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Review: Titans, Season One, Netflix/WBTV Original Series *Minor Spoilers*

When I saw the first trailers for the Netflix/WBTV original series Titans my expectations were set extremely low. Granted my point of reference was the recent Teen Titans Go animated series (and movie), which I've seen a few episodes, and don't like at all. To be fair though, that show is definitely not targeted at me.

Anyhow the Titan trailer didn't do enough to hook me in and Robin's 'F*ck Batman' quote toward the end had my eyes rolling with 'here we go again with a whiney, entitled Robin like the Chris O'donnell version in the 1990's movies.

However, from the very first episode I was pleasantly surprised with the story and ideas presented, and was hooked, to the point of binge watching several episodes in a row if I had time.

We learn Dick Grayson is trying to retire from being Robin and has moved to Detroit, where he's working as a detective for the Detroit PD.

Full disclosure, I've been wanting to see a new take on a live action Robin/Dick Grayson for years. I like the character, particularly the Dick Grayson incarnation, and I believe Batman is a much better hero when he works with Robin as a team (as opposed to the Robins that are constantly rebelling/working against Batman, like Jason Todd and Damian Wayne).

You don't usually think too much about what Robin does when he's not being Robin, so seeing Dick Grayson as a detective kind of intrigued me.

Not being a comic reader (though, thanks to listening to various comic book movie based podcasts I have some knowledge of characters and story arcs) the rest of the Titan characters weren't really familiar to me. Raven, Starfire, Beast Boy, Hawkman and Dove seem to be the main line up but in this first season they're more together by circumstance than any notion of forming a team.

Seems quite a few people are after Raven (who is never called Raven, she is known as Rachael) who has some seriously destructive but also advantageous mystical powers that she doesn't really know how to utilize.

She somehow seeks out Dick Grayson who she sees in a vision and things kick off from there.

The show itself is going for a gritty realism that I think Zack Snyder was going for with Batman V Superman but doesn't shy away from any of the more supernatural/fantastical elements of superheroes with special powers.

What I really like is the timeline of the show. It starts where Dick Grayson has been retired from being Robin for about a year, but he hasn't yet made any kind of transition into Nightwing (as he becomes in the comics).

This means that we get a version of the DC universe is already lived in. There are quite a few references to characters that exist in this timeline. For example, the Justice League is mentioned in one episode, in a way that suggests it's a team up that's been and gone in this universe. It also means we get unexpected cameos from characters you never thought you'd see, and in some cases have moved on from their superhero roles.

I really enjoy how well cast the show is. Specifically Brenton Thwaites, who looks young enough to still be Robin without the weirdness of him being too young to be put in harm's way by a man who's supposed to be his responsible guardian. It was a little hard to take Brenton as a 'loner' detective, he looks like he should be more rookie cop, but that was only a minor issue for me.

One thing that bugs me a little is the graphic violence of the show. Definitely don't let young children watch this.

I have nothing against the violence as such, but it does remind me a little of the Batman in Batman V Superman, in that, in this DC Universe, Batman is once again heading down a killing spree rabbit hole, and Dick Grayson isn't really sure  he wants to follow. It's a strong reason for Dick to make the break from being a sidekick but I'd just like to see a less murderous Batman in his prime for once.

Overall I found the first season to be compelling to the point where I wish DC's recent films had taken this kind of approach to bring that universe to the big screen. It's been engaging to watch the series, starting with Dick Grayson, and as the story expands, we get glimpses into the wider world of DC superheroes, with hints at stories that have already happened, and characters we don't see but learn already exist.

Titans has become my favourite of the current DC on TV series that I've seen (previously I'd give Arrow the edge, with Supergirl and Flash very close equal seconds). Though it's closely linked to the Teen Titans group of superheroes it has the potential to explore stories and characters from a wider DC universe without feeling like the show isn't about it's core team.

Whilst it may not be the Batman and Robin TV series, that I wish DC would just do already, if you're interested in Robin as a character and want to see a fresh take, this show is definitely one to at least check out since the first season is heavily anchored in his story alongside Raven/Rachael's.

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