Black Lightning – Season 1

posted 27 Apr 2018, 05:59 by Paul Woodward

Genre: Superhero / Action

Stars: Cress Williams / China Ann McLain / Nafessa Williams / Christine Adams / James Remar

Creators: Salim Akil / Mara Brock Akil

Year: 2018

The latest DC superhero brought to the CW network is Black Lightning and as a big fan of the Arrowverse shows featured on the channel I was looking forward to it’s latest addition. As this show centres around a Black superhero and community I was expecting a gritty, urban and perhaps dark show. This isn’t the case – it’s very camp, kooky and comic bookish and lacks that edginess I was expecting from a show like this. It also looks very cheap, TV shows do have restricted budgets but in comparison to the other DC – CW shows it looks like a very poor cousin, this isn’t just about special effects but in it’s locations, sets and how its shot. It can be very cheesy and cringe inducing and this is where the show loses me. It’s not a bad show per say, it kept my interest for the full season and it does dig deep into it’s hero’s comic book canon – which I’m sure will be appreciated by the comic book aficionado’s. It’s just not great either! It’ll be interesting to see if the show evolves in season two or if it will be more of the same.

The acting is abysmal by all the cast, blame the script or the storylines if you want but it really doesn’t help you connect with the main cast, I found certain characters highly annoying – and not the ones the show runners want you to either! James Remar might be a cult actor who gets a lot of respect, but his acting has always been wooden and emotionless, but I do have to tip my hat to him with how his character ‘Gambi’ comes across in the last few episodes.

Black Lightning probably has none of that urban grit I was expecting as it centres around the Pierce family – an estranged wife and two daughters who are retired superhero’s Jefferson Pierce’s immediate family. They live in a suburban neighbourhood, so this isn’t a ghetto superhero. His two daughters also have powers which manifest over the season, with his eldest becoming sidekick Thunder. So, when the program centres around suburban life and Pierce’s day job as a high school teacher, it’s never going to be dark and gritty. It’s meant to be inspirational and dispel stereotypes, but sometimes it unintentional comes across with strong stereotypes and can be more cringy than inspirational.

As an African American dominated cast set in a predominantly Black community it does touch on some controversial points in modern day American society. Although the show isn’t about these things, it accepts them into it’s storylines flow in an attempt to be realistic and not gloss over controversial points so its relatable to people from those communities.

The action sequences are a little lack lustre, poorly performed and some horrible affects can make it even less entertaining – don’t get me started on Thunder been trapped in a bubble as that’s a double whammy of bad – poor visual effects and what the hell was the director thinking getting the actress to flail about like a nutter! I hope this something that is improved on going forward!

Black Lightning isn’t the best superhero TV show but if you are into this genre it’s worth a looksee as it does look at the genre from a different perspective in more ways than one.


Review by Woody