(SPOILERS purely for the first episode)
Work commitments mean that I've only watched the first of the thirteen episodes, so let's talk episode one. Now, I actually quite liked the old movie, mess though it was. Still, it has to be said this was better in every damn way. Even as I write this up I'm resisting the urge to just binge-watch the whole lot tonight instead of savouring it.
For a start, the series has a rock solid cast. Charlie Cox puts in a great performance as Matt Murdoch, one that really sells the physicality of the role. There's a scene where he's setting up his desk at the new offices of Nelson & Murdoch, he's not even the main focus of the camera but he plays the hell out of setting up his desk “blind”: his head doesn't move to follow anything, not even slightly, its all done by touch and there are numerous moments like that throughout the episode. Its all very intelligently directed. There are also plenty of moments when characters screw up in their interactions with Matt: nodding instead of saying yes, a realtor makes a comment about the view and feels embarrassed by it, again all handled intelligently and not used as a subtext to make characters unsympathetic.
The main cast is rounded out by Eldon Henson as Foggy Nelson and Jessica Ann Woll as Nelson & Murdoch's first client Karen Page. I love that they've gone with Karen Page instead of jumping in with Elektra as the love interest. I like Elektra fine enough but there's something about throwing in the emotionally complicated friend/enemy ninja right off the bat that kind of harms the worldbuilding. Introducing the secretary character as the first client, however, works to set up the lawyer world just as well as the superhero/vigilante world.
Best of the three so far, though, is Eldon Henson as Foggy: chummy, charming and just a little bit sleazy. Henson gets many of the episode's best lines, including a joke straight out of Bendis' run about Matt's ability to home in on beautiful yet screwed up women. I'm sorry to see the series going for the “Foggy doesn't know about Matt's powers” version of the character but there's more than enough chance for that to change.
But what I liked the most about this? That as dark as it gets (with human trafficking being a subplot) and as violent as it gets (a man has his eye poked out in a fight) its amazing how little influence Frank Miller has on the whole thing. Yes, Matt is at this stage wearing the cod-ninja costume Miller wrote into the origin but that's about it.
For the Marvel nerds out there (of which I am, obviously, one) there are some nice nods here and there, not only to the films but to the comics. My favourite was an old boxing poster advertising a Crusher Creel match. Well, that and the fact the main fallout of the Battle Of New York as far as Matt and Foggy's world is concerned is a sudden drop in property prices that allows them to invest in their own offices.
I am very much looking forward to this and the other Netflix Originals coming from Marvel.