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Blu-ray Review: BATWOMAN: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON

Aug 17 Posted by in DVD/Blu-ray, Reviews | Comments

Disclaimer: “Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-rayTM I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.”

It’s been three years since Batman mysteriously disappeared from Gotham City, leaving it to fend for itself. Kate Kane (Ruby Rose), Bruce Wayne’s rebellious cousin, has just returned to the city after a long time away. Kate assumed the caped crusader had simply abandoned the city like he once had abandoned her family. When she was a child, Kate was in a car accident that left the vehicle she was in dangling off a bridge. While Batman managed to save her, Kate’s mother and twin sister, Beth, weren’t as fortunate. In the years since the accident, Kate’s father, Colonel Jacob Kane (Dougray Scott) has remarried. He had started the Crows Security firm to help fill the void left by Batman’s exit, and to help the GCPD fight crime and maintain order in Gotham City. However, just as his team are getting ready to finally take down the old Bat-signal, the mentally deranged Alice (Rachel Skarsten) and her Wonderland Gang start to wreak havoc on the city. Her right-hand-man is Mouse (Sam Littlefield), a disfigured man with the talent to change his voice and face (using human skin) to perfectly impersonate anyone.

Some years back, Kate had attended a private military academy but was expelled for breaking the school’s code of conduct—she was seen kissing another female cadet, Sophie Moore (Meagan Tandy). Ever since then, Kate has been away from Gotham, traveling the world and training in hopes of becoming an agent for Crowe, but her over-protective father doesn’t want her in the field. Meanwhile, Sophie now works for her father. When Kate hears about the Alice situation, she returns to Gotham, and upon exploring the seemingly-abandoned Wayne Tower, she discovers Bruce Wayne’s Bat Cave. She decides to don the cowl herself and meter out the same kind of vigilante justice the city is now in desperate need of—using the cover story of being a fledgling real estate developer and bar owner. Assisting Kate in this new venture is tech wizard Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson), whose father had also worked for Bruce. Also part of the Bat-team (some unknowingly) are Kate’s stepsister Mary (Nicole Kang), a medical student/social media influencer who runs a secret underground medical clinic, and Julia Pennyworth (Christina Wolfe), a former member of the SRR (Special Reconnaissance Regiment) unit of the British Army.

Over the course of Batwoman‘s first season, the backstory of the characters and what happened to Kate’s mother and sister, Beth, is slowly explored via flashbacks. The season also follows a seemingly never-ending game of cat and mouse between Alice, Kate and Jacob (more on that later). As Kate and the Crows deal with Alice’s latest exploits, there is usually some new case- or villain-of-the-week threatening Gotham. Some of these include a man trying to get revenge on Batman for saving his mother and delaying his inheritance, a jewel thief named Magpie, a vigilante calling himself The Executioner, a professional assassin called The Rifle, a hacker who threatens to release all of Gotham’s secrets online unless they receive a ransom, a vampire-like woman who stuns her male victims before draining their blood, a young woman who is carving the faces of social media influencers, a serial bomber called The Detonator, and a faceless man called Hush who is abducting professors.

Overall, I found this first season of Batwoman to be quite action-packed and exciting, with some interesting character drama and villains of the week. I enjoyed Ruby Rose’s performance as Batwoman, and I thought the writers did a good job of weaving in Kate’s struggles as a lesbian into the core of the character. The show doesn’t shy away from exploring her relationships, but in a way that doesn’t feel overdone, or the main focus of the show. Over the course of the season we see Kate deal with her past feelings for Sophie, as well as start up some new relationships, including one with bartender Reagan (Brianne Howey). These allow Kate to be a more fully-realized, well-rounded character. There was one particular scene where Kate equates having to hide behind the cowl as like being back in the closet.

While Batwoman is one of the darker, more serious shows in the Arrow-verse, it still finds time for some lighter, fun moments, many of which come from the side characters. There was a particularly fun heist-like episode involving Mary and Julia towards the end of the season that felt kind of like an episode of Alias. The relationships among the side characters really develop and grow over the course of the season, and I especially enjoyed those between Mary, Luke, Kate, Julia and Sophie. It will be interesting to see how the series continues next season with a new character taking over the moniker of Batwoman, and if this new Batwoman can find the same kind of chemistry with her Bat-team.

If I had one complaint about this first season, it’s that the Alice storyline dragged on for far too long—the character could have just had a half-season arc and then move on to some other big villain for the second half of the season. Instead, much of her time felt like filler and dragging of feet in order to keep Alice around for the end of the season. Alice was supposed to be this target that everyone was after but she would just appear at Mary’s clinic or at some location where Kate was, and then the other characters would just let her go off on her way, without bothering to grab her or lock her up, until the next time they’d meet and the same thing happened. The writers did utilize the big Crisis on Infinite Earths shake-up to add an interesting new element into this mix, but this was short-lived and it wasn’t long before the old Alice/Kate dynamic was back. That said, I did find Alice to be well-utilized in the final few episodes of the season. The season builds to an exciting conclusion/cliffhanger that makes me really want to tune in next season.

The Blu-ray release of this first season of Batwoman includes a special bonus disc containing all five parts of the massive Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event (the DVD release will only include the Batwoman episode, “Part Two”). This event was definitely a highlight of the season, feeling like a single three and a half hour film following the adventures of the Arrow-verse as a whole. In Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Anti-Monitor has been destroying Earths across the multi-verse, and superheroes from every Earth—not just those on our own Earth-1 and Supergirl‘s Earth-38—must come together to stop him. This is the biggest, most-exciting crossover the Arrow-verse has ever attempted. The result is epic, bringing together characters/actors from decades of DC TV series and movies. I’m sure die-hard DC fans familiar with the comics will get even more geeky joy out of this then I did. But even as a casual viewer, I had so much fun spotting all of the amazing cameos, and watching this huge collection of characters come together in a bigger way than ever before. The repercussions from this crossover event will have long-lasting effects on the Arrow-verse (and possibly future DC TV shows and movies) as a new Earth Prime arises, with some major shake-ups. While The CW had announced most of the cameos ahead of time, there were still a few amazing surprises, and it was still a delight to watch.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment’s Blu-ray release looks and sounds amazing. The picture is pretty immaculate, with rich colors and details, looking excellent in both lighter and darker scenes (the latter of which there are many for this series). The audio track provides clear dialogue and makes excellent use of the stereo and surround channels to bring the viewer into the action and provide an immersive viewing experience. The show’s heroic score also sounds fantastic. The episodes are spread across 4 discs, plus there is a fifth disc containing the Crisis crossover content. The discs are packed in a standard multi-disc HD keepcase with a cardboard slipcover, along with an insert detailing the contents of each disc. The release also includes a code to redeem a digital copy of the Batwoman season 1 episodes on Vudu (this does not include the other crossover event episodes).

The bonus material exclusive to this release is just 8 minutes of deleted scenes from Batwoman’s‘s first season—unfortunately, the “On the Set” and “Gag Reel” special features that were mentioned in the original press release appear to have been dropped. The fourth disc also includes a featurette that is common to all of this year’s Arrow-verse releases—an hour of interviews and panel footage from the Arrow-verse presence at San Diego Comic-Con 2019. The Blu-ray release also includes the excellent Crisis on Infinite Earths bonus disc, which contains the entire 5-part Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event plus over 40 minutes of bonus material related to the crossover event. These Crisis featurettes primarily consist of the pre-recorded segments that aired during The CW’s crossover post-show hosted by Kevin Smith—the Kevin Smith interview segments are not included.



What’s Included:

    Episodes: (14:06:13)

      Blu-ray:

      • All 20 episodes of the first season, plus the entire 5-part DC Crossover Event: Crisis on Infinite Earths on a bonus disc:
        Disc 1: “Pilot”, “The Rabbit Hole”, “Down, Down, Down”, “Who Are You?”, “Mine Is a Long and a Sad Tale”
        Disc 2: “I’ll Be Judge, I’ll Be Jury”, “Tell Me the Truth”, “A Mad Tea-Party”, “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Hour Two”, “How Queer Everything is Today!”
        Disc 3: “An Un-Birthday Present”, “Take Your Choice”, “Drink Me”, “Grinning From Ear to Ear”, “Off With Her Head”
        Disc 4: “Through the Looking Glass”, “A Narrow Escape”, “If You Believe In Me, I’ll Believe In You”, “A Secret Kept From All the Rest”, “O, Mouse!”
        Bonus Disc: All five parts of the crossover event, including the related episodes of Supergirl, Batwoman, The Flash, Arrow and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
      • 1080p / Widescreen 1.78:1
      • Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
      • Subtitles: English SDH​

      Digital: (expires 9/30/2021)

      • Digital HD copy of the season episodes (not entire crossover) redeemable via Vudu.

    Extras:

    • Main Discs
      • The Best of DC TV’s Comic-Con Panels San Diego 2019 (51:05)
        The cast and creators of five of the DC TV shows visit San Diego Comic-Con 2019. Includes interviews with the stars, and footage from the shows’ Q&A panels. Participants include Arrow (executive producer Marc Guggenheim, producer/director James Bamford and stars Juliana Harkavy, David Ramsey, Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy & Rick Gonzales, plus surprise guest Brandon Routh), The Flash (executive producer Eric Wallace and stars Hartley Sawyer, Danielle Panabaker, Tom Cavanaugh, Grant Gustin, Candice Patton & Carlos Valdes), Black Lightning (stars Marvin ‘Krondon’ Jones III, China Anne McClain, Cress Williams, Nafessa Williams, Jordan Calloway & Christine Adams), Batwoman (executive producers Caroline Dries & Sarah Schechter), and Supergirl (executive producers Robert Rovner, Jessica Queller & Sarah Schechter, and stars Jesse Rath, Nicole Maines, Mehcad Brooks, Azie Tesfai, Melissa Benoist, Chyler Leigh, David Harewood, Katie McGrath & Andrea Brooks).
      • Deleted Scenes (7:42)
        The deleted scenes for specific episodes can be access via the Episodes menu, or selecting Deleted Scenes from the main menu option will play all of the scenes available for the episodes that appear on that disc.

        • The Rabbit Hole (:19)
          • Sc 62 – D/I Mary’s Clinic (:11)
            Mary cleans up, discovers special gift from sis
        • Mine is a Long and a Sad Tale (1:53)
          • Sc 03 – D/E Gotham City – Street (1:45)
            Catherine tries to defend her actions to an unsympathetic Jacob
        • Crisis on Infinite Earths: Hour Two (2:14)
          • Sc 01 – D/E/ Star City (Earth-16) (:45)
            Pariah witnesses Anti-Matter Wave
          • Sc 32 – N/I/ Waverider Med Bay (Earth-1) (1:22)
            Harbinger lays, hears whispering. Monitor enters, wants to protect every family.
        • An Un-Birthday Present (1:06)
          • Sc 06 – D/I Wayne Tower – Security Room (:58)
            Mary and Kate look at security footage of Beth entering Wayne tower
        • Drink Me (1:29)
          • Sc 31 – N/I Abandoned Mannequin Factory (:57)
            Alice is About to be drained
          • Sc 43 – N/I Gotham Cathedral (:25)
            Mary Comes to… Alice is gone
        • Grinning From Ear to Ear (:53)
          • Sc 01 – D/I Wayne Tower – Security Room (:45)
            Kate and Luke watch home video of Duela
    • Cross-over Bonus Disc
      • DC Crossover Event: Crisis on Infinite Earths (3:32:07)
        All five episodes of the crossover: “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part One” (Supergirl season 5 episode 9), “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two” (Batwoman season 1 episode 9), “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Three” (The Flash season 6 episode 9), “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Four” (Arrow season 8 episode 8), “Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Five” (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow season 5 episode 1).
      • Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Architects Return (11:55)
        Series producers and comic book artists/writers/experts talk about the evolution of the DC Comics story the crossover event is based on, the major impact it had on the comics, and adapting this story for TV. Includes stills from the comics, and interviews with writer Marv Wokfman, artist Jerry Ordway, DC co-publisher Dan DiDio, executive producer Marc Guggenheim, artist George Pérez, and artist Tom Derenick.
      • Crisis on Infinite Earths: Crisis Management (13:08)
        The cast and filmmakers talk about taking on this massive crossover event. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, stills from the comics, and interviews with executive producer Marc Guggenheim, story editor/writer (DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow) Ubah Mohamed, executive producer Robert Rovner (Supergirl), executive producer Eric Wallace (The Flash), writer Marv Wolfman, and stars Caity Lotz (“Sara Lance/White Canary”) & David Ramsey.
      • Crisis Past and Present: Kevin Conroy Bat Legend (3:17) The cast and filmmakers talk about bringing in the Batman: The Animated Series star to finally play his character on screen. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with executive producers Eric Wallace, Marc Guggenheim & Robert Rovner, story editor/writer Ubah Mohamed, and star Kevin Conroy (“Bruce Wayne”).
      • Crisis Past and Present – Superman vs. Superman (4:37)
        The cast and filmmakers talk about seeing Brandon Routh stepping back into the Superman costume. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with executive producers Marc Guggenheim & Eric Wallace, and stars Brandon Routh (“Superman/The Atom”), Tyler Hoechlin (“Superman”), Grant Gustin (“Barry Allen/The Flash”) & Hartley Sawyer (“Ralph Dibny/Elongated Man”).
      • Characters in Crisis: Pariah (4:20)
        The filmmakers discuss adapting the Crisis comic character of Pariah to the Arrow-verse. Includes stills from the comics, and interviews with executive producers Eric Wallace, Marc Guggenheim & Robert Rovner, and story editor/writer Ubah Mohamed.
      • Character in Crisis: The Anti-Monitor (4:55)
        The filmmakers discuss Crisis‘ big villain, and adapting this character to the Arrow-verse. Includes stills from the comics, and interviews with executive producers Eric Wallace, Marc Guggenheim & Robert Rovner, story editor/writer Ubah Mohamed, and comic writer Marv Wokfman.

     


    Final Thoughts:

    My Rating
    Episodes:
    Video:
    Audio:
    Extras:
    Recommended

    The first season of Batwoman is quite entertaining, and I really enjoyed Ruby Rose in this role—it will be tough for a new actress to fill her cowl next season! Warner Bros.’ Blu-ray release looks and sounds great, though much of the bonus material is common to all of this year’s Arrow-verse Blu-ray releases, leaving just 8 minutes of new deleted scenes exclusive to this release. That said, the release still comes recommended based on the quality of the show itself, and certainly worth picking up for anyone who doesn’t already own the excellent Crisis on Infinite Earths bonus disc that comes included!