Produced by Ralph Hemecker
Starring Yancy Butler
There are almost too many channels on the old dial these days. It’s hard to keep up sometimes with all the shows coming on various networks. Witchblade is a show that I would have definitely made time for back in 2001 had I known it existed. This must have been a common problem because the series had a short life on TNT. Now we have the complete series on DVD.
Witchblade is based on a very popular comic book of the same name that seems to be as popular now as when it was on shelves in the mid 90’s. Unfortunately more attention has recently been drawn to the comics and probably the series too due to the untimely death of the book’s artist Michael Turner.
The Witchblade is an extremely powerful weapon that essentially has attached itself to women throughout the ages that used it to smite evil. Now in modern times, Officer Sarah Pezzini is going through a rough time. Her father and a friend have both been murdered either directly by or in the form of an ordered hit by a gangster. Things come to a head when Pezzini finds herself in a gunfight in a museum with the gangster and the Witchblade decides to attach itself to her, granting her amazing abilities as well as a near indestructible gauntlet that also has a blade that can protrude from it as if giving a long sharp, dangerous middle finger to evil.
At its core Witchblade is a police detective procedural with a special weapon in play. The villains are also often of a supernatural base. The Witchblade is most often used as a Wonder Woman style gauntlet for deflecting bullets, then as a sword for some serious stabbing but it also gets use as a device for Pezzini to see what happened at a crime scene. Unfortunately this series didn’t get much of a budget so the special effects and fight scenes are a little on the cheesy side but the stories and character development are well written and Yancy Butler is great in the lead role.
Throughout the first season Pezzini fights the villain of the week and at the same time learns more about the Witchblade, a weapon that’s also a living device, something that reacts to the events that transpire around it. She learns from a mysterious man who seems to know everything but can’t use the Witchblade himself because it only works for women. His character is built upon as season one progresses eventually revealing his true motivations.
Season one of this series was quite strong, ending with a story finale because the creators believed the show would not be returning for a second season. When TNT surprised them by ordering a second season the creators had to figure out a way to make a return. Their decision is fairly terrible. They decide to reboot the entire series with some very annoying plot devices. It’s easy to see in season two that the creators weren’t prepared to do it because there’s not much of a season long story arc. The focus seems to be on single episode stories with a villain of the week. This is disappointing because the Witchblade doesn’t continue to get developed as it did in season one. The acting in season two isn’t as strong as it was in season one but the actors didn’t have as much depth to work with, so it all comes full circle.
Overall season one of the series is quite good and season two does feature some solid single episode stories too. This show feels a lot like an 80’s rendition of a comic book though with the focus being on a cop show more than on a comic book translation. The decision to produce the show in this way probably came from the lower budget. The action sequences do get better as the show progresses but they’re still low budget television sequences. This series really deserved some cultivating and should have been given more time to drag itself out of the rut it sort of fell in during season two because the core of the series had real potential.
The widescreen presentation here is common TV with good representation of color but thick grain and soft detail level. The grain is actually good for the special effects scenes though. The digital stuff is low budget and could come off even harsher than it does without a bit of grain to soften things up.
It’s very surprising that this show hits DVD with a mere Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo presentation. The balance is a bit off because occasionally the music is overpowering and a few other times the dialogue is just a little muted. Overall though it’s a bland non-immersive presentation but it gets the job done.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The seven disc set is presented in a glossy cardboard box featuring Yancy Butler on the front wielding the titular weapon. The art is a good representation of the series and should help sell some copies. Surprisingly for a failed series there are some good extras to check out.
First up there are several deleted clips associated with 10 of the episodes that feature Gabriel talking about issues pertinent to the episode. These are a fun watch after checking out the seasons. There are casting sessions for the main cast provided on the last disc. These sessions offer an interesting look behind the scenes of the creation of the series. They won’t be something you return to over and over but they are good for a single viewing.
Wielding the Blade is a featurette features interviews with Butler and some of the creative team including Michael Turner discussing the weapon specifically. In the interviews they discuss the design of the weapon and the differences between the television version and the one in the comics.
Bringing the Blade to Life is a brief discussion with the creative team on the process of bringing the comic book to life on TV including the creation and development of the characters and the world in which they will exist. This featurette is way to brief.
The featurettes are way to short but they are a happy addition to the set and more than I expected.
There is a movie interpretation of this comic book series coming so watching the television series could be a good primer. There’s some fun to be had with Witchblade, especially in season one.
Overall (Not an Average) 7.5/10
The Series 7/10
The Video 6/10
The Audio 5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 6/10
Overall (Not an Average) 7.5/10