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Black Lightning: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)

The DC television universe has been pretty much the opposite of its film universe in almost every way. People seemingly are wanting more, more, more. And this year, they’ve added a new member to the family of shows; Black Lightning. Unlike the other new characters that they were quick to immerse into a crossover or at least a guest spot on another show’s episode, they kept Jefferson Pierce’s first season to his own little world and played in a self contained sandbox. Now, its coming to Blu-ray as have his cohorts. Warner Bros is sticking with the script here, and giving the show the usual bells and whistles that the other shows have been given (Maybe a little more here as there as some “intro” kinda things they have a their disposal). You’ll be able to grab it when it hits shelves June 26th.

Film 

Jefferson Pierce is a man wrestling with a secret. As the father of two daughters and principal of a charter high school that also serves as a safe haven for young people in a neighborhood overrun by gang violence, he is a hero to his community. Nine years ago, Pierce was a hero of a different sort. Gifted with the superhuman power to harness and control electricity, he used those powers to keep his hometown streets safe as the masked vigilante Black Lightning. Almost a decade later, Pierce’s crime-fighting days are long behind him…or so he thought. But with crime and corruption spreading like wildfire, and those he cares about in the cross-hairs of the menacing local gang The One Hundred, Black Lightning returns — to save not only his family, but also the soul of his community.

Black Lightning’s inaugural season was altogether one thing; solid. There were moments that elevated it pretty strongly with promise for the future, but otherwise it was all right. The show hit upon some more topical issues without any fear, which I like, but it seemed to be taking a general line on things, sounding like other shows I was watching. It sort of lacked a lift off feeling like I had with the other 4 shows it shares the network with and seemed to want to keep its distance from those for the time being.

What kept me from discovering Arrow before The Flash began airing was that I had been a Smallville fan and then that show sort of never grew up and I did. I feared Arrow was just going to be another take on that (I had an anti-CW thing going on) just had a different hero. Alas, I’ve been very happy to have been wrong all those years. But, Black Lightning seems to have a lot of those things and feel of Smallville that I’m just not interested. It doesn’t help that the show features a heavy presence of high school and a single night club. Both really don’t bring all too much to the table and also feel a little stale and limited in terms of their storytelling potential Yet, I’ll give it credit that nothing happened was as laughable as Arrow saving the school bus field trip this past season.

Overall, I’m down for more Black Lightning. Its already a pretty tight show and maybe now that things are set, will take some chances and head into some rather weird directions. The cast is rather solid, with some strong leads and Thunder being the break out hero and character of the series so far. It’ll be interesting to see how this world will be integrated into the other shows. Maybe Batwoman will be more closely tied into here and that’s how things will be set to mesh. Who knows? But, if you’re one who’s already on board with 4 shows, what’s another one to add to the must watch DC shows arsenal on CW.

Episodes

The Resurrection

LaWanda: The Book of Hope

LaWanda: The Book of Burial

Black Jesus

And Then the Devil Brought the Plague: The Book of Green Light

Three Sevens: The Book of Thunder

Equinox: The Book of Fate

The Book of Revelation

The Book of Little Black Lies

Sins of the Father: The Book of Redemption

Black Jesus: The Book of Crucifixion

The Resurrection and the Light: The Book of Pain

Shadow of Death: The Book of War

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Black Lightning comes to Blu-ray looking like a slightly happier version of arrow. Details are pretty strong. This is especially true when it come so the hero outfits. The image is sharp and plenty crisp. Very much on par with all the shows we see year in and year out on the format from the DC CW shows.

Depth: Movements are free, spacey and cinematic in appearance. The dimensional aspects on display here are decent.

Black Levels: Blacks are very inky and the detail that resonates through them. Despite being a very dark show, detail is not hidden and no crushing was found.

Color Reproduction: Colors are pretty solid here, with a bold appearance. Blue and yellow pop pretty well. There is some nice glowing coming from neons and parts of suit/super powers that make for good eye candy.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones appear natural and have a consistent look throughout each episode of the season.  Some episodes may vary on their given look or lighting angle they take for story purposes.  Detail is always high with freckles, wrinkles, blemishes make-up and stubble.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH,

Dynamics: In terms of the sound design here, its a grounded show, but does dip into the fantastical. All explosions, gunshots, punches, kicks and electricity being plucked carry a fine layer of detail and distinct follow through on their sound.  Effects are heightened but they weave in perfectly with the tracks scoring and vocals.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Explosions, energy bursts, impaling, gunshots, vehicle engines and all the like thunderously pound through the sub woofer.

Surround Sound Presentation: From the rear comes mainly ambiance, but some battle scenes and environments provide some interesting action sounds and other kinds of noises to give a good sense of place. The front speakers wonderful connect the action, following it around and accurately depicting pitch and volume.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is crisp, clear and at an ideal volume.

Extras 

Black Lightning: The Complete First Season is a 2-Blu-ray Disc set and comes with a digital copy of every episode. There is a paper insert that includes an episode guide.

Disc 1

Come Visit Georgia PSA #1 (HD, 5:13) – The crew talks about the benefits and enjoyment of working on a television film crew in Georgia.

Come Visit Georgia PSA #2 (HD, 6:02) – Producers and writers of the show discuss how Georgia lends itself to the characters of Black Lightning and the “deep reserve” of actors they could use from Atlanta.

Disc 2

Art Imitating Life: The Pilot Episode (HD, 5:02) – This goes over the politics of the pilot episode and how they really wanted to push and set the tone for the series right off the bat and be more blunt about things.

A Family of Strength (HD, 7:09) – Focuses on the family dynamic and the decision to make them functional while going through their own personal conflicts and growth.

Gag Reel (HD, 2:15)

Deleted Scenes (HD, 32:28)

Black Lightning Comic-Con Panel (HD, 17:25) – The full panel for Black Lightning from SDCC 2017 but it also has some red carpet interview snippets before it starts.

Summary 

Black Lightning rocks a pretty solid first season, even if it doesn’t feeling its breaking out from the gate like The Flash did. Once a gain, Warner Bros has put together a nifty little set for collector’s of the show. The bonus features are all right (Traditional, some are) and the presentation is up to par with what they usually are. If you’ve been collecting the DC shows all along, you know what you’re getting here.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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