- The Washington Times - Friday, July 19, 2019

Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment have yet to figure out the formula to consistently deliver entertaining cinematic blockbusters.

However, the group sure has cracked the code in the world of episodic television. Be it bringing a young Superman or Batman to life in “Smallville” or “Gotham,” respectively, or creating adventures for “Supergirl,” the Green “Arrow” or “The Flash,” they have hit home runs on every CW Network series.

That success now carries over to the first show created for the fledgling DC Universe streaming service and is now available on a pair of Blu-ray discs.

Titans: The Complete First Season (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, rated TV-MA, 528 minutes, 1.78:1 aspect ratio, $29.98) explores in a graphically violent, live-action format the formation of an alliance between junior super-powered misfits known to comic book fans as the Teen Titans.

Assembling a group plucked from the fantastic run of the 1980s comic book series by writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez, the latest Titans feature Detroit police detective Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) aka Robin (Batman’s once sidekick); Rachel Roth (Teagan Croft) aka Raven (a teenager with telepathic powers and demonic origins); Lory Anders (Anna Diop) aka Starfire (an extraterrestrial that can harness the power of the sun); and Gar Logan (Ryan Potter) aka Beast Boy (a kid who can transform into any animal).

The teens meet amid an apocalyptic cult trying to capture Raven, and they bond over the angst of being hunted while battling street criminals and super villains around the country.

Grittiness and gore at an even a higher level than the “Gotham” television series pervades the first season’s 11-episode run (46 minutes each), all packed into a pair of Blu-ray discs.

Action defined with slow-motion shots of blood spewing and spilling and bones breaking amid close-quarters combat might be too much for the squeamish, but watching Titans such as Starfire literally burning foes into cinders or Raven sucking the life out of a captor is worth the upset tummy.

Fans of DC Comics will love watching Beast Boy turn into a tiger, the costumed Robin unleashing his rage on local scum or the slew of references to Batman, Alfred, the Justice League and the Joker.

Also, appearances by such sequential art luminaries as Hawk and Dove, the vaulted Doom Patrol, Jason Todd (Robin II), Wonder Girl and the viciously evil Nuclear Family will give fans even more reason to embrace the adaptation.

Episodes that help define the series drama delve into the painful origin of the vigilantes Hawk and Dove (aka Hank Hall and Dawn Granger) as they come together via a life-changing accident (“Hawk and Dove”); or a season finale that will excite as well as stun Batman fans (“Dick Grason.”

Those not willing to pay yet another monthly bill for a yet-to-be-proven streaming service (oh yes, “begun the streaming wars has,” as Yoda might say) will appreciate watching the shows via high definition discs or through a code to get the entire series to own via digital download.

“Titans” keeps the angst, drama and emotional storytelling flowing within the sporadic splashes of violence and horror and the rare shard of humor.

It’s still not as embraceable as other DC televised brethren but has unlimited potential, thanks to the study of some legendary comic book characters.

Best extras: The good news is that the second disc offers 13 featurettes that near thoroughly deconstruct the series and its origins. The bad news is each only average about 2.5 minutes each.

Despite the brevity, viewers will still learn a bit through cast and crew interviews and behind the scenes moments about Hawk and Dove, Wonder Girl, the Doom Patrol, Jason Todd, Raven’s powers, an emotional Ann Diop’s thoughts on Starfire and why we should all love executive producer of the series and comics legend Geoff Johns,

All in all though, it’s a fairly disappointing collection that could have been salvaged with just a meaty look at the evolution of the Teen Titans from comic book to zany cartoon and gritty live action show.

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