I’ll admit, I thought Witchblade was just another tits and swords epic. The comic book series didn’t exactly scream probing insight so much as just probing in general, like a comic issue of Maxim magazine (now with bonus killing!) I mean, look at this…
Comics in general are pretty bad about their huge-boobed female characters whose outfits must have been designed in a partnership between Victoria’s Secret and some secret alien ‘lift and support’ technology, but this was the plateau, the pinnacle, the very height of this sort of exaggeration. In my experience with comics, the more gratuitous the boobies, the less intelligent the story. I’m told that in the case of the Witchblade comics, I may be mistaken. The comic became a huge hit for the start-up Top Cow comics, inspired a number of spin-offs, and from 2001 to 2002 was briefly a tv series on TNT.
I heard somewhere about the show when it was on the air but due mainly to my limited exposure to the comic, I didn’t even so much as glance at the ads for it. I would have been surprised to see a show that resembled the comic only in the premise. Gone is the giant, barely covered boobs, unrealistically bouncing and bouncing...they keep bouncing, a trickle of sweat slowly makes its way down between them as her finger traces its path and…..
You see, this is why I usually skip this sort of stuff. Conscious reasoning adult mature brain quickly becomes a bowl of mushy oatmeal.
Yancy Butler stars as the fully clothed Sara Pezzini, a hard-nosed police officer who accidentally comes into contact with a mystical gauntlet during a shoot-out in a museum. The gauntlet, which is self-aware and somewhat bi-polar, chooses her as its wielder. This causes all kinds of upset in the local metaphysical community, most notably from obsessive local reclusive billionaire and Witchblade obsessed historian Kenneth Irons (Anthony Cistaro) and his super-powered and super gothy assistant Ian Nottingham (Eric Etebari). While Sara tries to avenge the death of her father, her partner Danny Woo (Will Yun Lee) who is killed in the first episode and now appears as a ghost/conscience/guide to her, eventually her boyfriend, and pretty much anyone who so much as smiles at her, various threats both paranormal and mundane come at her from all sides.
Here comes the surprise. This stuff ain’t half bad. I was dreading watching all 24 hour long episodes in this set, expecting an atrocious, lazy, kiddie thing like “Birds of Prey.”Witchblade effectively sets up a number of involving mysteries, and the more things become tied together, the more sense it all makes as opposed to just seeming contrived the way so many lesser shows end up being. While the Witchblade is sometimes used as a Deux ex Machina (the thing is so powerful, that no one ever really explains what it can and can’t do: convenient as hell for writers), generally things wrap up in a satisfying manner. The story tension keeps building and it really delivers on the answering of questions and the deepening of the show’s mythology. Main characters tragically die unexpectedly, evil looms weightily over all, and even Roger Daltrey makes a reoccurring appearance as Satan, who clearly going to eventually be the ‘big bad’ of the series. Unfortunately, then the second season happened.
I looked and looked but could find no official explanation as to what the hell happened. At the end of the first season. the creators of Witchblade killed everybody, then had Sara use her ‘one-time-only’ get outta jail free card to reverse time back to the beginning of the show. The magical “Run Lola Run” charm. Everybody dead: now alive. Everything we’ve seen so far: erased. Sara doesn’t “remember” per say what happened before but she gets flashes of the previous version of things that steer her away from making the wrong decision this time around. While this could have been a fascinating and even gutsy story arc, as I wanted to believe as I was watching, it doesn’t take long to realize that it was just a massive frak-up. Some weird lines got crossed and this is just how things are gonna be. And it’s not good.
One can’t help but feel that suddenly no one was speaking to each other anymore. One episode Norrington is evil, the next he’s good. A character returns to life with little to no explanation. Sara’s co-workers see her do magic stuff and then have completely forgotten about it by the next episode. Entry by entry in the second season the show throws away everything I liked about the first season. Did Witchblade have a change of show-runners? By the time we get to the messy, insensible end, you just have to say “Oy vey” and move on.
I don’t want to give the impression Witchblade isn’t worth your time. Great soundtrack, great cinematography (even if they like “The Matrix” a little TOO much at points), compelling stories, good mystery, decent acting...totally enjoyable and fun through more or less most of it’s 24 episode run, if you can get past the frustration inherent in the big change-up in the second half and some schizophrenic scripting. I can’t ignore the bad either though: Lousy fight choreography and editing (they usually just turn on a strobe light so we can’t see what’s happening and use lots of short, tight shots), so gothy at points that even Marilyn Manson would gag on his soy blood a little, a frustrating lack of attention to continuity, and markedly, an episode in the second season called “Veritas” that is as pushy a political episode as I’ve EVER seen a tv show get. They literally CG JFK’s face onto an actor to have him appear as a ghost trying to get Sara to stop all the evil frakkers who assassinated him/run the government now. This weird little X-files -ish episode, of course, goes absolutely nowhere.
The show was, to my surprise, apparently quite popular. Its cancellation is still somewhat of a mystery, although the majority of internet opinion/rumor is that star Yancy Butler was having a regular losing battle with alcoholism. A shame, because after I got past her GIGANTIC FREAKING EYEBROWS (the casting director in general really digs people with caterpillars on their foreheads) I really liked her in the role. I know a movie is on the way, but don’t look for Yancy to reprise her role: the show was back in 2001 and she’s a little long in the tooth now (by Hollywood standards) to play an ass-kicking babe in tight dresses. Unless you’re Michelle Yeoh, it’s off to the twilight land of playing Moms for the nearing 40 set.