Welcome to the inclusive era! The era where corporations say “if we don’t have it, we’ll make sure we have it!” Ok not the best way to start a review that (I promise) will be positive, but I REALLY want to address the elephant in the room. The black super hero! We all know the highly anticipated Black Panther will be in theaters much to the delight of THIS GUY (double thumbs pointed at me) and an entire community who can’t wait to be represented on center stage on the big screen! Until then we can enjoy a few weeks of a home-hitting yet face cringing small screen DC Comics hero, Black Lightning.
Now I will admit When it comes to the comics heroes like Luke Cage and Black Lightning weren’t on my radar as a kid, but nonetheless I’m glad they were created and more so that in this day and age the executives decided that now was the time to bring heroes to the hood where they are SORELY needed. So lets get to the show! I’ll address my intro in a bit!
Black Lightning takes us to Freeland (sorta Detroit kinda Chicago-ish) a City with great pride, but also a city that mirrors almost every negative news headline we’ve had in the last 5 years. Cops are pulling over black men for just cause reasons, gangs are running the streets and black on black shootings happen at an alarming rate. With all this going on you’d figure some tragedy would have to happen to introduce our new hero, but nah… One of the brilliant things about the start of this series is that our hero has been our hero for quite some time (possibly keeping the comic’s past true to the present) and fully aware of his powers!
Enter Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams), a High School Principal who is dedicating his life to making a difference the “Right” way. Education and community service! OK so we know that’s not gonna last, it’s a super hero show… I like this angle because we’ve seen it before in “The Dark Knight” but our protagonist is playing the Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent character all at once. Black Lightning happens but only because he HAS to, and the reasons why is the home run of the story! Family! No not in a Vin Diesel, Fast and Furious way, but in a why where this persona is the very thing that simultaneously saved and ripped Pierce’s family apart.
OK so enough with semi-spoiler talk. I think this show has a fighting chance at longevity, but there are a few kinks in the super hero suit that I find to be detrimental.
1. I find that this show tries a little too hard to be “Black”. OK before we start ripping me apart let me tell you why? Even in the most hood of hoods when you look around you in everyday life you’re not surrounded by all black people. I love a black dominated cast, but I also had a feeling of “Ok I get it, this is a Black show”. If I were to compare this to a show it would be Luke Cage, and casting wise I didn’t have that same feeling. Yes predominately black cast Good guys and bad guys but was grounded in the reality that not everyone around me is black all the time. it was something that made it feel real.
2. Main Baddie. OK I can’t address this without going into some sort of spoiler territory so ***SPOILER ALERT*** William Catlett plays Lala Neighborhood druglord and a REALLY good Villain! There was something really special with his performance especially when He and pierce meet face to face to discuss an incident! One minute you start to feel his “need for survival” then BOOM! A ruthless monster right before your eyes! I Loved it…. un we find out in the very first episode that he’s just a Lacky for a bigger boss… Honestly I would’ve like to see the LaLa character be menacing for a few more episode before revealing his boss.
3. White People are Evil…except that one guy… Aright The elephant in the room is here! I’m not going to list the names of the fallen wrongfully murdered victims of police brutality, but DANG. They really do drive this point home quite a few times in this one episode! My only problem was they weren’t so subtle about it. I felt like I was watching the opening to “Mississippi Burning” in some scenes as opposed to just seeing portrayed modern day “Hidden” Racist cops! but the overall looming shadow here is except the Alfred-esque tailor (James Remar) all the white people are …well bad guys! Hey Even the Main Baddy Tobias (Marvin ‘Krondon’ Jones III) is Albino…so yeah… not really feeling that undertone there.
Other than those three kinks in the armor I really liked this show. The emphasis seems to be on the family unit, Responsible black men and the price of irresponsibility! I Love the look of Black lightning and the powers… WOW! I have a feeling we’re going to see more of what this super hero can do but I loved what I’ve seen thus far. After all this is a CW show, and for some reason they seam to be able to do DC TV better than DC can do Movies… just saying.
Finally… the driving force of the show! The Daughters played be China Anne McClain and Nafessa Williams. I’ve been around black women all my life and if you told me these two had a bad day on set and just read the script with those feelings I’d believe you! The Dynamic between these to are so well acted you just knew who was who and it felt like I was home watching my cousins! I’m very excited to see what comes out of this show from these two!
Overall… I give this show a few passes because I want it to succeed, but the positives outweigh the negative and I’m hoping that the passes aren’t necessary! I’ll return to this for the mid season and season finales and update my feelings for the show! But for now, this show is worth the watch. Tune in and check it out Tuesdays on CW!
Release date: January 18, 2018 (USA)
Pilot Director: Salim Akil
Network: The CW
Creators: Salim Akil, Mara Brock Akil