Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 17, 2019)
An update on the old Teen Titans comics, Titans ran on the “DC Universe” streaming site. Season One includes 11 episodes, all of which appear in this 2-disc Blu-ray set. The plot synopses come from the official site.
Titans: “Rachel Roth (Teagan Croft), a teen haunted by dark visions and powers, falls under the wing of Detective Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites). We also meet Kory Anders (Anna Diop) and Gar “Beast Boy” Logan (Ryan Potter).”
When I followed comics in the early 1980s, Teen Titans aimed for a younger audience, as do the modern-day animated Teen Titans Go! series and film.
Titans pursues a completely different approach, as it brings us an “R”-rated take on the team and the characters. How well that works in the long run remains to be seen, but the pilot sets up the squad and their universe in a reasonably effective manner.
Hawk and Dove: “In search of a safe haven for Rachel, Dick arrives on the doorstep of vigilante heroes Hawk and Dove (Alan Ritchson and Minka Kelly).”
As the series progresses toward the team concept, we get an intriguing glimpse of Dick’s past via his connection to Hawk and Dove. The episode proves unusually introspective, as it mixes action with reflection in a satisfying way.
Origins: “Rachel and Kory travel to the convent where Rachel was raised, while Dick compares his own orphan experience to Rachel’s. Meanwhile, Rachel befriends Gar Logan.”
Slowly, the Titans come together, though I admit the formation of the team takes longer than I’d expect. “Origins” provides some good moments but it feels a little more expository than I’d prefer, so it’s an inconsistent episode that works less well than the exciting “Hawk”.
Doom Patrol: “Gar brings Rachel home to his ‘family’, a group of misfit medical experiments we’ll come to know as The Doom Patrol.”
The introduction of the Doom Patrol adds an interesting element to the series. I still wonder when the Titans will form their own squad, but at least “Patrol” brings a fun episode.
Together: “When the Nuclear Family tracks them down, Dick, Kory, Rachel and Gar decide to stop running and work together – and the team that will be known as ‘The Titans’ is formed.”
Finally! It’s satisfying to finally see the gang come together, and this episode explores the new relationship well. Add developments from the creepy Nuclear Family and this becomes a pretty good show.
Jason Todd: “Before he can reunite with The Titans, Dick reluctantly teams with new Robin Jason Todd (Curran Walters) to catch a serial killer targeting people from Dick’s past.”
The addition of Jason works in two ways. He helps flesh out more of Dick’s backstory, and he also adds a nice spark to the proceedings. These factors allow “Todd” to deliver a solid episode.
The Asylum: “The Titans set out to rescue Rachel’s birth mother from a mysterious psychiatric facility, but find themselves confronting their deepest vulnerabilities and fears.”
All that acts as an excuse for a fairly expository episode, one that offers additional insights into the characters’ backstories. It manages enough action to overcome the stagnation typical of such a tale, so it works well as a whole.
Donna Troy: “As The Titans go their separate ways, Dick turns to old friend Donna Troy (Conor Leslie) for answers.”
Though Season One deals with issues related to all four Titans, it doesn’t distribute story elements evenly, and Dick’s tale gets the most attention. This seems a bit unbalanced, but given his greater prominence in the DC universe, it makes sense.
“Troy” manages a good examination of this domain, mainly because Donna – Wonder Woman’s one-time youthful sidekick – brings novelty to the tale. Her interactions with Dick add spark to the show.
Hank and Dawn: “The origin story of Hank Hall and Dawn Granger’s relationship and the loss in each of their pasts that brings them together as vigilante superheroes Hawk and Dove.”
Given the fairly tangential relationship of Hawk/Dove to the Titans, it seems surprising that they’d get another episode. The show works pretty well, though, even if it seems absurd to see 34-year-old Ritchson as a college-aged Hank.
Koriand’r: “As Kory’s memories come flooding back, she discovers her true mission, regarding Rachel. While Dick and Donna discover Kory’s alien origins, Rachel uses her powers to save Gar.”
As the title implies, this episode gives us revelations about Kory, but it also invests in Rachel’s journey. The various sides connect well to set up the finale.
Dick Grayson: “Dick takes a dark journey back to Gotham.”
Gee, who do you think he might meet there? The S1 conclusion certainly teases some intriguing possibilities.
For reasons I can’t discuss due to spoilers, though, the episode falls a little short. It also acts as a teaser for Season Two, which makes it slightly anti-climactic. On its own, “Dick” comes with a lot of excitement, but some factors impair its overall impact.