions, and currently writes a comic book called Guardians (guardians-comic.com). He dreams of working at Nintendo, writing a SHAZAM! TV series, and working on Guardians for a very long time!